If you are a small business, it’s safe to say that relationships are your bread and butter. After all, people love to buy goods and services from people that they know. In many cases, having to pay extra for these items is well worth it. Plus, the things sold may be of better quality. Ask yourself: if you are going to spend a given amount of money, why not spend it with someone you know?
Here’s the thing: those relationship-based sales require that business owners nurture customers. At the same time, customer acquisition becomes very relationship-focused. It isn’t surprising, therefore, that among small and medium-sized businesses, some 81% still use email as their main sales engine. Email not only reaches customers through the ever-present phone, but it’s a highly personal method of communication.
However, sending out emails at scale can be an involved process. Businesses need to keep track of email addresses, perform personalization, and present the right messages to the right person for an email to be most effective. In order to optimize this critical marketing channel to its maximum, a CRM should be utilized as a critical part of email marketing. Let’s look at the value of CRM email marketing.
What is a CRM?
Simply put, a CRM, which stands for Customer Relationship Management, is a software tool that can help you better manage customer relationships throughout your organization. It does this in several ways, such as keeping track of client emails and recording their preferences. This takes a lot of pressure off of humans: The precursor to a CRM is the Rolodex and customer files-and in small business, knowing your people.
Fortunately, very few of us need to manage relationships the old fashioned way anymore. While there’s still no replacement for knowing a customer by name, CRM email marketing options are the next best thing. If you’ve ever used a famous CRM tool like Salesforce you know how a CRM helps sales managers and salespeople manage their pipeline. Both for email marketing and other kinds of customer contact, knowledge is power.
Here’s the thing: Every sales organization should have a CRM. The biggest reason for this is shown by the numbers. These applications can boost sales by 24% and productivity by 34%. It also helps project future sales 42% more accurately than the old-fashioned paper graphs and historical data. With today’s supply chain issues, being able to predict future needs is valuable. In other words, just in terms of increased efficiency and accuracy, a CRM pays dividends.
However, a CRM can do more than just that, including becoming a central hub for data about people that are important to your company. If you have CRM email marketing, then you can learn what marketing methods and messages best connect with different segments of your customer base. For instance, if you run a clothing store then you might keep track of who wears what size, and what colors they prefer. When you have those items in stock, you might send an email.
How Does a CRM System Work with Email Marketing?
Every email marketing tool has the notion of a subscriber, but depending on the email marketing tool, some make it easier to search for as well as append the information of a subscriber. For instance, there’s the ability to say if they’re a potential or current customer in a CRM tool. This lets you employ CRM email marketing to move them along the sales funnel from where they already are.
Email marketing software that supports CRM functionality can allow anyone in the organization to tag their customers or prospects and actually add them to marketing automation to trigger desired activities. This has the advantage of your not needing various departments to
By opening up, your email marketing database to your entire organization, your CRM email marketing software can become the default CRM if your company doesn’t have one. The email program can also be integrated with an existing CRM to unleash the converged power of two technologies. In other words, when combined, customer data from a CRM can be used to inform a personalized email marketing campaign in your email marketing software. This is a real win for the entire company.
What are the Benefits of Using a CRM for Email Marketing?
One of the bigger challenges of email marketing is sending the right email to the right person. After all, even within a company that makes different ranges of the same products, there will be different items for different customers. Trying to sell products that were designed for a different consumer probably won’t work unless that person is giving a gift. However, in those cases it’s often a one-off. Luckily, using a CRM email marketing reduces these problems because you:
- Have all customer and prospect data in one central place. This is convenient because it means you don’t have to ask other people for information that you already need. Plus, it gives some accountability across your organization.
- Gain a clear picture on the activities of every single one of your email subscribers and customer database entries. This lets you see at a glance which people are prospects, customers, and regular clients. In addition, you can use combined information to try and predict who will become more dedicated.
- Better segment your email marketing. Suburban moms are likely to buy different things than single men who live in the city, even though some needs overlap. Sell the right things to the right people for better results.
- Create extremely personalized email marketing campaigns depending on where your prospect is in the funnel or pipeline. In some situations, a small discount is all it’ll take to sell something and turn someone into a regular customer.
- Nurture your prospects more effectively through augmenting sales activities with marketing automation. If you know about someone’s interests, it’s easier to pitch the right product. For instance, a travel company that knows someone enjoys luxury getaways can use this knowledge to pitch somewhere they haven’t been yet.
Which Email Marketing Tools Come with CRMs?
If your business already has a CRM as well as email marketing software, try to find ways to integrate them together. Using the right CRM email marketing can make your life easier. For many tools, there are integrations already built-in which can make integrating information automatically. Failing that, good communication between teams or an independent, centralized database will help coordinate efforts.
If your company doesn’t have a CRM or would like to use an email marketing software platform that includes CRM functionality, these would be my recommendations from my best email marketing tools post.
