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5 Key questions to unlock a CRM or Marketing Automation system

Updated: May 20

Have you ever implemented a new CRM or Marketing Automation platform and found something fundamental was missing or it doesn't quite work in way you thought it should? I certainly have! These 5 questions are the ones to ask when looking for a new CRM or Marketing Automation platform to support your marketing.

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In fact, don't just ask these questions, request a demo or even better, get a login and test drive it yourself. Why? Because in my experience, even when you ask the question, your definition might slightly different to the suppliers - it's good to see it for yourself. A demo is also important as it's not only about the 'What' you need but also the 'How'. If, it's time consuming to set-up, the outcome may not be worth effort involved, meaning you won't use the system to it's full potential and may end up paying for functionality you don't use.

So, with that in mind, here are my Top 5 Key questions

  1. Is there an image library? This might seem like a very basic thing to ask, but without somewhere to upload, store and tag your images, you will need to set-up a separate image library and link to the images from emails or ask for one from the designers. It's so much quicker for an Email or Campaign Manager and could be the difference between sending an email that day or having to wait until the next.

  2. Is there an email template builder are there plenty of designs to choose from? If you or your team are experts in HTML then move onto to question 3! Plenty of marketing departments don't have HTML skillsets though and often have to ask the 'digital team' for templates or amends to be made - again, slowing things down. Finding a system that has a 'drag and drop' template builder means emails can be built with clicks and not code. But don't get caught out - check there are plenty of different templates to start from which can also be customised. The icing on the cake is whether these templates can also use dynamic content meaning you can spend more time of refining the content to be dropped into the relevant section of the email rather than building more and more templates and workflows

  3. Can you build landing pages? The ability to build campaign landing pages in the same system will make any Campaign Manager happy. Not only can you automate an email to send to the lead after a form submission but you'll also be able to track where that lead came from and what they went onto to do making campaign effectiveness reporting a lot easier

  4. Can you store documents and attach them in emails? Again, this sounds very basic but I've known systems where you can't upload and attach a PDF to an email. The ability to store a document means your Email or Campaign Manager can quickly attach the latest version and report on the downloads

  5. Does the system have a single-view of your contacts and activity? As Marketing or Campaign Manager, there's nothing more frustrating than not being able to get your hands on, use and report on data you know has been captured. As potential customer, it's annoying to be sent irrelevant communications after you've shared your data. Some systems, have different modules, some have different Apps, but does the information come together in one place? Set-up a test account and test contacts, think of some common scenarios such as segments you might use in marketing or 1-2-1 communications or to report on. Can you easily get to the contacts and the data you need or will take days of work? The ability to quickly filter on and build segments may mean the difference between a highly segmented, targeted communications workflow or a mass mailing.

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