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Analytical CRM Software - Definition and Key Features

Wednesday, December 4, 2019
Christopher Sirk
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So you’ve gathered up some data. Now how do you get real value out of it for your business? 

Enter analytical CRM applications. Software in this category works to make data available, intelligible, and actually relevant to your business needs. It allows for the analysis of sales data, finance data, and marketing data. The net benefit is customer acquisition, customer retention, and data management.

Analytical CRM works with operational and collaborative CRM tools to improve efficiencies across your business and generally just makes work smarter. 

Operational CRM (admittedly a bit of a catch-all term) is built for streamlining customer interactions with sales, marketing, and service automation. The idea is to generate leads, then convert them into customers and contacts.

Collaborative CRM is all about facilitating communication between team members. Collaborative tools let you pass along lead information to team members so you can have consistent, knowledgeable customer service interactions. 

Both types of CRM can benefit from the advanced data sorting and processing tools of analytical CRM. When you can track and share customer data and generate reports, everyone on your team is on the same page.

 

 

 

What is analytical CRM, specifically?

Analytical CRM works behind the scenes to improve your business. It does not directly handle customer interactions or 'front-line' operations. Instead, it quietly takes the information your business is generating about customers, stores it securely, and analyzes it so you can learn how to improve operations, both internally and externally.

All this cross-channel information is fed into the CRM as complex, massive piles of data that no human could decipher in any reasonable amount of time. This information is then processed to deliver intelligible insights. That lets you move from insight to tangible action so that you can streamline your business processes—like your sales pipeline, for example.

An analytical CRM system thus offers a structured, 'systematic' aid to business decision making. Most significantly for businesses concerned with making more money and scaling up, it aggregates customer information to build customer knowledge through data analysis, and scouts new sales opportunities.

Analytical customer relationship management makes your data work for your business. This data can come from many different channels, like social media, live chat, phone calls, your company website, face-to-face convos, purchase records, and so on. 

All this data is collated in one place by analytical CRM, providing visibility on your customer base and their preferences. This helps you segment customers, predict trends, and plan your marketing and targeted sales strategies for the future.

What does analytical CRM do?

Discover new trends and forecasting

Sometimes the most important trends are hard to see. An analytical CRM tool looks at past sales trends, as well as your current leads and opportunities, and locates patterns in purchasing behavior. 

This allows you to do sales forecasting and predict trends, including the speed and geographical location(s) at which they will develop, even before they take place. This can, of course, give you a big edge. 

You can assess things like the likelihood of conversion within a specific customer segmentation, based on time of year, time spent shopping, which channel the consumer learned about your product/service. Algorithms, machine learning, and business intelligence (BI) combine to clean up and refine your data, giving you the best business results with the least manual effort.

Customer Satisfaction

This category of CRM lets you analyze data and use it so that individual customers will see a benefit. 

Customer information of all descriptions can be collected and analyzed from multiple channels. You'll be able to build up customer profiles and understand their values, preferences, and determine demographic and geographic information.

Being able to understand the customer life cycle in terms of quantitative data offers holistic benefits for how to engage leads, convert leads to customers, and retain them. When you know your customers well-and-truly, it leads to improved customer experience and, in turn, more customer loyalty. That means more breathing room for your business to scale.

Marketing campaign optimization

An analytical CRM will allow you to rationalize your marketing efforts by showing where to put your resources and effort. By showing you which marketing campaigns are working, and which aren't, you can achieve the best results with the lowest expenditure of time, money, and human resources. 

Track leads across channels like email, web, voice, etc. and break them down into individual customer profiles. Lead scoring tools will allow you to achieve super-specific metrics on customers at different levels (i.e. regional and national) and rank them. In turn, that lets you run boutique, hyper-targeted campaigns. 

You'll be able to avoid outdated, ineffectual mass-blast marketing once and for all.

