Data is an essential component of any business and particularly relevant to marketing strategy.
As technology has become more sophisticated and our lifestyles moved online the emphasis on data has increased. Data provides knowledge and insight into customers and prospects. At its simplest CRM or Customer Relationship Management allows businesses to successfully manage and maintain data forming better relationships and gaining a better view of their business.
The main aims of a CRM system are to:
- Gain a better understanding of customers and prospects
- Simplify and more accurately target marketing
- Win new customers and retain current ones
- Increase ROI
- Reduce Costs
A Customer Relationship Management system has at its heart a Single Customer View database and acts a single integrated dashboard from which all business data can be accessed. The information held is dependent entirely on the type of organisation but generally includes customer and prospect data such as contact details, marketing preferences, account details, sales opportunities, interaction histories and subscriptions.
The most obvious benefit to this configuration is convenience; having all data in a single place and, crucially, in a single format, gives management and employees access to relevant information instantly. This saves an enormous amount of time and stress that may previously have been spent accessing rolodexes, spreadsheets, Google drives or any number of disparate storage facilities. Having data from all company departments in a single location also makes collaboration easier and allows an organisation to trim waste and streamline business plans.
For smaller businesses a CRM solution may simply be the process of moving all their data into a single place and then moving it to The Cloud. This allows an organisation to access all their data any time, any place and on any device in real time. Overtime as the business grows their relationships generally become more complex and move away from a simple buyer/seller dynamic. As the business grows so too does the CRM solution and begins to incorporate more sophisticated functionality. Often the main aim of this process is to customise online presence to create a more personalised user experience. This can include marketing automation suites, reporting functionality, social media integration and 360 view of organisations and customers.
Increasingly CRM solutions are based in the cloud and come as a SaaS (Software as a Service) Solution. This essentially means that the client who purchases the solution never actually has the software installed in their office but rather logs on to access the database over the internet. This negates the need for any costly or invasive set up on the behalf of the client. The CRM solution can then be accessed by the client whenever they need it and usually on any device such as mobiles or tablet computers. Any repairs or updates to the product will also be handled by the CRM supplier.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Solutions often include integrated marketing automation capabilities. The main aim of CRM Marketing is to send out highly targeted, automated messages across multiple channels. These commonly include email, mobile, letter and social. A good CRM system will allow organisations to build a strong mailing list, design a superior mailer, test the campaign, send out the message to numerous complex parameters and finally analyse the results with reporting functionality.
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