Good question really, and yes - there is a lot of hype about social CRM and Social Marketing. So with that I thought I’d add my views and thoughts. There are a lot of questions to be answered and there is very little point trying to jump on a bandwagon if socialising your brand and business does not fit with your product or service, although there are very few products or services these days that are not available online.
So, what is CRM?
Okay, let’s drop back to basics for a while and get a grasp on what CRM really means to your business and to your customers. So what is CRM? Well the one thing it is not is an expensive investment in software and computer equipment.
CRM is the process methodology used in a business for Sales, Marketing and Support strategy to understand the approach you want to or will take when managing your customers. CRM software like Microsoft Dynamics CRM supplied as a managed service by MyCRM (http://hosted.mycrmgroup.com/) should be seen as a software application that can help your organisation achieve good processes to handle and track customer activities.
A common mistake that is made (and this is the key reason a number of CRM projects fail) is that the emphasis is placed on the technology and that the software application will somehow manage your customers for you.
So where should you begin? There are many methodologies and guides on the subjects as you can probably imagine. So step back and think of it like this: what do you want to achieve in the key areas of your business? Key areas are likely to be Sales, Marketing, Service and Support but take each one as an individual process.
Let’s take Sales:
We all want more sales but giving some thought on how you can capture these will pay dividends. Firstly: what type of sales does your business do, and what I mean by that is, is your organisation solution selling or product selling?
Solution Selling can be defined as having arranged an appointment and probably demonstrated a solution in use, then a proposal is written and a level of negotiation will take place before a deal is closed. So first step is to define that process, and then using CRM software like Microsoft Dynamics you can map the process through the several stages. I will be writing a separate post on defining the sales process in Microsoft CRM.
Product Selling can be more easily defined as “I want one of those”. This is where a customer has a need for a product, but the strategy here needs to be given thought on why they should buy it from you (i.e. what is better about the way you can sell product X?).
That simplifies the type of selling a little, and thought should also be given to who the intended target are. If your business model is B2C then consider the best way to fit your product into the target sector. If your business model is B2B then examine and understand the target business sector.
Socialising your business for the sake of it (i.e. “Oh, we have a Facebook page”) is not really a strategy and thought needs to be given on how you can attract potential prospects to your organisation via popular social media sites and blogs.
Let’s Consider Marketing:-
There are many ways to attract a prospects attention and depending on size of the organisation some or all of the list below may be in reach and used in a campaign:
- Social Media Marketing
- Search engine Marketing
- Email Marketing
- SMS marketing
- Hard Copy Print Media
- Hard Copy Print Direct
- Online Network Advertising
- TV Advertising
- Radio Advertising
- Web Site
For the purpose of this post I’m not going to review each, but take a look at the social aspect and how to drive interest using these channels.
The first port of call has to be your businesses web site, things to consider:
- Is the site current?
- Does it work correctly in all browsers?
- Does it represent the business and target audience that you need to attract?
- Does the presentation of information work well on tablet PCs and mobiles?
- Is the content updated regularly?
- Is the Meta data correct?
- Can it be integrated into your CRM System easily?
With the launch of such devices as the Microsoft Surface and the Apple iPad there has been a huge increase in mobile computing and the way we all consume information and access data, so consideration has to be given on how your organisation presents itself.
As more and more people access information on the go with these types of devices more businesses will have to adapt or potentially lose out to competitors that can deliver a good customer journey and access to the right information at the right time.
When I started in business one thing that people would always say to me was “Cash is King!” But for good presence, awareness and marketing then “Content is King”.
Once consideration has been given to presence then the next step is to consider the best approach in how to contact your prospects and customers and keep them informed of latest service updates and product updates.
The most popular approach to contacting customers and individuals is by the tried and tested method of tracked email. Tracked email solutions, or email marketing solutions, enable an organisation to track who reads an email and what level of interest was shown - usually through interactions and web tracking.
Email marketing solutions like the MyCRM eCampaign solution (http://downloads.mycrmgroup.com/eCampaign.aspx) has 2 key stages - the first being design of template and sending, and the second being the tracking and rating of activity. The second stage enables an organisation to prioritise the activity of sales and customer services through to prospects and customers that interact more. This approach is usually called smart selling.
This approach has also seen some popularity and is excellent to gain a response from an individual if an activity is happening within a 3 hour time frame. A good example of this was when working with a Rugby club: The marketing team would send SMS messages to fans 3 hours before a game with special offers that were on in the bar or the restaurant. By doing this the revenue for the club pre-game increased by 40%.
