Tag Archives: Customer Relationship Management

Top Tech Applications, Websites and Tools I Will Use After Epicom

26 Aug

These are in no particular order, but they are on here because they provide me the most use. I can’t wait to take the skills I gained from these great applications, websites, and tools with me in my career.

Pardot: www.pardot.com

Knowing how to use Pardot and learning about marketing automation is something that is going to get me other jobs. I am figuring how I can stay up-to-date with marketing automation software for when I leave Epicom. Pardot is the most hands-on and practical software I have ever used. It enables user to expand their marketing efforts, then gives important data to revise and continue communicating with more and more leads.

SugarCRM: www.sugarcrm.com

I mentioned this in my last post but I could run a business using only Sugar. It is easy to use. It showed me ways I never thought of to organize things. It also made everything simple with account-centric organization. Plus, Sugar give great insight into a business, which makes spotting strengths and weaknesses in a business plan easier, faster, and before it hurts the company.

Basecamp by 37 Signals: www.basecamphq.com

I’ve already signed up for a free account with Basecamp’s sister version Ta-Da for my next internship. I am looking for an Android app as I write this. Basically, it is the cleanest user interface I have ever used–uncomplicated. I like it because I can go into a meeting and add to-do items as they are being discussed so nothing gets lost in conversation. I can give my to-dos dates, and filter based on the due-dates I assigned.

Klout: www.klout.com

Klout is more of a “for now” tool. Klout connects different social media accounts and measures the user’s influence. I say “for now,” because it needs some improvement and is in a start-up stage. I am waiting to see what happens to Klout, but it is excellent at directing social media efforts towards communicating more.

Tweet-later: www.SocialOomph.com

SocialOomph is a tweet-later service. Facebook and Twitter can be set up under once account, and tweets and status updates can be made from the platform. It is really great for content generation, and allows me to not be plugged into Twitter all day. I can set up out tweets for the week, and with the Professional version I could set up a tweet schedule. It is a really great tool to get out content. However, it doesn’t replace interacting on Twitter and Facebook, because that is why people are on the sites.

Meet Up: www.meetup.com

I am disappointed about being college graduate. I don’t miss taking tests or writing (some) papers, but I do miss learning and discussing new ideas. I will continue to use Meet Up to find other people interested in the same things I am, and more importantly, find groups for new topics I am interested in learning about.

That wraps up the best tools I discovered at Epicom. Hope you find them just as useful.

How to Use Google+ for Marketing

28 Jul

I have been thinking about SocialCRM a lot. I wrote earlier this week about Google+ vs. LinkedIn. As I was writing that entry, I started to think about Google+ circles as a lead nurturing platform. These are pretty basic thoughts. It is a little difficult to dive deep in since Google+ doesn’t have a base as large or active as Facebook yet.

Okay lets do this.

Consumers are increasingly tapping into their networks to make purchasing decisions and communicate. You know this. So, if Google+ succeeds in establishing an active community, here is how circles can be used.

B2B:

This is how SugarCRM has Opportunities set up, so I figured I would follow the same model my company already uses. Also, if you work in B2C but you have a longer sales cycle and/or you sell high price items following a B2B model might be better for you. Like I said, this is the model my company uses so create your Google+ marketing circles around your current sales model. The key to B2B working is adding CEO, CIO, COO and other decision makers to your Google+ circles and hopefully they will add your company back–just make sure they have shown interest in your products.

B2C:

Like above, if you have a current model that is successful, then try out those categories as you marketing circles. If you own a small business, it might be difficult to figure out who is a suspect or a customer. If you have a CRM system, then try looking them up—by email or name. Every business should know their repeat customers. This circle can be broke down even further if you have a groups of customers that all buy the same goods. The key to B2C is paying attention to how your followers interact with the brand and what they post to know what category to put them in.

All of the B2C pictures need to be in both B2B and B2C marketing strategy circles. The B2B is more focused on lead nurturing, but what works for you is the most important.

