Marketing CRM: The Tools of Attraction

Monday, September 30, 2019
Michael Zunenshine
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CRM.ORG is a knowledge hub for all things work: digital tools, customer service relationship software, and other innovative methodologies for exploring work-related relationships. In “What is a CRM?”, we break down the meaning of the three-letter monster that is CRM and explore the history, benefits, and features of the customer relationship software.  
 
 

Marketing wears many hats. One of them is working the frontline, facing people who have never had anything to do with a particular business or brand.

No department provides prospects for marketing. Yet, marketing has the important task of supplying the sales department with leads.

Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the marketing department is sometimes required to generate prospects and customers from unexpected places.

But when is a lead ready to be turned over to sales?  

In ecommerce, is it when somebody simply lands on a page after clicking an ad or a search result? Or is it after someone answers a CTA? Maybe this transition only happens when a visitor browses some products, or even loads up a cart, only to abandon it at checkout.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Leads pumped into the sales funnel too quickly might not be ready or qualified, thus wasting a lot time for the sales team, while turning over leads too late risks incurring higher drop-out rates.

Today’s digital economy is thankfully more sophisticated than old-school tactics of playing “pipeline hot potato” with potential future customers. Thanks to CRM software, marketing and sales work together much more smoothly in attracting visitors, nurturing leads and closing deals.

The kernel of CRM systems may have been with sales, but its overflowing utility has popped well into marketing and customer service teams. This is not your typical expansionary business practice. CRM is built around the principle that inter-departmental overlap is a good thing.

But each department—sales, marketing and customer service—still has its own specific tasks, and marketing’s unique “frontline” challenges may be ones to which other departments are least capable of lending a hand.  

Luckily, there’s marketing-driven customer relationship management.

Marketing CRM’s bag of tricks

Landing pages

These are arrival touch points after clicking an ad or a search result. They’re often different from homepages, as landing pages are more specifically related to what was searched for, or what ad attracted that click.

It might change based on the temporal or geographical coordinates. For example, if you own an online clothing store for women, your landing page may show swimwear to American customers in July and to Australian customers in January.

Marketing CRM helps build and design landing pages using no-brainer visual editors and customizable templates. Otherwise, back-end coding and front-end design can be slow and costly when one needs to constantly whip up new pages on the fly.

Ads and SEO

Often, Marketing CRM also includes templates to create ads, mostly on social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram where they’re non-obtrusively inserted into people’s timelines. Because no one likes pop-up ads.

Ads and landing pages need to include hot SEO language to come up on top for related searches. Marketing CRM sometimes features spontaneous SEO suggestions when composing texts.

For example, maybe you’re writing a page to promote your line of plastic handbags. While you write “plastic,” the word “PVC” is suggested, which was based on algorithmically-accrued data from recent online fashion trends.

Segmenting and Emails

People who land on a page, or even fill out a form, may not be strong enough leads to be passed down to sales just yet. However, light leads still need to be nurtured.

Marketing CRM segments these leads into different categories, for example: based on how much time they spent on the site, what links they clicked, or how much personal info they shared on a form.

Based on segments, CRM helps marketers prepare different campaigns so their brand stays “top-of-mind” until the lead is ready to become active. This usually takes the form of email reminders.

Like with pages and ads, composing and designing emails is quick and easy with marketing CRM. “Drip” features allow a scheduled series of emails to arrive incrementally over a time-period. Single blast emails are useful for announcing big news like new products or promotions.

Data

Just as people behave differently on a landing page, so too will they react differently to marketing emails. Marketing CRM tracks this behavior by noting opened mail and counting click-throughs, which in turn creates an even more detailed picture of each lead.

Regular testing the efficacy of landing pages and emails is a sharp tool in the marketing CRM kit. Features like A/B testing reveal what gets higher engagement, and this data is regularly fed back into the planning and composing of the next round of marketing content.

Marketing craves data. All that testing and tracking means there’s gushing wells of the stuff, which makes for invaluable analytics reports.

Workflows and automation

Finally, there are automated workflows. These are tasks which are triggered by events that marketing CRM lets you set up.

Say, you create a trigger when someone has visited your site without answering the CTA. A pre-composed email gets auto-sent with a reminder, maybe offering an added incentive. Or if someone drops out near the end of a purchase, a sad picture of their abandoned item can instantly pop up in a live chat, or appear in their inbox.

Some platforms to pick from:

Drip eCRM

As the name suggests, Drip eCRM focuses on two things. First, they specialize in drip marketing, where potential leads get steady reminders about a brand through a scheduled succession of emails. Second, their services are geared towards ecommerce.

Another selling point is that they are highly affordable, and therefore primed to help small and independent businesses. Their automated email modules are deliverable as either drip campaigns or as broadcasts, which are big blast emails to a whole mailing list or segment. Drip also has a dedicated Facebook ad builder.

HubSpot

HubSpot was at the ground floor of the inbound marketing movement—that is, attracting people to your brand with great content, rather than pushing products onto people to get their cash.

Blogging qua marketing is huge with HubSpot, as it’s one of the main forms of original content that brings in leads.

Like many options, HubSpot has codeless page and email builders, with A/B testing modules, and spontaneous SEO suggestions. You can get the basic platform absolutely free, or pay for up to four times as many features. HubSpot also integrates with Salesforce for even closer marketing-sales relationships.

Keap (previously Infusionsoft)

Keap, recently rebranded from Infusionsoft, sets its sights on small businesses mostly within the service sector, so there’s a bunch of features for appointments, quotes and invoicing. When it comes to marketing, they improve customer interactions by offering visual editors for building campaigns like emails and landing pages, as well as some ready-to-use templates available from their marketplace.

