Top 5 CRM Systems of 2017

Starting to use a CRM system for your hotel, bar, restaurant or venue, could be a decision that completely changes your business. A CRM system when correctly implemented, can help with business transparencyefficiencyorganisation, custom retention and importantly, it can help you to close more sales.

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Needless to say there are many CRM systems in the marketplace today, so in this blog post I’m going to give an overview of LeadDigital’s Top 5 recommended CRM systems of 2017.

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Salesforce

The World’s #1 CRM”

Founded in 1999 by Marc Benioff, Parker Harris, Dave Moellenhoff and Frank Dominguez, Salesforce is now the most used CRM Worldwide.

With around 4 million users and over 10,000 employees globally, Salesforce has the infrastructure to support hospitality businesses of any size. Salesforce is constantly being improved, with around $150m research & development budget per year. See our recent ‘Is SalesForce Right For You?’ article for more information.

Pros: Salesforce will support any company size. Their ‘AppExchange’ marketplace boasts thousands of add-on applications which cover a variety of different niches; everything from Event Management to Booking Engines and Surveys.

Cons: The basic versions can be very restrictive if you wish to do any customisation, such as to workflows or custom coding.

Cost: All versions are billed annually, per user. SalesforceIQ (small business CRM solution) starts at £20/user/month for the starter package, up to £240/user/month for unlimited with all features.

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HubSpot CRM

“Grow and manage your pipeline for free”

HubSpot’s CRM solution is relatively new when compared to Salesforce, as the latest addition to HubSpot’s existing collection of inbound marketing services, which they’ve been developing since 2006!

By adding a CRM to the existing tools that HubSpot offers, users can capture the whole lifecycle of a lead, from the inbound marketing source, through into the CRM. Users can then track all results gathered, entirely within one system.

Pros: Free for up to 1 million contacts. Able to track the whole lifecycle of a lead from capture to completion, when using other HubSpot products, such as HubSpot Marketing.

Cons: Very limited when compared to a complete CRM, such as Salesforce or Zoho. Small list of third party applications, when compared to other platforms.

Cost: Free – however, you will need other modules such as HubSpot Marketing & Sales, which are at an additional cost.

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Zoho CRM

“Get ready to sell Smarter, Better, Faster.”

Zoho CRM was one of the first products in the ‘Zoho Suite’, introduced in 2005. Since then Zoho has grown in size, with 25 million [1] users across its whole product range in 2017.

Zoho have recently introduced AI into their CRM, in the form of ‘Zia’. The AI is able to learn how each person uses the CRM, and can master data intelligence to interpret how your business works, analyse what you’re trying to achieve and predict unexpected incidents before they even happen!

Pros: Long list of integrations and excellent customer support. Very competitive pricing for an enterprise CRM, highly customisable Cloud-based platform.

Cons: Zoho CRM can be very complex to customise and the user interface is not quite as intuitive as other platforms.

Cost: When billed annually, the standard package is $10/user/month, Professional $20/user/month, Enterprise, $35/user/month and Ultimate is $100/user/month.

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Microsoft Dynamics

“Drive your digital transformation with Dynamics 365”

Microsoft Dynamics is part of the Microsoft Business Solutions platform, which covers ERP and CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be run on-premise or online, via Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Microsoft Dynamics focusses on the industries of retail, service, manufacturing, financial services, and the public sector, but it can be adapted to work in any industry including hospitality, and for any size of company.

Microsoft Dynamics is a modular system, which means it’s possible to only use the modules required, which can make it very cost effective.

Pros: Microsoft Dynamics has the potential to be the only system you need, as it can be configured to cover CRM and ERP. Very configurable, with lots of integrations available. A ‘light’ version is offered for smaller teams.

Cons: The pricing structure is quite complicated, with lots of options on modules.

Cost: The most popular plan, is £86.70/user/month. Light edition starts at £7.50/user/month.

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Pipedrive

“Pipedrive gets your sales organised”

Pipedrive was founded in 2010 and has around 240 employees Worldwide. As of 2017, Pipedrive has around 50,000 customers [2] all around the world, with a focus on small to medium size businesses.