Customers that repost, media/bloggers/voice, company partners and company rivals are important people to follow and send target messages to. Voice means anybody that has a large following or interacts more than the average person. People that are a Voice might not be a customer that reposts, (and that is the nice thing about Google+ circles, people can go in multiple groups) but they are important to getting your message out.

The key to getting this to work is to repurpose materials for each group. All sales and marketing representatives know that not all customers need the same information. You can even make tailored specials based on products groups might want or need.

If I can easily select which groups hear my message, then I can avoid over stimulating my audiences. This is something that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn lack. I am sure all of you here have blocked a user for over posting. This allows better messages and less shotgun-effect in online communities.

Once your circles are defined and set up, here are some great marketing papers on targeting audiences, social media and campaigns.(Disclaimer: HubSpot is a partner of ours, but they have some of the best marketing resources)

Hubspot Main Marketing Page

Hubspot’s Ultimate How to Marketing Guide

Prospect to Evangelist with Social Media

StartUp Marketing Plan Blueprint

If you have any other ideas please share them so Google+ can be a more effective place for consumers and businesses to make decisions.

LinkedIn vs. Google+

26 Jul

I was invited to Google+ by one of my coworkers at Epicom before I left for vacation. At that point, Google+ was still full/completely closed. Yesterday, I finally registered my account.

Most of the Google+ articles I read discuss Google+ as Facebook’s rival. And Google is Facebook’s rival. However, the real loser in the launch of Google+ is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn‘s Jeff Weiner, who recently complained that both social networks could not “coexist.

Based off my first experiences, I believe him.

The brilliant part about social media is that it allows the company to interact with the consumer at every stage of a company’s development. However, the practices that work extremely well for B2C most of the time don’t hold up as well for B2B.

Before the launch of Google+, many people I know complained about LinkedIn. For a social network that is based around the idea of connecting professionals or social media for B2B, it does a mediocre job.

Most of the LinkedIn profiles are not “as complete” as they could be.

Most people do not check their LinkedIn accounts as frequently as they check Facebook, Twitter and their mail.

It is easy to build a network on LinkedIn, but for social media, LinkedIn offers such limited ways to interact with people. Google+ new marketing tool known as circles puts LinkedIn ages behind.

I am more than likely not the first person to note the benefit of circles for professional connections, targeted B2B and B2C marketing for small businesses.

  1. Google+ circles allows users to put professional connections based off of certain criteria in specific groups. Why LinkedIn loses, users can interact with their best friends and their boss on one platform.
  2. Circles allows smart small businesses to target certain campaigns and group customers into would like this or would like that groups. Small businesses can define the customer characteristics and launch campaigns fitting the customer’s buyer persona. This is B2B and B2C.
  3. Video conferencing creates a new stage for interaction. Where LinkedIn’s discussion boards are filled with sales pitches and not-to-active conversations. Video conferencing with Google+ works for answering customer concerns, virtual board meetings, and of course, talking to friends.
Newt Gingrich holds a Press Conference using Google+ video conferencing:

These three things make Google+ better than LinkedIn for B2B and social media for professionals. Even if Google+ doesn’t usurp Facebook, Google+ for business is looking promising.

Social Media Database, SocialCRM & Planning for a Better Business

22 Jul

I signed on to work with Epicom fresh out of college because I knew CRM was something bigger than anything I learned about in school. I stand by that statement too.

The last internship I finished was with a full-service advertisement and public relations agency. In my transition from agency to Epicom, I made it my goal to hang out with the agency’s interactive and social media department.

With the interactive team, I learned about different tools to use, different communities outside of Facebook, and above all the importance of being a part of the conversation and how to easily be in the conversation without devoting too much time.

As soon as I started researching for my interview with Epicom, I SumbledUpon SocialCRM. When I think about my lessons from the agency about tailoring messages for each medium, being a part of the conversation and above all evolving from what people are saying and compare it to customer relationship management, I get really excited for my future as a consumer and in business.

