If you run an online business then amongst other things you have to get good at marketing your business. The internet is a big place and being found by customers is one of the biggest challenges but modern technology gives us plenty of tools to make things a little easier.
CRM is a type of software (customer relationship management) that can be helpful. Unfortunately many small businesses don’t know what it is or what can be done with it…
If you want to keep up with the big guys, adding CRM to your tool kit is a great idea; so let’s start by looking at a few ways that we can use it to our advantage:
Keeping In Touch
Some businesses have many small customers, whilst others have fewer, bigger customers. If your business is the sort where you regularly communicate with a large handful of clients, this is one of the most likely ways you will benefit from CRM.
A good package (such as Dynamics, or Salesforce) will allow you to track customer communication across multiple platforms – even integrating with your email client and online contact forms.
So imagine that you get a phone call from an important customer, you can quickly pull up a summary of all past communication (whether you communicated with them or another member of staff did) and impress your client by remembering every detail of your past emails and phone calls.
You can even log in your phone call and optionally add an alert to remind you to follow up with an email in a week’s time.
Tracking Marketing Channels
Maybe you don’t have the sort of business where you need such a personal level of communication. But your marketing channels drive traffic to your website, so they’re important right?
Unfortunately managing multiple channels can be complicated and if you don’t know exactly how much revenue and profit each channel is generating, you can’t know for sure whether your campaigns are profitable.
So why not set up your CRM package to automatically import data from your Pay Per Click advertising, add costs for your SEO and integrate your analytics and sales data?
Once you have done that, you will be able to see the costs and revenues from each traffic source, so you will know whether social media is pulling its weight and just how profitable Adwords really is.
Remember also that you are tracking communication, so if a potential customer asks a question via Twitter, but later comes back to your website to make a purchase, that revenue can be credited to your social campaign.
Monitoring Repeat Custom
One of the most powerful aspects of tracking your customer relationships is that it gives you the ability to track repeat custom, something that many businesses fail to take advantage of.
You are also track communication of course, so you know where your customers come from and how much staff time they are taking up. You can even track specific campaigns, so that you know if a customer originally found you via a sales promotion and via PPC for instance.
It is not uncommon for repeat purchases to make an advertising campaign profitable, so tracking this data gives you the ability to assess the true ROI of a campaign.
What if you find that – 6 months after launching a campaign – it becomes profitable thanks to returning custom? If you can measure this, and build loyal customers, you can make money where your competitors can’t (or don’t think they can).
Channels Vs Campaigns
Finally, one thing that I touched upon above was tracking campaigns. Most CRM platforms will allow you to track channels and campaigns separately so that you can dissect data quite intricately.
For instance, if you decide to run a promotion for Christmas time, you might advertise that promotion across several different channels and you may want to know not just how profitable each channel is but how successful the sale is overall.
That’s no problem, and indeed, your sale might lead to repeat customers who start buying non-sale items too. You might discover that certain channels are better for advertising sales or for general marketing and you can shift your budget accordingly.
The point is that you just don’t know where best to spend your marketing budget until you have a way to measure the data!
About The Author
Hi guys, my name is Mike Spalding, I work for a group of IT and business specialists called Advantage (their website URL is Advantage.co.uk), we are experts in CRM and finance software and we love helping small businesses to harness IT to help them grow. Thanks for reading my guest post.