For the local business owners who choose to automate their marketing or communications, many start with a customer relationship management (CRM) system. That’s because keeping in touch with customers is how you extend great customer service, win loyalty, and encourage repeat business.

Last year, overall CRM usage jumped from 56% to 75%. For local businesses with 10 or fewer employees, that percentage is slightly smaller, hovering around 50%. If you run one of the businesses that just dove in with a shiny new tool, how’s it working for you? For many, implementing software as a service (SaaS, as you may have seen it referenced) can be time-consuming and daunting. And that often leads to underutilization of a tool you’ve invested hard-earned money in!

We don’t want your shiny new CRM system to underwhelm. Check out the first 3 things to do when you plug it in so you get the most out of your new investment.

3 Quick Steps to Set Up Your CRM

1. Organize your contact information.

While this may seem intuitive, it’s a step many business owners gloss over when they start exploring and even using a CRM tool. Depending on the software you’re using, it could be as easy as migrating a list from Excel or an email database, or it could be a fairly manual process.

Start by incorporating your most regular customers’ information, as it’s likely to be accessible and reliable. This will help you build some momentum and encourage you to continue expanding the list. Once you’ve got the loyal and every-now-and-again customers accounted for, don’t stop there. Come up with strategies for expanding your contact list, and stick with them. Think: Website subscription links, social media call-to-action buttons, and even the tried and true fish bowl method.

Once your list is thriving, organize it to fit your business. Group (or segment, if you’re feeling fancy) individuals into various lists, based on either their stage in the purchase cycle or by product or service of interest. These groups will set you up for success once you start communicating more frequently, as you’ll be able to target your messages to the right folks without much additional work or hassle. A well-organized list helps you nurture the right leads and keep loyal customers loyal.

Finally, here’s how to scrub your contact list. There are plenty of negative consequences that could occur by leaving old information in your list, and letting it become stale over time. The most noteworthy include:

  • Tarnishing your domain reputation
  • Being marked as SPAM
  • Missing opportunities by way of incorrect contact info
  • Wasting time communicating with folks who aren’t interested in what you’re selling

The pros say to deep-clean your contact list at least quarterly for best results.

2. Set up your CRM with 4 automated emails.

How do you nurture leads that haven’t yet bought anything, but you know they’re just so, so close to converting into happy customers? How do you drive repeat business with customers who buy from you sometimes, but not always? If you’re drawing a blank, what we have here is a failure to communicate. You should be reaching out regularly to leads, prospects and customers to grow your business.

One of the best parts of any good CRM for small business is its ability to automate your communications. By setting up emails in advance, you’ll eliminate a lot of guess work and a lot of man-hours from your already hectic schedule.

The 4 Must-automate Emails, to Start:
  1. An autoresponder for when someone first gives you their address – Tell them thank you for signing up, as well as what they can expect to receive from you going forward.
  2. Appointment confirmations and reminders – Include an opportunity to cancel or re-book on their own time.
  3. Thank you and “See you again!” messages after the job is done – Consider including a referral bonus or a special promotion for booking their next appointment in advance.
  4. Lead nurturing emails with friendly, helpful content – Share free insights with folks who haven’t yet bought from you, so you stay top of mind.
3. Get to textin’.

With your contact list in order and emails scheduled to send, the next step is to figure out how text message marketing can bring you into the mobile marketing space.

Text message marketing is all about length, relevance and timeliness. Since people open text messages faster, more frequently, and more consistently than emails, texts can be a great way to get your message out at just the right moment. Keep them short, simple and to-the-point.

Top Uses for Text Marketing:
  • Mobile coupons or expiring promotions
  • Sneak peeks and product or service announcements
  • Interactive appointment confirmation messages
  • Last-minute appointment openings or booking opportunities

Get Started

With so many CRM systems tailored for small, local businesses, it’s a shame not to take advantage of the options that can make your life easier — and your customers happier. Looking to get started? Our experts can help you get set up with a quality CRM, even helping you take the initial steps above.

Sign up for a demo – on the house – by clicking the button below.