Customer relationship marketing (CRM) has become a critical business system for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), a new industry study shows.
SMBs are becoming increasingly savvy in their use of marketing, analytics and forecasting. They also plan to ramp up their investments in SMB marketing this year, including virtual events and conference platforms (24 percent), email (16 percent) and sales compensation platforms (16 percent).
SMBs call on their CRM for the managment of prospect and customer contact information (94 percent), lead nurturing (65 percent), email marketing (59 percent) and sales forecasting, according to the survey of more than 300 partners, customers and prospects conducted by Scribe Software, a provider of CRM data integration solutions.
SMBs also expect their CRM systems to deliver such critical functionalities as storing all prospect and customer information in one place (85 percent), providing capabilities to easily share data among departments (77 percent), reporting on the health of the sales pipeline (64 percent) and running marketing reports (53 percent).
SMBs also credit their CRM systems with increasing seamless data integration between finance and sales (38 percent), marketing and sales (59 percent) and marketing and finance (39 percent), the survey found.
Data quality and integration are now the biggest IT challenges faced today by SMBs, particularly their ability to share critical financial data on prospects and customers with the rest of the business. Though they are making progress in a number of areas, the methods SMBs use to achieve data integration are inadequate, with only 18 percent reporting marketing data as being fully automated with their CRM, the survey found.
Although SMBs report that IT is the predominant owner of their CRM operations (64 percent), other departments — such as sales (10 percent), operations (10 percent), marketing (8 percent) and others (8 percent) — get in on the action as well. In nearly two-thirds of cases, the CRM solution is located on-site, with another 34 percent cloud-based.
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