CRM software is helpful for businesses wanting to convert leads into sales. For marketing agencies, it offers an additional benefit.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a helpful tool for businesses wanting to track the customer journey and convert leads into sales. CRM software gathers information on leads through landing pages, emails, online forms and other customer interactions. It then records the information for you (usually automatically) and scores leads accordingly, which moves them through your marketing funnel. This software gives you detailed information on the customer journey, which allows you to market more effectively to leads.
For advertising and marketing agencies, though, CRM software can provide an additional benefit by allowing them to provide their clients with critical data to measure the impact and effectiveness of the agency's marketing and advertising efforts. If you're looking to use CRM software in both of these ways, look for CRM software that caters to agencies.
Depending on how you plan to use the CRM platform for your clients, a white label application will let you replace the software's branding with your own, which is important if you plan on supplying clients with reports on the performance of marketing strategies you've put in place for them.
The marketing funnel
Marketing and sales funnels vary from company to company and industry to industry. In general, though, you can expect it to look something like this:
- Raw leads: This is the starting point of your funnel, or the first place where all of your leads go. Every lead remains here until you sort through the information you've received about them. After you've analyzed the data about your raw leads, you'll either classify them as viable leads or remove them from your marketing funnel.
- Viable leads: Not everyone who fills out online forms provides their real email address or phone number. Weeding out false leads is imperative so your marketing and sales teams aren't wasting their time. After you've ensured the information is real and accurate, you need to determine whether the lead is the type of customer you're looking for. Do they work for the type of company that needs your or your client's product or service? Did the lead indicate that they're doing research, or are they actually looking to buy? Answering these questions helps you determine if the lead should continue down the marketing funnel.
Editor's Note: Looking for CRM software? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:
- Marketing-qualified leads: After you've verified the viability of leads, next you need to nurture them with well-timed content to move them further along your marketing funnel. The point at which your leads are marketing-qualified depends on what you and your company, or you and your client, decide. You can use lead scoring based on closed-loop analytics to determine whether the lead is more likely to purchase your product or service based on certain data points. We explain lead scoring in more detail below.
- Sales-qualified leads: Sales-qualified leads are also determined by lead scoring practices that you and your company or client decide on. Leads that are ready for the next phase of the sales process are sent to the sales team, which accepts them and then works to close a deal with them. Typically, the lead has expressed interest in material that has high sales conversions: They may have clicked on certain emails, downloaded white papers or other free content, or any other high-conversion content you've sent to them.
- Sale: The funnel ends when the sale is closed and the lead becomes a paying customer.
Your sales funnel might vary. For example, you may add more pieces to the funnel, especially when it comes to categorizing leads as either marketing or sales-qualified leads. It's important to personalize your funnel to your company (or your clients' company) so you get the most out of the marketing automation elements of CRM software.
An important part of segmenting leads into appropriate categories is determining a way to score them. Lead scoring is an easy way to track a lead's actions, like opening and clicking links in emails, downloads, customer interactions and other qualifiers. You can assign points to each action. These points should vary depending on what the action is and how likely the action will convert to a sale. For example, opening an email should qualify for less points than clicking on a link in the email and downloading a sample of your advertising work.
All of the actions – or points – should add up to a score, and based on that score, leads should be assigned as either a marketing and sales-qualified lead. Once leads have accumulated enough points and reach a certain score, CRM software automatically moves them to the corresponding level in your funnel.
One of the strongest benefits of CRM software is that it automates a great deal of your marketing and sales processes. You can set up your software to send messages to a lead automatically after the lead triggers a certain event. If, for example, your lead downloads a white paper, the software could automatically send a follow-up email relevant to the downloaded content.
When a lead crosses certain thresholds, the software can send alerts to your sales team encouraging them to initiate contact. Automation helps track viable leads and prevents them from slipping through the cracks. Plus, it's an easy way to get the advertising and marketing content you've created for your clients out to their leads.
CRM software can be doubly important for advertising and marketing agencies: It helps agencies process their own leads, and it helps move their clients' leads through the marketing and sales funnel. You'll need to create custom funnels and lead-scoring strategies that work best for each client, along with creating compelling marketing and advertising content, but once you have these steps in place (and you've put them into a CRM system), the automation can help your agency thrive.
Photo credit: Wright Studio/Shutterstock