There are many businesses that implement CRM solutions with the belief that they will magically solve all of their problems.
But adoption does not necessarily guarantee success. It’s not even just about investing in the right software; your CRM efforts could still fail for a number of reasons.
Without a CRM strategy, you won’t be able to enhance relationships with existing customers and you might even fail to attract new ones.
In this post, we’ll provide you with tips to create an effective CRM strategy that will not only help you avoid common pitfalls but will also maximize your conversions.
Why CRM Strategy Is So Important
CRM refers to two distinct yet closely related parts: the type of CRM software a company will use and the individual CRM strategies the business implements to keep customers happy.
It’s fair to say that having a solid CRM strategy is more critical than ever before. In fact, the CRM market is estimated to reach $114.4 billion by 2027.
There’s a good reason for that, too. Breaking it down to its core, CRM is about reducing inefficiencies and improving the conversations you have with your customers.
One of the crucial benefits of having a CRM strategy is that you can streamline all of the most important communications with customers in one place. This results in clear brand messaging that’s consistent and ensures that no customers are left behind.
This leads to powerful customer bonding, where it becomes far easier for a business to identify a customer’s needs and deliver. The better a CRM strategy, the more effective the outcome.
A success story here is Alua, a young hotel chain that heavily focused on putting the customer first.
Its strategy involved integrating CRM software with its hotel booking engine. Over nine months of work, it integrated 120,000 contacts into a single platform.
Quick Tips to Improve Your CRM Strategy Today
Start with a Vision
A successful CRM program should start with a clear vision. The main purpose of your CRM should be to achieve your organizational goals. So, identify those goals by asking yourself:
- Why do I want to implement a CRM program?
- What do I wish to get back from the program?
This exercise will help you define your top-level goal (for example, maximizing conversions). But then you need to drill down one level further:
- To what extent do I want my conversions to increase?
- By when do I want to achieve this goal?
For instance, your goal could be to see a 5% increase in conversions within six months of CRM implementation.
You can then break this goal into smaller, more achievable objectives with a clear timeline.
For example: Maybe you can aim for 1% conversion growth within the first month of your CRM program. Make sure this map is flexible so you can make changes along the way as needed.
Based on your goal, you can also identify the relevant metrics to measure your efforts. Since your goal is to maximize conversions, for instance, you can consider metrics such as website traffic, leads generated, leads converted, etc.
Start by looking at some key areas and break them down:
- You could focus on increasing customer engagement via social media—this would include mobile platforms.
- You could create an interactive blog or use surveys to receive feedback from customers—interacting directly with customers can give you healthy insights.
- You would then analyze customer data to make sure you’re more proactive than reactive—this can help prevent common issues and potential negativity towards the brand.
One of the main benefits of defining your goals is that every objective you work towards will be aiming to achieve the same outcome: making the customer happy.
Analyze Your Existing Data
You’ve probably collected plenty of customer data already. And you will need to use it when developing your CRM strategy.
To get a better understanding of where and how your customers are interacting with your business, analyze whatever data you have to map customer journeys.
Check out this example of a detailed customer journey map from RealtimeBoard to get a better idea.
Maps like these will give you a fair idea of what your problem areas are, and help you to identify the opportunities for improvement.
Look for gaps in your customer touchpoints, such as where you’ve failed to communicate with customers or are communicating in an inefficient manner.
Segment these customer journeys so you can identify what different customer groups go through.
You’ll also be able to identify the differences in their journeys and look for ways to prioritize on the post profitable customer groups (such as repeat customers, and customers who make large purchases).
Come Up with a Data Strategy
Now that you’ve discovered the aspects that need modification, you will need to come up with a more effective data plan to support your efforts. Ask yourself:
- What data do I already have?
- What data will I need?
- What segmentations will I need to implement?
Consider whether or not you will make use of predictive marketing techniques. And if you are, what models will you follow to ensure that you communicate with certain types of customers at the right time and provide them with the right offer?
This will ensure that you have an easier time converting your customers, since they are receiving offers that are most relevant to them.
Have a Strong Plan for Communication and Experience Delivery
Once you’re done building a data strategy, you can start with the creative process by developing a plan to communicate with your customers.
