Customers and clients are at the heart of any good business. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is what keeps that heart beating.
A strategy before it is a technology, CRM puts your patrons at the center of your business, where they should be. It focuses on fostering relationships by maintaining regular, organized contact with clients, customers, former customers, and prospects.
Before the advent of technology and software to assist with this, CRM existed in the form of spreadsheets and other rudimentary homegrown marketing technology options (though some organizations still opt for these, it’s not nearly as common—and for good reason).
Now, though, CRM is more streamlined and efficient, thanks to developing technologies. This not only means better relationships and communications with customers, it can also mean significant savings and increased revenue. While the list of CRM technology options and software providers is growing every day, there are a few players that are dominating the space.
Popular CRM Tools
As a refresher—or if you’re not already aware—here are some of the most popular CRM tools on the market today:
- Microsoft Dynamics
Know for both acquiring new customers and retaining current customers, research shows that CRM systems can improve customer retention by 27%, which is an extremely valuable number given how much more difficult it is to acquire new business. (TrackVia) It achieves this by helping to align marketing, sales, and customer service on common goals and shared activity. In other words, it helps your left hand know what your right hand is doing—and those that are handled by your business will be much happier for it.
When it comes to overall increased revenue, though, CRM simply can’t be beaten. Not only does it provide an average ROI of $8.71 for every $1 spent, it has been shown to increase revenue by 41% per sales representative. (BigContacts)
By offering the ability to integrate with various other marketing tools, CRM provides enhanced service throughout the full buying cycle—from prospect to sale to repeat sale. Throughout this time, though, CRM is doing something that could be considered more important than any of the qualities above. That is—it is gathering information for marketing purposes, allowing for marketing personalization.
Where Is CRM Going?
CRM is no secret and it’s nothing new. This is evidenced pretty clearly by the Google Trends chart below. The terms Customer Relationship Management (blue line) and CRM systems (yellow line) have pretty much flat lining interests from 2005 until now. What’s interesting, though, is that even though search volume for Salesforce.com—the top provider of CRM software—was around the same levels in 2005, it has actually skyrocketed in recent years. So, while CRM isn’t garnering a ton of new attention, the technology associated with it is seeing huge increases in both attention and adoption.
Accordingly, Gartner has predicted that CRM technology will grow to a $36.5 billion market worldwide by 2017. (Forbes) So, despite the fact that it’s an older concept, CRM is still seeing awareness from brands and agencies alike.
What is setting CRM on such a pedestal at this point in time is not just that it now is enabled by software that streamlines it and, ultimately, makes it more effective. CRM technology is now lending itself to the big data & marketing movement, allowing any organization with a good hold on CRM to more intimately know every aspect of their audience as well as every aspect of their marketing efforts. On top of this, CRM systems make it possible for marketers to take the data gathered and organize it in a way that allows it to both be easily understood and actionable.
In this way, adopting CRM technology has become the key to evolving as brand or agency. Why? It is now intertwined with personalized marketing, thanks to data and segmenting capabilities.
CRM and Personalized Marketing
Especially helpful for industries with long sales cycles, where staying in touch and staying relevant becomes extremely difficult, CRM can take a lot of the guess work and busy work out of this process. With proper utilization of a CRM system and a mental shift to consumer-centric marketing, marketers will find themselves with fully fleshed out views of their customers or clients—including information such as demographic information, purchase history, preferred communication channel, and much more—that they can use to either pinpoint how to individually communicate with each patron or to give a more personalized feel to their overall marketing efforts.
By offering segmentation that ranges from simplistic to very complex, any brand that with basic knowledge of CRM systems is in a much better position to communicate effectively with current and future customers. CRM software providers have taken note of this differentiating component and are playing to their strengths by developing new ways to integrate CRM systems with other marketing tools and, ultimately, enhance personalization capabilities.
Not one to be left behind, Salesforce.com recently launched Marketing Cloud Lightning—the latest development in the intersection of CRM systems and personalized marketing. According to Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO, this tool “brings together every ounce of data from the entire customer success platform, and makes it available for users to power journeys across sales, service, marketing—every part of the customer life cycle.” (Destination CRM)
Of course, this is just one example of the many advancements in CRM systems that are making personalization accessible for every marketer. When the biggest name in the space speaks up on the topic, though, it’s safe to say the rest of us marketers should be standing at attention.
Imagine if every time a salesperson or brand contacted you they were right on the money with how you want to be contacted and what you want to hear. You’d probably be a lot less likely to ignore their calls and delete their emails, right? Now imagine having that capability with your own clients, customers, and prospects. This possibility becomes a reality with CRM systems—and capabilities are only expanding.
As CRM technology continues to develop and adopt social and mobile capabilities, it can be expected that these tools will become increasingly popular. Smaller organizations are becoming more able to utilize these systems as accessibility and usability increase. With the CRM software market growing thanks to increasing movement towards digital marketing, CRM systems and their accompanying potential for personalized marketing are becoming the standard of marketing.
Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Blurred Lines: The De-Silo-Ing of Marketing to discover why breaking down organizational silos is key to staying agile and ahead of your competition.