All the things marketers can (and should) be doing with a CRM

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Content Marketing Associate, Nutshell

Although typically perceived as software for salespeople, CRMs are the secret sauce behind most successful marketing initiatives.

A CRM is an integral piece of software for marketers and salespeople. Powerful and versatile, CRMs are used to manage every aspect of the sales pipeline, from signing up newsletter subscribers to nurturing longtime customers, and literally everything in between. A finely-tuned CRM tracks and utilizes all of the tiny pieces of data generated by prospects all the way from the tippity-top of the funnel until the moment they sign that sweet, sweet contract.

Since CRMs are all about capturing and organizing every piece of customer data, and marketing is all about turning that data into sales leads, CRMs and marketers are a perfect match. Furthermore, many marketers find themselves stuck in sales-heavy organizations, with fewer resources at their disposal than their sales colleagues.

We’ve got your back, marketers! This inspiration guide covers a few of the many ways that marketers are leveraging CRMs, from the side projects and growth hacks to the core integral functions.

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Top of the funnel

Newsletter distribution

Newsletters are near the top of the marketing funnel. They typically contain company news, announcements, customer shoutouts, recent blog content, and are far from being considered “selling material.” That being said, they keep your company’s brand in potential buyers’ minds on a regular basis, and CRMs play an important role in newsletter distribution. Most CRMs will help you:

With a CRM or email marketing tool, content can be distributed to those who are interested, and those who aren’t interested can easily be dropped. Because of the versatility of CRMs, this activity can be completed by the marketing or sales team, depending on the structure of the organization.

Tailoring custom content to specific audiences is a phenomenal way to drive sales. A few list filters based on location, company size, and engagement can create a brand new opportunity for email marketing. Furthermore, a CRM integrated with marketing automation software can automatically subscribe contacts to the most relevant lists throughout your sales funnel. These features are extremely useful for marketers who want to promote specific offers and messages to specific audiences.

CRMs’ built-in metrics also help marketers identify who’s opening and engaging with your emails and who’s simply unreachable. Having access to these reports makes it much easier to strategize which leads are worth resuscitating, and which ones should be dropped off the map completely.

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Top-of-funnel metrics and adjustments

Reporting on metrics (AKA results) is a key responsibility for any marketer. CRMs make this easier by providing built-in reporting on numerous data points. For instance, Nutshell offers reporting on sales performance and forecasting, team productivity, lead volume, conversions, lost leads, and just about everything else you could think of.

The key metrics that marketers are using CRMs to track are:

  • Email engagement: Measuring how your leads are responding to your campaigns and your content.

    • Click-through rates
    • Unsubscription rates
    • Message deliverability
  • ROI Metrics: Measuring how much money is being spent on specific marketing campaigns versus how much revenue is generated.

    • Customer acquisition cost
    • Conversion rate
    • Customer lifetime value
    • Average sale price
    • Effectiveness of sales and support activities

Related reading: How to build a sales process: the complete guide.

Who’s subscribing to which lists

When organizations are sending sales and marketing emails, they need to understand how each audience segment is performing. A good marketer is always on top of their open rates, click-through rates, and subscriptions, and a good CRM allows them to be.

Most CRMs integrate with distribution services like Constant Contact and MailChimp, allowing marketers to easily segment their audiences and provide relevant messages to each one, depending on their place in the funnel.

By closely monitoring their engagement metrics, marketers and salespeople are able to quickly determine which campaigns are working, which ones aren’t, and which adjustments and corrective actions need to be taken.

CRMs can also help identify which content, website landing pages, and direct mails aren’t doing well. With a properly configured CRM, marketers can see whether or not their prospect has engaged with any of their material, or if they’re generally uninterested. If a prospect isn’t clicking anything, they might not be a solid lead. On the contrary, if a piece of marketing content isn’t getting clicked on by anyone, it’s time to either update it or get rid of it altogether.

Tracking source to sale

Marketers who are using landing page builders (like Unbounce) understand the importance of tracking source to sale. Someone might sign up for a newsletter, read it once, and then never interact with your company. On the contrary, the same newsletter might generate a lead which turns into a sale and leave you scratching your head wondering why.

To shed some light on these mystery conversions, marketers can integrate their landing page publisher with a CRM and track the lead from source to sale. This means that data captured from landing pages and web forms will automatically populate the CRM with the same data, allowing marketers to track their leads as they progress through the pipelines.

Leads that progress all the way from the landing page and convert into the sale can be an indicator that the landing page itself is healthy, since it’s providing the CRM with quality leads. If there’s a landing page that never generates any sales, it can indicate that the landing page, or the sales processes associated with that pipeline, need some work.

Wait Gordon Ramsay that landing page was fixable

Tracking the effectiveness of landing pages, web forms, and the quality of their leads allows marketers to make budgetary decisions related to their advertising and marketing channels. Based on which channels send the most leads, and which leads produce the most sales, it becomes easier to make difficult decisions regarding which sources to cut and which sources to improve.