The ultimate purpose of your CRM program is to enhance your customer experience so that they feel more inclined to take action.
Your responsiveness in customer communication plays a major role in customer experience.
So your plan should be aimed at increasing effectiveness and responsiveness. Ensure that your customers can quickly and easily get support for any issue they experience.
You could have a plan to provide 24/7 support through social media channels.
You could have a plan to implement live chat on your website so that customers can quickly get answers to their queries. This improved communication channel could work wonders in enhancing customer experience and in turn driving conversions.
Companies like PureVPN have been able to increase their sales by 20% and reach a customer satisfaction rate of 94% after adding live chat functionality to their site.
They’ve segmented the process by enabling visitors to choose whether they need pre-sales support or customer support.
Develop Your Content and Channel Strategy
You have a data strategy and you have a communication and customer experience delivery strategy.
Now you need to start developing a strategy to match your content with your audiences, customer segments, and channels. This is to ensure that you can maintain relevant communication with your target audience, which is crucial to drive conversions.
You already have a clear idea of who your audience is and what they want.
You also know your most valuable customers and the customers who are most likely to convert.
Now you need to develop a content and channel strategy that will ensure that you deliver the right content to them and increase their likelihood to convert.
Think about the messages you want to relay to different customers, and where you can deliver those messages. Will you deliver the message on social media or will you reach out to customers via email?
Maybe you could experiment and see which channels work best with your target audience.
Educate Employees for Organizational Readiness
One of the biggest challenges faced by companies, according to the Forrester study cited earlier, is organizational readiness.
What many organizations fail to do is align their employees with their new CRM strategy, which has an impact on the effectiveness of the strategy. In fact, this is where a lot of CRM programs fail.
Even if you have an extremely promising strategy in place, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t have employee understanding.
Your employees need to be invested in the strategy and understand it properly so they can carry out their individual responsibilities for the success of the strategy.
The front line team (for example, Sales, Marketing and/or Customer Success) is particularly important for the success of your CRM program. They are the ones who are responsible for taking the right approach and relaying the right messages to your customers.
It’s crucial that you clearly communicate the new strategy throughout the organization. For this, you will need to prepare the leadership team to carry out the communications.
Make sure that they thoroughly go through every aspect of the strategy with their team members so that everyone is in the same boat.
It’s normal for there to be some resistance to change, but there needs to be a careful and honest integration of your strategy within the company’s culture.
Sales team members can be the hardest to convince, especially if they are selling fine without additional strategies and software. Put yourself in their shoes for a second. They might be thinking: Why do we need to change the way we do things? Things are working fine.
That’s where you outline the many advantages of the new strategy and the disadvantages of the current one. Listen to concerns, and take on board what they are saying.
What’s in it for them? How will the company grow as a result?
A good tactic here is to ensure more senior managers are using the CRM software and promoting the strategy. They could use reports, forecasts, and fun presentations during meetings to get everyone excited about the idea. Internal supporters and advocates help pave the way with the rest of the team.
If the team is involved, your chances of success skyrockets.
Takeaways: There might be resistance at first, but convince staff of the benefits and embed the strategy in company culture. Define the steps you will take here.
Invest in the Right Technology
The reason why a lot of CRM programs fail is because they start by investing in technology. And since they don’t have a proper strategy in place, the money they invest in CRM technology is wasted.
Now you know that you should only start with this step after establishing your goals and developing proper strategies for different aspects of your business.
Before investing in CRM software, you should consider how it will integrate with your ecommerce platform. Conduct thorough research to find out what other merchants and your competitors are using.
If you have an eye on a certain CRM technology, do your research and find out who is using it and how they feel about it.
You can look for reviews and forums to get a better idea of what the integration is like. And if you have any particular questions about the CRM solution, check to see if those forums and reviews can provide a helpful answer.
There are a lot of technologies available in the market, making it a lot more difficult to decide on which to use.
Long-Term Strategies for CRM Strategy
Here are some long-term strategies to improve your CRM game.
Have a Content Plan
Online content is more important than ever before—this was true before the pandemic and has only increased during it. In fact, 91% of B2B and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing as a critical part of their strategy and plan to continue to do so for the future.
