Digital Strategy Tactics for Customer Retention
Marketers have a strong tendency to focus on courting new business. But this can cause you to neglect your very best prospects: the customers you already have. According to figures from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a loyal customer will spend ten times their initial purchase value over the life of a relationship with your company. But, building these strong relationships takes planning and strategy.
A few things to consider when building your digital strategy for customer retention.
DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE
Customer retention is about engaging with your existing customer base. Hopefully you already have a wealth of analytical insights on who your customers are, how they interact with your organization and their purchase patterns. If not, now is a crucial time to get to know who your buyers are and begin to create marketing materials and promotions that appeal to them. Learn what they want and provide it to win their loyalty. To bring this existing data ”to life”, think about creating various personas of who your existing customer is.
The marketing materials you create targeting your personas will also become a crucial part of your content strategy and play a pivotal role in improving your overall SEO efforts, because you can create content that would be sought out by each of your personas. Buyer personas are an excellent tool for getting inside your customers’ heads. A persona is a fictional creation who matches the demographics of one of your sets of buyers.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
Without goal setting, you’ll have no tool to measure the success of your customer retention efforts. There are many ways to define your goals. To ensure success and buy-in within your business, create your set of retention objectives around the SMART principle. Consider sales figures from prior years or months to set the goal for an upcoming time period.
Example S.M.A.R.T Goals
- Achieve 17% of existing customers to service their online account within 12 months. Service could be defined as: visiting the site, logging into their account, or making a repeat purchase.
- Upsell 27% of existing customers to make a repeat purchase within 5 months through the company website.
USE EMAIL EFFECTIVELY
Email can be one of your most powerful tools for bringing customers back to your site to make new purchases. There are a number of strategies that you can employ:
- Abandoned cart emails. Conversion rates for abandoned cart emails are twice as high as other email marketing. Some companies send a simple reminder that the customer left during checkout. Others offer a discount or free shipping to lure the buyer back.
- Drip email campaigns. Start with a thank you email a day after a purchase; then, send periodic emails with tips and tricks for using your product and a reminder when it is time to reorder. This can all be automated, meaning you put in the work once and enjoy the benefits for months to come.
- Email newsletters. Sending your customers regular newsletters with informative and useful content inside increases their brand awareness and creates warm associations with your company.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO CONVERSE WITH YOUR BRAND’S FANS
In a survey conducted by research group Loyalty 360, more than 25 percent of businesses indicated they ranked social media as the most effective channel for customer retention. The main reasons being that social media marketing allows for brands to speak directly to customers (and attract new ones), along with easy access to companies.
Customers use social media more and more often to contact a company when there is a problem. By responding quickly (surveys say that customers expect replies in 24 hours or less) you can not only fix your customer’s problem; you can also publicly show the quality of your customer service.
Here are a few other strategies to consider with using social media to improve customer loyalty:
- Analyze your current database of Social Media followers/fans. Services like Followerwonk and SocialDNA are great resources. If you’re B2B, consider creating lists on Twitter for all current customers.
- Create an editorial content plan specific to your customers needs (remember they are different than prospects’ needs) in place to drive timely content through social media channels.
- Ensure you’ve provided In house training for staff to use social media channels in communicating with customers.
ANALYZE YOUR SUCCESS & SET KPI’S
Check your engagement, sales and other figures regularly to see how your efforts are working. When you observe a tactic that works well, you can use it again to bring more success in the future. But, if there are efforts that seem to fall flat, you know it’s time to tweak things. You can also use monitoring to decide on the best places to invest your time and funds. For instance, if your Pinterest page has three times the engagement of Instagram, you know that Pinterest is the place to put the bulk of your social media marketing efforts.
Here are a list of suggested KPI retention measurements that could be considered:
- Number of branded keywords
- Number of not branded keywords
- Number keywords on 1st page of SERP
- Number of outbound links generated
- Traffic referral volume
- Pages viewed per visit
- Number of in-bound links generated
- Number of emails sent out
- Segment email lists by existing customers
- Click through rate to website
- Open rate of email campaign sent
- Repeat purchase rate through channel
- Number of followers and fans
- Measure engagement through re-tweets, likes
- Percentage of referral traffic through to website
There is no one size fits all solution for keeping the romance alive with your current customers. But, by testing strategies, consistently putting forth effort and measuring your performance, you can increase your retention rates and significantly increase your brand’s sales.
