How To Determine The Right CRM And Marketing Automation For SMBs

Written by William Flaiz and originally published on Forbes.com on February 11, 2019.

As a growing number of businesses focus on gathering and using relevant data to gain true insights into their customers' needs and buying habits, adopting customer-relationship management and marketing automation has never been more important. Many SMB marketers, unfortunately, see these tools as something that they don't need until they scale up. However, sales-focused CRM software and marketing automation software aren't just for the large-scale enterprises; they're scalable to offer real-time analytics, automated customer interactions and a better return on marketing investment.

The Benefits of Investing in CRM and Marketing Automation

While CRM and marketing automation technology are often used interchangeably, they actually serve two distinct purposes. CRM is sales-focused, while marketing automation focuses, unsurprisingly, on marketing.

The Benefits of CRM

Customer relationships are key to the growth of your business, so it's imperative that you manage them effectively. CRM technology can help you become more connected to your customers, improve the performance of your business and help you grow your company.

Tracking Sales Efficiency

CRM makes it simple to get the bigger sales, allowing you to track customer interactions and prioritize leads and opportunities that are most likely to convert and close.

Recognizing Upsell Opportunities

Do you have a simple way to see what products and services are often purchased together? CRM lets you see all the current opportunities that are a good fit for add-on deals.

Keeping Your Customers

It's a common pain point among small and medium-sized businesses: a salesperson leaves the company and takes a portion of their clients with them. By utilizing CRM technology, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of losing customers when you lose a salesperson. With CRM, every member of your sales team has immediate access to any customer's complete history, allowing any one of them to quickly answer questions and provide personalized solutions. This creates smoother transitions, building the trust of your customers and encouraging repeat business.

“Implementation of a CRM within Beyond Sports has led to exceeding growth expectations more quickly.” Tim Whittle, Manager of International Sports Tours at Beyond Sports Tours

The Benefits of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a powerful tool for SMB marketers, helping them maximize efficiency, recognize well-qualified leads and improve overall campaign management.

Maximizing Efficiency

Marketing automation software can be used to automate numerous marketing interactions, including blog management, social media publishing, email workflows, content offers and building a contact database. This is essential for small businesses with limited staff.

Lead Nurturing

Today's customers require long-term marketing as they pursue more information about a company's offerings and establish trust with them. With marketing automation, you can retain customer engagement and foster relationships with potential buyers with cross-channel marketing campaigns.

Overall Campaign Management

Marketing automation gives you a richer, more detailed picture of potential customer behavior, bringing valuable insight to use for smarter marketing decisions.

“Utilization of marketing automation allowed us to have more consistent and personalized messaging to our customers leading through the holidays, generating more sales than the prior year period.” Kevin Murray, Founder of Velomacchi

Getting Started

When it comes to moving your operations to an automation tool, it's important to make sure that you understand both your needs and expectations and the capabilities of the CRM or marketing automation software you're investing in. As an SMB owner or marketer, the last thing you want to do is make a significant investment and then only use a fraction of the features available to you.

Figure Out What You Need

The first step to implementing CRM or marketing automation is defining your goals, summing up the marketing activities that you're currently performing and outlining any activities that you want to start doing in the future.

Do Your Research

There are dozens of software tools available, each with their own unique benefits and applications. Once you've figured out what you need from an automation software tool, you can better evaluate your options and decide where your dollars will best be spent.

Find a Partner

Whether you start your marketing automation journey with free software or a trial or you dive right in by purchasing a full-version system, it's important to connect with a representative from their team. Let them know what your goals are and what you've done with the software so far, and they can let you know if there's a tool or feature that you're missing out on.

The war for customer attention is real. Marketing automation provides you with the knowledge and tools they need to compete with large-scale enterprises, enabling you to increase sales, improve customer interactions and optimize your marketing ROI.

Published by William Flaiz on 03-20-2019




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