CRM and Social Media: Making Progress

My recent trip to the Microsoft Convergence Conference really put into perspective where the futures of business applications are evolving towards. The most obvious two are Cloud Computing and Social Media. Realizing that residual income streams can make as much money as selling software products, Microsoft continues to invest heavily in bringing all of their solutions into the cloud.

Showcased at the conference were Azure technologies, integrated into on-premise applications. Connectors taking cloud based data and bringing it into and conversant with applications such as Microsoft CRM and others is allowing installed and heavily leveraged Microsoft users a little flexibility and breathing room as well as choices in terms of how they want their applications served up. Users have the option of on premises or hosted applications depending on their circumstances and resource availability.

The new version of Microsoft CRM 2011 is great. You can use local outlook and integrate with the hosted solution. A simple program installed by the user allows for quick connectivity between the cloud based solution and the local Outlook installation. The hosted solution allows for rapid implementation and configuration without significant administration or any real technical expertise needed.

Tightly integrated with many .ISV Social Networking Solutions, the new Microsoft CRM now has a new role – that of listener. You have to listen to the social conversations, pick up on key data and then be able to turn it into Marketing and selling intelligence that is useful.

The ability to reduce the noise of some key social posts and be able to filter useful information from garbage will determine who in the end wins the business deal. Having this competitive advantage by using CRM to filter social conversations is the key to the monetization of social media and on line success.

What it comes down for you, the small business is: the trend today is moving towards the cloud and to social media. In a nutshell, you have many low cost options available to get in the game. It costs little if anything (except time) for you to have a presence online and a low-cost-to-own powerful business tools.

Choose wisely and beware when it comes to social media because it has yet to really monetize on the business side. Invest in but go slowly. It’s still the traditional marketing that works and works well. Social Media Marketing still emerging and the monetization for both B to C and B to B is still a work in progress.

Comments

  1. very good post, cloud computing is the bazz today, And this important that Microsoft now is also in this market,

CRM and Email Marketing

Your contact database in your CRM system isn’t just a list of those all-important names and numbers attached to your clients and prospects; it’s the key to launching a successful email marketing plan. As mentioned in our previous post discussing Getting Specific with your Marketing Target: CRM and Marketing Segmentation, it is the detail with which any company keeps their CRM records that allow that database of contacts to detail the specific target market segments that you may want to reach out to via an email marketing campaign.

That being said, we know you have kept copious and detailed notes in your CRM database and segmented your contacts based on any number of criteria, from shopping history, geographic location or industry. Now it’s time to put those segments to work in an email campaign.

Email Marketing 101

There are three points to consider before launching your small business email marketing campaign.

  1. List validation.
  2. Internal or External Vendor Use.
  3. Marketing Goal.

Before we break down the above points, keep in mind that all email Marketing is controlled by the CAN-SPAM Act guidelines set by the Bureau of Consumer Protection. These rules and regulations are in place to control SPAM emails and fraudulent motives by emailers.

List Validation

You may know that you grew your list the organic way, through other contacts, through networking events or from existing clients, but your email marketing service depends on a truly validated list before you begin an email marketing plan. This means not only do you have to clean your list for invalid email addresses, you also need to consider that there may be contacts that would be adverse to email marketing on that hard-earned contact list in your CRM directory. Perhaps your list is old, and some of the contacts do not remember having met you. Maybe they simply don’t like the medium of communication.

Be sure that you comb through your list before downloading it and see if those detailed notes you keep on all your contacts offer any info that may show a reluctance to receive your email. You may want to start with one segment of your contacts to begin and add them as you go.

Though it can be a long process, sending your contact list an email from your company email server initially with an invite to “join your email list” – perhaps with an incentive – is the best way to go, this  way your email list builds in a traceable way that even outside email vendors cannot ignore.

Internal or External Vendor Use

Depending on your email server setup, you may have the ability to email your marketing content from your internal server. If so, keep your send-outs to 50 a day to avoid your server being listed as a SPAM source. You can create stylish HTML emails to send out this way, you just won’t have the tracking options and email marketing metrics offered by outside vendors.

If you intend to use an outside email marketing solution like aWeber or ConstantContact, then along with already-designed email templates, you have the ability to send out thousands of emails at a time to your segments. Metrics and tracking reports come along with most of the packages and can be scaled to your needs in many cases. Keep in mind that even with these options, the validity of your list is crucial so you may have to still start slow despite all those CRM contacts in your database, 50 invites at a time from your internal email server.

