Tag Archives: #MarketingAutomation

Relationships are the most important aspect of CRM Software

CRM Software is all about Relationships!

One of the oldest business adages in the book is that the customer is king. The focus on the customer is for important reasons. They are the engine that propels any company forward. Without interest from customers, the whole business falls apart. In this article, we wanted to explore several facets of CRM Software today which ultimately should help establish and maintain excellent relationships with your customers (particularly repeat customers).

The Many Flavors of CRM Today

Since 1997, I have been working with Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM). Today, the use of customer relationship management software has become even more popular as more businesses realize the usefulness of these tools to develop relationships. There are various flavors and terminology to describe CRM. For example, Social CRM led by Nimble CRM, full featured CRM for Mid to Large Organizations like Pipeliner CRM, & Customer Support Software  from firms like Zendesk are all considered customer management tools.

The Core of CRM 

But, at the heart of all of CRM options should be one basic element. And, that is developing and maintaining relationships with people! Primarily, what CRM should do is allow for businesses to create relationships, nurture them, and help their customers grow. The basic features of CRM should keep track of the interactions throughout all phases of a customers journey with your firm. It stores all of the data about those interactions and helps you to better understand the relationships that you have with your customers. In essence, contact management should begin with a single view of the past, present, and future of your interactions with your contacts.

Social Media

Beyond the basics, Social Media has required CRM to adjust and adapt a bit in recent years. As a result, Interactions with customers via social media platforms is another area for CRM software which enhances relationships. The multitude of social media platforms that are available these days may make it difficult in some respects to track every interaction with customers, but systems like Nimble CRM do help make this process easier. Interacting with customers on social media is now considered the proper way for business to use this medium, so why not log what happens with those interactions? Today, keeping track of a persons digital interactions and “social listening” to your clients before and after they buy is all capable with CRM Software. Here are a few real life scenarios:

  • A Customer Advocate representative looks up a client on LinkedIn while staying right in their web browser session, looks up their respective contact information, calls them, notices that they have been working at the firm a short while, just had a birthday (turned 45, so sad), and then begin to take copious notes on a phone call interaction about a new product inquiry to pass over to sales. They then send out an email to thank them for their time and provide the future client advocate details on your flashy new product. All of this can be done while staying on one screen! Wow!
  • Another example would be recording and viewing the types of products that a particular customer has ordered in this past. And, knowing by looking at their Social Streams that they are asking for advice on twitter about similar products you provide. You engage with them online while working in your CRM tool and connect real-time to address their concerns. You are able to solve their issues in real-time! Wow!

Certainly, this is helpful for sales and marketing opportunities, but also helps with customer service as well. The possibilities are exciting!

Predictive Marketing

As was alluded to above, Customer Relationship Management software can help with marketing as well. Some businesses have automated the process of marketing to customers entirely based on the previous experience they have had with those customers. What does this mean? Simply that the businesses allow for their software programs to tell them what the most likely next purchase is for any given customer. The programs choose this based on the data logged about that customer already.

For organizations that want to go beyond CRM and Email Marketing, you may add in marketing automation software like ACT-On or HubSpot . This additional functions will allow you to be able to enhance your capabilities even further. Rather than trying to guess what a customer may want to purchase next, these software programs allow for the possibility of predictive marketing and progressive profiling that can take the guesswork out of marketing efforts for you.

There are so many ways to use CRM today. And, these are just a few ways in which CRM may play a role in your business today.

Are there other areas you use CRM Software for today? Let us know below. Until then, please keep SmartThoughts in mind.

If you are interested, below you will find an interview with Jon Ferrara of Nimble CRM, a leader in Social CRM today.


marketing automation will make your organization be a man

In this article, we will discuss the importance of having a “Social Selling” methodology in place and using “Marketing Automation technology”  as necessary components in “becoming” an organization in the 21st Century.

You’ll be a man before your mama is! This is an expression which my father used to say quite often to many of my friends growing up as a youth. In a joking and playful manner, it usually happened with good friends which he had known for years or younger relatives at the close of visiting with them. You could say that it was one of his “Signature Expressions”, “Tag Lines” or “Parting Words” that got a chuckle out of the guys growing up.

After recently enjoying Fathers Day, I found myself thinking about that expression a bit. And, it was interesting to note that not once through those years (which I can recall) did any of my friends or relatives ask my Dad, “What in the heck does that mean?”. It’s a legitimate question, right? Anyone in their right mind knows that no one is going to be a man before their mom. It’s ridiculous. And, that, in and of itself is what makes the expression funny.

Honestly, looking back , I didn’t think much of the expression growing up. I simply thought of it as a funny way for my dad to play around with my friends and possibly add some humor as we departed. I shrugged it off as just something which made my Dad, well, my Dad. A very hard working affable man, who does his best to do his best. However, on this past Fathers Day, I began to contemplate the meaning a bit.

What does this expression actually mean? Where did the expression come from? And, is there more to this expression than just a lighthearted phrase expressed by my dad throughout the years?

After some searching, Nietzsche, the well-recognized German Philosopher, believed that we were all in a state of “becoming”. In other words, Nietzsche believed that there is no final state of “being”; that we are always evolving & changing.

Hmm? Could the expression actually have merit?  Was my Dad capable of actually coming up with something quite profound? If so, please don’t tell him is all that I could think about! However, after some thought and some deep down humble pie, I have come to conclude that the expression was a way to say that we are always striving “to become”.  Albeit, a little backwards way of bringing a point across, but the expression is quite prophetic. Wow!

