with CRM systems. Further, several CRM companies have acquired mar- keting automation software so they work seamlessly together.
Distributors Doing It
Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Van Meter Inc. is currently researching CRM sys- tems and plans to select and imple- ment one this year. “We’ll be able to target customer types based on defined criteria, craft and test messages, nimbly make ad- justments, and increase our respon- siveness to the marketplace,” said Karmen Wilhelm, vice president of marketing. “Everything we do will start with the questions ‘Who are we trying to engage and what is our objec- tive?’ The strategic nature of our work is about to be amplified. It’s a time where tra- ditional marketing communication meets marketing technology —and both will be criti- cal to our success going forward.” In Huntington, W.Va., State Electric Supply bought its CRM software in 2016 after outgrowing its basic email marketing system. “We wanted functionality the email system couldn’t deliver,” said Market- ing Specialist Laurie Bohren. “Market- ing really drove the process. It took a little convincing for upper manage- ment to make the investment; we had to show them what it could do. They were pretty amazed once they saw how it worked.” The #FeaturedProductFriday cam- paign was State Electric’s first CRM marketing effort. “We deliver a weekly email to our database of current cus- tomers and prospects, who we sorted by location and customer type,” ex- plained Bohren. “Each week, we send our employees a custom product flyer on Fridays—a week before it goes out
to customers—so they can review it. They decided which types of custom- ers should receive it or they opted out entirely if their location doesn’t stock that product.” #FeaturedProduct Friday was also promoted on the com- pany’s website and via social media.
Typically, electrical distributors start with a good CRM to optimize the bot- tom of the funnel and close more deals. As a company grows, it inte- grates marketing automation. Even if the business isn’t ready for market- ing automation, knowing it will be used in the future can aid in the selec- tion of a CRM system. There are so many choices that it may seem a little overwhelming. To help, Bohren ad- vises, “Educate yourself—do your homework. Know what you want and start searching to find the right fit.” This includes:
. Understand- ing the compa- ny’s needs.
Van Meter Inc.’s selection criteria are very specific: “We need a unified platform or one that integrates with our IT sys- tems to preserve our native source of data,” said Bohren. “We also want mobile capabilities to accommodate our sales force that is often in the field; functionality and ease of use to drive internal adoption; customiza- tion of dashboards and workflows to adapt to our business needs and the nuances of distribution; and robust marketing capabilities like contact and list management, lead generation and nurturing, activity tracking, and notifications.”
. Getting everyone on board.
For a CRM system to be successful, everyone in the organization must use it frequently and consistently. Every-
one in the company must input data the same way and keep it updated. If information is inaccurate or outdated, marketing will suffer.
. Thinking through sales and marketing processes.
Work with sales to define business pro- cesses and goals before evaluating and selecting a system. For example, identify how leads are generated, qualified, and handed off to sales. Look at how leads that aren’t closed are handled and how conversion ratios are measured. This will dictate rules and workflows for how the sys- tem is initially set up.
Measure the ROI, Invest the Time
State Electric Supply’s #Featured ProductFriday campaign garnered a respectable 20.43% open rate, a 10.24% click-through rate, and an unsubscribe rate of less than 1%. The average open rate for e-commerce is around 16.75%; the average click- through is 2.32%. “While we’re still learning and working through the system, we’ve already seen a return,” explained Bohren. “We did a yearly subscrip- tion so we’ve seen a pretty quick return on investment.” Selecting, configuring, and man- aging CRM and marketing automa- tion software takes time. At State Electric Supply, it’s all hands on deck. “One person enters customer leads every day, tracks the activity of those leads, and tells us who’s been on the website. He also inputs any new cus- tomers that fill out an application for credit with the company. I man- age the content, including all graphics and emails. Another person sets up the rules and workflows that drive our drop campaigns. It’s definitely a team effort; one person can’t manage it all. It would be very difficult,” noted Bohren. ;
is a strategic communications con-
sultant and freelance writer. She can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s a time where tra- ditional marketing communi- cation meets market- ing technology—and both will be critical to our success going forward.
Van Meter Inc.
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