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CRM System

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Many people recognize CRM as an essential tool for salespeople. However, CRM is increasingly being integrated across all departments within an enterprise. One of the key focuses of this increased integration is on marketing departments. Nearly every generation of CRM development now introduces expanded options for using CRM to improve and inform marketing efforts.

Of course, adding more departments into the mix also increases the complexity of the buying decision. Instead of looking for the best features for a single department, decision makers are now looking for the best balance of features for an entire business. Finding the ideal set of features for all users is the best way to maximize the utility of your CRM system.

To help cut through some of the confusion, we’ll take a look at five key marketing features that you’ll want to have in your CRM system.

1. Email Marketing Integration

Not to be confused with integrated email marketing, this category deals with the ability to connect your CRM system with third party email marketing providers. While many CRM vendors provide some level of integrated email marketing, there are still good reasons to use third party products.

Third party email marketing vendors may provide more robust options, or your marketing personnel may simply be more comfortable with the programs they’re already using. Either way, being able to integrate third party platforms into your CRM system is crucial. Whether it’s MailChimp, Constant Contact, or another vendor, you want to be able to integrate with your CRM.

2. Integrated Web Forms

Integrated web forms are all about efficiency. When a customer fills in relevant information fields for you, it’s a waste of effort to have to re-enter that data into the CRM. If your company uses web pages to collect prospect and customer information, you want a straight pipe for that information to enter the CRM.

Creating landing and contact pages is all about rapidly and efficiently collecting data. If your marketing department then has to enter the data into the CRM manually, it creates a backlog in your data collection. Transcription also provides more opportunities for errors to occur. Keep things simple and streamlined by using web forms that are integrated with your CRM.

3. Customizable Reporting

All the data in the world is meaningless if you can’t pull it back out and look at it in a meaningful manner. Trying to scroll through the hundreds or thousands of pieces of information in your CRM would be time consuming and painfully difficult. Marketers would have to look for patterns and trends in the raw data, making it little better than the old pen-and-paper reporting.

This is why customized reporting is so crucial to marketing success. While every search for information will be similar, they will also be different enough to make the task impossible without automated reporting. Look for a CRM system that gives your marketing department robust features for custom reporting and modeling.

4. Tags

Tags expand on the idea of data organization. They allow marketers to filter information in very specific ways and can be attached to leads, emails, accounts– nearly every piece of CRM data can have a tag added to it. They can be specific to each individual entry, or link multiple entries based on common traits. Typically, tags appear as single words or short, descriptive phrases.

Imagine that you have several clients who are fans of golfing. Your company decides to host a charity golf event, and you have some extra tickets. If you’ve tagged your clients with the phrase “golf,” you can bring up every client with that tag, without having to go through your entire client list. For your marketing personnel, tags simply make it easier to retrieve specific data sets.

5. Social Media Integration

A lot of your customers and prospects are going to be on social media. Maybe not all of them, but a lot of them. If you’re not marketing on social media, you’re abandoning a potentially huge, low-overhead channel for reaching your customers. Of course, the easier it is for your marketers to use the social media channels, the more successful their efforts are likely to be.

Switching between applications is inefficient and causes distractions. On average, it takes a worker up to 30 minutes to refocus after a distraction. Having social media feeds and tools integrated directly into your CRM allows for distraction-free interactions by your marketing department. Look for full integration with the major social media channels.

CRM for Marketing

Obviously, these five tools aren’t the only ones available for marketers. And, new tools are being added on a constant basis. That being said, these five tools will provide a solid foundation to build on, making future CRM expansions easier. Not to mention, your marketing personnel will be happier, and that’s never a bad thing.

Digital Marketing Changed the Way B2B Market Functions

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B2B Market FunctionsThe face of B2B sales and Marketing has changed rapidly over time. Termed as consumerization of B2B, there is a rapid change in the way offerings are purchased and dealt with. How Has Digital Marketing Changed the Way Your B2B Market Functions?

IT products that are flying off the shelf are cloud-based, social media enabled, mobile capable with less involvement of sales. The best examples being the android market or iTune store. These features, with easy self-service options & instant gratification, do not need sales pitch.