Website Launch Checklist
Launching a new website is exciting, albeit daunting. There are several things to accomplish, details that are too essential to overlook, and many people collaborating to make the deployment go smoothly.
In this blog, I’ll give you a checklist of things you should review before your website launches.
Disclaimer: This isn’t a comprehensive list, there are many other details I don’t go into here, but I hope this provides a solid sample of the steps to take to ensure you have a successful website launch.
1. SPELLING, GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION
It’s cumbersome, but necessary to go through the site and check for typos, grammar, and proper punctuation sitewide. Pay special attention to new pages. Also, many times weird formatting can appear if you copy/paste from older pages, Word or Google Docs.
2. WEB FORMS
Checking forms is especially important if you have a marketing automation platform integrated in your site. Go through and fill out the forms and note the following questions:
- Are the forms passing lead information over to your marketing automation system?
- Can the flow be improved? Shortened? Or do they need to be updated to reflect your new business model/service offerings?
- Did you get stuck? Were there any errors?
- Does the completed form get sent to the right people or person?
- Was an automated response sent to the reader (i.e. Will they receive a thank you email after completing a contact form or receive the intended content after they download it from your website)?
3. LIVE URLS
When a site goes live, the URLs are transferred from a staging area to production. Every single URL on your site needs to be tested when the site goes live to make sure they lead to the correct destination. This is important from both a functionality standpoint and for SEO purposes; visitors will get frustrated, and your site will be penalized search engines if these URLs are incorrect.
Will your URL structure be changing significantly? If so what is the plan for redirecting them to prevent broken links? Here’s an example of a change we made on the Mediacurrent website:
4. TITLE TAGS/META DATA
This may sound old news to many, but make sure every page has a unique title tag. Also make sure each has a meta description. This is still a common source for search engine spiders to draw from to understand what the page is about and provide visitors with a sneak peak into the page contents from the results.
5. SITE SPEED
Site speed can make or break your users’ experience. The better performing your website is, the more efficiently a user will complete their desired tasks. Consider things like: How fast (in units of time, such as milliseconds) does it take to load an entire web page? How big is the webpage, in terms of file size? Does the website use web development best practices for website performance?
There are two main factors to consider when testing the speed of your site. 1) Initial page load – this will take longer because all of your images/css/js must be sent from the server to your browser. 2) Returning visitor – these users will have some, if not all, of the assets cached so they won’t have to download all these files again. Be sure to test for both scenarios where you want to get the initial page load size as small as possible and you want to have as many assets cached for returning visitors.
It’s also critical to test page load times on mobile devices.
Before mocking-up wireframes take a step back and review your buyer personas. Frankly, some of your messaging and positioning may have become outdated. Once you’ve updated your personas, build out your our content strategy, wireframes, and visual design around the needs of your target audience.
When giving a critical eye to the pages within the site, ask yourself:
- Why would your target audience visit this page?
- Does the page address the audience’s buying questions?
- Is there a clear call to action or conversion path?
Testing your design in advanced browsers as well as legacy browsers is a necessary part of any project. The old-school way to test code was to load your website on as many computers as you could find, using as many different combinations of browsers and operating systems as possible. That was fine if you had access to a bunch of different computers (and had some time to kill). But there are much more efficient ways to test across browsers, using either free or commercial Web services and software like Adobe Browserlab, Browsershots or SuperPreview.
8. MAP ALL OLD PAGES TO NEW
Sometimes content gets lost in the transition. New pages are added, deleted, and renamed. It’s not the most glamorous or challenging project, but mapping out your page redirects will have a significant impact on your new site. A basic Excel spreadsheet showing all the old pages and their corresponding new pages will probably be sufficient.
From time-to-time font codes get dropped into a page inadvertently and make a letter or a word look wacky. Go through the copy checking to see that the formatting is consistent, and look for odd blips in the copy.