The tracking features collect leads into different segments, each of which gets delivered personalized “nudges” to close more deals, while workflows automate tasks based on triggers. Data from campaigns, tracking and workflows become intelligible through statistical reporting.   

BPM’Online Marketing

Like other software reviewed here, BPM does more than marketing, yet their central mission is still to acquire, prepare and qualify leads in the marketing stage of the customer experience, before passing them to sales.

BPM helps plan and execute marketing campaigns with a simple visual designer tool. On top of these campaigns, you can set up triggers for contacts who take a certain action, like answering a CTA. There’s also real-time monitoring and analyzing the efficacy of each campaign.

Similarly to the marketing campaigns, their email marketing benefits from a built-in visual WYSIWYG (that’s “what you see is what you get”) bulk mail creator, which also comes loaded with ready-to-use templates. There are A/B split testing and click-stat tools for gauging the most successful emails, and all that data feeds into their larger analytics.   

The overall appearance and functionality of BPM’s dashboard has been designed to look and feel like a social app, meaning its intuitive to learn and great for sharing insights.

Don’t hesitate to integrate

Marketing automation, like all automation in CRM land, is meant to free up time and energy for the species homo marketus.

While many marketing CRMs have plenty of automated features, one can always look for a CRM that integrates with 3rd-party automation apps. Integrating your CRM of choice with marketing automation tools can help build and automate the delivery of emails, texts, and social media ad campaigns.

Customer.io

Customer.io handles all-around messaginging automation: emails, SMS and push notifications. You can segment a contact list based on things like personal attributes (such as age), or events (actions users have taken on your site) so that each segment can receive bespoke notifications.

There are transactional emails. These help guide customers out the end of the pipeline with automated reminders to send payments, and afterward get them their receipts.

The platform also includes email A/B testing and drip emailing, while the various success rates of these campaigns are laid out in Customer.io’s conversion tracking and performance reports.

Customer.io integrates with Salesforce for CRM, Zapier, IFTTT, and many more.

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is one of the original names in email databasing and automated blast emails. They offer easy-to-use design tools to build email marketing campaigns, as well as tailored messages to reach people in their social media feeds.

Heck, they even do IRL postcards (actually, so does Customer.io… Viva Retro!).

Mailchimp offers a stack of automation features, sending emails based on triggers like ‘new sign-ups,’ to wishing a contact a ‘happy birthday,’ to thanking them for making a purchase or reminding them if they abandoned their cart.

As far as integrations go, Mailchimp boasts a huge collection of ready-to-merge services, with CRMs like Salesforce, Batchbook, and Insightly.

Autopilot

Autopilot, a visual-heavy everything-marketing automator, overflowing with features like email A/B testing, SMS marketing and ad retargeting for both Facebook and Google.  

The company believes effective marketing automation is all about getting to know your customers and making every journey remarkable. Autopilot helps with this process by making the act of mapping out the customer journey “as easy as drawing on a whiteboard.”

Its user-friendly interface includes drag-and-drop functionality plus end-to-marketing automation features, campaign management, and ROI reporting.

Autopilot integrates with Salesforce, Pipedrive, HubSpot and countless other useful digital tools like Mailchimp, Gmail, Intercom, and Stripe.

ActiveCampaign

Emails are a powerful tool for marketers, but too many can be annoying and ultimately counterproductive. ActiveCampaign’s main email marketing strategy is to focus on sending fewer emails, but ones which are more highly targeted. This avoids annoying the recipients, as well as frees up time for marketers.

While ActiveCampaign does do broadcast “blast” emails, their strength comes from their tools for ‘triggered’ emails, which are sent after a customer action; ‘targeted’ emails, which are sent to specific contact segments; as well as email autoresponders, funnels, and email scheduling.

Other marketing features include site tracking, which offers valuable insight into what elements of your site your visitors are engaging with or ignoring. There’s also a cool automation feature that works based on scoring your contacts. For example, every visit to your site gets 10 points. If a contact racks up, say, 30 points, that can trigger an automated email offering them a promotion.

ActiveCampaign also offers a CRM, which skews mainly towards sales automation and it should be noted the ‘lite’ pricing plan doesn’t include the CRM. But for those who are ready to invest in a pricier plan, the combination of the ActiveCampaign’s marketing automation with their sales CRM is sure to deliver a most-well-rounded package for both departments..

Marketo

Having been taken under the Adobe umbrella back in October, the marketing-engagement platform Marketo can now count on their parent’s Experience Cloud’s analytics to further boost its usefulness.

For Marketo, automation begins with lead generation. This includes SEO tools to drive more leads to your site, targeted ads for Google, Facebook and LinkedIn, and the ability to create personalized content based on customer demographics, or for wherever they are in the sales pipeline.

Once leads have been converted into customers, Marketo uses AI to identify which customers are ready to further engage with your brand, thereby increasing cross-selling and up-selling opportunities, plus forging stronger customer ties.

Marketo also helps measure the success of marketing campaigns with a tracking module, which ties ROI to campaigns, and allows for quick changes to be implemented based on successes and shortcomings.

Marketo also has apps designed to work specifically in tandem with most popular CRM platforms, like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, and even their most ‘basic’ pricing plan includes CRM integration.  

We’re first but nobody’s last

Marketing may open doors, but marketing campaigns are so much more than a doorman.

Positioned as the first step of a customer’s journey, marketing sometimes fumbles around blindly without proper customer data. Yet with the right marketing CRM, your marketing department can capture as much data as possible, making all internal operations a whole lot easier.

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