In 2021, increasingly more businesses have embraced Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Indeed, SuperOffice reports that “91% of companies with more than 11 employees now use CRM software.” But why is that? Well, the answer to that would require a slew of articles to cover thoroughly. In brief, CRM keeps customer information organized and consolidated, making it actionable for different departments. To illustrate this final point, let’s use this article to explore the importance of CRM in digital marketing.
What is CRM?
First, let’s define CRM software. Chances are you’ve already heard of it, given its immense popularity and market share. Indeed, Statista finds it is now the single largest software market in the world, and shows no signs of shrinking:
Still, what exactly is this software juggernaut? As the name implies, CRM software seeks to manage all aspects of a business’s interactions with customers.
To do so, it typically comes with a set of core features:
- A consolidated customer database. Through this feature, CRM helps break down data silos and keep customer information accessible for all departments.
- Lead management tools. While exact features of this sort will vary, they will typically hinge on lead nurturing and scoring. Through such tools, CRM bridges the gap between marketing and sales.
- Automation features. These tools will also vary from one solution to the next, but will typically revolve around marketing and sales automation. In conjunction with Google Analytics, such features can fuel massive marketing improvements.
That said, CRM is an overarching software type with a massive scope. Therefore, when basic CRM solutions don’t suffice, the market offers subsets that hyper-focus on specific business functions. To best stress the importance of CRM in digital marketing, let us explore the 3 main ones among them.
- Operational CRM. This type primarily delves into automation; email automation, order confirmations, and so forth. Thus, it’s the most popular type for service, sales, and marketing improvements.
- Analytical CRM. In contrast, Analytical CRM delves into analytics, as the name implies. In doing so, it informs lead segmentation, nurturing, scoring, and management. Moreover, many such solutions offer predictive modeling capabilities for profitability analyses and sales forecasts.
- Collaborative CRM. Finally, Collaborative CRM seeks to streamline internal communications. To do so, it typically offers deeper channel management features, as well as document management and sharing tools.
These aside, some solutions will also come with an explicit industry focus to better serve said industry’s needs. For example, MoversTech CRM caters to the moving industry, fine-tuning its features to best meet the needs of relocation businesses.
All that said, however, each solution will differ substantially from the next – even from ones within the same subset, or ones with the same industry focus. Thus, in all cases, extensive prior research is always highly advisable.
The Importance of CRM in Digital Marketing
Now, with definitions out of the way, let’s discuss the importance of CRM in digital marketing. To do so, we may pinpoint 3 ways in which it fuels marketing endeavors.
#1 Audience Insights
First and foremost, all marketing starts with audience insights. SEO experts stress this constantly, and for good reason; how can you market to audiences you don’t deeply know?
As this illustration of the customer journey by SEMRush highlights, every journey begins with discovery. SEO experts agree, advocating for deeper audience insights through every source available. That’s the very first step of the process where CRM can help, in a multitude of ways like:
- Buyer personas and customer journey mapping. Through CRM’s database, businesses can craft more accurate buyer personas to enhance their customer journey maps.
- Lead segmentation. Similarly, lead segmentation and management tools can shed further light on the exact audiences their marketing teams should focus on.
- Interaction history. Finally, detailed interaction histories reveal both patterns of behavior and pain points. In turn, they allow for more accurate retargeting and more cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
Of course, CRM won’t help with lead generation in the traditional SEO sense. However, it can inform buyer personas that will and enhance lead acquisition success rates.
#2 Personalization and Retention
Now, audience insights are indeed crucial. However, as the suggestions above should hopefully suggest, it’s their applications that best illustrate the importance of CRM in digital marketing. In this regard, consider marketers’ renewed focus on the Customer Experience (CX) as a crucial starting point.
HubSpot’s flywheel model is increasingly becoming a viable alternative to the traditional funnel model for marketers. That’s in no small part because it champions the aforementioned customer-centric perspective, which values retention. In turn, when research reaffirms that customer retention is such a crucial metric, CRM becomes an invaluable marketing ally. In this regard, consider such applications of it as the following:
- Personalized marketing. Troves of customer data can drive personalized marketing, even informing SEO keyword research. Behavior patterns can fuel psychographic and behavioral segmentation, for example, while interaction histories can inform product suggestions.
- Customer retention strategies. Similarly, CRM data explicitly seeks to enhance customer service quality through customer records. Combined with personalized marketing, strategies that leverage CRM data can enhance customer satisfaction, and, in turn, retention rates.
Here, naturally, CRM will require a healthy content marketing strategy to yield optimal results. As highlighted above, insights are indeed valuable, but it’s their practical applications that ultimately separate success from failure.
Finally, on the subject of operational efficiency, automation is now a prevalent, tried-and-tested marketing practice. In brief, automation offers to automate tasks that don’t require much, if any, creative oversight. Here, the importance of CRM in digital marketing comes in full display, as its automation features are vast. Namely, the three main types of CRM automation are:
- Marketing automation. Among other types of automation, this type includes email automation, lead generation, and data syncing.
- Sales automation. In turn, sales automation includes call scheduling, as well as task delegation and lead assignment.
- Service automation. Finally, service automation includes case routing to appropriate agents and customer self-service portals. Notably, CRM service automation can expand to AI-powered chatbots as well.
Understandably, while most CRM solutions should offer some automation features, Operational CRM specifically excels at automation. That said, we should still reiterate that CRM solutions’ features will inevitably vary quite considerably.
To summarize, the importance of CRM in digital marketing cannot be overstated. CRM offers a consolidated customer database that breaks down data silos and facilitates better collaboration across departments. It allows for deeper audience insights, informing customer segmentation that fuels personalization and fosters retention. Finally, and most importantly, as regards operational efficiency, it offers automation features to streamline workflows and enhance productivity. It’s this sheer potential to which it owes much of its current appeal with marketers, and understandably so.