Optimization of marketing & sales activity

Predictive modeling for marketing helps use big data and business intelligence to anticipate customer behavior. Market trends and client preferences help you plan your marketing for the future. Based on past and current trends, you’ll have a better idea of what’s working in marketing and sales, and what's not, and be able to direct resources accordingly for best results.

Being able to monitor sales activity in-depth will likewise create highly legible feedback on how to refine the sales process. You'll be able to see which sales reps are doing what, and what their results are like. This will help you manage tasks and delegate them accordingly. 

Data warehousing and data mining

Data warehousing ensures all your data is securely stored in one place and available for analytical purposes. Information from call centers, billing/invoices, website, feedback forms, and a wide range of databases can, therefore, be accessed quickly, without the need to fish around in multiple siloed databases to come up with a complete picture.

Data mining analyzes your giant amounts of warehoused data to find meaningful patterns, so instead of trying to piece together scraps of information like some plucky detective, you can just have everything interpreted automatically. Relevant information can then be deployed quickly in the service of plotting effective marketing, sales, and customer service strategies. 

Online analytical processing

Online analytical processing, or OLAP, allows you to unify different datasets in one place. OLAP contains “multidimensional” data, unlike a flat 2D spreadsheet.

OLAP ensures your data is more flexible, and hence more useful, and more effective for real-time decision making. You can “roll-up” data to aggregate it and get a big-picture view, or drill-down to get hyper-detailed information on one small aspect. You can also slice, dice, and pivot different sections of your data to get specific, comparative insights.

It's all about being able to select and use all the relevant information you need to make more hyper-rational decisions. 

Analytical CRM example reports

Customer analysis 

Customer analytics can generate reports on customer behavior. This type of reporting helps you know and understand your customer base inside and out by generating profiles.

Analytical CRM finds patterns, then drills down and identifies the specific customer segments that offer the best business opportunities. It segments markets and direct your sales and marketing accordingly, and can also inform your future product and service offerings.

Sales analysis

Sales analytics look at your organization's overall sales processes, letting you understand the sales cycle, refine the sales pipeline, and rework strategy according to visible patterns. This information will also allow you to plan and predict your future sales volumes and profitability. 

Furthermore, sales reports can shed light on where to re-shuffle organizational priorities and assign sales reps.

Market analysis

Marketing analytics allows you to plan, manage, and scale up your marketing campaigns. You'll get information on where to place resources for new marketing campaigns, which products/services to market, and insights about how and where to market any new products.

You'll also get information on new marketing opportunities that you may not have thought about.

Service analysis

Service reports aggregate information from polls, customer sentiment analysis, and other channels to find out how your customer satisfaction is looking. This lets you work on your customer service offering as well as directing resources to the right places. You can also break down service costs and work on the balance between service costs and revenues earned.

Channel analysis

Channel analysis shows you how you're doing across different channels like email, social media, live chat, voice, etc. and where customers and leads are interacting with you the most. Having detailed information on cross-channel behavior will allow you to figure out customer preferences and refine how you communicate with your public.

Difference between operational CRM & analytical CRM 

Just to clarify, once and for all, Analytical CRM and Operational CRM are software categories with very separate functions. 

CRM solutions of the operational variety have holistic features to address customer-facing interactions. Sales force automation helps your team’s daily hustle by sorting information and improving workflow, while quotation management lets you generate quick quotes and keep track of those already in play. Lead management and contact management give you easy access to information on who’s who in relation to your business, and who they’re connected to in general.  

An Operational CRM uses data for automation and improving day-to-day work processes, but not nearly to the same extent as an Analytical CRM, which is all about data, full stop. 

Evidently, for best practice, these two categories of software work best when paired together. There are many platforms that are dedicated specifically to operational or analytical features, but many vendors design CRM platforms that incorporate analytical tools within a broader operational CRM framework. 

Case Study: How analytical CRM made one business better

Here's how one organization used Analytical CRM (in conjunction with other CRM tools) to improve sales over time, like a fine wine.

