How To Create a Successful CRM Strategy (2024)

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The business world is full of platitudes about customer satisfaction: The customer comes first. The customer is king. The customer is always right. While these philosophies might work in principle, they fall short strategically.

Customer satisfaction is far more nuanced than most catchy phrases imply. Satisfaction can come from a better buying experience, great customer service, product quality, or all of the above. Getting each aspect right requires more than a positive attitude.

Strong customer relationship management (CRM) is built on identifying patterns and opportunities for engagement within your existing customer data so you can take specific actions to increase customer satisfaction.

What is a CRM strategy?

A customer relationship management (CRM) strategy aims to enhance customer relationships and drive business growth with valuable insights from customer behavior data.

A CRM strategy allows you to make business decisions informed by data gathered through the various touchpoints of a customer journey. For example, you gain data whenever a customer discovers your business on social media, reads a blog post on your website, or uses a referral code. A CRM strategy applies these learnings to improve the customer experience across various aspects of your business.

For instance, if you want to increase your overall customer satisfaction scores, a CRM strategy can help identify areas where expectations are unmet. Or, if you’re looking to grow brand awareness with marketing campaigns, a successful CRM strategy can inform targeted and personalized communications that resonate with potential customers.

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What is a CRM system?

A CRM system is a tool that allows teams to organize customer data and analyze customer behavior.

CRM systems started out as directory-style contact management tools for sales teams in the 1980s. They have since evolved into comprehensive hubs that record all aspects of customer interactions—from detailed profiles and behaviors to sales transactions and performance metrics—that sales, marketing, and customer service teams can use. A CRM platform not only stores customer data but also streamlines customer communication across social media, email, and support chats, thereby enhancing order tracking and centralizing marketing efforts for improved customer retention.

CRM software typically integrates with project management tools like Asana, Trello, and Jira, ensuring your team stays synchronized and operates from the most current customer data. However, as with any software tool, its success depends on context and application. Proper user training, integration with existing processes, and regular data maintenance are crucial factors for maximizing its potential impact. A CRM system should serve your greater customer relationship management strategy, not vice versa.

Potential benefits of a CRM strategy

A CRM strategy is one of the best ways to build and maintain strong customer relationships.Here are some of the main areas where a CRM strategy can help:

Improved customer acquisition

A CRM strategy centralizes accurate and specific customer segments and buyer personas based on data you already have.

You can analyze customer behaviors, preferences, and interactions within these segments to tailor your marketing efforts or reach target customers where they’re most likely to be, improving your chances of acquiring them.

You can also discover friction in the buying process through web traffic data. If your customers routinely leave a product page without adding anything to the cart, for example, you might improve the call-to-action language, change the page layout, or investigate factors affecting your page load time.

Higher conversion rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of website users who take a desired action (such as signing up for a newsletter or completing a purchase) out of the total number of visitors. It’s an essential benchmark for an ecommerce business.

For example, implementing a CRM strategy can allow you to collect detailed customer data, helping you create personalized marketing campaigns. This targeted approach not only enhances customer experience and engagement but can also boost conversion rates by delivering relevant offers and promotions that meet each customer’s needs and interests.

Increased customer satisfaction

Implementing ad-hoc individual solutions is time-consuming and can lead to duplicate efforts across teams. A CRM strategy is one way to anticipate and meet customer needs.

If you’re considering launching a loyalty program or in-person marketing events to strengthen customer relationships, CRM tools can surface those repeat customers and identify natural champions within your customer base. Demographic insights and buying behavior data can contribute to more personalized shopping experiences and product recommendations. Centralized communication fuels excellent customer service with prompt response times and a unified approach across various channels.

Customer journey clarity

Paired with a CRM system, a CRM strategy helps you better retain current customers and attract new ones by providing visibility into the various stages of the customer lifecycle. If you find, for example, that your ideal customer spends a lot of time on TikTok, increasing your presence on the platform may be a good idea. You might consider weighing in on industry trends or providing product highlights to increase customer engagement.

Better cooperation between teams

A CRM strategy centralizes customer data, enabling teams across your company to access and share valuable insights. A solid strategy paired with the right tools can help you align goals and facilitate communication between departments.

For example, your sales team might be able to instantly access customer feedback collected by your support team, allowing for more personalized follow-ups.