Pipedrive was built by sales people, for sales people, and aims to simplify the sales process and provide an intuitive user interface to do so.

Pros: Pipedrives ‘Pipeline’ view is perfect to see all the current opportunity deals and their progress. The intuitive user interface is great and simple to use.

Cons: As Pipedrive is aimed at small companies, it can be overly simple. The list of integrations is short compared to other platforms.

Cost: Pipedrive offer annual and monthly costs. When billed annually, the Silver package is $10/user/month, Gold $21/user/month and Platinum, $63/user/month.

In Summary

There is a huge range of CRM systems to choose from in 2017 and this list only scratches the surface, with other services like ‘Insightly’, ‘Nutshell’, ‘Freshsales’, ‘Freshdesk’ etc… equally deserving of mention.

So how do you choose? Think about these questions; what problems can a CRM system solve and what issues can it improve?

The right software is vital, but so is installing it for the right reasons. Moving to a CRM system will take time, so thought needs to be put into the process.

At this point you should talk to us at LeadDigital. We have over 20 years experience in Martech and have successfully implemented CRM systems for various UK hospitality businesses, which have proved vital and in turn have increased revenues!

 

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References

[1] https://www.zoho.com/aboutus.html
[2] https://blog.pipedrive.com/2017/03/50000-customers-taught-us-sales/

An Introduction to Google Analytics

What is Google Analytics? Why do I need it and how will it help my hospitality business?

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Imagine this scenario. You have just started selling tickets for an upcoming event at your hotel, bar, restaurant or venue. You’ve published social media posts and done some marketing, that’s great! You want to sell more tickets, but what’s next?

Before you start spending more on marketing, ask yourself these questions;

  • Is the process of buying tickets too complicated?
  • Are potential guests making it to the website?
  • Can customers even find what they’re looking for?!

In reference to the last question, watch this video, by the Google Analytics team.

Google Analytics collects data on the visitors to your website. Most importantly, It can deliver business critical insights to help you answer all of the above questions and more!

Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool. Once correctly configured, you can analyse your hospitality websites sales funnel to find out if your website is working effectively and even how efficient your checkout experience is!

So why should I use Google Analytics?

In the age of data, it is becoming essential to understand where your customers are coming from. Using Google Analytics you will be able to gain insights into your potential guests, their preferences and behaviour. Being able to interpret this data will allow you to make informed business decisions, which can help you sell more tickets at your bar, restaurant, hotel or venue.

It also seamlessly integrates with many other online software services, such as Google Adwords, Mailchimp (for email marketing), EventBrite (events promotion) and Shopify (for eCommerce). For example, if you were to using Google Adwords to promote your hospitality business, then you can use Analytics to track sales from that channel.

However, there is so much data available in Google Analytics, that getting to the end result isn’t always easy. LeadDigital can help here. We are certified Google Analytics experts, our speciality is using Analytics to provide hospitality brands with a better understanding of potential guests and how to convert them into loyal customers.

 

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What can Google Analytics show me?

Google Analytics collects data on every visitor to your website. Here is a list of some information that Google Analytics makes available:

  • Where visitors are coming from (website, social, email etc).
  • Real time visitors on your site.
  • Which countries, even city, visitors are from.
  • What type of devices visitors are using (mobile, tablet, desktop).
  • What page visitors are arriving and leaving on.
  • How long visitors are spending on your website.
  • Ecommerce sales down to product level.

You can set up detailed Multi-Channel Funnels, run data experiments and setup shopping cart and checkout funnels, it opens up a lot of opportunities for data-driven marketing.

What is data-driven marketing?

You are marketing a New Year’s Eve event at your hotel, venue, restaurant or bar using a variety of methods, including Content Marketing and Social Publishing. But how can you tell which one is more effective?

Using Google Analytics, you can see which method is producing more ticket sales and bookings through your hotel, venue, restaurant or bar’s website – allowing you to then focus marketing on that best performing channel. This will save you money by highlighting marketing channels that do not produce results.

This is data-driven marketing.

How will this help my hospitality business?

Google Analytics will allow you to have more visibility of where your online sales are coming from. This will enable you to dedicate your resources in the correct areas, which in the long run, will save you money. Using data-driven marketing, you will be able to sell more tickets at your bar, restaurant, hotel or venue.

