Marketing and CRM: even for SMEs, it is time to invest in digital tools and adopt a new approach in managing their network of contacts. It can be done by relating a Customer Relationship Management module with marketing automation tools: you get valuable data on the quality of your communication and essential opportunities to improve it.
SMEs 2022: Investment Trends
Companies are investing heavily in digital technologies. Also favored by tax reliefs and concessions, many of them, particularly the large ones, are gearing up to manage their business with the appropriate software. While investments in Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence programs are growing for more structured businesses, a large part of the SME budget seems to be heading towards CRM and ERP software. In particular, the digital management of marketing and relationship activities seems advantageous even for small companies.
Many Marketing Automation tools make interactions with potential customers and those already acquired faster and more traceable. A trend of this kind marks a change of approach for small and medium-sized enterprises, traditionally accustomed to a “warmer” relationship with their customers. The classic example: chatbots. Their diffusion is also growing exponentially in SMEs, and the results are generally good. Now reliable and convenient systems make them effective and practical for the end-user.
Setting up the Customer Relationship system does not imply abandoning the human factor. On the contrary, Digital tools allow companies to organize this relationship better, but they do not replace it. On the other hand, the integration between the marketing team and the sales and customer care team makes it possible to define a reference target with objective data. This helps you focus your efforts where needed and communicate your company’s values and proposition more effectively.
Customer Relationship Management
One of the strengths of small and medium-sized enterprises is the informal approach and the direct relationship between customer and company. The importance of the human connection is often emphasized to underline the closeness of interests between the two subjects and more significant consideration of individual needs. In practical terms, relationships of this type are formed through an assortment of contacts, often on an informal basis, of which little trace can remain.
The weak point of this approach is often the difficulty of setting up and managing this network of relationships. To communicate the contact plan with the assistance register, for example, and build a customer file with objective parameters and data. Often, the data in question are present in company management but challenging to find and interpret because they are not very communicative. A CRM system can fill, together with other digital tools, these gaps in internal communication and provide those who manage a company with a more practical reference panel.
At the same time, it tends to take into account a business scenario that has changed over the years, where contact between the company, partners, and customers no longer takes place exclusively through the office or the sales agent, but via the web, social media and on various other channels. Effective mapping of this fabric is therefore essential.
What A Customer Relationship Management Software Can Do
The advantages of an operational CRM consist in tracing the fabric of relationships and contacts described above: this generates a mass of data that can be interpreted and exploited. After all, a CRM represents more than a simple customer relationship management system. In addition to the adoption of new software, it also requires a change of mentality: mapping contacts and at the same time recognizing the importance of the data collected and evaluating the quality of the relationship.
This means, for example, analyzing the type and frequency of contact with a given customer, whether it is a visit from the sales agent, a call to assistance service, a request for advice, or a problem with shipments. The availability, often in real-time, of this information draws a precise and “focused” picture of strengths and weaknesses in the relationship with that contact, customer, or partner.
This serves to identify new profit opportunities, of course, and evaluate the quality of the service offered and the possibilities of improving the customer experience. A similar system applies to both loyal customers and potential customers: undecided ones who have only asked for information on specific products and more. If previously this information was the responsibility of the individual departments, or perhaps they knew each other in an “empirical” way, an analytical CRM allows you to quantify and measure the state of things.
Essential indicators such as the number of calls to the after-sales service, the time required for delivery, and, of course, the level of satisfaction expressed thus make it possible to retain existing customers. At the same time, variables such as conversion rates, the number of unfinished or lost sales processes, or the percentage of unanswered emails should be valuable inputs to improve communication with potential customers.
Integrate CRM And Marketing Automation
Even more compelling is the integration between CRM and marketing automation tools, for example, those for sending emails and corporate communications. Again, it’s not about replacing chatbots for the good old business meeting. Instead, digital tools serve to understand how to concentrate efforts and avoid the most repetitive and serial steps of the relationship with one’s network of contacts. Precise numbers and data on purchases and customer satisfaction are essential for planning rewarding strategies for the most diligent customers to be created with the help of marketing automation tools.
Ad hoc offers, warranty extensions, or other bonuses can be provided, which, with an automated device, are aimed at a target selected by the CRM tools. From a B2B perspective, a relationship with partners and other companies also grows through targeted communication: a detailed analysis is used to plan contact methods that can consist of invitations to events, seminar proposals, and quality content, to implement with automated tools concretely. The automated tools in so-called lead nurturing are all the more effective, i.e., in cultivating a profitable relationship with potential customers.
For example, targeted communications to finalize a sale that has not yet been concluded or to awaken interest in users who have been inactive for a while. Another essential function is to provide quality information: for example, on the status of an order or the availability of a product. Also, in this case, the best results are obtained by relating the automated tools with the data collected in the Customer Relationship Management module.
The Advantages Of A Global Approach, Even For SMEs
In this and other management aspects, the global approach is also valid for SMEs, i.e., coordinating departments and sectors in a single system to enhance existing relationships and connections. The benefits are evident when you can access separate databases and make them communicate. What has been said about the CRM-marketing automation combination applies to the other business sectors of a company. An efficient system thus allows data and information to pass between the various points of the supply chain and, for the end-user, provides timely information.
For example, notifications in real-time on the availability of a product, on the phases of realization, or the shipping conditions. Managing everything with the computing power of modern management software is an opportunity to skim a large amount of generated data. A valuable categorization, useful for better evaluating the available data and directing the flow of information appropriate to the different types of contacts we are cultivating.
Engagement focuses on the quality of communication with the recipient, be it the customer of a product or a partner. The IT tools but, above all, a workflow that enhances the automation functions, offer again in terms of quantity and quality of communication, with a clear saving of time and resources. Without detracting from the classic “gentleman’s agreement” and the good old handshake, simply by better understanding with whom and why to enter into agreements or start business relationships.
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