But sending an SMS about a special offer that is online is not likely to have the same impact, or the same call to action.
Social Media Marketing:-
In only a few years we have also seen the increase in the use of social networks, and although Microsoft CRM does not connect up to Facebook or Twitter natively there are options available. That said, creating activity on a company page on Facebook or Twitter can amplify and drive traffic to a company website - and MyCRM as an organisation use this approach quite actively. See our Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-CRM-Limited/367480604689. More is discussed in the section below about building the social network and presence.
Search Engine Marketing:-
There are two main popular types of search engine marketing and these are “adwords” and banner marketing. Both Google and Bing have their own services and you can read more here:
Making use of adwords can be an expensive process depending on which keywords are required, and some specialist help may be required to help set up the adverts and keywords used to get the best effect if working on a smaller budget.
Overall, marketing is key for driving repeat and new business and sales teams will always want more qualified opportunity coming into the business.
Support and getting it right:-
A number of larger organisations are already using social media for support and I recently discovered this by making a complaint about a product I had bought from Argos on their Facebook page, only to get a very quick response and great customer service. There are a number of ways to go about this: you can give a customer support representative access to your support page on Facebook, or have integration into another software product like Microsoft CRM. At the end of the day the process is the same and enables a new interface to be used for your business so customers can interact with you.
What is very important to understand though is that using social media for support should be considered as just a single tool and a single channel, and should not be left as the only way a customer can interact with support.
Building a social media presence is an ongoing process. Some organisations do it well, and some as an afterthought.
You can see the MyCRM Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-CRM-Limited/367480604689) that we actively post news and information that links to products and support updates. We also run sponsored links and advertising campaigns two or three times per year on Facebook.
Facebook is a great brand builder for your product - regardless of size of organisation – content can be easily placed in newsfeeds or on advertising feeds. By doing this awareness will grow, and if you have interesting things to say about product or problems that your organisation can help with then more interest will build around your social presence and brand.
There are now dedicated agency businesses that will help build your social presence from as little as £1000 ($1500) per month, but you’re not going to get a great deal of content. If you’re working on a low budget then you might want to look at alternatives like Pure Content (http://www.purecontent.com/) that can help build specific content around your business by providing new stories on a daily or weekly basis.
Twitter is another great tool for driving people to your web site and raising awareness about products and services that you may sell or offer. Just like Facebook, you need people and organisations to follow what you are saying. If you don’t have an audience of volume then you’re not going to get a great return, and this is why I said that social awareness and social brand recognition is built over time.
Marketing services and ads from Facebook can help but also organisations like Twitter Counter http://twittercounter.com/ can help build followers. Keep in mind that you do need to have the right message and keep tweets relevant to the service you offer.
Using Twitter for competitions and special offers is also great - I have seen many competitions and promotions where an organisation will offer a free iPad or the latest smartphone if you complete your details online for a new product or event. These competitions or promotions then draw the lucky winner from all those that entered. This said, you do need a page and a way to record this information, so thought needs to be given on how you are going to run an online promotion with Twitter.
Twitter is also great for including #HashTags. By using #HashTags you can generate interest outside of your direct followers, for instance we use #CRM and #MSDYNCRM regularly in our posts for #MyCRM (https://twitter.com/MyCRMGroup).
In conclusion; does socialising your business mean good CRM? Well, like all technology enhancements if it is done correctly and the correct message is used, or you have the requirement of instant answers then yes, at MyCRM we believe that social integration will help you drive your business forward.
To get a trial of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you can register with MyCRM here http://hosted.mycrmgroup.com/demorequest.aspx
To gain access to product extensions from the MyCRM team please register here http://downloads.mycrmgroup.com/Account/Register.aspx
MyCRM has over 20 years’ experience in understanding how CRM as a technology and CRM as a business process can work in business and has therefore we have developed a number of off-the-shelf extensions to enhance CRM productivity.
We offer from our own fully managed datacentre a licence per user Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform, you can see more about using MyCRM as a managed service here: http://hosted.mycrmgroup.com/
As an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) we offer a range of pre-built application extensions for your Microsoft CRM Solution:-
http://downloads.mycrmgroup.com/eNumber.aspx Extend your Microsoft CRM system with automated numbering for individual entities and text updates.
http://downloads.mycrmgroup.com/eSurvey.aspx The all-new eSurvey solution for Microsoft Dynamics CRM extends the marketing capability of Microsoft CRM even further, by delivering a fully integrated customer survey tool.