Ecommerce is booming, but the market is getting crowded. One way you can deliver outstanding value to your customers to win new and returning business is to use a Customer Relationship Management platform (CRM).
CRMs are a way for any business across a variety of industries, from healthcare to real estate, to improve customer experience, increase sales and improve customer lifetime values.
Ecommerce sites might collect a vast trove of personal information, but you should understand what information you should and shouldn’t track, and you should understand how to leverage that information to boost your returns.
When looking for a customer relationship management tool, you need to find one that can collect and organize customer data and help you act on that data with platform integrations that allow you to go from insight to action quickly.
What Is a CRM?
A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management system that allows businesses to collect, store and act on their customers’ personal data. They are a way for people across your organization to use data to manage customer relationships, from sales to customer service.
CRMs work by centralizing customer and lead data so that you can keep track of customer interactions and preferences.
Does a B2C Ecommerce Store Need a CRM?
Yes, an ecommerce company can benefit exponentially by implementing a CRM.
There are many CRMs available, designed for different niches, whether they’re specific to an industry (real estate, education) or focused on B2B growth, like Salesforce.
CRMs are a way for people across your organization to use all the data available to manage brand interactions with customers.
For ecommerce, a CRM can be used to track customer activity and personalize interactions and marketing campaigns accordingly. With a CRM, you can use ‘if this, then that’ recipes to automate and personalize marketing outreach to your customers, so messaging is different depending on the actions and intent of different customer subsets.
Isn’t Shopify or Woocommerce a CRM?
Shopify and other ecommerce sites, like WooCommerce, are content management systems (CMSs). A CMS is a website builder you can use to create, manage and update your website content. While Shopify is a great ecommerce platform, it doesn’t help you manage your customer relationships.
Fortunately, there are several great customer relationship management plugins that you can implement on your Shopify or WooCommerce store.
These plugins integrate and sync with your product data to help make your processes more efficient.
For example, if you use different systems for advertising, analytics and email marketing, a CRM can gather all of this information into one platform and, most importantly, help you act on the data in a way that is time-efficient and sells more effectively.
Why Invest in Customer Relationship Tools?
When it comes to marketing, ecommerce businesses shouldn’t rely on an email service provider (ESP) alone as they are often limited in the kind of outreach you can send to your customers. Consumers are inundated with marketing emails, and the ones that catch our eye and stand out are the ones that have some personalization in their content.
As an ecommerce website, you can take in a lot of personal information about current or potential customers, but your competitive advantage will be in how well you make use of all of that information. CRMs have features and integrations that go beyond ESPs and allow you to dynamically market to users that interact with your business through messaging that truly speaks to them.
The More Data the Better
It’s important to know your customers’ wants and anticipate their needs, and you can discover these through sales calls, lead forms, site search navigation, add to carts and feedback to customer service teams. Using a CRM lets you accrue these data points, so you can act on the information and personalize your responses.
The benefit of running with a CRM is that they reduce the costs associated with marketing efforts because they are lean and efficient. There is also less attrition because your customers really feel seen by the way you value their business and handle their care.
Segmentation and Personalization at Scale
A CRM might be a young startup’s first foray into personalization, but the ability to segment your customer base is just the start. With a CRM, you can know information such as:
- New or established customer
- Lifetime value of the customer
- Anticipated lifetime value of the customer
- Products viewed
- Products added to cart
- Abandoned carts
When you send out emails, you can build segments so that your sales offers, copy and creative cater to the needs of different audience groups.
But the real benefit of a CRM is that you can set automatic ‘recipes’ that are triggered by user behaviors. In other words, once you determine a customer’s journey and the path you want to guide them down, you can set rules to trigger an action when certain conditions are met.
It can be as simple as a customer added something to their cart four hours ago but did not complete the purchase, so you send them an email reminding them about their cart. Or it can be more complicated: the customer did not respond to the email reminder, so in four hours, you send them an SMS message with a discount code for 10% off their cart.
