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Benchmark Email and CRM: Where Marketing Automation Meets Personal Sales Follow Ups

Benchmark Email and CRM: Where Marketing Automation Meets Personal Sales Follow Ups

CRM • January 30, 2019

We get it - you are one very busy person. You wear many hats: marketer, salesperson, product/service provider. How do we know this? Well, one of the most popular questions we get through our support channels is this: How can I use Benchmark CRM and Benchmark Email together to get more sales? Our opening answer is simple: Use Benchmark Email for your one to many email marketing messages Use Benchmark CRM for your one to one sales follow-ups We also know some of you are ready for a smarter answer. You already know there are email marketing automation tools that can identify the highly motivated potential buyers from the lookie-loos (people who masquerade as buyers but have no real intention of making a purchase). You also know a CRM can help you close sales by giving you a place to keep notes on contacts, track sales, plan personal follow up tasks and keep you accountable. What you really want to know is this: How can I leverage Benchmark Email\'s Marketing Automation tools so that only the most highly qualified people show up in the CRM for my personal sales-closing follow ups? Our answer to you is this: Setup Your Marketing Automation in Benchmark Email Sync it with CRM Work in your CRM and only in your CRM Here\'s a little more detail on that. Basically, you set up a marketing engine where our software and your email subscribers\' actions do all the qualifying for you. It runs behinds the scenes so that all you and your team need to do is work in is the CRM, where the only things seen are tools that build relationships and close deals. All that fancy marketing setup power is far away from where it can\'t distract you from your goal of closing sales. Here are those same three steps with more explanation: Use Benchmark Email\'s Automation Pro canvas to craft your marketing journeys. Start with all your leads on a new list - this is your \"unqualified leads\" list. Drop in your opening email. Maybe even a string of emails. Then whatever your definition of \"qualified lead\" is - whether it\'s an email open, a clicked link, a webpage URL visited, or any combination of those - these people can be added to a different list, your \"Marketing-Qualified Contacts\" list. Set it and forget it. Create a Sync Between CRM and Benchmark Email. This means that from that big list of leads, only those responsive to your email marketing messages should be added to the CRM as contacts (or leads if you like). It\'s a simple one-time setup: go into your CRM - jump to the sync setup page, select that Marketing Qualified Leads list from Benchmark Email. Set it and forget it. Now Forget 1 and 2. You only need the CRM daily.  Every time you login to CRM, your new marketing qualified leads are already waiting for you. You can go through them, call them, send them personal emails, take notes, create deal records and close them. You can even automate this in the CRM so that new contacts automatically create follow tasks for you or your team. These sales automations can even send your opening personal email for you. Sound good? Great. Now once more, but visually: Plan your marketing, just once like this:   Now work peacefully and effectively like this:   We\'d love to help you set this yourself. Click the chat links for free personal coaching from our CRM and Benchmark Email Marketing teams.      


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Infographic: Why Adopt CRM

Infographic: Why Adopt CRM

CRM • July 23, 2018

There are many advantages to using CRM. CRM is the best solution to manage the contacts in your list. It’s also the most efficient way to track the interactions with your customers and leads to foster stronger relationships. The numbers in favor of using a CRM are getting harder and harder to ignore. In fact, by the end of 2017, the revenues from CRM were the largest of all software markets. That number is expected to reach $40 billion in 2018. No wonder it’s the fastest growing software market! A look back 10 years will show that a mere 12% of businesses were using a cloud-based CRM. Traveling back to the present day sees 87% usage rates. If your business has more than 10 employees, and you’re not already using CRM, you’re about to get some serious FOMO. That’s because 91% of companies with 10 or more employees have a CRM. While that is a very impressive number, just because businesses have a CRM doesn’t mean they’re actually using them. 22% of salespeople don’t even know what a CRM is and fewer than 40% of businesses have a CRM Adoption Rate greater than 90%. However, the majority of companies who have put CRM to use see it’s benefits. 64.2% say that CRM has been either impactful or very impactful for their businesses. The need for CRM is real. In 2017, 70% of business leads failed to make it to conversion without the use of CRM. Here are some more impressive stats: 50% of teams saw productivity increase 5% rise in sales productivity 10% reduction in consultation time 2% revenue growth 40% reduced labor costs on Customer Service 20% reduction in overall labor costs A whopping $75,000 saved on marketing budgets If you haven’t already, signup free for Benchmark CRM.


