Are you still keeping track of your customers on a Rolodex? Do you scribble down new customer contacts on a napkin?
Does your “customer database” consist of a desk drawer that’s overflowing with business cards?
If so, you’ll be stoked to learn about CRMs, or customer relationship management systems.
Thousands of companies use a CRM to help manage their database of leads and customers. In fact, at the end of 2017, CRMs were the fastest-growing software market.
For some companies, this software offers big benefits in the form of better organization, customer service and lead nurturing.
But for other companies, CRMs are an unnecessary or expensive solution that leads to nothing but wasted time, confusion, and frustration.
How can you tell if a CRM is right for your business?
We’ll explore some of the pros and cons of using a CRM and potential alternatives in this article. But first, we’ll tell you what a CRM does.
Think of a CRM as a digital database that keeps all your customer information organized in one place. Most CRMs will store information such as each person’s:
Many CRMs, such as Infusionsoft, also include email marketing features that allow you to send automated broadcasts to your leads depending on certain triggers. (Like how long it’s been since they contacted you or which actions they took on your website),
A CRM might be sounding like a pretty great addition to your email marketing campaign. After all, email marketing does have the highest ROI of any marketing channel.
But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that using a CRM is the only way to leverage email marketing.
There are more cost-effective alternatives to using a CRM. And for many companies, these alternatives make more sense.
If all you’re looking for is a system to deliver marketing automation via email, you don’t necessarily need a complex system like Salesforce. A simple email marketing service provider like MailChimp might be a better option.
Here are the pros and cons of CRMs vs other email marketing services so you can choose the option that’s best for your business goals.
Some of the biggest benefits of using a CRM include:
You don’t necessarily need a CRM to get those benefits. You can do the same things with email providers like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign.
But here’s the stuff you can do with a CRM that you can’t do with most email providers:
Many companies suffer from a lack of alignment between the sales and marketing departments. This is bad news, since it’s hard for your business to thrive when sales and marketing are at each other’s throats.
But with the help of certain CRMs like Salesforce, you can integrate the data from your sales and marketing teams.
You can track the progress of new leads across both departments and gather important insights about what kind of leads are more likely to convert into sales.
Many CRMs are also able to take this data and use it to generate reports on sales forecasting, which gives you a clearer idea of what your sales & revenue will be like in the future, so you can make more informed business decisions.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of customer service. There’s simply no excuse for providing bad support to your customers. And if you do, you’ll feel the effect on your bottom line.
One study shows that 86% of customers will quit doing business with you if they have a negative experience with your company:
A CRM can be a smart way to help your team deliver better support for your loyal customers.
When customers call your company, you can look up each customer in the CRM. This gives you instant access to all the customer’s information. And each call can be logged in the CRM, keeping a history of each customer’s interactions with your company.
You can use this information to keep an eye on your customer service efforts and find out where your company service excels — and where it lags behind. Because everything exists in one central location, you’ll be able to prevent customer issues falling through the cracks.
By now you’ve got an idea of some of the benefits of using a CRM. But in some cases, you can get the benefits of a CRM using a much simpler & less expensive option instead.
Here are some of the reasons you might want to use an email provider like MailChimp, rather than a CRM:
If your main goal is to keep track of your leads & customers and leverage the power of email marketing, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a CRM to do it.
For example, consider Infusionsoft vs ActiveCampaign. Both tools provide a lot of similar features, such as lead scoring, email segmentation and automated email marketing.
But while Infusionsoft costs a minimum of $199/month (plus a “kickstarter package” of at least $1,000), ActiveCampaign costs just $29/month for the same number of contacts.
One of the most common complaints people have about CRMs is that they can be complicated, hard to use and bloated with unnecessary features.
It doesn’t matter how powerful your CRM is if your employees don’t end up using it.
Implementing a new CRM will require a steep learning curve. Email providers, by comparison, are typically much simpler and easier to use.
Consider the popular email provider Aweber. This service offers hundreds of integrations, which means you can easily set it up to share your customer data with many other online tools.
If you need a feature that your email provider doesn’t offer, chances are good that you can simply integrate it with another tool that does.
We’ve had some very good results using this approach. For example, we increased email sales by 2,882% through a Shopify/MailChimp integration.
There’s no right or wrong answer.
The best choice will depend on your brand’s individual situation. For some companies — particularly large organizations with time, technical expertise and budget to implement a complicated solution — a CRM is a great investment.
But for many, CRMs are a time sink that will lead to confusion and wasted money.
At BKMedia Group, we have extensive experience using both systems. If you need guidance in choosing the best system for your needs, consider this your invitation to contact us for a free strategy session.
After all, we have a long history of growing businesses through better email marketing (click here to learn how we helped one company increased email conversions by 254%), and we’d be thrilled to help you achieve your goals with smarter marketing automation.
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