According to the CSO’s annual information technology review, just under one third of companies with broadband connectivity are currently using CRM or customer relationship management software to manage customer contact points across the business.
But a new generation of start-ups and ambitious SMEs are creating a surge of CRM adoption, according to Gary Cullen, sales and marketing director with Provident CRM, a reseller of the SugarCRM platform.
“The conversation has changed and where the conversation is happening has changed. Most of the decision-making process happens out in the social world where people talk to each other, get recommendations and look for influencers. We need to listen and engage them where they are.
“From a CRM perspective, you have to be able to capture this information and understand who is engaging with your message. You can then start to monitor and track the level of interest in your brand and rather than sending a potential customer a whitepaper and hoping for the best, you’re bringing them on a journey with you,” he said.
Paul Hennessy, Dynamics lead with Microsoft Ireland agrees.
“CRM allows you to refine your message on a continual basis. It means you can take a campaign, measure the efficacy of it, talk about the number of leads you got and the value of business that you closed as a result and all in real time. That’s very powerful and it works best when you have sales and marketing closely collaborating,” he said.
Six out of 10 Irish organisations are using some form of social media such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, according to the CSO, up from 48 per cent in 2013. And its primary purpose is to connect with the customer.
“The consumer is becoming hyper connected now, right across their day and marketers and agencies are having to adapt their approach to reach these people,” said Christian Jago-Byrne, country manager Ireland with Microsoft Advertising.
“Irish brands are very good at that and are really recognising the fact the consumers are moving online. We’re seeing organisations starting to run campaigns right across screens; on mobile, TV, video, Xbox and desktop and they’re having to reach people in a different way. Social CRM and listening really helps them to manage the leads and determine the return on investment,” he said.
And that social listening piece has now become an integral part of CRM. It might be in early stages in terms of overall market adoption but it’s sure to grow as social networks and online communities take root in our everyday lives.
“Take Microsoft social listening and the ability to measure sentiment,” said Hennessy. “If I was in Bank of Ireland, I would take the sentiment of what people are saying about AIB and use the pain points to my advantage, to run my own campaign and capture that audience. Remember what people are doing on social media, they’re complaining,” he said.
“The strategy behind what’s happening now in social is almost a science in itself,” said Cullen.
“Your CRM holds the key to reaching the right audience on your social platforms. And because it’s digital, we have a lot more insight into what exactly is happening. It’s not about customer relationship management anymore, it comes down to customer experience with us and they are either positive or negative.”
SugarCRM integrates fully with marketing automation tools such as Marketo and Pardot out of the box, recognising a growing focus on automated lead nurture programs as an effective way to manage the digital sales funnel.
“SugarCRM for example will generate a landing page or a lead form for you straight out of the box,” said Cullen. “When somebody completes a form, it automatically creates a record on CRM with their source history to give you more segmentation or analysis. Using marketing automation tools, we can score the lead based on visitor activity and pass it back to CRM and sales for a call to see at what stage the customer is at in their decision-making process.”