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How To Eliminate Old CRM Data That Will Put You In Danger

How To Eliminate Old CRM Data That Will Put You In Danger

CRM • June 4, 2018

Maintaining relationships with your customers is an essential part of your business. That is why you chose a CRM to log crucial data and learn more about your customer\'s needs. CRM’s can be very powerful tools to help you gain the upper hand with your marketing efforts, and lead to more sales. But, what happens over time when your CRM data becomes old? Think about it. You are not mailing every contact in your database warehouse every day. There are probably contact records in there you have not had a touch point with since 2015, so how do you know if these users are even still valid? Chances are you probably will have no idea until you attempt to send them an email or give them a call. Old data merely is just taking up space and not being valuable to you. Old data could end up landing you in hot water. Why Is Old CRM Data Dangerous? Hard Bounces: If you are doing any email marketing to your database you are going to run into hard bounces. Bouncing occurs when the email accounts no longer exist, or perhaps the data you initially collected was never valid. Hard bounces may not seem like such a big deal but can lead to deliverability problems or cause you to get suspended from your mailing platform. You want to aim for a hard bounce rate of 5% or less. Soft Bounces: A soft bounce is when you send off an email, and it gets bounced back. They are not as dangerous as a hard bounce, but they are essential to remove from your list. Soft bounces typically occur when a user’s mailbox is full. This is an initial indication that the user has not been checking their inbox or using that email account. Blacklisting and Blocks: Once you start sending emails and getting hard bounces, this could lead to blacklisting. If the email server sees you are mailing to multiple users that are hard bouncing that server might consider you as a spammer. If the server thinks you are spamming you will become blocked. Once you are blacklisted, it\'s going to impact the success of your email campaign significantly. Here is what you can do if you become blacklisted. It’s also important to monitor your IPs for blacklisting’s as it is important to not send off any campaigns while listed. Unengaged Users: Unengaged users, are the accounts in your database that have not been opening or clicking emails that you send. This may not sound like such a big deal, but it can cause a lot of damage. Unengaged users will eventually turn into spam complaints against you. Or, they might have abandoned their email account and will sooner or later turn into hard bounces. Poor Deliverability: As we just discussed both hard bounces and black-listings will lead to poor deliverability. ISPs want to see that users are engaging with your mail, not marking it as spam. Whenever you send emails to outdated information, you are damaging your sender score and hurting your own performance. Therefore, you are encouraged to regularly sift through your data and remove contact data which is no longer being used. Spam Traps: Spam traps are a way ISPs attempt to combat spammers. They are email addresses that have been set up and designed to be a trap. Spam traps are not owned by users, but instead by ISPs. They can identify spammers because that email address should never receive any emails since it never officially opt-ed into anything. Therefore, if it starts getting messages, it knows that you must have purchased data or scraped data from the web.  The last thing you want for your business is to be labeled as a spammer. How Can You Identify Which Contacts Are Not Valuable? To keep your CRM in tip-top shape, you are going to want to go in and delete contact data of email addresses that have previously bounced. If you know of companies who have been in your database that have gone out of business, make sure you remove them. This way you don’t accidentally send them an email which creates extra hard bounces for you. The idea is to eliminate as many poor-quality data points as possible before you send out your next digital campaign. Manually Identify and Unsubscribe Contacts Another method of removing inactive contacts is to analyze your email campaign history. Look at email addresses that have not been engaging for months. Find users who have no opened ANY of your last ten emails sent. Once you have identified those recipients, unsubscribe them from your list. Downsizing your list can be a battle, but once you do you will see astonishing results. Your open rates will improve because you are sending emails only to engaged subscribers. This means your sender score will gradually improve and you will get better rates of inbox placement because a more significant percentage of your users are actually reading your message. ISPs like to see that their users have an interest in what you send. 

