Email Marketing: How to Harness the Power of a CRM For Cheap

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can be a very powerful tool for brands looking to provide top-notch customer experiences, identify new leads, and drive more sales.


But one main pitfall of CRM is that it can be complicated and expensive. If you don’t have a dedicated team member (or more) to manage your CRM, it can be hard to make the most of its capabilities.

The good news for smaller brands is that you don’t need to invest in a CRM to bring such features to your marketing efforts. 

Modern-day email platforms like Mailchimp are building in more and more CRM-like features that you can take advantage of. 

And the great thing about CRM-integrated email platforms is that they scale as your business does — so you can start with (and pay for) what you need and can make use of, and then add in new integrations as you want.

If you hit the point where your email platform’s CRM features aren’t enough, you can upgrade to a full-fledged CRM like Salesforce, and integrate it with your email setup so you can keep growing without having to port everything to a new system overnight.

Here are some of the main features you’ll find in a CRM, and how current email platforms stack up.

Contact Management

What Is It?

In a traditional CRM, you can manage all your business’ contacts: customers, contractors, employees, suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and more.

Can Email Do It?

Email platforms can handle the most important part of this, which is your customer contact management. 

You can store and track individual contact information (name, email, phone, address, etc.) for each customer, and you can make your own customized fields for your customers, too. 

For example, you could include each customer’s interests, spending history with your brand, how they learned about your company, and more — all culled from surveys, email sign-up forms, and internal data.

This type of contact management allows you to create custom segments for targeted email campaigns. You can segment to your heart’s desire — even to the point where you’re targeting individuals with personalized emails!

Where Email Falls Short:

The place where email falls a bit short is in internal contact management. You can  create lists and contact profiles of employees, suppliers, etc., which is good for keeping all of their contact information organized in one place. 

But communicating via an email platform on a quick, back-and-forth basis isn’t ideal. You’re better off using a tool like Slack for your internal communications, and your direct email service provider (e.g., Gmail) for other needs.

Tracking Customer Interactions

What Is It?

One big perk of using a CRM is the ability to track all your interactions with each contact. 

Say a customer receives an automated email that drives them to get a quote from your company. Your team member emails them, which then leads to a phone call. Then the customer calls back later to finalize their purchase, but a different salesperson takes their call. We’re losing track of this just writing it, and we’re the ones making up the scenario! 

But this type of back-and-forth is a breeze for a CRM. It will show that new salesperson all past communications and the nature of each, so they can pick up where the conversation left off.

Can Email Do It?

Email marketing platforms are typically thought of as simply tools for mass communication, where a group of contacts receive the same email and you hope they take the bait. But now, Mailchimp has a feature called “Conversations” in which the campaigns a customer receives and their replies are stored for you to pull up on demand.

And with the automation and customization tools in Mailchimp, your system can send out emails that are so personalized that you can be sending different campaigns out to each individual contact. 

Where Email Falls Short:

Tracking customer interactions on an email platform is going to be relegated to tracking email interactions only. You won’t be able to tie in phone calls, social media messages, and other forms of communication. To do that, you’ll need a CRM.

Lead Management

What Is It?

A lead is a contact with the potential to become a customer, a transformation we refer to in marketing as a conversion.

In digital marketing, we’re often working with hundreds or thousands of people (or even more) that we’re reaching through social media ads, SEM, and organic content. When dealing that many contacts, it’s important to have an automated software system to track each of those individual’s responses to our ads and emails, and to sort out the potential leads. That way you can provide customized responses to each of your leads.

Understanding the behavior of your leads helps you market to them more effectively — when we applied our customer flow strategy to client Carefree Dental’s leads, they saw a 120% boost in sales!

Can Email Do It?

Mailchimp has a couple of features to assist with lead management. The first is click tracking in your email campaigns, where you can look at which of your contacts is clicking on what. 

Imagine you have a product page on your website, and you link to it in different email campaigns — possibly even targeted to different segments of your audience. With click tracking enabled, you can view who clicked on that link and even find out who completed a purchase on said product page. 

Mailchimp will also allow you to track clicks to that URL from other sources such as Facebook and Twitter. Then you can filter out who has yet to convert and follow up with customized emails.

Plus, you can integrate Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics to add even broader tracking features.

Another powerful lead management tool in Mailchimp is it’s Purchase Likelihood predictor. This tracks each contact’s purchase history to notify you of who is most likely to make a purchase again (and when). This allows you to segment off these “high value” contacts and send a personalized campaign or offer that is likely to drive more sales.

On top of that, Mailchimp will analyze common traits across all your high-value contacts and apply them to new contacts, allowing you to identify likely buyers before they’ve even made a purchase!

Sales Funnel Overview

What Is It?

A proper CRM includes a sales funnel overview tool where you follow each leads position in the sales funnel and look at what you can do to move them further down it.

