Website Planning Guide #12
Automate your marketing and plan a website with built-in customer engagement.
Built-in customer engagement: How the right CRM can transform your website
Integrating your B2B website with a slick CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can be a game-changer for the success of your website. The right system can allow you to not only keep track of prospective business but also generate leads and convert those engagements into sales.
Passive websites that offer a breadth of information but nowhere for customers to put their interest into action can be a real problem for your business. A CRM system allows you to connect with customers in a way that positions your website as an extension of you; offering excellent service, quick responses and clear calls to action.
What is a marketing CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relations Management and is the process of managing communications and interactions with your prospects and customers. CRM software enables the tracking, organisation and analysis of this data so you can nurture more profitable customer relationships and deliver smarter marketing. A CRM, successfully integrated with your website, can also allow you to track user visits and automate marketing communication to them at the moment of their engagement.
There are also loads of options to choose from, all with their own pros and cons. Whether you opt for HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot or Zoho, all depends on what you need and how you and your team works. A great agency will help make sure that you find the right match for your CRM needs, which may or may not be the same system as your sales team are already using.
The benefits of having a marketing CRM integrated with your new website:
There are countless benefits to a fully-fledged and well set-up CRM on a website. Simplicity and ease are the obvious ones, but they aren’t the only things a good setup can offer you:
- An all in one platform – all the marketing tools you need in one place
- Connected data – data-driven marketing at your fingertips
- Pull marketing – build up a following and draw prospects in
- Results based marketing – create reports, then analyse and improve
- Marketing automation – do more with less effort
- Know your customers better – measure, segment and pivot
- Built-in marketing funnels – nurture and warm up your prospects
- Improve your channels – test, adjust and succeed with your campaigns
- Act when it matters – spot buying and engagement signals
- Segmentation – send the right content to the right people
- Growth and training – most platforms offer free and paid training to boost your marketing skills and ability.
Integrating your CRM into your content management system (CMS)
Your CMS is the software that enables you to edit the content on your website and is the core code of your site. Whilst you can easily retrofit a CRM onto your existing website CMS, the best time to do this is when commissioning a new website. This way, your agency can work with you to integrate both systems at the same time and optimise them to your individual needs. If done this way, you can build a really powerful marketing ecosystem.
At the very start of your website process, talk to your agency about integrating a CRM. They will have a number of questions about your CRM needs and integrations and will be able to offer up opportunities and advantages you may not have thought of. The kinds of question they are likely to ask are:
- What data do you currently have, and how healthy is it?
- What is your company’s GDPR/PECR data policy, and how would this fit in?
- What data do you need to be able to report back to the company with, on the performance of your marketing?
- What signals an engagement for your prospects online?
- Who will use and operate the CRM?
- What tools and features are essential? Avoid feature overload
- Will it grow with you? Does it have scale?
What CMS is the best for you?
“Well, that depends” is the only answer here. Maybe it is the creative in me, but I always suggest you start by writing yourself a brief and then going shopping. Here are some good CMS comparison articles:
The CRM features to look out for:
As I said, there’s no one way to judge a CRM and a big part of your decision should depend on your needs and the advice and guidance from an agency you trust. There are, however, a few key attributes you should definitely look for:
- Conversation trackers: find a system that archives all your historical interactions with a customer so you can communicate with them from a place of knowledge. If they’ve interacted with you before, your comms should reflect that.
- Make it personal: personalised communications land better with customers, and your CRM should be able to add names and contact details automatically.
Know your customers: your CRM should offer you the ability to track customers by industry, purchase history, location and other marketing factors. You can then use this information to deliver focussed marketing.
- Keep your customers informed: automated emails updating customers or prospects on their journey with you is really important and CRMs should be able to do this automatically, saving you time and energy.
- Know where your money is coming from: better CRMs can tell you which marketing campaigns have been most successful, which products are driving sales and where your visitors are coming from. This information is essential for tailoring your marketing plans for the future.
The Future of CRM
There are a lot of interesting developments in the world of CRM and how marketing, technology and big data are being used to create brand new experiences for customers and opportunities for business is staggering.
Mass personalisation is probably the most impressive of all, with the big players like Microsoft and Salesforce all investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to realise the potential of big data.
Salesforce Einstein is their flagship system that has been going for around four years now. It’s widely touted as the most intelligent system on the market and can use its powerful AI to create truly personalised customer experiences and journeys. Instant messaging services are becoming a mainstay of websites and offer quick answers to customer questions. It’s an effective way of adding a personal touch and helping customers take action. Salesforce have also invested in a voice assistant component, which will likely lead to verbal conversation capabilities powered by AI too.
“Conversational features of chatbots are currently limited to basic inquiries, but AI has the potential to push these limits further. With AI and machine learning, advanced chatbots may be able to execute the next best action while handling multiple queries. Through natural language processing, these chatbots will be sophisticated enough that customers won’t be able to tell if they’re talking to a machine.” (Finance Online, 2020)
You might not need this level of innovation just yet, but it’s all worth thinking about. CRM has the power to transform the way you work, and it’s something to take very seriously as you build your latest website, and think about your next one, too.