CRM best practices for marketing teams

Tracy Skochil

Updated: Jan 25, 2024 · 7 min read

people around a crm software dashboard

Training and collaboration are tops on our list of CRM best practices for marketing teams. “Wait,” you may be thinking. “Aren’t automations important? And integrations? Isn't the data management key?” Yes, yes, and yes. Those things are on the list, too.

But when it comes to driving value from your CRM tech investment, our suggestion is to start with the human element: your team. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can do wonders when it comes to increasing efficiency. And they’re powered by people.

Read on for the full list of best practices that can help you accelerate time-to-value on your CRM system investment.

9 CRM best practices for marketing teams

1. Ongoing CRM training & enablement

Prioritizing training can be tough for small business owners and teams considering how much you already have on your plate. Remember: No matter how savvy your marketing team is, they need training and enablement. It can help drive awareness of the reason for implementing a CRM, and give them hands-on experience with the platform, features and processes within your new CRM system in a safe environment.

During onboarding

Your CRM provider wants you to be successful, so take full advantage of all the support and resources offered during onboarding. Your provider has spent years (decades, for Keap!) helping thousands of marketing teams successfully launch a CRM strategy. If you run into any glitches, you’ll often be assigned an onboarding coach ready to help you problem solve. Keap’s educational resources include Keap Academy’s free on-demand courses and live events, onboarding services and more.

Ongoing CRM enablement

Look at training and enablement as a marathon, not a sprint. Your CRM is a large investment of money and time, not to mention a large exercise in change management. Play the long game by creating a culture where asking questions is encouraged.

Consider embedding CRM enablement moments throughout your team’s standing meetings. For example:

  • Make CRM wins / struggles a bullet point on all 1:1s for the first six months
  • Create a Slack or Teams channel called CRM Helpline (or CRM Bat Signal!)
  • During Sprint planning, discuss CRM features that can be used to make a task or project more efficient
  • Host a retro meeting and ask for honest feedback on what’s working well and what can be improved in the CRM

2. Collaborate with your sales team

Bring your sales team’s opinions into your CRM strategy as early as possible. They’re your key partners when it comes to lead handoffs and a unified customer experience.

Prior to implementation, meet with sales to talk through the CRM features and workflows you’re envisioning. Ask for their opinions on everything from follow-up time on leads to their preferences on notifications.

Much like training, think of sales collaboration as an ongoing thing. Regularly check in with sales on their experiences with the new CRM. Ask detailed questions, like, “Are the leads you’re receiving better qualified thanks to our lead scoring process?”

3. Set goals

Your CRM can help drive to your business goals while also helping you visualize your progress to goal attainment. Define clear and measurable objectives that align with your marketing team’s quarterly and annual goals. This may include improved customer retention, optimized campaign performance, or increasing your show rate at virtual events. Use these goals as the basis for how you set up your CRM, ensuring that the data that goes in aligns with how you’ll measure each goal.

4. Integrate with marketing tools

CRMs are made to integrate; and integration reduces repetitive, manual efforts, freeing up more time for you and your team to work on the business. When you integrate the applications you’re using to manage your business — think social media, email marketing, surveys, analytics, calendaring and contracts — you’ll feel a weight lift.

Integration takes work on the front end, but enables you to:

  • Increase efficiency with the reduction of manual, repetitive tasks
  • Act on your business data and automate workflows
  • Develop deeper insights to move your business
  • View how each app is contributing to your bottom line

Keap’s CRM system empowers customers to integrate 5,000+ apps using Zapier. If you’re already a Keap customer, check out this free Zapier 101 Keap Academy course to jump into the world of zaps.

5. Be vigilant about getting your data right

When it comes to CRM data, keep these two questions in mind.

  • Am I capturing the right data?
  • Is the information itself right?

When it comes to capturing the right data, be sure that you’re documenting and gathering information that truly helps you move your business forward. Before anything goes into your CRM, take a moment with your marketing team to map out and revisit the identity and descriptive data crucial to attaining your goals. Then, think through the relationship milestones and measurable moments a customer might have across their lifecycle with you — website visits, inquiries, purchases. A final layer is qualitative data relating to a customer’s state of mind. This is often gleaned from surveys, feedback and comments.

When it comes to data, start simple and build over time. Check out Greg Jenkins’ CRM Data Strategy video where he walks through the four types of data you’ll want to collect in your CRM for small business.

Second, is the information itself right? This is all about being vigilant in terms of accuracy. Clean data makes your metrics more reliable, empowering you to make better-informed marketing decisions. You’ll want to set up processes and schedules to remove duplicate records and update outdated information. Focus on quality data over quantity – something that can also boost your email deliverability metrics.

6. Implement automation

The best CRMs for small businesses include automation features that can streamline efforts across the sales pipeline, contract management, lead management, customer projects, and customer onboarding. When it comes to the marketing team, a CRM can help you save time on lead nurtures, customer communications, and campaigns. Automations can help you survey customers, follow up with personalized content, and stay in touch with sales and campaign notifications.

If you’re ready to get started, check out our 10 things every small business should automate guide for ideas on what you can automate right away — often in just a few minutes.

Automation can be a game-changer in terms of speed-to-lead. Knowing that 44% of potential clients move on to another company if you don't respond fast enough (based on Keap customer survey data), automating a response helps your business win.

7. Establish relevant reporting

Every CRM provides some out-of-the-box reporting tools that will bring visibility to your key business metrics, like:

  • Sales reporting – revenue, pipelines, goals, etc.
  • Campaign reporting – email, landing pages, lead sources
  • Customer reporting – buying patterns, demographics/firmographics, profitability

A CRM’s reporting capabilities help you visualize the story of your performance. You can run reports that give you “a moment in time” snapshot view. You can also create powerful dashboards that show progress over time, like the growth of your contact list and engagement.

Learn more about CRM reports and dashboards in The 6 Most Powerful Reports to Run in Your Small Business CRM. With set goals and reporting, your CRM will quickly become the single source of truth for your business in terms of lead/customer information.

8. Stay up-to-date on CRM developments

CRMs are constantly evolving and improving, meaning CRM providers are constantly releasing new features, processes, and functions. Stay up on the new features by signing up for customer newsletters, or following their blog. On the Keap product blog you’ll find monthly update releases, feature overviews, and regular product update livestreams.

9. Keep going

Change management is difficult, especially when you’re in the middle of it. When things get difficult, think back to why you decided to implement a CRM system in the first place: Because your business is growing. Because you needed more time back in your day to work on the business, not in it. And because you didn’t want to be limited to a spreadsheet’s capacity. Keep going. You’re on the right track.

If you’re ready to test out the best CRM for small businesses (at least that’s what our customers tell us), you can try Keap for free for 14 days.

Want more tips on what to look for in a CRM? Check out the video below.

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