Learn how Hubspot benefited from unsubscribing over 250k contacts. Using An Email Verification Service You can also skip the manual work and use an email verification tool like XVerify. If you are also using Benchmark for your email marketing, you can directly connect your account and pull in data from the lists you already have. The cleaning process will scan through your subscribers and identify which email addresses are invalid, or a risk. It’s even able to automatically update the lists you have with Benchmark making the process even more simplified. Email verification works by checking the username and making sure it is currently active and registered at the domain level. If the account is good, this will result in a valid email response. If the email account is old or the user has not logged into their account, then the account would likely yield an invalid answer. The email addresses that come back as invalid is what you want to remove from your CRM. Sometimes accounts are real and active but not safe to communicate with via email. As earlier we mentioned traps, those are not accounts you want to mail to. One pattern that could red flag an account as a trap is that the email account was once valid, then went inactive, then became active again. It’s not in all cases that it has turned into a trap but yes, a good reason to omit signups into your funnel with that behavior. Keep your data clean and pristine As a recommendation, it is a good idea to clean your lists every three months. Remember over time data does become obsolete. If your business is B2B, then remember that employees leave companies, or change positions causing the email ID to no longer be legit. Even if you are a B2C business, users still abandon their accounts. Scrubbing your data consistently is going to be the best method of remaining in good standing. Don’t get discouraged if you find a significant portion of your data is invalid. It’s quite common for this to happen. As you start taking a more detailed approach to evaluating your data quality, you will see how much your quality improves. Have you ever experienced problems with old data sitting in your CRM? We would love to hear about your unique experience. Feel free to comment on your situation and what you did to improve it.


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Spreadsheets Aren’t Efficient for Customer Relationship Management

CRM • April 17, 2018

Are you currently managing your business\'s contacts with spreadsheets? Maybe you\'re like one of my two friends here: Friend 1 is the spreadsheet hoarder Friend 1 feels like he\'s on top of his business because his whole day is spreadsheets. He has: One sheet for his contacts from his old store One for contacts in his new store He even has one sheet with still even more contacts because the old one got too long and was outdated! One sheet where he tracks big sales opportunities he\'s currently working One sheet for following up on the ones he won It works because he\'s used to it. But it\'s not very efficient and kind of messy if he takes on a partner. Friend 2 maintains multiple spreadsheets with the same information in slightly different formats I have another friend who has a spreadsheet of support cases he tracks for his company. He has what amounts to five bosses in a non-linear company. Guess what? They all want his spreadsheet at the end of the week with the columns and formats catered to their liking. So each Friday he copies this sheet several times, omitting some columns, reordering and filtering data for each boss and ends up sending out five spreadsheets. That\'s 5 x 52 spreadsheets of data that will never be reconciled at the end of the year. He\'s not even sure if everyone reads the data, but they want it made every week in their various preferences in case they need to look something up. What a colossal waste of my friend\'s time!!! Problem: Spreadsheets are often local to one computer and not updated frequently Both of these friends above might think they are working contacts, deals and support cases, but what they are really doing is collecting data and shifting it around.  Instead of having a relationship with their customers, they have a relationship with their spreadsheets. That data shouldn\'t live on one person\'s computer. That data needs to live in one place, a place that\'s easily accessed by any user who needs the data. Time to get the data online. If you\'re willing to give up the power of Excel for spreadsheets that live in a cloud application, like google sheets, then you can easily share your data. But as much as even we here at Benchmark love google sheets, it\'s not the best CRM for small business because it\'s not a CRM solution. It\'s a good spreadsheet solution. Problem: Spreadsheets - even online ones - don\'t relate information between sheets as efficiently as a CRM If you need information from two sheets, you either have to be very diligent at always linking cells between sheets (face it, who does this?) or you\'re constantly hunting for data in two unrelated sheets: scrolling, searching, hunting, pecking & wasting time. Solution: CRM is shareable online and your various records are related to each other The true power of the Benchmark CRM is that it’s a Relational Database. Rather than having a large spreadsheet of customers and infinitely adding columns for each sale and each problem, the important information is logically separated into different record types in different modules. The input of new information fast and easy. Also, since each module is related to another, it’s very fast to recall, via report or record, all the information that might be critical to support or the sale. Can your spreadsheet(s) do this? Open a contact and see all of his/her support tickets and email messages with your company. Look up an organization and see all their past and present sales opportunities. Follow up on a sales opportunity and see all of the email messages and replies related to the opportunity. Create to do tasks for a lunch event and easily see your contact’s information, including past and future planned activities. Get reminders by email and in your browser. Craft a report that shows all your open sales tickets based on criteria you set. See the related contacts and their contact information on the same row in the report as the ticket information. Create Custom Views with specific criteria that help you work on a small subset of your lead records. Filter out what you don\'t need to see. See the actionable information in a new table right on your lead dashboard. If you answered no to any of the above, but you wish it was yes, you\'re ready for online CRM software. If you need help getting started, start a free trial with the link below. Once your account is created, please feel free to click the help button in the header and we\'ll help you get started with your workflows. We\'re sincerely looking forward to it! Ready to Change Your World? Great. You can sign up for a 30-day Benchmark CRM free trial now. All the pro features are there and we\'ll guide you to the contact import page after you sign up. Want to see how to do it, from custom fields to preparing your CSV/XLS to uploading your contacts? Check out our spreadsheets importing workflow page. It\'ll show you really quick how easy it all is. Also, we can walk you through this and other CRM implementation tips with free group and personal CRM webinars. Get real coaching from the team that builds the CRM.


