Do Brand Marketers need a CRM?

Do Brand Marketers need a CRM?

Knowing your customer is critical for marketers in connecting and building relationships. However, many marketers stall with CRMs and Marketing Automation.

Marketers understand consumers expect far more than they did in the past when it comes to personalisation of their experience with brands. They want to be catered to based on their specific wants, needs, preferences, and behaviours. Marketers also understand that CRMs and Marketing Automation will enable them to achieve this. So why the hesitancy?

Historically, CRMs can be complicated, and often CRM marketing automation is even more complex. It requires specific skills and vendors require a significant investment in time and capital to master the platforms.

The good news? CRMs are becoming easier to use and more affordable, and now they come with pre-built integrations that connect to your existing technology stack.

As marketers, you need the tools and insights to make decisions. It's time to get off the fence. Once marketing teams see the CRMs full potential (more importantly start leveraging the full potential) it revolutionises marketing efforts, gives clarity around customers, and helps to scale business.

What CRMs do incredibly well is bring all your interaction data into a single dedicated platform, allowing you to analyse it in detail. This provides a whole new perspective on marketing ROI and what's working well/not so well for your business. CRMs enable marketers to get a much deeper understanding of customer interactions.

But before we dig deeper into the benefits of CRMs and Marketing Automation, we need to understand the concept of a Single Customer View (SCV). It's the foundation of why having a CRM is so important for marketing teams in the first place.

What is the Single Customer View?

A single customer view (SCV) is ultimately the crux of what we're trying to achieve with a CRM. In simple terms, it's a method for collecting and combining all of your prospects' and customers' data into a single record. You'll get a comprehensive picture of every activity across each touchpoint by collecting and combining all relevant information about your consumers.

It allows marketers to understand each customer, their preferences, and their individual characteristics. In order to be successful in personalising interactions with individual customers, organisations need to first create a unified view of the customer.

A Single Customer View has the ability to:

  • Have cleaner data
  • Reduce customer data duplication and fragmentation
  • Gain better customer insights with accuracy that allows for better strategic decision-making around marketing, brand and business
  • Understand the customer journey across all channels
  • Assign proper credit to the right channels with attribution
  • Identify ineffective marketing tactics
  • Improve customer service
  • Improve communication

What are the challenges in achieving a Single Customer View?

Simply, technology silos and poor data quality. Even for straightforward businesses, once you start to consolidate sources of data you realise the extent of the challenge, from CRM, marketing platforms, loyalty programs, customer support and website analytics. The siloed structure of most data makes it difficult to aggregate all information about individual consumers into a single repository.

Where to start to build a Single Customer View?

In an ideal world there wouldn't be silos of separate, disconnected data, however, the practicalities of achieving this are often unrealistic. Start by looking at your business and identifying what data will enable you to make informed business and marketing decisions. From there it's a matter of linking, migration and integrating all your customer, web analytics, sales, marketing and loyalty data into one place, i.e. a CRM.

Enabling brands to 'look in' and 'reach out'

So, you understand the concept of a SCV. Let's now look at some of the key things a CRM Marketing Automation platform will enable you to achieve. This can be defined as two key activities, 'looking in' and 'reaching out'.

Looking In - Really knowing your customer

Collecting data, observing, reporting and analysing. Here are some of the ways CRMs help marketers understand their customers' needs, behaviours and purchase patterns by looking in.

Tracking Interactions

Identify every interaction your prospects are having with your brand – from visits to specific pages on your website/s, to social media interactions and beyond. That way you know where they're coming from and what content is most successful at engaging them. This knowledge is invaluable for marketing campaign planning and budgeting.

Today there is a huge variety of standalone tools that can help you track these types of interactions – from the obvious such as Google Analytics to more specialised data analysis platforms. However standalone tools are just that, standalone.

Also, a must-have for any Marketing CRM platform is reporting or custom data dashboard reporting features, so you can analyse the data as it comes in and compare different parameters side by side.