Make sure all display text renders on the image when you hover over it (the alt attribute). Make sure the images display correctly. Understand the images you are posting and the correct format for them. While most people ignore the file type/extension they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. The most common types of images you’ll deal with are JPG, PNG and SVG. You’ll want to store photographs as JPG, simple images like logos, icons etc as PNG or SVG. If you use Adobe Photoshop or similar programs they’ll usually let you compare the different formats side by side so you can get the quality level you want while comparing it to the overall file size. Remember, you can get your image on your site looking perfect but if it’s a few megabytes in size most people aren’t going to want to look at it. Also don’t forget image optimizing programs like Imageoptim, which will losslessly compress your images much better than your photo editing software allowing you to shave off a few more kilobytes from your page load.
Make sure Google Analytics or the analytics package you’re using are set up and ready to go. Also ensure all Drupal modules (including marketing automation modules) have been installed correctly and are functioning.
12. SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION
Having your users share your content on social media is also a big portion of driving traffic (both organic and direct) to your site. Ensure that the social media icons on the site go to the correct pages. Are the right buttons and social plugins installed for what you are trying to accomplish? (For example, share a page versus “Like” you on Facebook.)
13. STRESS TESTING
It’s important to stress test your site to ensure it won’t error out from the surge in traffic from your initial publicity push or there after. This simply means by simulating the HTTP requests generated by simultaneous users, you can test your web server performance under normal and excessive loads. A suggested tool is Load Impact.
Launching is just the beginning. You should continue to iterate based on how your site is performing on analytics and customer feedback. Hopefully you can see that everyone on a marketing and web team can be assigned tasks to test leading up to a site launch- even if they aren’t a developer.
Improving Lead Generation Using Your Company Blog
If you’re looking to increase your company’s digital presence and lead generation, one place to spend time auditing is your company’s blog. Does your blog do a good job of answering questions your buyers have? Are you consistently blogging and optimizing your posts for SEO? Are your titles compelling enough to attract the reader’s attention?
I could list numerous more questions to ask, but in this post I wanted to specifically talk about how your blog should function as a triage for your lead generation efforts by creating momentum with visitors who are likely to buy.
Since the end goal of a business blog (or any customer facing content asset) is to stimulate demand and generate enquiries, here are a few tips to increase conversions:
OFFER RECOMMENDED READING
Like what you’re reading here? At the bottom of this post there are additional resources that are related and relevant to lead generation.
Offering visitors another post on the same page gives them a reason to stay and click around other content. Related post plugins like this can also help with SEO.
Many marketers spend countless hours/dollars creating outstanding eBook and whitepapers only to use them sporadically in email campaigns. Apply a bit of creativity on your blog and showcase your solutions with an offer to download related content. Offering downloadable content on your blog increases your website’s secondary conversion points, and a great way of generating reconversions.
Show that your blog isn’t just one way communication by asking for feedback. Serial Atlanta entrepreneur, David Cummings, does a good job of always ending his blog posts with a question.
Encourage discussions by seeding comments on new blog posts so visitors aren’t shy about being the first one to comment.
Use your site’s analytics to establish which topics people liked the most.
GAIN PERMISSION TO SEND SPECIFIC UPDATES BY EMAIL
Email remains critical to business marketing communications– securing an opted-in email address is a primary goal for most businesses in the process of building a new business pipeline.
Dig a bit deeper and you can build targeted email lists based on specific site content.
Targeting content at niche groups builds trust and moves a minority towards transacting.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY
Don’t give up! Most blogs fail in the first few months because companies start one with the best of intentions, but then quickly realize it takes time, money, and resources. If you’d like some help identifying your buyer personas and coming up with a content strategy feel reach to reach out to us. We’d love to help.
What other demand generation techniques have you used on your blog?
Why Web Analytics Are Important
How to Drive Traffic to your Website
Boost Your Content Marketing with Email Campaigns
A properly-implemented email marketing program is a tool that can improve the impact of your overall content marketing effort by keeping your audience engaged, driving traffic to all of your content, and helping build stronger relationships.
It’s also important to note that email marketing is not a successful marketing strategy on its own. Rather than using it as an isolated tool, your marketing efforts will be far more successful if you properly integrate email marketing into as many inbound campaign channels as you can.