The biggest flaw I see with SocialCRM is the inability to easily browse everything people are saying or have said about a brand/service/experience. Even with Google Alerts, HootDeck, Facebook pages, hashtags and other applications, it is near impossible to go back to something that could have been valuable for relationship planning.

Once all the kinks are figured out, which is happening every day, the ability to collaborate to improve business based on what the customer wants will become instant. Right now, there is a lot of focus on customer service in CRM and social media. Customer service is normally after the problem such as an apology on Twitter for a bad bagel or a mistake from an employee. SocialCRM needs to continue on the path of making the customer relationship stronger, but a lot of what is said exposes valuable flaws in business.

The next big step for CRM is the ability to log social media comments based specific characteristics, and then be able to shape a better business around the aggregated comments. Sure most companies are listening but are they retaining?

The fundamental problem with social media is that everything is permanent but it is quickly forgotten.

A better business experience can be found. SocialCRM needs to aggregate conversations for the long-term customer relationship, not the here-and-now discussion. Smart businesses are already doing this but SocialCRM needs to step up and make it easier.

Doing More with HTML

30 Jun

I played with Pardot a lot last Friday. At Epicom, we are doing some AB testing. This internship allows me to do a lot of the marketing techniques I learned in school, which is great. Currently, we are testing the open rate for times that newsletters go out. This type of AB testing is pretty easy to implement and to track.

Another way to test different variables of email campaigns is by using different templates. However, creating different templates is definitely one of the hard types of AB testing. As I was experimenting with creating a new design, I realized my HTML skills are not as good as I would like them to be. On top of that, my photoshop skills were rusty. Between creating new images and coding my email’s layout, it was taking too long.

This caused me to realize a fundamental problem with myself . I am sure many business owners without a design department face the same problem. Online marketing initiatives are not as effective because of low levels of design and technical (html/coding) knowledge. I am by no means saying no knowledge. I have created many websites but that didn’t prepare me to make a really great email template.

There is a difference between companies that deliver above and beyond customer service/products AND companies that deliver above and beyond but also have an email campaign that visually communicates the above and beyond. My goal is to learn more about web design, because it isn’t just about websites. Knowing code is about being able to communicate visually over the internet. I never thought about code past websites and blog posts. There is a lot I can achieve.

Now, I am going to find a web design class.

Hope you are having a happy Social Media Day.

Using CRM for the Customers

23 Jun

A key theme about CRM that I constantly read is focus on the customer. One of the key failures I read about CRM is a focus on more sales. CRM is about improving sales through focusing on the customer.

I want to share a great experience I had with customer service.

I went shopping with my mom a few months ago. As a graduate gift, she took me to buy new work clothes. I needed nice shoes, badly.

For those of you not familiar with Texas State, I can tell my grandchildren, “I walked to school in the rain, up hill both ways.” Meaning, I owned no heels and all the rest of my shoes we slowly breaking in the sole.

So back to shopping with my mom, we went to Aldo, which is a very small shoe store. Aldo is always packed with people, and crowd navigation skills are needed.

In Aldo, the sales person not only helped me try on shoes, she suggested the most comfortable size for the shoe (who knew women’s shoes were more comfortable a size up or down), and went to the back to get my actual size and her suggested size for every pair I tried on. When they didn’t have the color I wanted, she brought me the other color and informed me about free shipping.

When it came time to check out, the sales girl walk us to the register (in the tiny, crowded store), re-packaged the shoes, rung up my order, and asked me if I wanted to buy traction adhesives to apply to the bottom of the shoes since they were smooth on the soke. I said, “yes.” I didn’t even know things like that existed, I was excited to make my  shoe life easier.

She did all of this in five-inch heels.

My experience at Aldo should be how companies are using CRM; to make sure the customer has what he or she wants when they need it–even the little things they might not have known could make their life better easier and more efficient.

Your company will have something to sell, but do your customers feel like the only customer in your database?