Can Email Do It?

The short answer is, no, not really. 

Where Email Falls Short:

While the lead management and behavior tracking features of Mailchimp and other email marketing platforms are effective, they don’t have a fully dedicated sales funnel overview feature like most CRMs do. 

If you want your salespeople to be able to easily manage each customer’s journey through the sales funnel, you may want to invest in a system like Pipedrive. And the good news is, it integrates with Mailchimp so you can bring its power into your system and improve the precision of your target campaigns.

Document Management

What Is It?

Every company is swimming with marketing documents. Images, video files, pdfs, and more that you link to and embed in emails, your website, and more. A document management system is a one-stop digital shop where you can keep all of your documents catalogued for easy access.

Can Email Do It?

Mailchimp has a feature called Content Studio, where you can upload files to and access as needed. This also integrates with Instagram so you can pull in your photos from that platform.

Plus, Mailchimp also has a file manager, allowing you to share files with individual contacts a la Dropbox. Speaking of Dropbox, you can always use that or Slack in conjunction with Mailchimp to manage files, especially for internal team use.

Automation of Workflow

What Is It?

In digital marketing, workflow automation is a method by which you set up a system to automatically send out communications based on contact behavior, based on trigger actions that contact takes.

Can Email Do It?

Mailchimp has workflow automation built into its system. The platform has preset triggers (e.g., when someone first subscribes to your list), but you can also create customized triggers for your specific needs.

For example, if someone clicks on a specific link in a general email newsletter, workflow automation schedules a follow-up email targeted to that contact, with content tailored to their interest (which it knows because of what the contact clicked on).

BKMedia Group uses email automation like this all the time, with impressive results to show for it. When we set up a workflow automation system for a Fortune 500 client of ours, they saw a 785% conversion rate increase over their historical average. As such, we expect they’ll be staying in the Fortune 500 for the foreseeable future.

Data Analytics

What Is It?

In today’s online marketing world, you’ve got to be a data-driven company. Follow the data and you increase your chances of success. Data analytics involves looking at your website traffic numbers, where your leads are coming from, which pages and CTAs are the most popular, your email open rates, abandoned cart rates, and a whole lot more. Once you’ve analyzed the data, you can optimize your site and content to better achieve your sales goals.

Can Email Do It?

So far, we’ve covered a number of data analyzing features present in Mailchimp: click tracking and Purchase Likelihood being the most prominent. The platform can also report email open and link bounce rates.

Where Email Falls Short:

Email platforms provide a number of data analysis options, but to dig deeper into things like mobile performance, website traffic, and lead dropout points (where in the sales funnel a lead goes cold), you need more. 

Fortunately, Google Analytics can do it all, and you can integrate it directly into Mailchimp, bringing it’s powerful data analysis and reporting features into the fold.

Sales Reporting

What Is It?

Sales reporting is the ability to collect all of your sales data in one place, and to sort and filter it at will so you can see that data from every angle.

Can Email Do It?

We touched on this briefly earlier in this blog. Mailchimp does have the power to report your online sales numbers, but only for contacts from your email list that made a sale through a link in an email campaign.

This is super helpful for understanding the number of sales, total revenue, and the conversions generated from your email marketing efforts. 

Where Email Falls Short:

If you want more info on your sales, you’ll need to rely on your website’s reporting features and/or Google Analytics. However, this is another case where with Mailchimp integrations, you should be able to get all of your data in one place.


What is It?

An important feature of a traditional CRM is sales forecasting, which will predict your future sales based on historical data.

Can Email Do It?

Mailchimp doesn’t have a dedicated tool for this, except for its Purchase Likelihood feature.

Where Email Falls Short:

For more detailed forecasting, you need to gather all your sales information into one place and look at your historical trends to predict future revenue numbers. If you don’t have an actual CRM, you could do your own in-house forecasting by linking up Mailchimp, Google Analytics, and your website sales numbers. 

This might be one thing you’ll eventually want a CRM for, but just like with the Sales Funnel Overview features of Pipedrive, forecasting is something you can integrate with Mailchimp down the road when you upgrade to a CRM.

Boost Sales Today with the Power of Email & CRM

For a small business owner, we know the plethora of features discussed here can seem overwhelming. After all, you’ve got your business to run, and it’s doubtful you got into it because you love thinking about click tracking and sales funnels more than anything else in the whole wide world.

The good news is that you don’t have to worry about any of this stuff. Leave it to the experts at BKMedia Group. We’ll perform a full audit of your business’ digital marketing assets and determine what CRM features you need to reach your goals. 

Whether it’s an email platform or a dedicated CRM suite, we’ll help you make the right decisions for your needs, then get it all set up and manage it for you, so you can focus on your business while we focus on the nitty gritty details of digital marketing.

Interested in making the most of your digital marketing? Contact us today »

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