Customer relationship management systems are staples in the sales world, namely because they keep track of all the leads that have the potential to become customers. But who says you can’t use your company’s CRM for content marketing purposes, too? Not us.

But what is a CRM, and what are some examples, you say?

CRM Marketing Examples

  1. Inbound marketing activities.
  2. Outbound marketing activities.
  3. Customer service activities.
  4. Project management activities.

Your audience is at the heart of all your content marketing efforts, which means the CRM system you use to keep track of all your consumer data also plays a vital role in keeping the blood flowing. In marketing terms, that means results like boosting your sales process, improving lead generation and increasing customer retention.

Refresh: What is customer relationship management?

When we talked about the status of your customer relationship marketing efforts, we clarified that the acronym almost always refers to customer relationship management. While the two work closely together, relationship marketing is more of a concept while CRM is a platform of tools used to manage customer data, interactions and relationships.

A CRM is a centralized home for all your customer details, including who they are, how you can contact them, what the typical sales process looks like and the ways consumers interact with your content during each stage of the sales funnel.

More than storing customer data, employing a CRM strategy allows companies to analyze the information for a strategic understanding of customer needs and preferences – as well as how to respond with targeted content and sales interactions. This includes providing the products and services that meet demands, cross-selling more effectively, offering improved customer service and creating more relevant content.

Plus, when all members of your team have a solid understanding of the audience to date, there won’t be any hiccups or loose ends when continuing conversations with customers. This facilitates a fluid customer journey, ensuring consumers feel like they’re interacting with one united company rather than several individuals who don’t seem to be on the same page.

With increased revenue, more lead conversions, and better customer retention and satisfaction rates, the results of CRM-driven sales and marketing efforts are certainly favorable.

How can your CRM yield content marketing results?

The harsh reality for us marketers is that, without CRM technology, our digital content strategies will miss out on a large chunk of influential data. And the results of that data are well worth the investment. Cases in point:

Better targeting

A CRM houses the detailed information about consumers that can inform more refined buyer personas, meaning your targeting efforts will get a serious upgrade.

For instance, CRM tools make it possible for you to perform data mining to understand which consumer behaviors correlate with certain types of content. More than identifying the pages with the most views, data mining allows you to answer deeper questions. This includes which articles customers read before, during or after making a purchase, whether repeat customers engage with your content or which content leads certain customers to make buying decisions.

Lead generation upgrade

Your CRM can also work wonders for your lead generation efforts. As the potential customers come rolling in, your CRM helps you organize, track and nurture prospects and leads throughout the sales funnel. The software can pull data from several online sources, ensuring you always have the most up-to-date information on prospects.

Intuitive audience segmentation

Yep, it does, in fact, keep getting better. Many CRM tools have automated segmentation capabilities to help you group your communication efforts and prioritize the most promising leads. They’ll also automatically track of all your interactions with potential customers – from answering a sales call to reading a blog – so you know how close customers are to converting. The insights can also help predict behavior throughout the customer journey and suggest how viewers may respond to certain messaging to help you improve future lead-generation campaigns.

Comprehensive metrics

From a measurement perspective, CRM data paints a clear picture of how your content and other marketing efforts are impacting the sales process. Plus, you can see a full-scale view of customer interactions to better understand each stage of the consumer-facing experience. Such insight can inform the next stages of an even more compelling and relevant content strategy. This is also where your marketing team begins to align its initiatives more cohesively with the sales department – and vice versa.

Where’s the proof?

Ready to see CRM software and systems in action? Here are some CRM marketing examples that prove their worth:

Boosting customer retention

Housing all the information your team needs to know about your audience, CRM software can support marketing initiatives to develop long-term relationships with your customer base. Many companies do this with customer loyalty programs.