CRM Customer Journey Marketing
Sharpspring CRM detailed customer history with Life of the Lead

Tracking by device

Recognise and track all of the device types that a contact may use to access your site. Follow leads from anywhere they originate, getting a complete 360-degree view of each buyer's journey and determining which channels to focus on for higher ROI.

Track patterns and develop insights through data and reporting

If you're a marketing data nerd you are going to love CRM reporting and the insights it provides. Tracking sales, leads, and interactions will help you to determine which traffic sources are doing well and where your efforts should be focused. What campaigns work best with which audience? At what time of day are they more likely to engage? Is there a correlation between certain demographics and open rates? A CRM excels at collecting data and the Single Customer View ensures a clean data set which means you can draw meaningful conclusions.

SharpSpring CM Contacts
Campaign analytics and tracking enabling marketers to understand their true ROI

Identify and categorise leads

We've spoken about the importance of a Single Customer View and the opportunity for CRMs to act on the specific interactions with marketing automation – but the power of CRMs goes beyond this.

CRMs can also be used to identify and categorise your leads, so you know where they are in your sales process. By identifying how a customer is interacting with your brand, you can ensure that all of your marketing activity backs up each other's efforts – to make sure you're always speaking as one brand voice.

Smoother internal processes

Mentioned above, every time a user interacts with your website or brand, that information is stored and can be accessed by all of the relevant parties. This means there are no misunderstandings about what was discussed in an email or phone conversation; you have complete transparency over how the leads generated from marketing campaigns were created; and the customer journey.

The ability to access and analyse customer data allows you to improve your company's internal processes. You'll always know what information about the client is missing, and if procedures are flawed and need to be changed or improved.

Once a CRM has been implemented, there is no going back; it will change how businesses are run and enables teams to make informed decisions.

Customer feedback, relationships are a two-way street

The CRM allows you to monitor the journey, and provide feedback along the way. Customer feedback is invaluable to ensure that your content is on point. Again, this has a dual purpose of ensuring that you are delivering relevant content while also collecting intel about your audience. Armed with customer insights you can continue to refine your content strategy – further strengthening your brands perception.

Dynamic Lists

Create dynamic lists that update as new contacts satisfy the list's criteria. Keep a running list of every lead who is interested in a particular set of products, comes from a specific region, has a lead score above "x," or visits pricing pages on your digital marketing automation platform. Examine lists and get an overview of how prospects react to your website.

Remember, your customer is more than an email address

Many lead-generating marketers have started tracking the collection of an email address as a success indicator. People are more than their name and email address. Now you may build comprehensive profiles for leads and customers using your CMS's social connections. On their social media sites, figure out what appeals to your prospects so you can form a deeper connection with them. This can be a powerful tool for Sales teams who are likely speaking directly with the customer.

Real-Time Lead Scoring

Lead Scoring in CRMs automatically identifies opportunities based on engagement, page visitations, suitability and completeness of the information. This score can then be used to target your messaging to match. CRMs like SharpSpring can detect how leads naturally change over time and also allows you to set Decay to decrease lead scores when prospects are inactive for long periods. Lead scoring is a powerful metric for real-time engagement.

Life of Lead in SharpSpring CRM
Realtime lead scoring automatically identifies hot prospects in the CRM platform

Campaign Attribution

Marketing attribution allows you to examine how customer touchpoints influence their purchasing decision. It will determine which channels and messages had the greatest impact. There are a few methods of attribution, including multi-touch attribution, first touch, last touch, linear, time decay, and more. Insights from attribution reporting allow marketers to make decisions on marketing tactics and how this attributes to sales.

Know the value your marketer efforts bring to the business

CRMs provide a Bird's Eye Pipeline View of success through an opportunities pipeline that displays deal stages. This may appear to be the job of the sales team, but this data allows marketing teams to see how their hard-earned marketing leads convert into sales.

The instant overview of each prospect's progress through the sales process will assist you to manage your marketing throughout the sales funnel while also allowing you to make informed decisions with all of the necessary information readily accessible.