In my latest blog over at Mediacurrent.com, I share 5 tips to help amplify your content marketing with email campaigns. I discuss:
1. The importance of building your lists
2. Tips on leveraging all your content…even the older stuff.
3. Tips of segmenting wisely
4. Tracking your email campaigns as part of your complete marketing analytics
5. Thinking mobile first
Read the entire post “5 Tips to Amplify Your Marketing with Email Campaigns” and share your thoughts. You can also follow me @adamwaid.
Strategy Tips to Make Gated Content Successful
A common challenge facing many organizations is determining what content should be generally available to all website visitors and, which content should be behind a form (aka gated content), requiring users to provide information about themselves before being able to access it.
Before you restrict access to your precious content, it is important to determine which assets should be gated. Blogs, webinar, pricing, and “about us” pages generally should be left without a gate to create traffic through SEO and assist with overall web conversions. However, content that underscores your organization’s thought leadership, such as whitepapers, webinars or eBooks, as well as free product trials and demos, should be gated.
Check out my post on Mediacurrent’s blog for tips on making gated content successful.
Marketing Automation Success Story
As a Marketing Director,I find it very important to know if my company is on track to meet our web traffic and lead goals. Over the last year at Mediacurrent, we’ve had a major shift in how we implement, strategize, and work with marketing campaigns. This has translated to a significant increase in website visitors, leads, and viable sales opportunities.
Here’s a quick case study around the success we’ve had working with Pardot over the past year.
Fragmented Marketing Analytics
Before partnering with Pardot, a Salesforce Company, Medicacurrent had no formal process in place for attracting and following-up with leads in a timely manner. To manage our leads we were using Excel and shared documents that were organized by color coding, so members of the marketing and sales teams could all have access to the same information. This manual process was time consuming and didn’t provide enough solid data to further Mediacurrent’s marketing efforts.
Our team believed in inbound marketing—the practice of using remarkable content to attract visitors, convert them to leads, and close sales—but needed to create a scalable, repeatable process for our strategy.
Challenges and Solutions
1. Formalizing our Content Strategy – Mediacurrent uses inbound marketing to build trust, foster relationships, and drive credibility within the open-source software community. In order to achieve our long-term goals, Mediacurrent needed to produce and present the right educational resources to the appropriate audience exactly when they needed it. We took the first few weeks to define our buyer personas, audit our content, and reorganize everything around the questions, concerns, and interests of our target personas. This process showed us where we had gaps in ourcontent strategy, and what content direction we should pursue going forward.
2. Lead Grading and Scoring – After defining our content strategy and buyer personas, we created a system of lead grading and scoring to help fastrack leads that match our personas to focus on our most promising leads. Attributes such as title, industry, and revenue contribute to a lead’s grade. For example, we compare the list of buyer persona attributes to the details about a lead. Once they match an attribute their grade gets bumped up a letter grade.
Lead scoring is a numerical value that corresponds to activities a visitor does on our website, such as download content or hit key pages on the website. A lead may get an extra 30 points for downloading content compared to point values for just reading a regular blog post. You can read more about our lead scoring structure in our blog post.
Finally, we faced the challenge of figuring out how and when a lead should be assigned to sales. Leads that received a grade of “A” automatically were turned over to be followed up with. Similarly, leads that reached a score of 100 were be contacted. Leads that had potential but didn’t quite reach the 100-point marker are nurtured until they reached the target score or they reached out to us directly.
Because of our new marketing automation tracking capabilities, we could now follow their behavior on our website—with full details of the pages they were visiting as they performed their due diligence: learning more about our company.
After integrating Marketing Automation into our Drupal website we laid out a plan and successfully hit the following milestones:
Milestone 1: Integrated Pardot (forms, landing pages, and tracking code) with our Drupal website.
Milestone 2: Synced Pardot with Salesforce. We switched our CRM to Salesforce because we needed more data about a lead and to close the loop between marketing and sales efforts.
Milestone 2: Defined our content and buyer persona strategy.
Milestone 3: Completed the Pardot Quick Start Training.
Milestone 4: Developed a grading and scoring system for leads.
Milestone 5: Added new forms and content to the Mediacurrent website to catch leads, and setup automatic lead assignment in Pardot.
Milestone 6: Audited all call-to-actions on the website while offering similar resources readers would be interested in (resulted in 129% year-over-year growth in content conversions).
