Working from home is becoming a very real necessity all of a sudden. In an effort to slow the progress of COVID-19 and protect the community, many people have put themselves into a state of voluntary quarantine. But this social distancing can create a huge gap between you and the customers you’re used to talking to. Without as much foot traffic in your workplace, you can’t rely on flyers, chalk signs, or word of mouth to get news about your business around. So how do you talk to people, without being able to talk to them?
Here’s where a CRM comes into play.
Now, before you shut down because you’ve heard of Salesforce or Hubspot and think they’re way out of your price range, hear me out. Yeah, Salesforce and Hubspot are good at what they do for those high prices: manage hundreds of thousands of contacts and emails per week. They can remind you of appointments and prompt you to return calls to customers. But you and I both know that their enterprise pricing just doesn’t cut it for smaller businesses. And why should it? That’s like using a firehose to wash a smart car. There is, however, a selection of other options from both these providers and their competitors that range from affordable to completely free!
A CRM system is a Customer Relationship Management system. It does exactly that, it lets you manage your relations with your customers. Most of the big name CRMs offer a ton of bells and whistles like lead scoring, website tracking, social listening, and much more. They all have various methods to send out batches of emails to groups of contacts, and most have ways to set up an automated string of emails when someone triggers an event, like signing up for a newsletter, or asking for more info about a product.
Here at Baker Street, we provide training and onboarding for a CRM platform called SharpSpring. This platform is great for mid-range businesses, because it offers a ton of features for a pretty decent price point. Like most CRMs it’ll let you sort your leads into various lists to segment what emails go to what contacts. It has automations that allow you to trigger emails getting sent to people who performed a desired task on your site. It has lead scoring to let you know what contacts are more engaged in your content. But the coolest feature SharpSpring has is it’s Life of the Lead section. This is a section on every contact’s page that shows you everything they’ve ever done since getting entered into your system somehow. It shows all the emails they’ve gotten and opened, if they’ve replied, if they’ve visited your website, what pages they looked at, and more, all in a handy timeline at the top of their contact page. It’s a pretty powerful tool to use to see how your contacts are interacting with your brand, and where you might need to improve part of your system.
Mailchimp sounds like a goofy name, I know. It was originally just an email platform, but it’s grown into something a little bigger than that. Their platform offers audience overviews, contact organization, many useful reports and insights to help you see how your content is performing, and a handy dashboard and mobile app. They even have a free option that includes the bare necessities, so you can get started without a risk. In addition, see if you qualify for their free standard plan as a response to COVID-19 here: https://mailchimp.com/covid19-statement/
Another CRM that has a free basic plan is actually Hubspot! The tools covered by their free plan include contact management, tasks and activities for reminding your team to follow up on potential leads, email marketing and list segmentation, as well as many tools for forms for your website and ad management. Hubspot also has a huge selection of tutorials for using a CRM system to build contact lists and ultimately grow your business, as well as specific tutorials on how to use their platform.
While Salesforce might not have a free option like Mail Chimp and Hubspot, it does have a package that it offers to small businesses for an affordable price. The tools included here ways to communicate to your customers over email, phone chat, and social channels. It also has a method to handle support tickets, which isn’t covered by the other CRMs in this list, in addition to normal contact management and access for up to 10 users.
Great question! No matter what platform you pick, they all do about the same thing, just in slightly different ways. They all support adding leads through either forms, or entering in info manually so that you can send bulk emails out to your customers. This lets you send emails about sales, new products, changes in hours, events, or other noteworthy topics, as well as providing you with a way to keep in touch with your customers on a regular basis, such as with weekly or monthly emails. All of which keeps your brand on people’s minds in spite of their social distancing, and lets you stay relevant to those who could benefit from your services even while in isolation. It also provides you with opportunities to answer questions from people responding to your emails, or ask questions of your customers yourself.
Don’t let social distancing mean the end of your communication with your customers. Let this be the beginning of your CRM system so you can talk to your customers where they are. You can even start to build up your contact lists with advertising and a form on your website that puts your contacts into your CRM for you. And if you still need help, we at Baker Street are here to answer your questions about CRM platforms and how to use them to market to your customers.