E-tailers rely heavily on email for their correspondence with their existing customers, and potential customers.  Email is used to communicate deals, sales, and transactional confirmations of a purchase, shipment, or a return. However, CRM packages have grown so far beyond just email marketing.  They are now full funnels that help e-tailers convert a lead or a page view into a sale or a customer acquisition, which is the goal of every e-tailer.

Chances are you're already using something for your transactional emails as part of your e-commerce package, but could be doing a lot more with your marketing and lead conversion side of things.

To help e-tailers increase the odds of a successful CRM deployment, we have come up with some tips to help in your journey.  Here are 8 tips to help in choosing a CRM software solution and its successful implementation:

1.    Make a Clear and Extensive List of Requirements

Defining the scope of your project is the most important when starting.  The focus should be placed on a specific business process and the system requirements.  The more detail you put into your requirements will make for a specific proposal from candidates.  Leaving out any details that are required in the long run will halt a project in its tracks and can become a costly mistake.

Selecting a CRM system is a long-term investment.  Choosing one based on factors such as price or current popularity can also be a mistake in the future.  Take into consideration which CRM systems are specific to your business plan as it is an industry-specific system.

2.    Include Mobile Users

Device mobility is increasing across industries, therefore we have come to a time where waiting to get home to use a desktop to access information is in the past.  Choosing a CRM solution that provides access to those using smartphones and tablets is essential.

3.    Carefully Evaluate your Options before Selecting your CRM system

As we previously mentioned planning and creating a list of requirements, poor requirement definitions and vague priorities can lead to a bad decision for your CRM system.  “Lack of participation and input from key stakeholders in the evaluation stage can lead to poor acceptance and user adoption.  And don’t forget that delays running the evaluation project itself ultimately delay the go-live date and the time to benefit,” says Tom Brennan, Vice President of Marketing, FinancialForce.com, a provider of cloud-based CRM solutions.

4.    Get References

A great way to get a true feel for a CRM vendor is by asking for references.  It is no different than asking an employee for professional references; you want to make sure you are receiving not only a good CRM provider but one that has good standing with others.  If the company you are looking to can not come up with three verifiable references, then maybe they are not the solution for you.

5.    Think Before You Customize

When making a request for customizable settings, keep in mind that each item comes at a cost.  When creating your lists of needs, consider whether those requirements can be mainstreamed to eliminate the cost with specific pieces of your CRM system.  Many company’s basic processes are virtually the same, such as paying invoices, collecting revenue, and procuring supplies.  Keep in mind the cost of customizations doesn’t only come with writing and testing code, but in continued support for the system.  Don't make changes or elements arbitrary. Keep it simple.

6.    Factor in Change Management

Typical CRM projects facilitate massive change in organizations that can include changing of day to day job descriptions or eliminating job descriptions in total.  These changes impact the culture of your company. Without careful control and communication, plans and workshops can create an adverse reaction to CRM, resulting in carriers to implementation.

7.    Appoint an Internal CRM Champion

Make sure you aren’t relying exclusively on your CRM vendor to manage your project.  Select a person within your company who knows how to manage the software system and make them the person responsible for learning the new system.  They will also be responsible for collecting data and end-user requirements to tune your CRM to work best for your organization.

8.    Provide the Necessary Time and Resources for Training on CRM System

A new way of operating will take time for everyone.  Your project team should make sure they implement good, comprehensive training to make sure all are well informed to operate the new system.  This is also where your CRM champion will be your greatest resource. Having a support contact within the company reduces time loss when trying to contact an outside resource.

There are many different solutions providers out there with varying price ranges and feature sets. Not all solutions make sense for all e-tailers.  Some of our favorites solutions providers are ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, and HubSpot, who all have a wide array of features and a proven track record.

There are nuanced differences between all of these solutions providers.  Hubspot, for example, may charge 10-20x more than most email marketing tools, but they offer a built-in landing page builder, social media marketing tool, and much more.  On the other hand, ActiveCampaign offers an enormous amount of value while remaining one of the most affordable email marketing tools on the market.

Comparing email marketing software based on cost alone is a dangerous game.  That’s why it’s important to look at all eight factors in this article to ensure that you’re buying the right tool for the job, rather than the cheapest or the most popular.

Here at Nox, we pride ourselves on always giving our clients an edge over the competition. In this ever-competitive eCommerce landscape, it is important to be able to stand out. Hence why we provide the highest level of deliverability and analytics when it comes to delivering your transactional and marketing campaign emails. We also employ Amazon Pinpoint with custom Campaigns and Journeys. We would love to show you how we can take your campaigns to the next level, don’t hesitate to contact us to set up a demo.

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