Below we cover how digital marketing has changed the way B2B sales & marketing functions in 2013:

  • Social selling has gone mainstream: A look at the year 2012 shows that people preferred to make cold calls or send emails to book an appointment. In 2013, sales executives have taken to social media networks to connect with prospective clients. This has helped them add a personal touch, winning a higher response rate from clients and customers. Social media has also helped B2B marketers leverage contacts and networks of customers, colleagues, partners, while keeping an eye on their clients online activities.
  • Sales executives have adopted big data: B2B sales leaders have embraced big data. This step has effectively increased their sales. Big data helps to identify and segment customers with highest contribution to the company’s revenues, find leads and study customer usage patterns. By teaming analytics & sales automation, these companies target prospects & customers – offering personalized services based on specific customer behavior.
  • Customer engagement makes it to the priority list: Company’s don’t stop at making a sale and moving on to the next deal. With increased subscription based models, unsatisfied customers can unsubscribe from services at any given point. This has aligned organizations to chase and monitor customer behavior, encouraging engagement throughout the life cycle. Some companies have also appointed VP for customer engagement – dedicating them to up-selling and renewals
  • The line between sales and marketing is blurred: The process of conducting sales and marketing has evolved. The outbound sale has become inbound sales, mainly due to online conferencing tools. Similarly, the inbound sales in being replaced by self-service and self-help tools and website resources. With this evolution, there is a very thin line separating sales and marketing. This has lead to an increased interaction and collaboration between marketing & sales teams.
  • Laptops are replaced by tablets: Being lightweight and easy to use, tablets have become favorites of sales reps on the go. From shipping to product documentations & demonstration, this new gadget helps to do a quick research on prospects before meetings or capture leads at trade shows
  • Sales tools have moved to the Cloud: Most companies have adopted cloud-based software for billing & subscription. This has offered increased visibility for customers billing cycle and is helpful in growing and renewing their subscriptions. Cloud-based products are also more stream-lined.

Social Media Marketing Look beyond FB, Twitter and LinkedIn

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We all talk about social media marketing – be it discussing tweets that are gaining a lot of attention or Facebook pages that have millions of ‘Likes. Most often, we don’t know the purpose behind social media marketing and how it helps businesses increase sales.

The webs is pulsating with white papers, e-books and tell-all articles that are constantly discussing and guiding on how to get the social media marketing ‘right’. So, while you may be doing it right, do you have inkling as to why you are putting in so much effort? Have you ever paused and asked yourself this question?

Marketing is about campaigns – that have a set target or goal that the market is working hard on achieving. Say, you are selling a packet of potato chips for $.5 – as a part of promotion; you have a set goal in mind of increasing sales by encouraging customers to buy a $2 of soda to be consumed along with chips.

In a similar fashion, social media marketing too should have clearly defined goals. If you plan to run a social media campaign, without a goal – you are not marketing anything.

In this blog, I am going to list down some goals and how they can be achieved:

Goal 1: Selling a Product or Service Directly:

One of the easiest goals to define and one where you can send out clear messages.

  • If you are attempting to sell products or services, try concentrating on a specific line or focus on a product and drive sales through that. In order to increase the sales, promote the campaign through tweets, facebook and linkedin. One of the most important factors that you must bear in mind is to add content that is engaging – if you want to coax people into making a purchase, the content should be able to bring the message across.
  • If focus is on general sale and not a single product, focus on your knack at providing a brilliant service, high quality product or brand value. You may also choose to share your complete line of products – giving your prospects and customers an idea of what they may expect from you.

Goal 2: Using the estate on your blog:

Adsense, banner ads and Google adwords choose your site or blog, based on the traffic that your blog may generate. If the traffic on your site, meets their requirements, they may choose to show-case their ads with you. But, if the traffic is low, it will not be a lucrative option. In such a scenario, your social media marketing strategy should focus on driving traffic and encouraging repeat visitors. One of the best ways to make this possible is by creating exciting content and at the same time, encourage your visitors to share the content.