Account-centric Contact Management

21 Jun

Learning about turning a lead into an opportunity made me wonder about contact management,

I’ve said before, as a public relations professional, managing different media and reports are a hassle. Some editors get annoyed when a story is also sent out to reporters, reporters get annoyed when other reporters have their story, and then the client management aspect. Quotes need approval by different departments. Above all, stories need to get out.

My first week I used SugarCRM and Pardot in “baby steps” as a Rolodex, but I realized I can make my Rolodex more advanced by moving away from being contact-centric and to account-centric.

Sugar allows me to create an account and put different contacts in it. This way, I can record information about the beat reporters I want to run my story, keep the news desk contact next to the reporters, and best of all keep all of my notes about the organization neatly next to each other. The ability to see all of this information increases the likelihood of my client’s story running.

To summarize the perks of being account-centric:

  • Stores all information in one group
  • Can see an organization’s combined history
  • Ties multiple contact together
  • Makes life a lot easier knowing where everything is
Here is a screen shot of an example account set up in my sandbox CRM.
If you click on it, it shows the account history and in the middle the contacts associated with the account. This picture is definitely more from a sales perspective.
So, life keeps getting easier learning CRM.

What Else Can a CRM Do?

16 Jun

I have been “learning crm” for a month now. I am definitely in a weird spot. I am stuck between learning and knowledgeable. Not expert, by any means.

I think a lot of people start with their crm, and they learn how to use it. Then, they get to the place I am at where they know “enough.” I want to emphasize “enough” because there is so much more a crm can be doing.

It is just a matter of figuring out what is needed. This task alone is definitely more difficult than actually learning crm.

But, I am going to continue to explore and I urge you to think of what else your crm can be doing for you.

Creating a Lead and Opportunity in SugarCRM

14 Jun

So, today I played more with the campaign I created last week.

I decided I must have leads by now from my campaign. I clicked on the Leads tab and entered my new lead’s information.

At first I was thinking, “that was it? But I want to link him to my campaign”

When editing, click the tab that says more information. I guess I missed it the first time.

So, now I think my lead is going to buy from me and I need to convert him to an opportunity.

I clicked “Create Opportunity” and set his sales stage to “Prospecting.” There are lots of other categories to fill in. I don’t like that Sugar makes me select a close date for my sale. There is a lot of guessing and reliance on the speculation. Personal preference though.

I filled the fields and then clicked save. My lead was converted upon click and Sugar notified me that:

Now, I have an Opportunity, an Account and a Contact. All created at once.

These baby steps in the CRM are really making me rethink organizing a business, and how different aspects of a business work. Before, I knew nothing about sales. Now, I feel like I could bring in and manage sales pretty well with just a CRM.

Setting Up a Campaign in SugarCRM

10 Jun

Yesterday, I got a sandbox to play in.

Not the kind from my childhood, but of the CRM variety.

I wasn’t quiet sure what to do with my new CRM play space. I logged on to the SugarCRM website, and started looking for marketing related demos.

In the demo, Sugar explained setting up a campaign. I was really interested in the monetary tracking of a marketing plan and the dollar aspect of measuring results.

As creative, innovative, inspiring and jaw-dropping-awesome as some advertisements are, marketing fundamentally comes down to increasing profits (and trust/reputation). I never took finance or accounting. I decided my first goal with my sandbox was to learn how to track my marketing campaign finances in Sugar.

I set up my campaign. I made one for this blogging adventure. Here it is:

Alright, so the first steps are really easy. I like that I can put a status on the campaigns, “planning,” “active,” and others.

Sugar asks me for “type” of campaign. It has “television,” “radio,” “web,” and “email.” Since this is a mock campaign, I want to put them all together, but this definitely makes more sense for tracking each part of campaigns. I swear Sugar is making me more clever and informed about marketing based solely on the organization of Sugar.

I love that I get the options for “budget,” “expected cost,” and “actual cost.” As a cost-cutting lady, I know I am going to try to keep myself below budget on my fantasy marketing throw-down.

So, I learned the basics of setting up a campaign today. Nothing too crazy, but definitely useful.

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