Milestone 7: Created reports within Salesforce, Google Analytics, and Pardot’s lifecycle reporting about lead generation, cost per lead, and sales follow-up activity.
In the last 12 months, we have experienced wildly successful campaigns and now have a much clearer idea of where our marketing budget is being allocated. We are also able to see the time and resources that went into each and every lead at a granular level.
Since implementing Pardot, defining our content strategy, and creating a lead scoring/grading model Mediacurrent has experienced:
- 53% increase in organic searching through a computer, which meant more whitepaper and eBook downloads
- 40% increase in our regular e-mail subscribers
- 23% increase in leads assigned to the sales team
- 129% year-over-year growth in content conversions
- Closing on 55% of our viable leads
5 Ways Your Business Should Be Using Marketing Automation
Recently, I wrote a blog post, “5 Things You Should Consider Before Purchasing Marketing Automation”. Since then, I’ve had numerous follow-up conversations from customers, colleagues, and friends that were considering marketing automation but wanted to know why they should use it within their organization.
Reports of automation adoption is projected to hit 50% by the year 2015, which means that over the coming years many of you will begin using marketing automation.
In the past eight years, I’ve evaluated, purchased, implemented, and used over ten different email marketing and marketing automation platforms. Here are a few suggestions how your organization should be using marketing automation.
1. Predicting long-term value and identifying prime cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.
A prerequisite to effective targeting is a more complete understanding of your customers, which can be obtained through techniques such as defining your buyer personas, customer profitability analysis, churn/retention analysis and behavior analysis.
With marketing automation you don’t have to limit yourself to simple demographics like age or job title. You can target leads according to how they responded to previous campaigns, or how they interacted with your web site.
Targeting helps answer questions like:
- Which customers are good candidates for cross-selling or up-selling?
- Are you recruiting high-value customers or low-value customers?
- How can I quantify shifts in behavior, predict long-term value and identify prime cross-sell and up-sell opportunities?
2. Sending specific messages to a mass database
No matter how large your target market, it is composed of individuals, with individual characteristics and preferences. Therefore, the key to effective mass marketing is not to treat your market like a mass. The more in-depth your intelligence about individual customers, the greater the effectiveness you will have with your marketing campaigns. You should be programmingspecific messages to be sent in response to visitor actions, such as purchase confirmation, key pages on your website, or shopping cart abandonment.
3. Nurture your leads until they are ready to buy.
Research says that 84% of qualified leads are not ready to buy. I’m sure from seeing your conversation rates, you know that most people who visit your web site are just browsing – they’re not ready to buy. But down the line, many will be.
Capturing their information, with a piece of gated content for example, you can set up a series of communications designed to take them through the buying process. Based on their behavior, you can score prospects from “cold” to “warm” so that your sales team can allocate their time to the leads ready to purchase.
4. Tracking the ROI of your social media reach.
In 2012, a Satmetrix study reported that 67% of companies do not measure or quantify social media engagement. For B2B companies, this figure rises to 75%.
Many of the marketing automation software providers solve this problem by providing integrateddashboards, which deliver analytics across all platforms including social media campaigns. I like to cross reference Google analytics with the marketing automation reports to see consistency and accuracy.
5. Deepen relationships with your current customers
Obtaining detailed customer knowledge is one thing; effectively integrating it into future marketing campaigns is another. With marketing automation you can measure the effectiveness of a campaign against the goals you established and then use that information to improve future campaigns.
Did the customers respond, and if so, how did they respond? Did you achieve your objectives? This information is critical to capture, monitor and incorporate back into future planning phases.
Through this ongoing process, you will gain an ever more accurate picture of your customers’ wants and needs, leading to more effective campaigns over time.
5 Things to Consider before Purchasing Marketing Automation
Marketing Automation is one of the most talked about technology in the B2B market. Estimates of automation adoption is projected to hit 50% by the year 2015, meaning that over the coming years, plenty of companies will be sifting through the various vendors to determine what solution fits best.
As more and more companies are looking to adopt automation to manage their leads and prospects, they are quickly realizing there is more to making the move to automation than just a technology purchase.
For many marketers, purchasing this type of technology is unchartered territory. So, it’s vital that they understand what they’ll need in order to make their technology investment successful.
