Customer relationship management (CRM) tools and content management systems (CMS) are two types of software used for sales and marketing. They’re often mistaken as similar or interchangeable tools, but in reality, their purposes are very different. They include different functionality and focus on different aspects of how your business connects with customers. CRM is all about managing customers and clients, while CMSs are for managing websites. If you’re wondering whether your small business needs a CRM or a CMS, the answer is probably both, but when you need to adopt each one may vary.
What is a CMS and how does it work?
A content management system is likely the first thing you’ll need when first setting up your business’s website. Your CMS will be the central hub where you create and manage all the content of your website. A CMS provides a graphical user interface to create and publish website content without having to use HTML. They usually have pre designed website templates or themes to choose from, but you can also create and customize your own designs. Many of the best CMSs for small businesses will include content creation and editing tools that allow users to publish blog posts or articles and provide cloud-based storage for managing digital assets, like photo and video files. Some systems have more capabilities than others. It just depends on what you need and the prices you’re willing to pay. WordPress is one of the most commonly used and reasonably priced systems. Ranging from $3 to $25 per month for hosting and premium themes from $29 to $49. More advanced systems typically range from $45 to $79 per month.
Basic CMS Features:
- Custom domain names: Most CMSs allow you to create a custom domain name that’s in line with your company.
- Web hosting: You can store your site and site data directly in the CMS or integrate it with a web hosting platform.
- Content creation: The core function of a CMS is the ability to create digital content for a website without needing to know how to write code. Most CMS tools include a graphical user interface that includes a content editor. Often times it’s as simple as just using drag and drop for photos, videos, etc. Most tools also have content scheduling and automatic publishing capabilities.
- Ecommerce capabilities: Many systems allow you to set up a catalogue of products and integrate a payment portal. There are also ecommerce specific software that include order management tools, as well as integration with accounting software to make it easy to run your online store without the hassle of complicated shopping cart software.
- Site editors: Many CMSs include different template and style sheets that can be installed, making it easy to change the layout and feel of your site whenever necessary.
- Content libraries: Content such as images and videos can be stored directly on the CMS and some even come with additional stock images for free use.
The Best CMSs for Small Business:
What is a CRM and how does it work?
A customer relationship management tool organizes and manages customer data. It allows for sales and marketing teams to keep track of leads, customers, and accounts, while making sure they’re all getting contacted at the right times. For small businesses it’s not whether or not you need a CRM, but when it should be implemented. This can vary from business to business, but the more your customer base grows, the harder it gets to keep track of them without one.
Basic CRM Features:
- Lead and contact management: CRMs give you the ability to distinguish between leads, customers, and accounts, allowing users to link contacts with the right accounts and deals. It’s the primary place information about customers is kept and should contain all customer history, including past deals, communications, and sales activity.
- Sales pipeline management: This allows you to manage the sales process from every stage and assign tasks to specific team members. Most small business CRMs include multiple ways to view your sales pipeline, allowing you to customize the process, activities, and stages included as you work to close a sale.
- Email management: Emails can be integrated into CRMs, allowing for campaigns and follow ups to be sent directly from the system. More advanced systems have the capability to set up drip campaigns. Which automatically nurture leads through your sales process, sending a series of emails over time designed to qualify and convert them into customers.
- Reporting and analytics: Most CRMs have the ability to generate reports on almost every aspect of the sales process, as well as configure dashboards providing analytics the process at a glance. This can be used to identify sales opportunities that need to be contacted, determine valuable accounts, or indicate which salespeople are best performing.
For small businesses specifically, the most important features to look out for are cloud-based management, pipeline management, and contact profiles. You want your entire team to be able to access your CRM solution from any device at any time. If your business has a sales team it’s important to also be able to control the data that is accessed and shared. It’s equally important to have a process that guides people from lead to conversion without forgetting any steps. This includes sending out automatic emails based on behavior, making follow up phone calls, and offering free trials, which can all be accomplished through pipeline management. Lastly, each lead that shows interest in your business should have their own customer profile that includes full name, email, phone number, social media links, and any other important or relevant information.
The Best CRMs for Small Business:
As previously mentioned, it’s no longer a question of customer management systems OR customer relationship management. A recent survey found 92% of small businesses either already use both a CRM and CMS, or are planning on implementing a CRM within the next two years. Each tool plays a role in attracting users, generating leads, and converting them to customers. Finding the right time to implement one or the other and which platforms to use all depends on your business and your ultimate goal.
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