A Guide to Understanding a Customer Relationship Management Platform

Choosing the right Customer Relationship Management platform for your growing business is a lot like choosing a long-term partner. Just like the first download of a dating app, understanding customer relationship management can be an overwhelming process. You need a platform that is going to allow you to focus on your growth, creativity, and connection that inspired you to start your e-commerce business in the first place. As well as the support to navigate customer relationship management implementation. This decision will impact your customer’s brand experience as much as, if not more than, anything else will, as it’s the structure everything you build will rest on. Finding the right CRM properties will also determine whether or not your employees are either constantly frustrated or feel empowered in their work. Ultimately, it can either protect your bottom line or devour it. With the right fit, you will ensure a scalable solid foundation to reach your business goals at any stage of the journey, and you’ll remain agile for the road ahead.

Much like searching for a partner, there are a lot of choices out there. Not all of them are going to be right for your business, but this isn’t like a coffee date to feel out the vibes. While there is a ton of available information out there on the different platforms, it can be difficult and confusing to sort through the options. Many Customer Relationship Management platforms are slick and flashy, but can they really follow through with the commitment you need?

48% of companies report that their customer relationship management choices don’t meet their needs.

Similar to dating, it takes a good understanding of what a CRM platform can do for you and your customers to best help you wade through the choices.

For reference, we define the following terms throughout this article:  

Customer Relationship Management Platform (CRM): The software that allows you to manage all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers in order to improve your relationships, streamline your processes, and grow your business.

Scalable: a business’s ability to grow without being hampered by its foundation, structure, or resources when faced with an increase in growth or production.

What is the Goal of Customer Relationship Management?

To give your customer’s an excellent experience. One of the most basic needs and capability requirements of an excellent Customer Relationship Management software is the ability to give your customer a great experience. You will want to easily access your customer’s previous history, the status of their orders, customer service tickets or issues, their likes and dislikes from social media, and what they might be saying about your or your competitors. You need to know what your customer experience is in order to optimize it. From start to finish, all through your sales pipelines, you will need sophisticated and easy-to-use software in order to ensure that the customer needs remain the priority. If your customer tweets an issue and then emails you, you need to be able to follow and address inquiries across those differing platforms. A robust CRM platform creates a cohesive, agile experience for the customer and allows you (and your CRM manager) to not stress over what might be forgotten in a lingering, dustbowl inbox somewhere.

To stay within your budget. Purchasing Customer Relationship Management software is one of those classic “spend a little money to save a lot of money” scenarios for your business. Without a centralized source of data and management tools, you lose the ability to convert leads, run effective campaigns, retain customers, and generate revenue. Remember, acquiring a new customer is up to twenty-five times more expensive than keeping an existing customer—so existing customer management is crucial to your bottom line. There is CRM software to fit every monthly budget, and most companies offer tiered services, so you will want to look for one that is flexible enough for you to grow with.

To connect with your intended audience. Marketing is really all about connection. Finding your audience, turning them into customers, and keeping that relationship healthy and strong. For both retail and e-commerce, the future, post-pandemic, according to the Harvard Business Review, will center around personalization and two-way communication.  Think of your marketing tools as residing in the toolbox your e-commerce platform builds. You won’t be able to organize or effectively utilize any marketing strategies without a great CRM structure to build off. Good connection requires agility to keep up with the changing needs of your customers from start to finish. The software that’s right for you will make this connection easier with marketing tools that utilize great analytics, social media platforms, email strategies, and sales follow-up, allowing you to target exactly the person who you started this business intending to reach.

To leave room for new products. Inevitably, we grow. Or at least, that’s the goal! We find out more about our customer’s needs, and the ways we can meet them, often with new products or services. You’ll need software that can easily expand along with your product offerings, otherwise, you’ll find yourself bogged down with costly and time-consuming structural changes. If you see your growth expanding beyond 100 individual SKUs, you’re already beginning to narrow your options for e-commerce software.

To leave room for overall growth. Your growth really begins with your creativity and responsiveness to your customer’s needs. It evidences itself in new products and it ends with increased sales, a larger customer base, and the process repeating all over again. What you don’t need to do is lay awake at night wondering suddenly if your web hosting can keep up or whether your pages are loading fast enough. Can your infrastructure really keep up with the growth and demand you are looking for? The moment you know you’re in it for real is the moment you realize going viral might be bad for your business, simply because your business isn’t built to easily scale. Choosing the right CRM platform can make sure none of those questions keep you up at night.

CRM Main Five:

Customer Relationship Management software is truly the workhorse of your business. It’s what connects, organizes, and analyzes your relationship with your customers. Advanced functions such as automated data collection, custom insight filters, and algorithms are available to help you analyze customer behavior and make the decisions that directly improve both your customer relationship and your revenue. Here is a quick overview of the primary software offerings on the market:

Salesforce

Salesforce is an on-demand CRM platform offering applications for small, midsize, and enterprise organizations, with a focus on sales and customer relationships. It provides services for contact management and lead management, but not email marketing or task management.

