There can be no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has placed an abnormal amount of stress on businesses across the globe. Demand is falling, revenue is dropping and, in many industries, sales opportunities are hard to come by.

Yet while many businesses are panicking about the prospect of being unable to secure new business to replace lost revenue, relatively few are thinking about the integral role their current customers can play in their recovery. As the old adage goes: it’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know.

In the current climate, businesses must learn to put their customers at the heart of everything they do. This is where an effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can give you a huge competitive advantage.

Here’s how your CRM can help you become more engaged with your existing customers, increase your retained sales revenue and ramp up your business performance while on the road to recovery.

1. Cleanliness is close to godliness

Have you ever performed an export from your CRM only to find yourself tearing your hair out over the messy spreadsheet in front of you? Sadly, the immediate answer for many companies is: “Yes, this happens to us every time we export data.”

In the post-GDPR world, you can no longer afford to be messy when it comes to data entry – and the current crisis presents a unique opportunity for you to make sure your own house is in order.

For businesses with staff currently working from home, it could be that teams have more time than they would normally in their usual day-to-day sales and marketing environment to do some data cleansing. 

The key things to check for are:

  • Duplicate data: it doesn’t take long to search for a customer in your database, whereas sending that customer the same campaign email multiple times could result in them taking their business elsewhere.
  • Missing data: do an export of customers and companies with missing information and then set about filling in the blanks and enriching these records.
  • Incorrect data: how would David feel if he received an email saying “Hi Dvaid”? Thoroughly check your records for typos and old contact details, then set about correcting them.
  • Old data: identify any old or disengaged customers and prospects in your system, and get rid of them. If you keep emailing these people and they ignore your emails, it could damage your sender score.

By taking these steps to cleanse your data, you’ll benefit from CRM records that are standardised and full of accurate, up-to-date information.

2. The personal touch

It takes a lot for a business to know their customers. To really know their customers. To listen, analyse, respect and reward them.

It’s all too easy to send out a mass email to all of your customers in a time of crisis – in fact, 63% of marketers have already done this in the response to the global pandemic – but, how many businesses are taking the time to actually speak to each of their individual customers or even just analyse the data they hold for them?

Rather than treating every customer in the same way, a better strategy would be to use segmentation to create customer audiences based on their relationship with your brand. This will not only improve your marketing messaging, but also your sales strategies and customer service going forward.

Segmentation can be performed using any data within your CRM, such as location, demographic, industry, job role and relationship history. The more information you have at your disposal the better your segmentation will be.

Once you have defined your segments, create specific lists and send your contacts information that is relevant to their customer journey with your company. There’s little point in sending sales collateral to a contact who is at the beginning of a long-term contract. Whereas, for a customer whose existing agreement is due to expire in the coming weeks or months, it may be worth sending a timely reminder as to why they should extend their relationship with you.

3. Automate to accumulate

At first, the idea of marketing automation can be off-putting to many businesses, but it really is the holy grail of inbound marketing.

By using the data you hold in your CRM to send out perfectly timed messages, based on a contact’s level of engagement, your customers will be pleasantly surprised by your interest, and may even be spurred into action.

Use your customised lists to create workflows that allow you to keep track of which emails are being sent when, to contacts at specific stages of their buyer journey. You can specify different actions your contacts can take, such as:

  • Engaging with an email
  • Downloading a content offer
  • Making a purchase.

Then you can assign follow-up emails to go out once a specific action has been performed. With improved targeting, you will begin to see patterns emerge in terms of what works and what doesn’t, leading to higher quality sales-ready leads to focus your efforts on.

4. Strive for progression

Progressive profiling is one of the most neglected areas in any marketing strategy. With effective implementation, it presents the perfect opportunity to learn more about your customers and their purchasing habits.

HubSpot’s “progressive fields” feature allows marketers to control which questions a user sees on a particular form and, when used alongside effective segmentation, becomes a very powerful asset.

Over time, you’ll learn more about your audience without having to repeat the same questions on multiple occasions. Crucially, you won’t be asking for too much too soon, as you’ll have built the necessary trust for them to feel comfortable providing the information you ask for.

Progressive profiling HubSpot

Source: Hubspot - Use progressive fields in forms

Here’s an example of progressive profiling in action:

  • The first time a website visitor converts, the form may ask for: First Name, Last Name, Email, Company Name.
  • Their second conversion form may contain: Job Title, Industry, Primary Concern (with drop-down answers).
  • The third and final form may then prompt for: Current Service Provider, Short Term Objectives and Phone Number.

Note: If you use smart forms in tandem with progressive profiling, all known data will be auto populated, meaning the user doesn’t have to fill in too much information.

You have now pre-qualified the lead and everyone in your company can benefit from this additional information:

  • The marketing team can optimise their campaign messaging around these insights.
  • The product team can learn what products are of interest and set pricing strategies that trigger people to take action.
  • The sales team can focus on providing the best solution and closing deals.

This shouldn’t just be used with new customers in mind. Lapsed contacts and prospects can also be reinvigorated by progressive profiling through the use of a re-engagement campaign. The personalised customer journey that they experience could be just the incentive they need to give your business another try!

Don't re-invent the wheel. If getting in front of new prospects is difficult at the moment, nurture those older contacts and previous customers. After all, if they engaged with your business once before, they're more likely to do so again than a brand new contact.