Faster, more informed business decisions

If a CRM tool clarifies what’s going on with your business through reporting and analytics, your CRM strategy allows you to make data-driven decisions based on those reports quickly. For example, you might decide to implement personalized email reminders to combat a high rate of abandoned carts or develop a new customer survey to pinpoint issues in the checkout process.

How to create an effective CRM strategy

  1. Audit your business
  2. Define your business goals
  3. Organize your customer data and build buyer personas
  4. Map customer journeys
  5. Choose a CRM solution

Ultimately, the nature of your offerings and the buying experience will inform the scope of your CRM strategy and how quickly you can implement the insights it generates. And like any business strategy, it evolves as you grow.

Here’s how to start building a CRM strategy:

1. Audit your business

The first step in creating a CRM strategy is discovery. If you haven’t already, conduct a SWOT analysis to capture your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as a business. A comprehensive understanding of what sets you apart in the market—whether in the scope of your offering or the values that govern the customer experience—will be the foundation for your strategy.

2. Define your business goals

Next, outline defined goals that your CRM strategy will help you solve. While a CRM strategy in a B2B (business to business) setting might prioritize shortening the sales cycle or reducing churn, a B2C (business to consumer) or DTC (direct to consumer) ecommerce CRM strategy is more likely to focus on customer satisfaction, customer retention, or sales.

Set key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge success. For instance, you can monitor customer lifetime value (CLV)—the total revenue from a customer over time—to track the effectiveness of your CRM strategy. A rising CLV suggests your approach is effective; if it falls or stagnates, coupling this data with CRM insights, such as purchase history, customer feedback, and interaction patterns, can spark strategies to enhance the buying experience or boost customer loyalty.

3. Organize your customer data and build buyer personas

Let’s say you want to increase your marketing campaign’s return on investment (ROI). Start with analyzing customer data by reviewing purchase histories, demographics, and engagement metrics in your CRM system to create buyer personas reflecting your existing customers and demographics. You could then use that information to create targeted, value-driven messaging for each distinct population, and increase the overall chances of engagement.

If there’s a population you haven’t reached yet, outline that ideal customer, too. If you’re starting from scratch and don’t have as much customer data, fill in the gaps with market research.

4. Map customer journeys

Once you have a sense of your target audiences, identify the touchpoints that drive discovery and brand awareness (like social media, marketing campaigns, or newsletter sign-ups), and the various stages of the buying process (like website visits and browsing behavior). Indicate how you define and reward customer loyalty post-purchase, and how you collect customer insights to improve the process overall, perhaps through customer surveys or interviews.

Consider CRM strategy as a customer-driven version of a sales pipeline or sales funnel. Breaking that pipeline down into precise components allows you to address opportunities or smooth out rough patches on your way to conversion.

5. Choose a CRM solution

To put your CRM strategy into action, invest in a CRM platform. Centralizing customer data with CRM technology not only improves collaboration and alignment between teams but can also help automate critical tasks like data management. It can provide evidence of what’s working and highlight areas for improvement.

While many CRM software tools offer similar capabilities, they’re not one-size-fits-all. When choosing from the many solutions, consider how easy it would be to use daily, given your current team and bandwidth. Will it integrate with your team’s existing internal processes? Do the primary features support the business goals you outlined in the steps above? Is it built with small businesses in mind, or is it priced for enterprise-level companies?

CRM strategy FAQ

Why is it important to have a CRM strategy?

When you try to manage customer data without a CRM strategy, you miss the forest for the trees. A CRM strategy helps you streamline customer data and make strategic decisions without getting lost in individual transactions.

What are common mistakes to avoid when creating a CRM strategy?

In developing a CRM strategy, it’s crucial to select CRM tools that align with your specific needs. Focus on handling and leveraging customer information, ensure the chosen system supports essential features like marketing automation or customer service, and prioritize data quality management to guarantee accurate and insightful reporting.

How do you create a CRM strategy?

To create a solid customer relationship management strategy, understand your current business goals, map how your target audience and buyer personas move through the customer journey with customer data, set up a CRM system to help you collect and analyze these data points, and apply your insights.

What are the key elements of a CRM strategy?

CRM strategies vary by business but typically cover customer behavior and acquisition, marketing channels, customer service, and business reporting.

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