Nutshell + Unbounce

Middle of the funnel

Targeting based on behavior, location, and other data

Clearly-defined sales pipelines are the foundation of an effective sales team. CRMs allow marketers to send targeted messages towards people depending on their stage. Furthermore, sales pipelines can be customized to reflect different products and different buyers’ journeys, meaning that marketers can use completely different strategies on completely different people. (See also: multiple pipelines in Nutshell Pro)

Leads can enter your pipeline from a variety of sources. Demo requesters, referrals, form submissions, direct callers, and many more, varying from business to business and product to product, and it’s a marketer’s job to make sure all these leads are given the right messages. This means a customer looking for business cards and signage isn’t bombarded with messages about web web page builders.

For instance, if someone signs up for a company’s webinar, your CRM should be configured so that they:

  • Automatically get added to a special pipeline for webinar attendees
  • Only get targeted marketing messages about similar content
  • Do not receive emails or calls about anything unrelated to the content they want
  • Are trackable with measurable engagement

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16 sales process templates for B2B pipelines

Whether you’re building your first sales process or overhauling an existing one, these Nutshell-approved templates will give you a great head-start.

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Tracking conversations and activities

Salespeople and marketers alike rely heavily on CRMs’ conversation-tracking capabilities. Most CRMs have this functionality built-in and on display in an easy-to-find location. In Nutshell (random example), logged activities, calls, emails, stage changes, new leads, new companies, and new people, are all compiled together into common feed called a timeline.

With your activities and messages aggregated in one common place, it’s easy for marketers to:

  • Collaborate across teams and openly coordinate efforts
  • See what’s working and what isn’t
  • Use open rates and response times to gauge marketing effectiveness

The Nutshell timeline

When sourcing marketing content, the timeline is a fantastic place to start. An up-to-date timeline will contain tons of data about your customers, including who’s using your products and to which extent. Browsing customer interactions may reveal potential customer success stories, testimonials, or quotes, depending on the customers’ interactions with your team.

Who’s downloading content

Content is an integral part of any full-formed marketing strategy. It is responsible for a portion, often a large one, of organic website traffic, and also propels people through the sales pipeline. Content is a marketer’s greatest tool for grabbing the attention of potential customers and steering them in the right direction. A bit of content about product comparisons might be the perfect tool to turn an unengaged shopper into a buyer. A thank-you email with bonus tips can transform a new customer into a power user.

Since content has such a strategic role, it’s important to stay on top of the metrics. Obvious metrics can include the basics like number of content offer downloads, number of clicks, and time spent on page. Strategically, marketers look beyond those to also gauge which demographics respond to specific content types, what role timing plays in content engagement, which points in the sales process require more content, and more. A concise marketing strategy in an accurate CRM is a flexible and invaluable method of getting the right content to the right users.

Simply put, when a user signs up for your content, they’re trusting you to not spam or bombard them, but rather to give them more of what they asked for. Use this opportunity to make their experience even better!

Who’s attending webinars

Webinars are an up-and-coming trend in the sales and marketing world, with a reported 92% of marketers citing webinars are being “very effective or somewhat effective” in terms of achieving marketing objectives.

Webinars are a common form of content marketing, existing solely to provide valuable information in exchange for email addresses and other contact information, usually collected upon registration. Tracking attendees in a CRM is great for marketers because it clarifies the attendee’s place in the sales pipeline, and also provides clues into the types of education the attendee is looking for.

Webinar content is typically based around useful information, tips and tricks, industry trends, and will not include an explicit sales pitch: That’s what demos are for. Webinar attendees are higher in the funnel, and aren’t ready to hear about why they need to act fast and buy now. They’re there to learn and absorb the content of the webinar, which means webinars should be about something seriously thoughtful, and not just another stop in the buyers’ journey.

Discounts, offers, loyalty clubs

Incentivizing your prospects (and customers) to engage with your brand is always a good idea. This model varies across the board depending on the industry and the products being sold, but the basic idea is that businesses are providing points, cash back, and other rewards to their customers in exchange for repeat business and referrals. It’s a win-win!

Incentives can be extremely lucrative when implemented correctly. Sephora’s Beauty Insider rewards program has more than 17 million members that comprise as much as 80% of Sephora’s annual sales. The program is partly successful due to its flexibility: Members earn points with every purchase, and can redeem those points towards any Sephora product they’d like.

Dropbox implemented a simple referral program for its users. With very little effort, users could earn 500MB of free space by referring friends with just a signup URL. This program, due to its simplicity, was wildly successful and earned them 4 million new users in just 15 months.

This marketing strategy can be enhanced by using a CRM, allowing marketers to easily subscribe rewards club members to content series relevant to them. This keeps members continually engaged by the program, even if they’re not regularly seeing the website or any other communication channels. By keeping their rewards content fresh and getting it in front of interested customers, marketers are able to keep their engagement numbers healthy and their customers happy.