Interestingly enough, the company in question is a Californian winemaker called Bespoke Collection (it encompasses four brands). As the company grew, they faced problems with keeping track of customer data. 

Using analytical CRM tools, Bespoke Collection was able to do intelligent lead tracking and customer segmentation, finding the right clients to focus resources on, and in turn building lasting connections and customer loyalty. 

Analytical CRM cross-channel analytics are also used by order to trawl the web and social media for key decision-makers in Bay Area companies, allowing Bespoke to network, grow brand awareness, and encourage corporate philanthropy in their area. 

In the above case, Salesforce was the analytical and operational CRM solution that worked. But for many businesses, the answer may well be a different vendor. Here's a few analytical tools to consider.

5 Analytical CRM examples

 

Salesforce Einstein

Benefits:

As an advanced cloud-based business intelligence (BI) analytics platform, Einstein’s machine-learning is pre-trained with predictive models from Salesforce and adapts as more of your own data becomes available. This makes it a powerful analytic tool from the start, and it gets even smarter over time. 

Einstein can help show you the most important tasks, track KPIs plus other important metrics, and identify deals most likely to be closed. Storytelling feature allows you to automatically generate slide/presentation graphics, saving time and making info easy to share.

Drawbacks:

It’s quite expensive per user, putting it out of reach of some small businesses. Customer service is not always responsive.

Pricing:

  • Sales Cloud Einstein is $50 per user/per month billed annually.

  • Einstein Predictions (adds automated discovery and predictive insights) is $75 per user/per month, billed annually. 

  • Einstein Analytics Plus (advanced analytics with built-in AI) is $150 per user/per month, billed annually. 

Website: salesforce.com/products/einstein-analytics

 

HubSpot CRM & HubSpot Marketing Hub

Benefits:

In the HubSpot product ecosystem, the HubSpot CRM is the foundation for all other tools, acting as a data repository where all inbound information lives. Their CRM, which is free by the way, has analytics and reporting metrics built into its various dashboards. 

These analytical CRM features can be further beefed up when paired with HubSpot’s all-in-one Marketing Hub, which includes more advanced marketing analytics.

Drawbacks:

There is a fairly significant price jump between HubSpot's Marketing Hub Starter and Professional plans. 

Pricing:

  • HubSpot CRM is free for unlimited users and has basic analytical CRM features.

  • Marketing Hub Starter plan is $40 per month billed annually, and $50 per month, billed monthly. 

  • Marketing Hub Professional plan is $800 per month, billed annually.

  • Marketing Hub Enterprise plan is $3,200 per month, billed annually. 

Website: hubspot.com

 

Zoho Analytics

Benefits:

Zoho Analytics offers in-depth reporting, data analysis, and automatic or scheduled data sync from apps, servers, and any other places it might be (.CSV files, Microsoft Excel, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc.)

The platform provides a drag-and-drop, highly visual user interface, with deep analytical tools and collaborative features.

Drawbacks:

UI is visually attractive and generally effective, but not as customizable as it could be. Reporting data is served on Zoho servers, so you can't access your data outside of the app. 

Pricing:

  • Free plan is available for up to 2 users (limit of 10,000 rows of data, unlimited reports/dashboards and more).

  • Basic plan for up to 2 users is $22 per month billed annually, and $25 per month billed monthly.

  • Standard plan for up to 5 users is $45 per month billed annually, and $50 per month billed monthly.

  • Premium plan for up to 15 users is $112 per month billed annually, and $125 per month billed monthly.

  • Enterprise plan for up to 50 users is $445 per month billed annually, and $495 per month billed monthly. 

A free trial is available for all paid plans. You can add additional users to all plans at a cost of $8 per user/per month (price is the same for both monthly and annual billing cycles).

Website: zoho.com/analytics

 

Zendesk Explore

Benefits:

Zendesk Explore is an analytics and reporting tool in the broader Zendesk toolkit. It’s built to pull data from support and service operations to help you measure and improve customer experience. Omnichannel analytics and intuitive dashboards make it easy to keep track of KPIs.

