CRMs have been around a long time now — in martech years at least. But they’ve had to withstand some challenges. For some brands and organizations, marketing automation is at the core of the martech stack; for others, a CDP is the single source of truth. This is the first part of our look at the state of CRM in 2020.

“There has been a new demand to implement and enhance CRMs in the last six months,” said Tony Kavanaugh, CMO of CRM vendor Insightly. Insightly puts customer data for marketing, sales and project teams together on one unified platform. “We have been surprised that there are companies with 500 employees that still do not have a CRM implemented, while with our larger enterprise clients we have been identifying new opportunities and how to deliver even more quickly to fit their needs.” 

Part of the increase of speed of delivery is a more frequent update process, which Insightly now has every two weeks to meet the needs of a faster-moving business environment. Insightly also launched their own marketing automation engine, Insightly Marketing, in September 2019, shutting down their service contract with Marketo and saving $110,000 a year. They believe that move prepared them for more agile and efficient operations needed when COVID hit.

“With everything going on, CRMs need to be constantly improving and updating to show true worth,” said Kavanaugh. Insightly recently launched A/B testing capabilities to add value to their clients. “You can fit an entire business into a CRM, it just has to be built with capabilities to fit the specific needs for the business.” 

Not just data storage

As well as being able to capture information from any part of the customer journey, whether it is a first-time visitor to a social media page or website, or a returning visitor whose behavior and preferences may well have changed in 2020, CRMs are now expected to help solve marketing issues.

“You have to have the ability to not only explain what the CRM does, but also work with your clients to make it perform to fit their needs,” said Patrick Johnson, CEO of Hybrid Theory, a data-driven advertising platform. “A client’s CRM needs to match their data strategy, as well as take into consideration the fact that data in their CRM does not take into consideration how consumers have changed this year.”

Generating leads from a changing consumer base is expected, along with having a CRM that is the single source for all data. CRMs now have to be just as much in tune with the data analytics landscape as with storing consumer information.

“It is the only way to get a 360-degree view of the customer,” said Kavanaugh. “It is important and difficult to achieve. We believe everything should be in place together for the same view of the customer.” 

With over one million users of their CRM, Insightly has found a sweet spot in the mid-market where they can significantly undercut the cost of the Salesforce and Microsoft CRM offerings. “We are seeing new offerings in the CRM space by new or converted CRM providers,” said Kavanaugh. “We feel by offering all the functionality of the big players at a smaller price we are meeting a new demand in the CRM space.”

Tucking into the CRM market

There have been some surprising new entries in the CRM market. For ActionIQ, the enterprise CDP with clients that include Shopify and GAP, their debut as a CRM provider came after successfully providing CDP services for popular men’s apparel brand UNTUCKit, a shirt designer that creates men’s shirts specifically to be worn untucked. 

“After a year or two of a solid relationship, they trusted our data management skills and wanted to build a CRM,” said Ryan Greene, Head of Product Marketing for ActionIQ. “Collecting customer data and building scalability was key.”

The strategy behind ActionIQ’s CRM project for UNTUCKit, included segmenting data from their audience, distinguishing subscribers that have downloaded the app from consumers who have purchased directly from the site, analyzing their browsing behavior, and more. They used their CDP platform as the ‘smarthub’ for all consumer data; as it was already built for scale, using it as the foundation for the CRM made the processes more efficient than normal. 

“Marketers have to look at CDPs as moving data, and CRMs as the data at rest,” said Greene. “What we have seen in our data and surveys are that people are getting away from the all-in-one Salesforce, Oracle or Adobe model where you can have all your eggs in one basket with all data and marketing projects going through that single provider. Over the last five years we have seen an unbundling of that thought process. There are a lot of best-in-breed tools available and now buyers can build their own stack and own it instead of just using one CRM vendor.” 

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.



About The Author

Rodric J. Bradford is the Editor of MarTech Today and has worked in the marketing technology industry as both a journalist and corporate project manager.

Prior to joining MarTech Today Bradford served as Convention and Technology Beat Reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Business Press publication and worked as Technology Reporter for Global Gaming Business, the world’s largest casino publication. In the corporate world Bradford has served as Technology Project Manager for CNA, Cigna, General Dynamics and Philip Morris.

Bradford is an alumnus of the University of Missouri-Columbia.



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