Marketing CRM Opportunity Pipeline SharpSpring
Establish a bird's eye view of opportunities within your pipeline

Reaching out - making sure your customer knows you

It's not just about interacting more, it's about interacting with more relevance

How often you interact with your customer will influence your sales and has the potential to build a more meaningful relationship with them. However, what also counts is how you interact with the customer, the content, and the timing of interactions. By utilising a CRM with Marketing Automation, you can push relevant content to your customers at the right time and place.

It's not just about getting to know the customer, it's also about making sure they know you. A CRM will enable your brand to be more relevant and tell your story over time. The ongoing conversation between your company and your customers will enable you to keep in touch, with all relevant information and interactions being captured, stored and analysed. This way, when you reach out again, it builds on the previous conversation.

Follow the customers' path with Automation Workflows

Follow your buyers' every move with branching logic that follows their path to conversion. Set up lead nurturing campaigns and messaging triggers that respond to your leads, rather than leading them on a one-track sales journey. Personalised content, relevant to the segment and where they are within their journey will drive higher engagement.

Marketing CRM Workflows and Automation
Build complex Automation Workflows that delivery personalise content based on the customer journey

Improve targeting - Create personalised communications that are action-oriented

Once you've acquired your potential customers, they will need to be nurtured. As a marketing team you will have information on the best ways to communicate with customers – whether that's through social media, email or online advertising. Combining this with a Marketing CRM will enable you to segment users according to certain parameters and engage them across the channels you know work. This takes standard retargeting to the next level  – instead of a generic banner ad, you are showing different users completely unique advertising based on their interaction with your business, with this information stored in the CRM.

Interaction types include:

  • Website page visitations
  • Content interactions
  • Opened emails and clicks
  • Purchase history
  • Funnel / Opportunity pipeline stage

Notify Staff of action, set reminders

Take advantage of Automation Workflows to simplify your business process by sending internal communications to marketing, sales, and customer service employees automatically. Real-time notifications via email and SMS messages can be sent when a consumer goes through their buying journey, with actionable insights that help teams determine when it's appropriate to contact the customer.

The CRM can also be used to produce task reminders. Create reminders for prospects and contacts so that you don't forget to follow up on a lead. By distributing duties across your sales and marketing teams, you may achieve closer integration between the marketing and sales journeys.

Marketing Automation Email
Notify Sales and Marketing teams when a customer goes through their buyer journey

Manage your brand storytelling

Creating days, weeks and months of content can become overwhelming. If you don't have the ability to track what messages are currently being delivered via each channel, you're going to find it really hard to deliver consistency of your brand story. Keep in mind that each customer is on his/her own journey with your brand. Like any relationship, this progresses and builds over time.

Content relevant to one customer may not be a good fit for another. Through segmenting, personas, targeting and automation, the CRM will enable you to deliver the right content at the right time. CRMs such as SharpSpring also enable brands to deliver dynamic content based on a customer's interaction or persona, providing a deeper level of personalisation and relevance.

What CRM Solutions should I use?

It's a big decision. We recommend beginning with a list of the capabilities, features and integrations you require in a CRM. Each business is unique, so make sure you do your due diligence.

CRMs can vary in price, toolsets, and functionality. Some are more sales-oriented and others offer a full range of features, including marketing automation. CRMs can have different structures and be built to support various industries such as hospitality, real estate, healthcare, or manufacturing.

The ideal CRM software for you will be determined by your budget, sector, and the nature of your business. What matters is how well the platform integrates with other apps as well as how customisable the CRM vendor is to your company. Because CRMs are always changing, it's a good idea to check them on a regular basis.

It's also beneficial for your CRM to support your marketing team's requirements and fulfill a variety of needs, including email marketing, marketing automation, customer segmentation and avatars, social media management and web analytics. Some of the better know CRMs that offer these features are SalesForce, Hubspot, Zoho and SharpSpring.

A better understanding of your customer for better brand outcome

Brand Agency - Blunt Agency believe the right marketing technology mix enables marketers to better connect with audiences and ultimately build a stronger brand. Get in touch with us to discuss how your brand can become remarkable through CRM and Marketing Automation.