Drawbacks:

Your Zendesk numbers are imported and refreshed in Explore every hour, as opposed to real-time, up-to-the-moment sync. Generating complex reports can be tricky.

Pricing:

  • Lite plan is free if you purchase Zendesk Support Professional or above.

  • Professional plan is $9 per user/per month billed annually, and $12 per user/per month billed monthly. 

In order to use Zendesk Explore, you’ll need to purchase a Zendesk Support Professional or Zendesk Suite subscription.

Website: zendesk.com/explore

 

Nextiva

Benefits:

Nextiva is a VoIP-centric vendor that offers an analytics tool for marketing, sales, and customer support as part of its full-stack NextOS platform. Built for customers, NextOS folds CRM, chat, telephony, analytics, and surveys into one tidy package. 

The platform's voice analytics allow you to segment and drill down data by region, day, hour, and inbound/outbound. You can also access detailed call summary data, comparative trend analysis and sales activity, and call recordings.

Drawbacks:

Many users have commented that implementing Nextiva (i.e. training team members and getting everything up and running) is a time-intensive process. 

Pricing:

  • Basic plan is $35 per user/per month for 1-4 users, billed monthly. 

  • Pro plan is $38 per user/per month for 1-4 users, billed monthly.

  • Enterprise plan is $55 per user/per month for 1-4 users, billed monthly. 

Contract plans are available for 12, 24, or 36 months. Contracting pricing is flexible; price per user decreases with the length of contract and size of the organization.

Website: nextiva.com

Third-party analytics tools for CRM

While the following tools may not be CRMs, they’re dedicated analytics platforms that link to your CRM (and a bunch of other apps) to make your data extra useful. 

They’re independently developed and made to work with software from a range of companies.

 

Grow

Benefits:

Grow offers business intelligence solutions for small and scaling businesses, making actionable insights from deep data-diving accessible to virtually anyone. Their M.O. is all about clearly defining and then unifying data, metrics, and analytics to produce clear visualizations and smart predictions.

You can connect Grow to your Google Analytics data, and use this data in tandem with in-depth business information stored on your CRM of choice.

Drawbacks:

Lack of customization options. Highly visual UI can get laggy sometimes.

Pricing:

  • Grow is available starting at $29 a month, billed annually. 

Grow offers a 14-day free trial on request.

Website: grow.com

 

Mixpanel

Benefits:

Mixpanel offers user analytics tools designed around a simple premise: if you can clearly decode the behavior of visitors, leads, and customers on your website, you can make smarter business decisions.

Features include correlation analysis, look-alike modeling, and other data science techniques. Measure user behavior and make the correct product/service offering decisions in relation to business goals. 

Drawbacks:

Somewhat complex to learn. Team collaboration options are lacking.

Pricing:

  • Free Core Analytics version for unlimited users (limit of 1,000 monthly tracked users and 90-day data history).

  • Growth plan for unlimited users is $779 per year.

  • Enterprise plan is priced in consultation with vendor (features additional B2B analytics, customizable data history, and more).

Website: mixpanel.com

How to begin using analytical CRM

If you’re hesitant to take out your wallet just yet, try one of the free trials offered by one of the above analytical CRM vendors and start poking around to see what these tools might be able to offer your business.

It should be said that CRM software of this type does have a bit of a learning curve involved. That’s not to say that analytical CRM systems are hard to use, but rather that you’ll need to allow some time to get your team using them in an effective way. Thankfully, many vendors now offer quality tutorials and live support, so you should be able to get up-to-speed pretty quickly.

Apart from getting better at using analytical CRM tools over time, as you accumulate more and more useful data, you’ll also gain more benefits from using analytical CRM over time. And with that said, now is as good a time as any to get started. Crunch some numbers with an analytical CRM today, grow your bottom line tomorrow!

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