Likewise, having a strong content plan should be a crucial part of your CRM strategy too. It’s imperative because relevant content can deliver the right message to your target audience.
Those who are making purchases or who have a great deal of intent to do so can be converted through compelling blog content.
This isn’t achievable in a few days. The most effective content plans are long-term in approach and have a clear roadmap to follow. You need to educate your audience and increase their likelihood of buying products over a long time.
We’ve mentioned blog content as the way to do this, but it’s about finding the right channel to deliver that content in reality. It might not necessarily be blog content that’s the correct answer for you.
It’s prudent to run some experiments to see which form of delivery is the most effective. This can be anything from email marketing to social media or a potent combination of various forms. Measure what’s working and what isn’t, and define your CRM strategy from there.
Getting your content strategy set in place can be one of the keys to success.
Takeaways: Don’t neglect your content strategy. Plot a roadmap, and slowly educate your audience to increase the chance they’ll convert. Measure different content channels and see what works.
Boost Your Social Media Presence
Like it, or perhaps not, social media is as valuable as ever to get a message across and engage with an audience.
A company’s most active and vocal social media followers should be seen as assets, not threats. Building relationships with these followers allows you to effectively build a community of support that will become a vital part of your CRM strategy.
Running events around a particular promotion, for example, is an excellent way of engaging with your audience and driving the brand message home.
Feel free to be a little creative here. Giving a shoutout to the most active community member of the week can encourage others to get involved.
So can sending out incentives to loyal and engaged customers. These incentives could be discount codes or other promotional offers. Social media does give direct access to customers quite like anything before, so neglecting it isn’t the best move.
Dedicated social media managers are important here, too, as they can act as the first line of customer support or might be able to solve problems before they become bigger ones.
By employing social media managers that can respond to queries within an hour or so, you can improve the response’s speed, quality, and sincerity.
These managers should act more like the customer’s friend and be as genuine but helpful as possible. A response that’s solved quickly and efficiently in a public forum can go a long way to boosting a brand’s social media presence.
Again, this isn’t something you can expect to perfect right away, but slowly strengthening your social presence can pay off handsomely in the long run.
Takeaways: Think about your social media presence. Be sure to engage with customers, run promotions, and shout out to active members. Social media managers should act as the first line of customer support.
Use the Right CRM Software
It sounds straightforward but requires quite a bit of thought. You may have defined a good set of goals, but what software are you going to use to unify it all in one place?
Picking the right CRM software can be a time-consuming process, and those that rush in without thought can see their plans deteriorate pretty quickly.
Doing some thorough research beforehand is always advisable. Thinking about what software your competitors might be using is a part of this research, but so is thinking about what software would integrate the best for your business operations.
You may have shortlisted some CRM software already, and now would be a good time to check out reviews, past experiences that other customers had, and the community forums.
The ideal CRM solution will help a company manage all of its customer interactions in one place, and it’s an excellent way of storing crucial customer data.
It’s also worth knowing the different types of CRM software and seeing which aligns with your goals.
An operational CRM system focuses on capturing leads and streamlines and automates the process.
An analytical CRM is all about the data—here, we’re talking about customer data and the insights you can get from it.
The last type is the collaborative CRM—software that looks at all of the interactions a business has with its customers. The central aim is to share information between departments to bolster customer service.
The most important point to remember is that your CRM strategy should be finalized—at least for now—before you pick your software.
Some companies have started using software without a strategy, and while some have pulled it off, most inevitably experience problems along the way.
Consequently, the implementation period is extended and complicated, it can cost more, reducing user confidence in the platform.
Takeaways: Do your research and have your strategy decided well in advance of adopting the software. Think about which type of CRM software is more suitable for your specific business.
Getting your CRM strategy right takes time, but the sooner you start, the better the outcome.
The strategies in this guide, both things you can do now and things you’ll need to work at for a long time to come, should be a good place to start.
The most successful companies use a robust CRM strategy combined with compelling software to achieve the best results.
The rewards for being successful here can positively shape a business’s outlook for years to come, so it’s worth it in the end.