By Katrina Olson
In the August issue of tED magazine, my Marketing 101 column covered CRM (customer relationship management) systems and how they work with marketing automation to multiply your marketing efforts.
CRM systems manage and analyze customer interactions and store customer data, while marketing automation can be set up to perform routine marcom tasks such as emailing, social media posting, and website actions on a predetermined schedule. Armed with this robust database and the ability to deliver highly personalized messages, companies can turn prospects into customers and manage existing business relationships.
We asked a couple of NAED members to tell us about their experience with CRM systems and marketing automation. Here's what they had to say.
Springfield Electric Supply and Tour de Force
Some companies start with a CRM system and use it to track customer activity and, in the case of Illinois-based Springfield Electric Supply Company, laser focus their marketing. Their current platform is Tour de Force CRM, which they use to store and manage customer information across 16 locations.
“I'm responsible for a decentralized team of technical specialists who have access to all of our company's accounts. The system provides them information such as contact names, a record of customer activities, opportunities including quotes, and product purchases by manufacturer,” explains Springfield Electric's Technical Solutions Manager Gary Huwe. “Our CRM provides a centralized area for data and information for a decentralized team.”
When it comes to marketing, Huwe taps his CRM to identify specific target markets among their customers. “Recently, we developed a campaign for our automation business which targeted our industrial, OEM and system integrator customers. We used our CRM to build a contact list, then sent a video, product information and contact details.”
Huwe warns that a CRM system requires constant maintenance. “If you aren't providing input to the system regularly (if not daily) and the information isn't accurate, you won't be using your CRM to its full potential. Having associates buy into and use the system is the key to success. This means everyone involved has to maintain and provide current contacts, the status of current opportunities, and a record of customer activities.”
Tour de Force's website claims that it integrates with more than 45 ERP Systems, delivering “dashboards, scorecards, reports, analytics, and KPI tracking, allowing you to spot trends, manage sales goals, and improve the visibility of your quotes and opportunities.”
State Electric Supply and SharpSpring
Laurie Bohren, graphic designer for West Virginia-based State Electric Supply Co. uses SharpSpring which includes behavioral-based email automation, site tracking, and a built-in CRM system. It also integrates with existing CRMs and other third-party tools.
“With SharpSpring, we can identify, segment, track and score specific leads or customers based on their behavior. We then take this information and automate marketing content based on their activity,” explains Bohren.
When State Electric gets a new customer, they set them up on a workflow—a series of steps and rules that serve to determine what communication a customer will receive. “As soon as we input a new account into the system, we set them up on an email campaign. Initially, they receive three emails, once a week that introduce them to State Electric, summarize their solutions, and promote State Electric Supply's social media sites,” shares Bohren.
“We like that we can set up behavioral-based, automated emails, identify and engage leads, build dynamic forms, and have a CRM system all in one platform with lots of features in an extremely user-friendly interface,” explains Bohren. “The only challenge is making sure we understand what it has to offer so we can fully utilize its potential.”
Find What Works
These are two companies' experiences and not a recommendation by tedmag.com, tED magazine or the author. You should explore several companies, ask questions, watch demos and even try several platforms before making a final decision. Some other CRM platforms to consider are Salesforce, SMP (Sales Management Plus), WPCRM by WebPresented, Rubber Tree Systems, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and SugarCRM.
Watch for my Marketing 101 column in the October issue of tED magazine for more information about marketing automation.
Olson is a marketing and public relations consultant, and principal of Katrina Olson Strategic Communications. She has written for tED magazine's print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine's Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and emceed the Best of the Best Awards ceremony for a total of seven years. She can be reached at Katrina@katrinaolson.com or via her website at katrinaolson.com.
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