One of the other popular options SEO backlinks- is an effective way to generate more traffic. However, to make this a reality, you need to increase SERP (search engine results page) – by sharing content with other websites that have backlinks to your website. This can only be made possible if your content is great. Content that is dull and low quality may not encourage this.

Marketing Goals is all that matters

The most important part of any social media marketing is to have some form of goal – it may or may not be related to sales or products. Your goals could also be targeting at increasing your fans, followers, users or generate traffic. As long as you have a goal, you can utilize social media to reach that goal.

To push your goals, include a call-to-action in your messages – this will encourage your readers to share it with other.

Now a smart application that sings you a lullaby

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Every time you find difficult catching your sleep at night, make use of your Smartphone like Smart Application. Yes, due to technological advancements we now have an application known as Sleep Cycle which has been devised on iPhone to help you get sound sleep. Costing $2 on your iPhone, the application might not literally help you sleep. But it lets you learn about good sleeping habits. It works using the sensors of your phone placed on the mattress to detect and record your movements. In fact you can study a detailed analysis of this by exporting the compiled data and knowing how long were you getting deep sleep and how many times were you falling asleep in the light mode.

For those who use the Android phone, do not worry. Sleepbot is the application designed to follow your sleep patterns through motion sensors of the Smartphone. The interface might not be so smart to use compared to Sleep cycle but this application will not let you down due its incredible performance. You can set the desired sleep times, or reminders for going to sleep and also study if your sleep has a correlation with a more quiet environment or otherwise. There is another application by the name of Simply Rain that plays soothing music to let you go off to sleep before shuttling off the music.

The new age application can surely let you know if there is any deficit in your sound sleep. If yes it will further let you understand the main reasons that you can overcome using these highly effective applications.

Cloud Costing touching the Sky Now a Days

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Cloud costing concept showing cloud icon on computer key. Cloud has been quite a news maker in the IT industry with increasing number of leading IT players opting for Cloud computing services. While most industrialists are increasing their profit margin with less manpower and better efficiency, environmentalist are frowning upon the energy consumed by the leading IT players to keep the service up and running.

An in-depth study conducted on energy sourcing and consumption by Greenpeace titled “How Clean is Your Cloud?” showed some alarming results. The study included data centers of some of the largest tech companies and investigated the data center deployments of 14 of the market leaders. Clean Energy Index, an evaluating system has been set by the International Environmental Organization with the main purpose being assessing & comparing energy linked footprints of cloud providers & their data centers.

Greenpeace has observed that there’s limited transparency with regards to electricity consumption by IT companies; this being the case despite the fact that there are various metrics for the purpose of measuring the consumption with the most prominent being PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness). As per Greenpeace, the data that depicts the dirty energy consumed (energy sourced from coal & nuclear power) & companies opting for clean source (renewable sources of energy) are poorly demarcated. Bearing this in mind, Greenpeace hopes that Clean Energy Index provides a clearer picture. The index considers recent investments & current energy supply related to these investments.

The most relevant findings of this index are:

  • The 3 largest companies – Apple, Amazon & Microsoft are expanding rapidly but continue to behave irresponsibly towards the source of energy supply. As per reports, they rely heavily on dirty energy to keep their clouds up & running
  • The most responsible companies were found to be Yahoo & Google, resorting to using renewable energy in their cloud expansion
  • Facebook has also come on board with renewable energy. It has gone a step ahead and constructed a data center in Sweden that can be powered by renewable/ clean energy.
  • The location for these data centers is also playing an important factor in the form of energy being consumed. Certain areas have a concentration of data centers around dirty energy sources. Its aggravating the environmental damage for that geography
  • One of the first companies to give a detailed report of carbon intensity under the CUE (Carbon Utilization Effectiveness) standards is Akamai. As per Greenpeace, the rest of the companies chose to refrain from commenting about CUE.
  • Though most IT companies have pitched cloud as a more “greener” option, they fail to back it up with valid reports supporting this claim.

Despite the picture not being perfect, there are encouraging signs that more & more IT companies are opting for renewable sources of energy, thus playing a positive role in shaping a better future for the earth.