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What Is a CRM Database & Why Does Your Business Need One?

With so much alphabet soup out there in the technology and digital marketing space, learning and building out a CRM database is often one of the most impactful actions for many businesses. Whether you are looking to improve your CRM database or want to learn what CRM stands for, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll discuss:

Keep reading to learn more, or jump to the section you’re most interested in!

What is a CRM database?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. A CRM database is a log of all interactions with a customer, typically from the first touch point in the sales cycle through a customer’s entire relationship with a business.

This provides companies with a single source of truth in their customer communications and is a key record often used by multiple departments, such as sales, operations, and client services. If you’re familiar with an enterprise resource platform (ERP), a CRM is similar, except it focuses specifically on customer data.

There are different types of CRMs, including operational, analytical, and collaborative.

Benefits of a CRM database

There are many benefits to using a proper CRM database. This has been true for a long time. In the pre-digital days, companies would often store this information in a rolodex or ledger. With modern technology creating new ways to leverage this data, CRM databases are even more critical for a business.

Speed and Organization

Instead of digging through endless emails or notes from phone calls, a CRM database gives a single source of truth for all customer interactions. Everybody in an organization knows where to go to access this information and it keeps teams moving faster. You can onboard new employees quicker and get account reps up to speed on a certain key customer more efficiently with a CRM database.

Business Development

CRM databases are a treasure trove of first-party data that can be utilized in marketing campaigns. With this customer data management, you can create segments of users in your CRM and run ad campaigns to people who entered your sales cycle but didn’t convert or advertise to users who used your service last year but haven’t signed up again recently. This owned, first-party data can be a substantial competitive advantage over less organized competitors. You can also use first-party data to encourage follow-up activities from sales teams.

Customer Service

Ever wonder how the reps at a large corporation always remember your dog’s name? Or have a remarkable ability to recall conversations from 16 months ago? They are likely utilizing a CRM to store all past interactions with you. This allows everybody at a company to have instant access to all interactions with a customer and can be very helpful to create memorable customer service experiences.

How a CRM database can work for your business

So what kind of data is important to include and integrate into a CRM database? Let’s workshop that we’re a manufacturing company that builds custom parts for boats.

A potential customer visits our website and downloads an email-gated PDF on the advantages of getting boat parts custom built vs. buying off the shelf. After he downloads this PDF, one of our customer reps emails him but never hears back.

A year later, a sequence is triggered in our CRM database to have a rep try again. Somebody reaches back out to ask the prospect if they had any luck with their search for custom parts and this time we get a response. The customer ends up interacting with our sales team and places an order with us.

All of this info is logged in our CRM database step-by-step. 3 months after his order is fulfilled, we set up a sequence to ask him to leave a review online for our manufacturing process.

A couple years later, our company has expanded and is offering new parts. We use our CRM database to pull records of anybody who has ordered similar parts. Even though our new sales rep has never spoken to this former customer, he can quickly get up to speed using our CRM records and is able to reach out with a highly personalized offer, closing another deal for us.

This cycle can repeat itself many times over. Regardless of whether or not a prospect converts, having the data in your CRM database is a very valuable thing. It facilitates future sales and B2B prospecting and builds up highly targeted audiences we can use across many marketing channels.

Examples of CRM databases for every business size

If your business doesn’t have a proper CRM database set up, there are lots of options out there. Check out these examples of CRM databases based on your business size:

SMB options

WebFX has built our own CRM for customers, Nutshell. Our CRM is engineered to be marketing friendly and focuses on moving from sales pipeline to revenue as efficiently as possible. Other popular options for SMBs include Zoho and Freshworks.

Mid-size options

Mid-size companies often build out a full sales tech stack, featuring a CRM, Customer Data Platform, customer success platform, marketing automation, and more. WebFX’s MarketingCloudFX has a full 360 degree approach to building and utilizing key data points, from CRM to email marketing to first-party data ad campaigns.

Other options that are popular for the mid-market are Hubspot, Pipedrive, and Nutshell.

Enterprise options

Needs vary greatly for enterprise solutions and you may need multiple CRM solutions for different business units or divisions and advanced security features. For companies with complex needs, Salesforce, Oracle, and Microsoft Dynamics are popular.

Fueling business growth with CRM databases

As you can see, a proper CRM database can be rocket fuel for growing companies. It is one of the rare solutions that drives both business growth and saves substantial time for employees. Implementing and maintaining a CRM is a high leverage activity for marketing decision makers who are ready to take the next step in growth.

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