A few weeks ago, I talked about the different types of CRM. Today, I will go into a little more detail about Marketing CRMs. Knowing what type (or even types) of CRM you need can help narrow your search. Knowing what each type of CRM can offer can also open your eyes to things you might need in the future or even make a big difference now, even if you didn’t realise that capability was an option.

Before going into more detail, it is a good idea to clarify the basic feature that every CRM needs to have: to create and manage an ongoing record of who your customer is, and the interactions that they have with you. Many other types of software might interact with your customers. For example, ERP software (ERP = enterprise resource planning) will often support transaction order processing, and project management software might support customer-specific project execution and even some communication. If your business uses these types of software, you might not need a separate CRM if you have relatively few customers and only need to support transactional interactions with them. For marketing CRMs, online course software often covers some of the same capabilities. If you have software like Kajabi, and only need basic marketing, you might not invest in a marketing CRM. Check out what you have and compare it to these specialised marketing capabilities.

What do Marketing CRMs do?

Marketing CRMs support large-scale, automated (and usually online) customer interactions. In most cases, a marketing CRM is focused on an individual person as a contact. If you are selling to businesses and need to link these people to companies and track activities that way, make sure to check that your marketing CRM can do that!

Marketing CRMs often started as email distribution software, and many still stay primarily in this space, but it is now common for a marketing CRM to do so much more!

For example, many marketing CRMs will link up with your website. Some of the options on offer include:

  • Creating newsletter subscription forms
  • Create landing and sales pages
  • Tracking prospect and customer online behaviour

Marketing CRMs may also link to social media, linking your customers to their social profiles and supporting your social activity.

And finally, they continue to support bulk communications, but nowadays, they do so in increasingly sophisticated ways. Not only can you plan to send your email newsletter to a list, but you can plan complex sequences of communications that are usually called “journeys” – for example, if you send an offer, you can follow up differently depending on if the customer has done nothing, read the email, click through, or accepted the offer. Customer activity can also trigger these sequences, not just a fixed send date. For example, you could set up an onboarding sequence for a new customer or an abandoned cart sequence for a customer that didn’t complete their order.

This kind of marketing also is often supported by event management functions, where your CRM can help you manage events, from setting up promotion and registration pages to managing online or face-to-face event attendance and follow-up. You can see how this might link with the communications journey capabilities.

What are examples of Marketing CRMs?

At the top end, you have specialised vendors like Adobe and Eloqua, which large, sophisticated marketing organisations often use. There is a lot of mid-range marketing software available. These often have basic “starter” versions too. Examples are ConvertKit, Active Campaign, Infusionsoft/Keap and many more. Mailchimp is another well-known product that has extended towards the mid-level but still includes a free starter version. There are also many entry-level products like MailerLite.

With ALL these products, make sure that you look at how the cost might evolve for you. You always buy them at a monthly or annual price. That price usually limits how many customers can be on your records and/or how many communications you send. Knowing where you are now and having a realistic idea of where you might be in 1, 3 or even 5 years is essential to avoid future sticker shock with your pricing.

What if I need my marketing to link with other systems?

Often, big businesses will have a dedicated marketing platform that they link to their sales or service platforms. They have weighed up the need for specific marketing capabilities versus the cost of integrating the different parts of their customer information – or the cost of leaving that information in different siloes.

As a small business, integration is becoming more of a possibility, with a lot of software providing standard integration links (APIs), either directly to other platforms, for example, account software like Xero, or open links that an integration platform like Zapier can use. This can be a fantastic option, but make sure those links work how you expect before buying new software and relying on those integrations.

Are you considering if you need dedicated marketing software? Or could you use what you have more effectively? Please book a call if you want some insights into your specific situation.