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Choosing Customer Relationship Management and Marketing Automation Technology Solutions

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The marketing tools available for small businesses today can be overwhelming. However, the benefits from tools like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and Marketing Automation can be incredible if used correctly. We sat down with Chad Ghastin, a Customer Experience expert, to find out why small businesses need these solutions and how to go about implementing them.

Q: Why Should You Consider Investing in CRM and Marketing Automation Technology?

A: In an increasingly crowded offline and online marketplace, consumers have no shortage of options. The old adage that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one and that you generate 80% of revenue from 20% of your customers still holds true. That’s why customer retention and loyalty needs to be business priority.

Being close to the customer and providing high touch experience and service is an advantage for many small businesses. However, as your business grows and your customer base scales and becomes more diverse based on their needs and wants, you will need to leverage technology to maintain a high touch experience. Plus, leveraging technology to create data-driven and automated multi-channel marketing programs across email, mobile and web, often results in significant time and bottom line savings.

Additionally, customers now expect and will only respond to communications that are personalized and relevant to their individual needs and wants. To create, manage and test personalized and relevant communications using customer preferences, shopping and purchase behavior, you need CRM and marketing automation technology. Another benefit is that most platforms now have robust analysis and reporting tools that allow you to create key performance indicator dashboards customized to your needs.

Simply put, if you want to increase sales and marketing ROI from up-sell, cross-sell and gifting campaigns, you need the ability send the right message to the right person at the right time.

Q: Where Do You Recommend a Small Business Owner Begin?

A: I always advise clients to first look inward and answer key business questions:

1) How are you currently managing customer communications and experiences? Is it an arduous and manual process or are you getting full value from your current technology solution?

2) Are you able to segment and treat customers with personalized and timely communications that increase your share-of-wallet and loyalty? Or are you only able to send generic communications that aren’t generating the response and revenue that you expected.

3) Will a new technology solution integrate with your existing administrative, marketing and web platforms and allow you to get as close as possible to a 360 degree view of your customers while quantifying revenue?

4) Can you create a simple business case that quantifies and forecasts total cost of ownership and ROI associated with implementing a new technology solution?

The point of these questions is to determine if you need a new technology provider or should to try and get more value from your existing solution. At any rate, it’s a good idea to annually review your current technology provider and research new provider offerings that align with your changing business goals and needs.

If you determine that you need to invest in a new technology provider, spend the time to research the provider landscape. Look at leading industry ratings from Forrester, Gartner and CRM Magazine. Also ask your colleagues and small business association members for their recommendations based on business results, ease of implementation and service.

Most importantly consult with two or three vetted technology solution providers. Most re-sellers and second-party providers will meet with you at no cost and create a customized proposal of potential solutions and service options. If you think it’s expensive to hire an expert, wait until you hire an amateur or try to do it yourself is true and avoidable if you hire an expert.

For further information, make sure to download our Customer Experience Planning Workbook to help you map out and improve your customer journey. The workbook is a functional tool that will help you identify customer pain points and improvement opportunities. It includes:

  • Understanding Key Phases of the Customer Lifecycle
  • Auditing Customer Journey Touchpoints
  • Mapping Customer Journey to Internal and Customer Processes
  • Establishing Key Performance Indicators and Success Metrics

The workbook also features:

  • 9 Small business customer journey mapping technology tools
  • 9 Small business customer contact and management technology suggestions
  • 4 Customer experience book recommendations

About the Expert, Chad Ghastin

Chad is an Independent Consultant and Instructor experienced in design, lifecycle marketing and digital product development. Chad has worked in marketing for 20 years building, managing and contributing to brands across various industries - including such brands as NBC News, Ford, Dodge, MasterCard, Nickelodeon and the New York Times. He is an expert in customer experience design for start-ups as well as established companies. He’s extremely passionate about all things marketing and teaches advertising and communications at various universities.

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