CRM is underrated in digital marketing. Mostly because startups find it difficult to quantify its real worth and large companies use custom CRMs, which are more improved than those available to SMBs.
Social media and marketing automation docked CRM’s relevance. I know the stats speak otherwise and CRM plugins are high in demand. But what you probably don’t know if you are looking at stats figures, which are cherry-picked. Gartner released a forecast earlier in 2017 CRM adoption growth.
Here’s the forecast. Look:
Two things that might have had factored in Gartner’s speculation are:
Let’s understand these:
The CRM space is dominated by cloud solution providers from the US. See the chart below:
These providers want more SMBs purchasing from them. They market CRM as a standalone product, but publicize it as part of a whole - the whole is a superior cloud architecture, a leverage for marketing.
Adobe, for example, named their CRM platform Marketing Cloud. They know this would be a great sales tagline. Microsoft Dynamic CRM’s functionality extends to web services.
GDPR is an acronym for General Data Protection Regulation. Its deadline is 25th May 2018. This regulation has checklists, and it will apply to all European Union nations.
GDPR defines personal data as any and every information related to an individual. This includes name, phone number, bank details, medical history, IP address and so many other personal information.
After the enforcement of GDPR, organizations will be compelled to give customers the right to access, right to be notified, right to object, right to data portability and similar rights. To appear compliant with this upcoming regulation, enterprises are gravitating towards CRM for better customer experience.
So, CRM spending may be growing, but this growth may not be 100% organic. It seems to be driven by a sense of compulsion, an urgency to hump onto the GDPR bandwagon and caving to the frenzy created by large multinational corporations offering cloud CRM solutions.
But CRM has enormous potential for organic growth. Social media can promote this growth. So, can convenient pricing, but more about this later. The point is stat figures that paint a positive picture never delve deep enough to examine what percentage of CRM growth is natural. But I will. Here are the factors that I believe could propel CRM’s natural growth:
CRM vendors know very well that small business websites are strapped for cash. Medium size businesses may be financially well-off, but they are always on the lookout for less-expensive alternatives to expensive products.
Observing these realities, smart CRM vendors have started a new shift in the industry. And that change is favorable pricing.
Talking about this, Hubspot is the name that readily comes to mind. The Hubspot CRM is entirely free, forever. And it’s state-of-the-art. It has two major selling points; it’s push-button email marketing friendly, and sales reps can call leads from inside the CRM.
Another name, deserving of a mention is SuiteCRM. Remember SugarCRM? SuiteCRM is its open-source clone. It’s free and retains the charm of SugarCRM’s community edition. The paid version costs $2000 a year with some extra features.
In future, more enterprises will embrace CRMs with affordable pricing and various features. That’ll set the tone for its organic growth.
Without social media, CRM is just a fancy name for managing customer data. Granted, CRM offers relevant insights, but so do social media analytics tools. In fact, the latter collect micro-level granular insights as people freely express themselves on social media, sans the inhibition faced by a typical customer. And besides, interpersonal communication is more revealing than cold and scripted conversation taking place in an organizational context.
A fusion between social media and CRM has slowly appeared. It is called social CRM. It adds a new dimension to erstwhile CRM functions - watching social media activity of customers. Social CRM is far more relevant than ordinary CRM as it combines social media marketing and customer relationship management.
While some enterprises are sold to social CRM, others keep the two touchpoints of marketing - social media and customer relationship - separate. This old approach is what’s blocking the organic growth of CRM. When CRM and social analytics dashboard merge, organic growth will be pushed.
It’s hard not to notice how mobility is changing industry landscape. Mobility can drive CRM’s organic growth. Look at the prominent challenges CRM is facing currently:
Enterprise mobility can solve the first three challenges. The mobile experience is app-based, and users are fond of apps. Hence, end-user adoption will be smooth if CRM is accessed via handheld devices. As for system integration, mobility allows convergence of big data and sales insights. System customization is easy as mobile OSs are developed this way.
Even B2B enterprises are investing in mobility for performing complex operations and operational excellence. More investment could translate to improvement on CRM.
The day will come when we’ll be able to gauge how much CRM growth is organic using industry-approved parameters. Enterprises increasing their CRM spending is a good sign as that will eventually lead us there.
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