The Leaders in CRM Email Marketing
I’m dividing these recommendations into the leaders and the rest. That’s because two of these tools stand out for their great features and comprehensive functionalities.
When it comes to inbound marketing, Hubspot is the granddaddy. They have a great free CRM that lets you turn web forms, chatbot results, and other customer inquiries into database entries. In addition, there are integrations for certain email programs, which makes it much easier to use it as a CRM email marketing.
Not convinced? Hubspot helps you automate your email marketing, and they even add information to workflows so that sales teams can follow up as appropriate. The program is designed for you to do most of your basic tasks inside the platform, which means that collaboration is nearly seamless.
Pricing: There are free tools, with paid plans starting at $45 monthly.
ActiveCampaign is a great tool if you are a small business, because of its great customer service. They also have comprehensive CRM email marketing tools and some great integrations with other tools. However, on a basic level what ActiveCampaign does is take lead information and automatically feed it into the email marketing queue. Ideally, your contact form gives an opportunity for people to tell you what they’re interested in, which helps the sales team. Finally, if you’re a business traveler there’s an iPhone app that helps you input new information on the go.
Pricing: From $25 monthly.
Other CRM Email Marketing Tools to Check Out
Of course, Hubspot and ActiveCampaign aren’t the only contenders out there. Rather, other entrants to the CRM email marketing field help meet specialized business requirements. In addition, some of them are simpler to use for smaller businesses. Finally, this group includes email marketing tools with CRMs, rather than being CRMs with email integrations.
If you run an eCommerce business or have a brand with a strong online presence, check out Drip. Their secret sauce is tracking what potential customers view on your website, with the goal of predicting what they might want to buy. Then, they send an email to that person marketing those items of interest. And, if the email isn’t opened then Drip automatically sends another email in the hope of getting noticed the second time.
Of course, this isn’t the only cool thing about Drip. They’re integrated with your eCommerce CMS, and also aid with customer service tasks. This way, valuable customer information doesn’t fall through the cracks. Finally, Drip can also do SMS marketing campaigns, a relatively rare feature.
Pricing: Email-only from $19 per month; email and SMS support from $22 per month.
Service industry professionals like plumbers and electricians should check out Keap. That’s because they let you directly text message customers to confirm appointments or let them know if a tech is running late. Another standout feature is that Keap gathers leads passively. For instance, if someone checks you out on social media, Keap will store this information. Later, that person may get an email if Keap could find the address.
Need more than lead gathering? Keap has integrations for a huge variety of other platforms, such as your CMS, billing software, and more. They’ll even do much of your reporting and analytics for you, which saves a lot of time.
Pricing: From $79 per month for 500 contacts.
MailChimp is a nice all-in-one online marketing tool. Why? Because it does more than serve as a CRM email marketing. They have a website hosting and development service if you’re just starting out. Then, MailChimp gathers custom data through forms, your website, and even social media. When a new customer is identified, they automatically send a welcome email.
There’s more to MailChimp than just email marketing on steroids though. You can even run a social media marketing campaign, including paid ads, through MailChimp. Finally, they have a service that finds physical addresses all over the world so you can send postcards.
Pricing: Freemium; paid plans from $10 per month.
Here’s another option if you are an eCommerce site. With Omnisend, they do more than information gathering: rather, they facilitate sales through both email and SMS. In addition, you can do a lot of work with push notices and popups. In addition, they manage most of your analytics and other reports so you don’t have to.
Do you have a lot of abandoned products or carts? Omnisend will send out follow-up emails to try and recover the sale. In addition, they do predictive selling based on past behavior and demographic information. If you’re a B2C brand, this is a great way to go. With that said, Omnisend isn’t as good for B2B or service businesses.
Pricing: Freemium; paid plans from $16.00 per month.
If your ability to attract and retain customers is heavily dependent on real-time communications, then SendinBlue is a CRM email marketing you should consider. That’s because they have built-in email, SMS, and chat functionalities, meaning that it provides a “real human” customer support option. If someone has a question about your products and services, they can reach out. However, this isn’t the only advantage of SendinBlue. With unified customer service and marketing email, it’s easy to keep everything in one place.
Finally, SendinBlue also offers high-quality email customization and segmentation. That means that as the program “learns” about each customer, it’ll send out emails that they’re most likely to resonate with. This reduces the number of “useless” emails significantly.
Pricing: Freemium. Paid plans start at $25 per month.
Keeping track of all your email marketing tasks can seem daunting if you try and do it yourself. However, the right CRM email marketing can make your life much easier. Better yet, CRMs help bridge the gap between sales and marketing, improving overall performance. However, the best reason to get a CRM is arguably the personalization for customers. Remember, when they feel a connection to your business, they’re more likely to buy.
Hero photo by Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash