Extend the Power of Your CRM with Integrations

Extend the Power of Your CRM with Integrations

Four companies largely own the customer relationship management (CRM) marketplace today: Salesforce, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft. Right? Not necessarily. According to Gartner, market share for the so-called “Four Riders of Big CRM” has been on the decline since 2011, and analysts partially explain the loss to the big solutions’ lack of CRM integrations with services popular with small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Fortunately, smaller cloud-based or hosted solutions are making up the deficit and providing CRM integrations that offer the extra functionality their buyers need for a complete and customized view of customers, as well as affordable sales, business process and marketing automation.

Why Are CRM Integrations So Critical?

Instead of using your CRM as simply a system that retains customer information based on manual entries, integrating your web site, workflow, sales automation, marketing automation software with other solutions together into a single whole adds value and makes the information less fragmented.

Let’s explore some of the more compelling CRM integrations available with cloud-based CRM today.

Telephony

The CRM solutions of the past were rather static. Sales or marketing would farm through them, make updates and exit or minimize the solution to initiate calling campaigns (or open them to document a recently received call). CRM, however, is most effective when it happens in real time. So, an integration with a telephony solution will not only help share valuable customer and prospect information and eliminate duplication errors, it also can actively save time.

At Agile CRM, our VoIP telephony integration allows users to make and take calls directly from the CRM. You can call directly from Agile CRM just by clicking on a telephone number or the call icon, receive incoming calls, get in-app and HTML5 notifications for all your calls with Caller ID, and automatically log a list of calls. Best of all, you can bring your own VoIP service directly into Agile CRM with just two clicks, and combine your CRM with critical telephony functions such as call forwarding, conferencing and call recording. You even can even forward your calls from the CRM to your Android mobile phone!

Web Chat

Just as VoIP telephony integration with CRM allows for making, logging and recording telephone calls, integration also can facilitate connection between CRM and web chat.

Companies can easily collect and track all their leads, sales, helpdesk sessions or other issues related to customer interaction via chat. In cases when customers reach out to you via chat, this integration with the CRM solution means that all customer information–as well as the chat transcript itself–are automatically stored directly in the CRM system and available to others in your organization who interact with that customer.

Our LiveHelpNow integration provides a range of critical customer support tools, including live chat and call management. When you integrate LiveHelpNow with Agile CRM, new visitor information such as name, email, phone number and any notes taken by a sales rep are automatically added as an Agile CRM contact to become part of the permanent CRM knowledgebase.

Lead Generation

Lead generation is one of the primary purposes of sales and marketing, and the CRM database is (or should be) inexorably linked with the process. CRM integrations with lead generation provide companies with the functionality they need to intelligently and automatically market to and target new and existing customers based on how they interact with your organization. After all, not all leads are created equal, but you’d probably never know that with older CRM offerings.

Agile CRM helps you combine and analyze the data from contacts interacting with your organization’s email marketing, landing pages and web site. This integration gives organizations a detailed timeline view to help them understand how contacts have been engaging with your firm over time. By giving certain interactions a weighted score, Agile CRM can rank contacts based on how valuable they are to the business, so sales and marketing can prioritize their efforts for these most-likely-to-buy leads (or move further through the sales pipeline).

Social Media

Social media is a treasure trove of customer information today, but it can be tricky to use to its fullest extent since the data is often unstructured and distributed over multiple platforms. Farming through the information manually is time-consuming (perhaps even impossible for a small company), and it means good leads and opportunities can be easily missed (social media moves at the speed of light, as we know). By integrating CRM and the most popular social media channels, companies can ensure their CRM does the hard footwork for them: bringing social media content into the CRM database and allowing sales and marketing personnel to reach out through social media from the CRM platform.

Monitoring social channels for leads–and even prioritizing those leads–becomes easy.

Agile’s social suite provides complete Twitter integration for monitoring your industry (and your competitors), posting social updates, and interacting with customers and leads. You can start adding Live Streams in your Agile CRM account, and interacting with leads on Twitter. Facebook-Agile integration provides you with a widget to search for your contacts’ Facebook profiles and interact with them directly from contact pages in the CRM solution.

All together, these integrations provide you with the much sought-after 360-degree view of the emerging social customer.

Text Messaging

Americans may have been slow to embrace text messaging compared to the rest of the world, but we’re mad for it today.

There is evidence that incorporating two-way text messaging can help a business increase customer satisfaction and improve sales lead farming instantly by communicating how customers prefer to communicate. Text messaging is fast but personal, and it can help companies capture leads they wouldn’t otherwise collect from potential buyers who simply don’t have time for a phone call. Research from Mobile Marketing Watch found that text messages have a 98 percent open rate compared to email’s 20 percent open rate.

Text message integration with the CRM database also provides marketing with opportunities for mobile flash or drip campaigns. (See some great examples of SMS-based drip campaigns here.)

Agile CRM offers multiple options for CRM integrations with text messaging. Integrations are available with popular SMS services such Twilio and Plivo. This integration allows smaller companies that might not know where to start with a “from scratch” mobile marketing campaign to get their feet wet and begin realizing the benefits of opening a text-based communication channel with customers and prospects.

What types of CRM integrations help you run your sales and marketing campaigns? We’d love to hear what you use and what you would like us to include in the future.

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Peter Kowalke

Peter Kowalke is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years.

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