Here are five things every organization should consider before investing in a marketing automation service.
1. Consider: Your Lead Management Process (is there one?)
Even with staggering statistics of the adoption and benefits of marketing automation, other research shows that many organizations have not achieved a level of process maturity and therefore are not getting the full value from their automation investments.
I’ve personally talked with numerous marketers that are currently paying for automation services, yet using the technology at a low capacity. It’s like having a smartphone yet only using it to make calls.
Organizations need to consider analyzing and developing a Lead Management Process. This alone will help you to get the maximum return from your investment. I encourage you to whiteboard your process out and then formally document it for all involved departments to review.
You should consider:
- Identifying your leads. Develop your personas and what their buying questions are.
- Creating a scoring/grading structure for your leads. What would make a prospect an “A” lead?
- Mapping out a nurture campaign for your different personas. (start small then grow it.)
- Identifying when marketing will pass leads to sales. A good place to start is if a prospect hits a certain score/grade.
Once these process areas are developed, automation will be easier to set up (and less overwhelming once you go live) Conversely, not having these processes in place before purchase leaves you to automate very little.
2. Consider: Your Team’s Skills
I’ve used numerous marketing automation platforms and let me be the first to tell you that many vendors will market their “ease of use.” While you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to learn them, it cannot be assumed that applying automation to the new way of B2B marketing is easy.
A study conducted in 2010 by Frost & Sullivan and Bulldog Solutions showed that of 250 respondents, 109 (44%) said that not having the right people was a roadblock to their automation success. Before you purchase automation, look to ensure your people have a strong understanding of your buyers, a willingness to collaborate with sales, a focus on revenue as an outcome, and that they know the place technology will play in reaching the buyer. In order to get the most from the technology, it takes people with the right skills.
3. Consider: Your Content Strategy
You can’t automate marketing if you don’t have anything to send to your leads, so it is imperative that you have relevant content that will foster dialogue along each stage of the buying cycle.
In a recent conversation with a fellow marketer I asked what type of content he was sending to his leads. His reply was “a quarterly newsletter is our biggest send.” The other extreme are companies are sending lots of emails but have no content strategy or framework. Consequently, their results are falling quite flat.
Developing your buyer personas (or ideal customer profiles), and documenting the typical buyer’s journey will help you develop a content map that corresponds to the journey and the personas.
4. Consider: Your Overall Goals & Objectives
One change that has occurred in this new era of B2B Marketing, that I love, has been a shift from art to science. Marketers are no longer looked to as the team that only provides fancy brochures, trade show swag, and powerpoint presentations, but organizations are looking to their marketing teams to help drive revenue. Yet, many marketing departments have not yet adopted this frame of mind when looking into marketing automation.
Before you purchase automation, be sure to determine the goals and objectives of marketing from a revenue perspective. Once the implementation occurs, use the solution along with your CRM reporting to track, benchmark and report on these metrics.
5. Consider: All of the Above
There are 100’s marketing automation solutions available on the market today. There’s an automation platform for every size organization.
As you consider an automation platform, take a look at the maturity of your marketing efforts. Buying an automation platform is only as good as the people, content, and processes you’ve put in place. Otherwise you’ll be paying for a service that you’re not using—but you should be! “Bells and whistles” do not mean much if they are not being used.
There are a lot of considerations when it comes to selecting the right marketing automation solution. However if you know your target leads, are collaborating with sales, producing content to educate your audience, and have a team that sees revenue generation as a key aspect of their job, you’re on the right track for successfully automating your marketing efforts.
What is CRM integration?
Whether you’re a CEO, marketing director, manager or anywhere in between, I’m sure you’ve had countless meetings on how to best manage your customers, contacts, leads and opportunities.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, tied into a Marketing Automation platform, is key.
What exactly is a CRM? What types of CRMs are there? How can you integrate your CRM with your Drupal website?
What is CRM?
Every day, your team is interacting with customers and prospects. A CRM’s primary purpose is to organize, track, and manage all of your customer information, activities, and conversations. This helps your sales, marketing, and customer service teams better understand your customers. It also ensures you are delivering the right message at the right time.
In short, CRM is an application that is designed to help you and your business to organize all the data that you have on your customers.
What Types of CRMs are there?