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Great News: Updates to Your CRM Email Editor

CRM • April 16, 2018

The team has been hard at work to improve the CRM\'s email editor and it\'s been upgraded for all users this past week. So what\'s new? Better formatting We feature the Froala Email Editor and we\'ve upgraded to the latest version. This makes for smoother editing and fewer surprises when copying in text from other sources. Note: if you\'re copying in text from another source for your emails, please be aware that copying in text from Word, Text or Notepad is much cleaner than copying from a webpage (and yes, Google Docs is a webpage). Text from the latter often contains html markup and may do funny things to your email. Thought the clear formatting button is supercharged and should do a much better job of clearing away formatting you don\'t want, try to remember to copy in the text without formatting (PC: control + shift + v, Mac: command + shift + v). Emoticons Yay! The new editor is stocked with emojis.  This might make you :) if you\'re the type that likes to use them. Or :( if you\'re against emojis. Special Characters Don\'t want to hunt for special characters on your keyboard or deep in your OS? Now you can find common math, punctuation and arrow symbols by clicking the new special character button. Colors The color palette is improved and you can name custom hex values for your favorite hues. Font Sizes In addition to the already existing paragraph controls (heading 1, heading 2, paragraph, etc.), it\'s now possible to pick a particular font size in your email text. Tables and Horizontal Lines Organize your information for your clients in simple rows and columns. Separate sections of your emails by dropping in a quick horizontal line. Code View The latest email editor gives a better experience for those of you that like to flip that code switch and hack your emails to your liking. You can do this anywhere the email editor is, but it\'s most useful in the email template editor so you can save your code. Note: We are beyond thrilled to give you the option to do this code customization (many Benchmark Email users do this in our email marketing product), but we always encourage you to test send these emails to yourself first, especially if you\'re going far off the grid. Need more controls? Let us know what options you\'d like to see in the next version of the email editor. Just email us at support@benchmarkcrm.com with your suggestions. Thanks!!


