To CRM, or not to CRM?

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The subject of using a CRM comes up quite frequently when discussing the construction of a website. For those of you who aren’t aware, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management or Customer Resource Management. In layman’s terms, this simply means how you communicate with your customer list or how you manage your customer list.

When deciding whether or not to use a CRM, the first steps is to determine if you have customer list or not. With “customer list” being defined as any list of people who intend to consume what you are offering. Which means you don’t need to be selling anything to have a customer list, as “customer” is being used very loosely here. You could have a full retail customer list, or simply a list of people who like to know when you post a new blog, both work here. If you have a list, great, you’re one step closer to your decision.

Next, you will need to know the size of your list. Is it 15 people or is it 15,000 people? This is important as we will use it as a gauge determine what, if any, CRM is best suited for your needs. If you don’t have an organized Excel list to easily reference, no big deal. A ball park guestimate will work just fine for our purposes. On we go…

What part of your business are you looking to enhance by using a CRM? What is the goal of integrating the CRM? Everything should start with your WHY, and we’re not going to break stride here. Are you looking to automate processes and save yourself time?

Perhaps your list is growing rapidly and you can’t keep track of everyone on a spreadsheet. Heck, you may even want to start direct marketing campaigns with drip campaigns, automated sales, dynamic membership portals and the whole shebang! Whatever your cause, it’s important to know your WHY to keep you on track.

Knowing your list size and your WHY will now lead you into the discussion of which CRMs to investigate and ultimately use. We’ll start with the basics and work our way up. The most basic CRM is an automated table of form registrants. This can be achieved by using a contact form and a function to store the data submitted. This can be easily achieved in WordPress with 2 plugins, Contact Form 7 and Contact Form 7 Database. This is a 1 way street, you receive information, but don’t send any back.

Moving along, if you’re simply looking to communicate with your list, an email CRM like Constant Contact can be leveraged to send drip campaigns to your list with the push of a button. With the use of WYSIWYG editors, you can send beautifully designed email campaigns to your list and see the performance of the campaign so you can optimize for your next push.

Finally, for those of you who want the full bag of tricks, you’re going to be looking for the likes of Infusionsoft or SalesForce. Those CRMs are fully functioning ecommerce machines, complete with store capabilities, digital marketing services, and list optimization tools. These are the “big dogs” in the CRM space.

Regardless of where your list size sits, if you want to connect with your avatar, using a CRM is highly advised. Start small and work your way up if you prefer. Either way, you’ll be ahead of the curve with the help of a CRM, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

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