CRM applications come in two basic varieties: software and service. Decision makers have a wide range to choose from, depending on the needs of your organization. CRM software installs on your computer or server, and the data resides there as well. With CRM software, you usually only have to pay for it once and then you have control over both the program and the data inside it. CRM services are hosted online. You will typically pay an ongoing fee to access these services, but you can access them from any computer.
Some of the more well-known CRMs are Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, and NetSuite, as well as custom-made CRMs.
What is CRM integration?
Simply put, CRM integration is building your website and CRM to function together seamlessly. Instead of using your CRM to just be a system that retains customer information based on manual entries, integrating your website/marketing automation software brings in valuable customer information directly into your CRM.
For example, let’s say a prospect downloads your recent whitepaper from your website. This “prospect” is graded with a solid “B” (based on the grading structure you’ve put in place in your marketing automation software). If your marketing automation software is integrated with your CRM, a new record will be created and assigned to a sales person for follow-up.
In addition, your sales person will be able to pinpoint when that lead last visited your site, what they looked at, and what other information they requested.
Integrating A CRM into Your Drupal Website
Like any software you are integrating with your website, IT staffs should thoroughly think through coding issues before getting started. Participating in a live Demo and asking questions about other successful Drupal implementations is key. I would also suggest calling references provided by the CRM you’re choosing. It’s a great way find out what issues they had that you might not have thought through.
Many of the larger CRMs have modules already created to make installing a bit easier (.i.e Salesforce, SugarCRM, and a suite of modules for the Drupal-based CRMs like RedHen and Civicrm).
If you are going with a less widely accepted CRM, a custom API might need to be written. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but can be time consuming.
Regardless of the CRM you use, the majority of CRMs hold the same types of information and have the same types of goals:
- Improve customer communication and retention
- Increase company profitability
- Enhance customer/prospect tracking
Marketing Automation and Drupal
A strong lead management process requires B2B marketing professionals to respond to each prospect within the buying process. However, as your business grows, understanding and responding relevantly to a buyer’s interest is almost impossible to do manually. To ensure that your marketing efforts are targeting customers and prospects with the right messages at the right time, a marketing automation software is key.
What Is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation software brings together content assets such as landing pages, emails, web events, etc. and delivers them to prospects at a time when it is most relevant to them in their buying cycle.
Knowing the “right time” is key to effectively engaging prospects with your brand. Conducting an analysis of your target audience and capturing demographic information, along with their interactions with your brand through your website and social platforms, allows you to qualify a lead and deliver to your sales team. Most marketing automation platforms integrate seamlessly with popular CRMs, so your sales staff can most likely continue to use their existing tools.
Marketing automation and Drupal?
I’m skipping ahead in the process and assuming you’ve already determined that you need a marketing automation software. The question now is “how effectively will this software integrate into a Drupal website?”
Drupal is definitely one of the better marketing platforms, and with a simple install of custom modules, the most popular marketing automation platforms can quickly be integrated with your Drupal Site.
Below are just a few examples of custom Drupal modules that have been created for marketing automation platforms:
- Marketo Munchkin Module – (created by Mediacurrent‘s Damien McKenna) The Marketo Munchkin is a very simple module to output the Marketo Munchkin tracking code obtained from http://www.marketo.com/.
- Eloqua Module – This module allows you to build webforms that directly parallel forms in eloqua, and can thereby be posted into eloqua.
- Pardot Module – This module adds Pardot web analytics directly onto your Drupal site. It supports general visitor tracking, path-based individual campaign tracking, and path-based lead scoring.
- Built In Module to Replace 3rd Parties – This module serves as a locally hosted replacement for 3rd party services like Pardot, Marketo or Eloqua, allowing you to track individual user paths through your site and assign rules for marketing automation in the form of drip campaigns triggered from user interaction.
Personally, I recommend every Marketing and Sales Director investigate marketing automation software. To truly grasp the value provided by marketing automation, a level of understanding is needed, which only develops from in-depth personal experience with the technology, or a thorough investigation of its core features and functions. In either case, plan to spend a significant amount of time learning the ins and outs of the solution features. However, I strongly believe that companies that implement a marketing automation system to support their marketing and sales efforts are better equipped to manage lead flow and process leads more efficiently.ketin