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Little Improvements > Big Features

CRM • February 24, 2018

Sometimes it\'s the little things that count. What do I mean? Well, the Benchmark CRM is chockfull of enterprise features: Assignment Rules, Automations, Permissions, Sharing Rules, Content Library... the list goes on. But what about the little tiny improvements that make your workflow better every day? We focus on these things just as much as chasing a powerful feature that maybe only 10% of our user base will ever use. Exhibit A: the email notifications icon We changed the way you\'re notified about incoming email replies from your CRM contacts & leads. It used to be this notification would refresh itself from page to page as you toured through the CRM, doing your work. But some users let us know about their actual daily workflows. Sometimes a phone rings, a customer walks in, or maybe fed-ex is at the door. You\'re not jumping from page to page in the CRM, but sometimes just sitting on the same page for minutes or longer. So why doesn\'t that notification just light up the minute there\'s an important reply incoming? Why can\'t it be more like an instant notification like Facebook or Twitter? So we changed it. Now that notification is its own autonomous ever vigilant sentry. The notification for the incoming email will light up even if you\'re on the same page without any effort from you. Exhibit B: email addresses in list view One prominent user had a simple suggestion: How come when I see my contacts or leads on the dashboard, I can\'t just click on their email addresses to email them? Why not indeed? Now any contact or lead\'s email address in the list view is actionable. Instead of clicking the name to view the record to click the email compose button, all you need to do is click the email address. It even opens the CRM email editor in a new tab so you don\'t lose your place. [caption id=\"attachment_252\" align=\"alignnone\" width=\"300\"] click to picture to see the action[/caption] We want your improvement next So what\'s your idea? Do you have a little tweak that would pay off big time in time saved? Let\'s hear it, please!!! Let us know either via the in-app chat or just email me: paul@benchmarkcrm.com    


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New Feature: Add a Date Range to Your Views

CRM • January 25, 2018

It\'s time to save the dates. A great little CRM improvement is the ability to add a date range as a condition in your views. Need to see which contacts were created between 1/2/17 to 1/9/17? Want to see the opportunities with an expected close date between 2/15/18 to 6/4/18? Can you see the support tickets that were opened up between 12/14/16 to 12/17/16? Done, done and done! Use the \"Between\" Condition on Date Fields Whenever creating a view, if there\'s a date field available, you can create a between condition for it. Step 1: Add a \"Meets All\" or \"Meets Any\" condition to your view Step 2:  Select a Date or Date/Time Field (we call this the 1st operator). An example would be \"created date/time,\" \"due date\" or \"expected close date\" Step 3: Select the \"between\" option for the 2nd operator Step 4 Select your beginning and ending dates.   Step 5 Save your view   The new between operator is just one part of creating views. For a quick overview on creating views, watch this video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toKfZLlLVj4&t=4s  


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New Feature: Track Email Opens

New Feature: Track Email Opens

CRM • December 26, 2017

You asked for it, you got it! Now it\'s possible to see if your leads and contacts have opened the emails you\'ve sent them via the Benchmark CRM. You choose the emails you want to track When composing your email, just check the Track Email box if you\'d like to add tracking to the email. Sent Emails Will Show Their Statuses It\'s not the emails that have replies you worry about, it\'s the emails that have been sent with no reply in sight. Did my client get the email? Did they bother to open it? Should I call or send it again? Now when either looking at your email dashboard or the contact/lead record, your sent message will show if it was read or unread. You\'ll have actionable data on which to act. See an unread? Get on the phone and call that contact, like now! Email tracking is available on every outgoing email message. You can change your tracking options in the middle of a CRM email thread.    


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B2B Sales? Better Make Sure Your Digital Game is on Point