Marketing Goal

Now that you’ve complied with CAN SPAM ACT guidelines and are building a database of email contacts to market to, you need to decide what the point of conversion will be for your email message. In other words, what do you want your email recipients to do once they have read your email? What is your call to action?

You can have several in one email newsletter. Maybe you want them to subscribe to your blog, perhaps to attend a seminar or webinar event you are hosting. Perhaps you are offering a discounted service. No matter the conversion point(s), you need to be sure that the tone and graphics in your email newsletter support those goals, in lieu of detracting from them.

Email marketing can be a powerful tool for any business, but no matter how large your CRM database, it is doubtful you will be able to use the whole of it at the start of your email marketing campaign. Check those notes on each client account, and start inviting your contacts to join you in the realm of email marketing. With engaging and timely content, you will see that contact list grow even beyond your original CRM database over time and gain strength as a tool in your marketing arsenal.

CRM and Marketing Strategy

It’s been discussed how a current customer relationship management system, CRM, can effectively allow the creation of a target market segmentation as the first step of a small business marketing strategy. This segmentation answers the WHO aspect of building a marketing strategy, which then leads us to the WHAT, WHEN and HOW steps. Knowing to whom you plan to market opens the flood gates of possibilities for the rest of the marketing strategy.

What do you Plan to Say?

Once you select the target market segment you intend to reach out to with your current marketing push, you can decide what it is you plan on promoting based on that segment’s needs or common ground. Perhaps they share a shopping cycle and you want to increase their buying in their “off season” – perhaps a discount on products that drive their interest would be one idea. Perhaps your selected target market segment share an interest in a specific product or product line, then maybe you could upsell them on related products or accessories.

When do you Plan to Say it?

As in the example above of the companies within a target market segment that share a buying cycle, the “when” of your plan depends on the specific criteria of your selected target market segment. You don’t want to try and increase sales with clients that have just passed their most current buying cycle, so perhaps the marketing strategy for that segment goes on the blackboard for a few months down the road.

Timing is everything in marketing, so be sure you deeply understand the timelines your marketing segments follow for best results.

How will you Reach them?

A marketing strategy specifies the media that will be used to drive your marketing plan. Often times, companies launch a multi-tiered marketing plan that includes a blend of traditional and web marketing to extend the reach of their marketing message as far as possible. The trends of your selected target market segment from your CRM system will help you determine the best mediums to utilize for your marketing plan. If your current clients and prospects are active in Social Media, have email accounts, work online for their jobs or fall more in line with the traditional marketing practices of postcards or mailers can all be determined by your CRM notes and records, as well as some light research on the part of your marketing staff.

CRM records are a stand-alone, powerful resource to drive your small business marketing strategy. Keep your notes as detailed as possible to ensure the most targeted marketing for your business.

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  1. […] post: CRM and Marketing Strategy | social: Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 at 16:33 Tags: companies-launch, Marketing, […]

CRM and Small Business Marketing: It’s a Progressive Relationship

Your business relies on your return-customer base even more than it does your new clientele. The fact is, return clients are more apt to make purchases and turn to your brand for their needs. With this in mind, your CRM system needs to be managed effectively to be sure that you can cater to that return customer base as effectively, and as often, as you can. The question for most small business owners is, how?

You and your staff painstakingly manage your client records in a timely fashion, you know all you need to know about their needs and they are happy to return to you when they have one. All well and good, but as any business owner knows, the key to business is capitalizing on those sure-thing deals as often as you can. Repeat business is only as good as its frequency when you plan to use it as the base upon which you grow your company. That being said, how can you effectively make use of all that up-to-date contact information in your database to increase sales?

Think of your CRM system as the perfect precursor to your business marketing plan. It houses all the data you need to target your next marketing campaign to any segment of your existing client base. Take a look at your existing clients through your customer relationship management and you can see their buying habits, their timelines for purchase as well as see any trends that exist within those facts. You can see their lifespan with your company and track any notes from conversations in which they may have noted interests or concerns with products.

With all this information, you can segment your existing clients by their product interests, by their purchasing timeline with your company, by their buying habits or by those extended notes that may show other trends. It is with these criteria that you can divide your client list and then determine the segment or segments you intend to market to.

Base your business marketing on your clients’ needs, not those of your business. Using the data from your CRM segmentation, you can determine what product or promotion you can offer to increase your sales with that particular group.

As your clients’ needs and habits change, so will your segments as well as your marketing approach. The CRM-marketing relationship grows and progresses as you continue to closely follow and react to the needs of your clients.

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  1. […] you have a compilation of your existing client and prospects recorded in a CRM database? If you do, you have one of the most powerful tools for your small business marketing plan. With […]