Marketo

While not a CRM, Marketo’s Marketing Automation software is an alternative to users whose needs might require more of a marketing focus that incorporates some sales, versus a sales focus that incorporates marketing. It’s priced according to contacts, rather than users, and is designed around workflows rather than databases. Despite not being a traditional CRM, Marketo remains competitive due to its marketing focus.

Act-On

Another Marketing Automation program, Act-On is the main competitor with Marketo. Act-On sets itself apart by promising a quicker, more user-friendly onboarding, a constantly innovating service, and only paying for the prospects you engage, rather than every contact.

Infusionsoft(IFS)/Keap

Back into the CRM world, Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) combines a CRM with some marketing automation and sales and is geared towards small eCommerce businesses.  

Most CRM’s offer services for lead management, lead scoring, sales activity monitoring, email tracking, automatic updates to contact records, notifications, and calendar alerts. However, some programs like HubSpot offer a fully integrated platform for running your business—a place where you can find a single source of truth for all your data.

The Difference Between an E-commerce site and a CRM.

The E-commerce platform is the store. The CRM (customer relationship management) software is what keeps your customers coming back to that store.

Need Resolutions

HubSpot’s Customer Relationship Management solutions help turn your needs into solutions by finding new leads, turning them into customers, managing your customer’s data and information across the web, and communicating with them in a way that lets you better understand and develop that relationship. Essentially, HubSpot CRM does this by helping you organize information in order to target the right customer at just the right time.

Generate and foster real connections. HubSpot’s CRM systems help you create and manage content, capture leads and nurture them into customers. It allows you to directly engage potential buyers, demonstrate value, and convert customers to promoters through CMS (content management system), marketing campaigns, and sales and service tools.

Resolve customer issues and deliver a quality experience. HubSpot allows you to connect apps, automate processes and align your team around one source of reliable data. As a HubSpot partner, Conceited Marketing works directly with you and your goals, bringing our expert CRM consultancy to the table, alongside everything your HubSpot account brings to the toolbox. Together, we’re building!

Reduce your costs. Cost-effective and scalable, HubSpot is extremely flexible, allowing you to respond to changing needs with agility and without paying for things you don’t need.

Improve your product offering. The feedback and data available through HubSpot allows your creativity and responsiveness to take center stage. The right data can inform a creative strategy that allows you to quickly roll out new offerings to customers and with highly personalized marketing messages delivered to the right audience, at the right time.

HubSpot’s version of The Buyer’s Journey:

Awareness Stage: The buyer becomes aware that they have a problem.

Consideration Stage: The buyer defines their problem and considers options to solve it.

Decision Stage: The buyer evaluates and decides on the right provider to administer the solution.

HubSpot brings together each “hub” of the customer management and Buyer’s Journey needs, integrating it into a CRM platform that works for your every need. The basic features—such as contact management, email marketing, task management and are free with any hub, allowing this software to really grow with you at any stage.

Marketing Hub: Software for growing traffic and leads, email marketing, live chat, integration with social media, traffic and conversion analytics, as well as SEO tools, video hosting and management, blog content and creation tool, and analytics dashboard.

Sales Hub: Sales software for contact, deal and task management, email tracking and notifications, email templates and scheduling, Gmail and Outlook integration, live chat, sales automation, predictive lead scoring, smart send times, multiple deal pipelines, and customizable reports.

Service Hub: The customer service experience is handled directly through this support software giving you ticketing, team email, live chat, ticket creation bots, reporting, customer service automation, knowledge base, customer feedback, and custom support form fields.

CMS Hub: With the other hubs, you can continue to use your current CMS platform, as HubSpot is fully integrated. If a complete one-stop-management appeals to you, you can use the CMS Hub to migrate your Shopify or WordPress, giving you centralized blog & content creation tools, dynamic content through HubDB, SEO and content strategy, lead generation tools, smart content, live chat, and security monitoring.

Operations Hub: The single source of truth for all data—this is the Hub that allows you to ensure all your systems are working seamlessly, using data sync, programmable automation, data quality automation, workflow extensions, team management, and permissions, and expanded operational capacity.

As you can see, choosing the right Customer Relationship Management platform is a significant part of your overall success, ensuring that the software you use closes the loop in your information integration and customer relationships. There are pros and cons for each platform choice, and although you can go deep into a rabbit hole on each platform, ultimately the features can seem so similar, that it can end up feeling like shooting an arrow blindfolded with a big target. You’re going to hit, but whether it’s the hit you want to make is a different thing completely.

HubSpot is a united platform, geared towards the e-commerce business that is looking to leverage their software choice in order to build meaningful, lasting relationships with prospects and customers, provide them valuable content and experiences, and remove friction from the buyer’s journey. Conceited Marketing is here to help people evaluate their options and onboard them by migrating their data from their current platform to HubSpot