Bottom of the funnel

Personalized content

CRMs, when configured properly, capture TONS of useful data about customers and prospects. By the bottom of the funnel, they’ve already been added to a pipeline that matches their demographic information. They’ve already engaged with content, progressed through your sales process thanks to the efforts of your sales team, and expressed interest in a product. Now it’s time to sell.

At this point, more information about the person and company can be leveraged to make the offer more targeted and relevant. Marketers often accomplish this by creating sales, promotions, and offers that appeal to people who are already close to the end of the sales pipeline.

“In honor of Research Week, we are offering 25% off list price for all Research Admins and Assistants.”

Deals like this serve as a means to accelerate people through the pipeline, as well as reopen conversations with people who are close to making a purchasing decision, but have gone cold for whatever reason.

Location-based offers

Some CRMs, like Nutshell, offer location-based marketing features that show where prospects are distributed, allowing salespeople and marketers to make informed decisions.

https://youtu.be/Pr0hDGr2518

Say, for instance, a company is opening a new store in a specific city. Marketers would create several maps, with various offers and promotions, for the neighboring areas. With proper pipeline and list management, they’d be able to see which marketing efforts are generating the most traffic, and continuously improve their strategies.

Marketers are taking location-based marketing tactics to the next level by advertising to people as they hit certain locations, like walking by their store, or getting close to a competitor’s store. Using beacon technology, marketers can even advertise to customers inside the store, promoting deals that may appeal to their demographic.

Location-based marketing also provides marketers a headstart towards their market segmentation initiatives. Location is the most basic form of segmentation, and marketers who are already using their CRMs for location-based strategies can update their pipelines accordingly, ensuring all prospects’ records remain accurate.

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Administrative

Segmentation

Market segmentation is the practice of separating people, companies, and leads into groups based on their similarities, or more specifically, their propensity to respond similarly to specific marketing tactics. Although there’s a lot of work to do offscreen, the end result means that marketers can sift entities into various pipelines in the hopes of maximizing their marketing impact.

Marketers typically distribute their prospects into categories based on the following types of segmentation:

  • Demographic: Age, gender, income, profession, race
  • Psychographic: Lifestyle, personality, beliefs, values, social class
  • Behavioral: Actions the prospect has taken within the pipeline
  • Geographic: City, state, proximity to target locations, weather

By properly segmenting audiences within their CRM, marketers are able to easily increase their conversion rates between pipeline stages and waste less time on tactics that won’t bear fruit. It’s all about getting the right message to the right people, and CRMs are helping marketers do it better.

This section is just a summary, check out our comprehensive market segmentation guide for more.

Managing backlinks

Backlinks are on every marketer’s radar. For everyone outside the marketing world, a backlink is basically just a hyperlink from one site to another. The reason they’re crucial is that there is strategic value in acquiring backlinks from certain sites, mainly ones with similar content (and keywords) and a high domain authority. When these sites link to your site, it drives more organic traffic and boosts your page’s SEO. Moz describes them as “a ‘vote of confidence’ from one site to another.” Backlinks that come from spam sites or other sites with very poor domain authority have the opposite effect, hurting your domain’s authority and reputation by association.

Unfortunately, the process of requesting and obtaining a backlink from a targeted website is hardly ever straightforward. It usually goes something like this:

  • Encounter a site with relevant content, strong domain authority, etc
  • Perform prospect research to figure out who does their marketing
  • Find a good spot from which they can link to your site
  • Write a very specific email, including URLs, describing where you’d like a link
  • Reach out to that person
  • Discover that they don’t do the website edits
  • Join a conversation with the marketer and whoever updates their blog
  • Obtain a backlink from the target company

After performing this exercise a few times, marketers will discover it creates inbox clutter, with long email threads and multiple contacts for each company. This is where a CRM makes a huge difference.

By managing backlink negotiation with a CRM, marketers are able to keep track of everything in one place and perform on-the-spot analyses of their efforts. Is there a “buddy” company that’s always happy to link to relevant articles? Do your prospects always ask about your domain authority? Is your email getting responses? Being able to answer questions like these can boost your success rate and secure more links to your site.

Author’s note: I created a special pipeline in Nutshell for my personal efforts securing and nurturing backlink leads.

By using a CRM to manage backlinks, and also disavowing the toxic ones, we boosted the domain authority of this very site and saw a quick 11% increase in organic traffic.

Summary

That covers the basics, but there are many more ways for marketers to use CRMs. In summary, the master plan involves gathering as much data as possible and using it to refine the sales process from the top of the funnel all the way to the bottom. A CRM is a goldmine of prospect information, simply waiting for savvy marketers to transform it into something beautiful. After all, it’s 2020 now, which means it’s time for smarter marketing.

Educational resources:

The funnels—sales and marketing—and how they’re useful

Why a growth team is the answer to sales and marketing alignment

The ultimate guide to market segmentation

The complete guide to Saas sales

The 16 best sales prospecting tools that integrate with your CRM

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