CRM • December 2, 2017

If your business is selling to other businesses, you need a solid digital presence to go along with good old-fashioned sales. CEB (Gartner) Presents its Research on B2B Purchase Behavior You matter, but not as much as you think you do When buyers do their research in the buying process, a study by CEB (now part of Gartner) concludes that only 17% of the buyer\'s time is meeting with potential suppliers. And that\'s not just you that makes up that 17%. It\'s your competition, too. Here\'s CEB\'s breakdown of time spent by buyers across the purchasing process: 27% - researching independently online 22% - meeting with their buying group (internal decision makers) 18% - researching independently offline 17% - meeting with potential suppliers 16% - other Get your digital presences in order What does this mean? It means that buyers are online researching the best option for them. You know how this works because you do it, too. You look at the company\'s website. You check their online referrals. You look for reviews. You try to meter their reputation based on what you find out online. Why would your buyers be any different? Your website should be solid and informative. Although you\'d like your site to get your visitors in some sales funnel, there\'s a research component that\'s as big as anything else. Make your website informative, with the facts that buyers need easily found. If there are stats, facts, prices and catalogs to share, make them downloadable or at least easy to find again. Also, your online reputation matters. If there\'s a popular review site, get on it. If there are high profile industry experts who blog, invite them to profile you and your company. Don\'t abandon your sales team The study also finds that online efforts are there to get your customer to the sales handoff. People still matter. Multiple marketing engagements with your site and email marketing should tell your team exactly when a purchase decision is at its highest. Automate that process with the final email in the journey inviting your customer to purchase while it lets your sales team know it\'s time for a personal call or email to the buyer. Note: we confidently recommend our CRM software with integrated email marketing. The buyer doesn\'t stop their online research during the sales process The CEB study also states that 83% of buyers use at least one digital information channel during the sales process. So your website needs to continue to nurture the sale, even when your sales team takes over. Provide deep information that can help close the deal. Make sure your sales team is able to provide links to that information during the sales process. It\'s called alignment. You\'re ready to do it now Motivated? Good. I have your action plan: Review your website to make sure the information your buyers need is easily accessible. Get your business increased visibility on industry and review sites. Track the frequency of digital engagements for potential buyers so your sales team can identify likely buyers and spring into action. Always be closing - this applies to your sales team AND your website. Your digital pipeline needs to keep feeding detailed product information all the way up to the close.


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CRM Solutions: Automate Repetitive Tasks and Emails

CRM Solutions: Automate Repetitive Tasks and Emails

CRM • November 16, 2017

In this series, we present a business problem and offer a CRM software solution. Automated Emails Problem: I spend too much time in my software writing the same welcome email to my leads or customers CRM Solution: Create an email template with merge fields that automatically sends a personalized email to your contact or lead based on criteria and conditions you set. Example: Whenever you or your coworkers creates a contact whose language preference = Spanish, send the \"Bienvenido\" email the next day. Auto Tasks Problem: As my potential sale moves through its stages, there are different tasks for different people in the company. There\'s a bottle neck because often times the person changing the status doesn\'t immediately notify the person who needs to do the follow up work. CRM Solution: Create milestone-specific Auto Tasks that will automatically create and assign ownership of milestone-specific tasks, triggered by the changing values of your opportunity records. Example: Whenever the value of an opportunity changes to \"proposal,\" system creates a task to \"draw up contracts\" and assigns this task to the employee in charge of underwriting. Webforms Problem: I\'d like to be able to collect lead information right from my company\'s webpage CRM Solution: Create a lead capture webform Example: In the CRM, you create an HTML webform based on the lead fields that are important your company. The CRM will generate HTML for you. On your company website, you or your web designer includes this code on the pages you want to capture leads. Once live, site visitors input a few fields and click to submit. Instantly, leads are created in your CRM for you and your team. Assignment Rules Problem: I would like to establish rules in the CRM so that new support tickets are assigned to employees based on criteria I set. CRM Solution: Create support ticket assignment rules Example: You create a set of assignment rules based on custom issue types you\'ve set up in the CRM. If the issue type contains \"TV\" or \"television,\" then assign the ticket to Fred. If the issue type field contains \"computer\" or \"laptop,\" then assign the ticket to Wendy. If none of these, then assign to any user in the \"support team\" group in a round robin manner. Problem: I\'m importing 10,000 contacts on a CSV. I want to distribute those to my sales team based on state. CRM Solution: Create contact assignment rules Example: You create a set of assignment rules so that states: CA, TX, UT, NV are assigned to salesperson Craig. States: NY, VT, DE, NH go to saleperson Lisa. Anything else goes to Gina. Next import the CSV via the contact import page, select the CSV, select this assignment rule and import. These are just a few of the ways that automations can solve your repetitive task issues and tremendously speed up your workflow. There\'s lots of busy work that the CRM is more than happy to do for you so that you can do the things you to do to win and retain business. For instructions on how to set up a good automation, see this post on creating an automation.  


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