For example, the British grocery and general merchandise retailer Tesco developed a CRM strategy that called for driving customer retention with one of the most successful loyalty programs in the retail industry. It’s called the ClubCard, and it offers shoppers opportunities to earn points not only at Tesco but also at partner companies, such as gas stations, hotels and car rentals. There’s a club for everyone: Tesco Kids, Baby and Toddler, Healthy Living and World of Wine to name a few.

The targeted segments and messaging came straight from the insights gathered in the company’s CRM. The targeting continues in other forms, such as the quarterly mailer. Tesco sends out over four million different versions to make sure the discounts, offers and messages resonate with the recipients.

What’s more, Tesco used data gathered from ClubCard memberships and comment cards to create new product offerings, such as the Healthy Living line of low-fat and low-sodium options and Free Form products for shoppers with dietary and health restrictions.

By using shopping patterns to inform marketing and retail programs, Tesco successfully boosted customer satisfaction and loyalty – and left them hungry for the store’s next move to improve the shopping experience.

Supporting the sales process

Digital breakthroughs in e-commerce changed the customer journey for good, leaving retail companies in a position to revamp their sales processes to account for the online component of their shoppers. Take adidas, for example. The brand with the iconic three stripes realized that more of their customers were starting their journey online, and invested in CRM technology to implement a digital transformation.

One solution was to boost online customer support, with their CRM system empowering 1,100 care agents to deliver fast, personalized service via phone, email, web and social platforms. CRM data further revealed detailed information about individual customers, allowing adidas to create new products based on consumer needs and preferences. The brand’s CRM technology even powers a digital interface that allows shoppers to design custom products.

With a consumer-centric, digital-first strategy, adidas experienced record-breaking growth, including a 59% increase in global e-commerce profits that amounted to about €1 billion in online sales. The win was even sweeter considering the brand experienced such growth at a time when the retail industry was on the struggle bus.

Another sporting goods retailer, Orvis, brought the digital experience to the brick-and-mortar world. The company stocked its stores with tablets pre-installed with CRM and e-commerce tools. Employees can search through inventory and complete online and in-store purchases without ever leaving the customer’s side on the shop floor. All the while, the CRM records customer shopping habits, purchase history and other information. The marketing team then uses that data to send individual customers more personal offers and emails based on their previous actions.

This practice of infusing data into the sales process is no longer revolutionary, but more so a necessity for companies to retain a competitive edge in their respective industries. The more targeted, personalized and effective your message, the more likely you are to attract consumers and make the sale.

Pairing with marketing automation

Let’s be clear: While both CRM and marketing automation serve similar purposes, they’re not quite the same thing.

Marketing automation software directly impacts your department, helping you streamline, automate and measure marketing tasks, workflows and campaigns. You probably use it for tasks like segmenting your mailing lists and tracking email campaigns.

CRM software generally lives in the sales world, assisting with lead and customer management. However, the two work together to fill your head with telling audience insights that help you work your marketing magic.

By syncing data between your marketing automation solutions and CRM data, you can unite the sales and marketing teams to better communicate with your prospects and customers. Some CRM vendors even offer marketing automation solutions as part of the entire system package.

Applying the pair of tools is especially effective for email campaigns.

CRM email marketing opens the door to more personalized, direct communication via email, allowing companies to earn a consistent spot on recipient radars. Rather than simply focusing on a segmented audience, CRM tools can tailor emails to individuals in B2C cases and particular companies in B2B scenarios. The customized approach helps lessen the intrusive nature we’ve come to associate with email blasts, turning email interactions into more meaningful conversations with potential and long-term customers.

CRM plus content marketing for the win

The moral of this blog post is that your CRM gives you access to incredible insights about your audience – and you can use the data to empower your content strategy and creation. If you take away anything from that, let it be this: Don’t let the data go to waste! Wishing you the best of luck on your CRM-powered marketing endeavors.

Stevie Snow is a writer at Brafton. Yes, she is named after Stevie Nicks. She’s a believer in "to life, to life, l’chaim!" because life is what brings us the Obamas, a really smooth vodka tonic and that moment on the dance floor when your favorite banger plays.