On CRM: Sorry Folks, But Constant Contact Is Not A CRM System

Email marketing needs CRM- GETTY

(This article originally appeared in Forbes)

I frequently speak to sales people and small business owners who, when asked if they would consider getting a customer relationship management system for their business, say “no, that’s fine, we use Constant Contact,” or some other bulk email service. This causes me to roll my eyes.

Emails are still — despite the growth of social and search — a critical part of most small and medium sized companies’ marketing strategies. And its success cannot be debated. According to recent data from the inbound marketing platform HubSpot, 80 percent of business professionals believe that email marketing increases customer retention, 78 percent of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months and 35 of marketers send their customers 3–5 emails per week. Even during the pandemic, click through and open rates have increased, according to Constant Contact.

“Consumers raised their expectations of brands in the year since the pandemic hit, and we’re seeing the effects of that continue to play out across channels-most recently from other online platforms attempting to recreate what email marketing provides,” Patrick Gillooly, the company’s marketing director told MediaPost.

Constant Contact is an excellent e-mail marketing service. It provides a platform for delivering bulk emails to a predetermined list of prospects or customers. The company offers great tools for designing emails and managing responses, including bounces and opt-outs. Customers — like me — benefit from its robust analytics to help me manage clicks, opens and response rates. It’s a mission critical application for my business.

Whenever I have a client who wants to regularly send many emails at a time I always recommend using a bulk email service like Constant Contact. A service like this is designed to deliver emails, as long as you comply with their opt-in and data integrity rules. Most of the major email services can recognize when emails are coming from Constant Contact’s servers and — knowing the company has a strict due diligence process for minimizing spam — generally allow those emails through to their users. If you’re trying to send hundreds or thousands of emails from your own system your internet service provider will likely balk. This is why email marketing services are so valuable.

But let’s be clear: Constant Contact is not a CRM system.

A CRM system is a shared database. It is where you keep information about everyone that touches your business. It is a place where, among many other things, you can create fields to segregate your data, track interactions, take notes, schedule follow-ups and ensure that your contacts are receiving the right kinds of messages. Then when it’s time to send those messages, particularly if they’re in bulk, you export your data to an email service like Constant Contact. This is why so many CRM applications have integrations with email providers like this.

This is also why e-mail marketing services like Constant Contact avoid the words “customer relationship management” in their own messaging. The company wants to help its customers with ecommerce, search optimization and building loyalty through email. But, unlike some of its competitors, it’s staying away from offering CRM capabilities like the ones described above. The people running Constant Contact know that it’s better not to bite the hand that feeds it. And too many CRM providers feed them with their own customers looking for the kinds of services they provide.

So by all means, subscribe to an email marketing service like Constant Contact, or one of its many fine competitors to send out your messages. But make sure all of that data being fed to your email marketing service is coming from your CRM system. You need them both.

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Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.

Columnist on smallbiz, economy, public policy, tech for The Guardian, The Hill, Philly Inquirer, Wash Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur. Small Business owner and CPA

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Gene Marks

Gene Marks

Columnist on smallbiz, economy, public policy, tech for The Guardian, The Hill, Philly Inquirer, Wash Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur. Small Business owner and CPA

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