Customer Relationship Management – or CRM – hasn’t always been referred to that way. In fact, the concept of CRM originally began with marketers recording their sales and customer relationship history manually using a pen and paper. By the early 1990’s, software was developed that enabled sales teams to make their processes more efficient using their data through sales force automation, and in 1995, the term “CRM” was coined.
Today, marketers don’t just use CRM to manage relationships. Instead, the valuable data stored within this software has led marketers to rethink how they communicate with customers across channels, and by 2017, the CRM industry is predicted to be a $36 billion market. CRM software and the way businesses use it is evolving, and the smartest marketers are keen on staying ahead of the curve when it comes to this unique source of data. Here are five powerful CRM trends emerging today that are worth knowing:
1. The Role of CRM in Customer Retention is Expanding
CRM software is a necessary customer retention tool. In fact, vStacks Infotech revealed CRM software can help improve customer retention by as much as 27%. And while the role of CRM software in helping businesses manage their customer relationships is fairly clear, what marketers might not know is what more they can do with their customer data. By bringing their offline CRM data online, marketers can retain customers by retargeting them online with customized messages that are relevant to their past purchases and behaviors.
2. CRM is Shifting to the Cloud
[tweetable]CRM software will quickly become almost completely cloud-based in the next few years.[/tweetable] In fact, Microsoft shared data from the Cloud Report that found 50% of all CRM software will be cloud-based in 2016, a number that is expected to increase to 62% by 2018. The benefits of cloud-based CRM are vast, spanning from better security to ease-of-use and affordability. However, one of the most important qualities of a cloud-based CRM platform is that it can be more easily integrated with other software and technology solutions, which means marketers can effectively leverage their CRM data in more strategic ways, such as addressable media and cross-channel recognition.
3. The Rise of Beacons Creates New Opportunities for CRM
Marketers today are often stumped by how to create seamless experiences for customers who quickly change devices and move from digital to in-store environments frequently throughout their shopping journeys. However, beacons – devices that communicate with, collect data from and send push notifications to customers’ smartphones based on their proximity to a store – are quickly emerging as an incredible opportunity for brands to capture customer signals both in-store and online. According to Business 2 Community, beacons were expected to generate $138 million in retail sales in 2015. Marketers can connect this new source of data generated in-store and integrate it with their CRM systems for improved customer engagement.
4. CRM Platforms Will Focus More on Predictive Analytics
According to Rebecca Sendel, senior director, Data Analytics and Customer Experience Management Programs at TM Forum, in 2016, more CRM platforms will be equipped with predictive analytics capabilities that enable businesses to target real-time offers to customers based on their past purchases and behaviors. The key to unlocking this new capability and capitalizing on this trend will be for marketers to turn to technology solutions that allow them to act on their customer data and predictive insights across channels through addressable media.
5. CRM Software Will Become More Social Media-Savvy
Marc Prosser, cofounder of Fit Small Business, predicts CRM providers will add new social features to their software in 2016, allowing marketers to track customer interactions across various social media platforms. People-based marketing is already possible on Facebook, and CRM software with these added features could make this strategy even more effective. However, the savviest marketers will be equipped with the right technology to expand on their customers’ behaviors on closed social platforms and use that information to deliver relevant messages across the Web in real-time.
CRM software has come a long way in the past decade. What started as a simple manual method for tracking client relationships has now evolved into a technology that enables sales automation, more effective customer engagement and people-based marketing.