The point of my Dad’s “Signature Expression” and “Nietzsche” philosophical belief (wow, never thought those two would ever be in the same sentence) is that whether one is a sales or marketing professional, a sales or marketing department, or for profit or nonprofit organization, we will never become the final entity which we believe we want or can possibly be. One is continually changing, evolving, and becoming. And, whether we focus in one concerted fashion to achieve some level of significance or simply fall into whatever we have become, we are never going to be “finished”. We will always be in a state of “becoming”.

Today, organizations are faced with many challenges but Sales and Marketing is a big one. What once worked in marketing and sales isn’t effective. We live in a “buyers” market now. No longer are the days of “sellers” being in control of the way their audience “sees them”, “connects with them”, and “chooses” to do business with them.

Today, your sales and marketing unit along with your entire organization has a chance to be different from your competition. As an executive, you have a choice now to “become” on the leading edge and embrace the “new” norm or “become” different by remaining the same. We have a choice in how we “become”.

In our mind’s eye, “social selling” is a major shift from old school conventions.  Your sales professionals must embrace the new paradigm. Transparency is the order of the day. And, truly caring about your audience and being authentic is expected and requirement of your “buyers”. In order to perform, sales professionals must be armed with the right tools and skills to be able to provide your constituents with information they need, when they need it, and how they need it. Are you and your organization prepared to do this today?

It’s a fact, “Buyers”  have more information than they have ever had before. As an organization, you have to be able to attract, educate, and continually delight your “future advocates” with information on how your firm understands how to solve their business challenges. In order to “become” able to do this, you must have the right tools found in Marketing Automation software in order to provide your “future advocates” with what they need at the right time throughout their buying journey with you.  Organizations must be capable of nurturing buyers with multiple opportunities for engagement, as opposed to the old philosophy of “show up and throw up” of your content and information.

Social Selling and Marketing Automation is the key

While the expression may be a bit odd and provide a chuckle, the point adds verisimilitude ( I never thought I would be able to use that word, thanks Dr. Hall!).

So, “Will you be a man before your mama is?”

If you would like to discuss how you may embark on a new path or simply would like to chat more about the various software tools available today to help in the area of “social selling” or “marketing automation”, please contact us. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.



How do you benchmark lead stages and track your success?

This infographic comes from Maribeth Ross, Chief Content Officer and Marketing Effectiveness and Strategy analyst at the Aberdeen Group, who recently released new research on how Best-in-Class companies are measuring and reporting conversion through lead stages. In a Demand Generation study of 199 marketing and sales professionals from March 2014, 77% of respondents rated visibility into lead performance across marketing lead stages as very valuable. However, only 43% indicate they can do this effectively.

Per Mrs. Ross, “The best way to leverage marketing automation to its fullest is to have the foundational elements in place,” Ross notes. “Having an agreed upon process for lead management with sales and a formal method for reporting conversions is the first step to Best-in-Class performance. For example, proper implementation identifies the stage each lead is in and captures date stamps for when all lead stages are achieved (prior and current).”

The Aberdeen infographic below demonstrates average conversion rates at lead stages from Marketing-Engaged Contact to closed deal. Use these numbers to benchmark your own team’s performance, and download the full report here for more benchmark statistics and a framework for establishing lead stages and tracking revenue success.

Below you will find a great Infographic underscoring the state of demand generation today.

Infographic on Lead Conversion from SmartforMarketing

If you are exploring Marketing Automation or would like to discuss how you can bring more customer advocates, please keep SmartThoughts in mind.

ACT On marketing Automation from SmartThoughts


ACT On Marketing Automation



We wanted to take some time here to take a look at ACT-ON, Marketing Automation Software, and provide some feedback on the program and it’s attributes

from our perspective.


According to Act-On CEO Raghu Raghavan:

“Act-On was created to empower businesses to effectively market online at a fraction of the effort and cost incurred by more complicated systems.”

Product Snapshot: 

Act-On is a cloud-based, month-to-month subscription service that offers:

  • dedicated support for as long as you subscribe to the service
  • quick and easy setup
  • fast startup so that you can begin a less ambitious email campaign and scale upward
  • a month-to-month contract with no long-term commitment
  • pricing based on the number of active contacts/donors you track

For the Small to mid size market, this turn-key, cloud software has many robust marketing capabilities — inbound, outbound and advanced — and includes the following solutions:

  • lead management
  • email creation & delivery
  • open API with options for AMS and Donor Management integration
  • social media campaign creation and management
  • webinar & event communications and management
  • website visitor tracking
  • advanced SEO for websites
  • integration of SEO with wordpress blogs & CMS
  • solid reports

Our Analysis on Fit: 

If your marketing goals include finding the marketing software that can save time, enhance your brand across multiple market sources, e.g., social networking, Act-On can get you set up and running across multi-channels. Act-On can help you focus on your constituents — both potential and existing — by reaching out to where most members hang out nowadays: on line. A key benefit to this cloud-based product is the reporting feature that helps you see how campaigns and programs are progressing. The software displays results in graphical or spreadsheet formats and displays details on:

  • email openings and link click-throughs
  • landing page visits to your web sites
  • form submissions for pledges, attendance, opinion surveys, etc.
  • webinar attendance
  • Twitter retweets

Finally, Act-On allows you to measure your return on investment to see what results are coming in from your marketing campaign spending:

“Being able to see how campaigns and programs are performing is a key benefit of using marketing automation. You can measure campaign results in real-time to get insights into campaign performance, and adjust a campaign on the fly.” — Quoted from the Act-On Website

Learn More: 

If you would like to learn more about ACT-ON, you may find my full review on Trust Radius by clicking here.

I will be reviewing more CRM, Social CRM, and Marketing Automation Software solutions soon! If  you would like to discuss, please contact us . We would enjoy visiting with you.