Lead generation is an important part of digital marketing, and the tools you use to manage those leads can have a massive impact not only on the customer experience, but on your sanity.
Take the humble “Contact Us” form on your website. If you are a small business with long lead times and big invoices, you might be able to handle the one or two enquiries you get weekly via your email inbox.
But if you are B2C or if you are looking to scale up your lead generation and lead capture efforts, managing those form submissions directly from your inbox will drive you crazy and likely cost you some business through lost opportunities.
You need to manage your leads with tools designed for the task. In most cases that will be a Customer Relationship Management platform, or CRM. This is a piece of software, most often hosted on the cloud and offered as a subscription service, designed to help manage relationships with your customers.
How Can a CRM Help?
A CRM will allow you to manage your leads, collaborate with your team and keep track of what those leads need in order to become your customers.
The CRM you select as a marketer may depend on what your sales team is already using; if they are subscribing to Salesforce, for example, it is probably worth integrating that with your martech stack instead of introducing something new. Using a shared CRM between sales and marketing can give you full visibility of where your customers are coming from and what marketing channels provide the best ROI.
Importantly, it also allows you better personalise your marketing post-sale and maintain an ongoing relationship with your customers. Marketing today is as much about nurturing customers post-sale and making them brand advocates as it is landing new ones.
If you are new to the CRM space, be aware that by its nature the system will require you and your team to adopt a standardized, repeatable sales process workflow – and let’s face it, that’s not a bad thing.
Those workflows will involve “stages” or statuses such as New Lead, Contacted, Proposal Sent, Junk Lead, etc. They range from the simple to the complex, and depending on the size of your organization, might even involve handovers from one team to another.
For example, marketing might manage leads at the top of the sales funnel until they take an action that “qualifies” them for further attention like submitting a form. That is often called a Marketing Qualified Lead, or MQL.
An MQL might then be handed over to a junior salesperson for further qualification or research before becoming a Sales Qualified Lead, or SQL, at which point the big guns on the sales team are called in.
First Form – the Benefits of Automation in CRM
Let’s go back to that humble “Contact Us” form. In the most basic of use cases, form submissions get emailed to the designated guy or gal on your team, and they follow up with that lead.
If that form was linked directly to a CRM, simple automations could directly assign the best member of your team for follow up. For example, if the form asked the user to indicate whether they were interested in either Apples or Oranges, an automation could assign the former to your Apple expert Bob and the latter to your Orange specialist Jane. You get the idea.
Multiple lead capture forms can also be used so that different tailor-made forms could appear on campaign – or vertical-specific landing pages, for example, and automatically tag or segment leads as they come into the CRM. Some email marketing platforms such as ActiveCampaign have basic CRM functionality built in or integrate tightly with CRM platforms such as Salesforce, but also offer additional functionality of specific interest to marketers.
At its most basic you will want to manage GDPR/PDPA data protection and privacy compliance and the opt-in for email marketing. It’s the law.
But going beyond email marketing, tools like ActiveCampaign also provide for:
- Lead Scoring. Scoring users by how they interact with your web pages and emails.
- Automated Drip Campaigns. Send a series of emails to a new contact to nurture them, or a new customer to onboard them.
- Chatbots and on-page messaging, both automated and real-time.
All of these are tools designed to enhance the user experience and increase personalization without being too in-your-face or creepy.
The relationship between your sales and marketing teams intersects at your CRM. At Salween Group, we’ve worked with companies large and small to improve their processes and their sales pipelines through a tighter integration of the tools their teams use.
When sales and marketing work in unison, great things can happen.
The implementation of those tools does not need to be daunting, and we provide marketing operations support to our retainer clients as part of our agency’s fractional marketing offering. We have worked with ActiveCampaign, Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho, to name but a few. We’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work through first-hand experience, and are more than happy to share our opinions on what might work best for you. And unlike many of our peers, we don’t take commissions for selling software, so those opinions come without bias.
We are here to help. Drop us a line any time.