A Better Returns Experience
You can also integrate a CRM with your RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) management system for an easier returns process and better customer experience handling.
Improving how you handle dissatisfied customers with personalization and automation will help ensure you don’t lose any future business; reducing customer churn is one way to improve the LTV of a customer.
What Features to Look For in a CRM
The features available in a CRM tend to be pretty standard but should at least include:
- Cross-Channel Tracking – Interactions across the customer journey
- Analytics and Reporting – Does the database store analytics and have ways to report data
- Data Visualization – Can the analytics be reported with visualization options so information can be shown in different ways
- Analysis – Can the CRM analyze user intent and predict the success of leads from various channels
How to Evaluate Ecommerce CRM Software
When deciding which CRM suits your needs and is worth your investment, we recommend evaluating your choices with the following factors in mind:
- How intuitive is the platform’s User Interface (UI)?
- How is the platform’s usability? Is it easy to learn and use?
- What features are available?
- What integrations are available for you to link your CRM to other platforms?
- Value: What bang are you getting for your buck?
Top 5 CRMs for Ecommerce
CRMs exist in every industry where there is a client relationship to be managed, but some are built specifically for those industries, such as real estate.
Here, we’ve listed some big and some entry-level CRMs that you can use to help your ecommerce business.
Klaviyo easily integrates with ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce. It has all the segmentation capabilities you should expect from an ecommerce CRM.
There are templates and suggested recipes, or customer flows, for you to use to start building your customers’ journey. You can also create automations to optimize your processes.
Klaviyo also has forecasting capabilities so that you can predict LTV or even when a customer might make their next purchase.
Overall, Klaviyo is great for storing and acting on customer data. The platform allows you to build experiences for your customers through emails and your owned channels, and you can report on success with actual revenue rather than just vanity metrics.
Sendinblue integrates neatly with platforms, whether it’s your online store (like Shopify) or your marketing channels (like Facebook). The pricing plans are affordable and generous, including Free, Lite, Premium and Enterprise tiers that are easy to adapt to your needs.
The platform includes email and SMS marketing and personalization for all tiers. There are also personalizable landing pages, heat maps and advanced reporting for paid tiers.
Sendinblue provides plenty of resources on their website for you to learn to implement the software neatly into your martech stack.
Drip is a great entry-level CRM that provides a solid step-up from your typical ESP campaign.
As an entry-level software, you can use it to move into the personalization environment, test the waters and then scale up from there. We also recommend it over a regular ESP if you’re looking to improve your email and remarketing game. Consider it a super-powered MailChimp.
Drip has good integrations and offers pre-built workflows. It works well for ecommerce companies because it is not weighed down by the B2B functionalities of its competitors. It’s best for email, but the SMS capabilities (though billed separately) are a nice feature.
Creatio is a “low-code” CRM that has a great UI and usability. The Creatio Marketplace also has a vast library of integrations that work with their software, from FedEx and USPS to governance applications and MailChimp.
Creatio is an easy-to-learn and intuitive platform for businesses to optimize their marketing campaigns. Their multistage and omnichannel marketing solutions are also simple to automate.
Much like Drip, Keap is a great entry into the world of CRMs. It’s an excellent way for you to manage leads, customers and campaigns with simple and easy-to-use dashboards and integrations with Shopify and MailChimp.
Keap is a good way to personalize, optimize and automate your sales and marketing processes. With different pricing tiers depending on your business’s needs, Keap is a great product to scale your CRM efforts.
The Benefits of Growing With a CRM
CRMs can be whatever you need them to be. When you implement one for your enterprise, you can optimize it according to your needs. They are well worth the investment if you are willing and able to make the most of all the capabilities they hold.
Customer relationship management is an iterative process as you improve messaging and materials and grow your business. With a CRM, you can improve your sales service, keep your marketing lean and effective, and reduce customer churn.