Using data from Google Analytics, you can find out where your most engaged visitors are coming from, such as a great blog post or maybe a fantastic review? Data is key, and knowing how to interpret it will unlock new digital opportunities.

As a certified Google partner, LeadDigital have configured, managed and imported Google Analytics for many successful hospitality businesses. We use data-driven marketing to help companies sell more event tickets and increase room bookings.

 

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Is Salesforce Right For You?

Introducing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution into your hospitality business is a massive decision. If implemented correctly, it can create huge efficiencies within your hotel, restaurant, bar or event venue business. Not only from an employee perspective, but for the entire business. So, why choose Salesforce as your CRM provider?

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Why Salesforce?

A Brief History of Salesforce

Salesforce were founded in 1999 and went public in 2004. They currently have over 4 million users and revenue last year was over $8billion. Salesforce is the most used CRM, worldwide.

Salesforce have been around for 18 years and in that time have built a reputation as the leading CRM system worldwide, catering for many restaurants, bars, event venues and hotels in that time. They have invested billions into the Salesforce brand, which allows them to push the boundaries of what a CRM can do. Their annual R&D budget is currently in excess of $150M.

Salesforce currently have over 10,000 employees worldwide. The Salesforce Success Community has 2.5 million members, who are part of an online portal where you can collaborate with partners, developers, product specialists and other customers.

The Salesforce family is growing on a daily basis.

The Infrastructure

Salesforce owns the servers that are used to power the CRM software. This means that they have control over a huge number of aspects involved with running a multi-billion dollar software package and why it is always Lightning fast.

Whether you are in New York, Japan or London, your Salesforce installation will be powered by servers closest to your location, delivering a truly global solution.

Utilising cloud infrastructure removes the need for onsite servers and administration, along with complex security implications associated with the running of virtual private networks (VPN).

The Ecosystem

The third party Salesforce ecosystem is powered by the AppExchange. It’s true that Salesforce can’t accommodate every single niche market perfectly, but you can bet that there is a Salesforce Partner who can.

Salesforce AppExchange makes it possible to find extensions to many aspects of Salesforce, from modifying the calendar to integrating with Mailchimp. Many major software companies have built integrations for Salesforce, which really shows off the power and flexibility of the ecosystem.

The open architecture of the Salesforce platform has allowed Salesforce Partners to create software that acts as a “connector”. This allows Salesforce to communicate with hundreds of other software platforms, from accounts packages and booking systems to email. A recommended solution is Workato (https://www.workato.com/). This allows for hundreds of software solutions to effectively talk to each other, not just Salesforce.

It’s perhaps this ecosystem of partners that provides salesforce with its main competitive advantage. Similar to what Apple has been able to do with the App Store, Salesforce has been able to capture the largest share of the CRM market by enabling it’s software to talk to the widest number of external systems. This not only increases the capability of the software, it future proofs your overall business systems by allowing for replacement or upgrade of various elements over time. E.g changing or upgrading your booking systems, accounting software, email marketing, ecommerce systems, etc etc.

The Mobility

Salesforce realised the growth in the mobile market, so developed their own mobile application, called Salesforce1, available on iOS and Android. It allows you to have the benefit of Salesforce, but on the go.

Salesforce1 is built using the Lightning platform, which was developed inhouse by Salesforce, using their own proprietary code. It has over 11,000 reviews on the Google Play App Store, with an average rating of 4/5. The Apple App Store has over 3,000 reviews, with an average 4.3/5.

This shows how Salesforce innovates and can use its dominant position in the market to be able to develop the core platform as well as the mobile variant simultaneously!

The Innovation

Salesforce is a premium CRM system. That premium enables extensive development of the software at no additional cost to your business. As a Salesforce client, you will receive three major updates a year, which includes a host of upgrades and improvements, new features and integration possibilities.

Salesforce were the first company to offer an iPhone CRM app, called Salesforce Touch, back in 2013. They also pioneered App marketplaces, with the AppExchange in 2005, in comparison, Apple’s App Store didn’t surface until 2008.

The speed of change within the digital landscape coupled with the central role your CRM system plays in all business operations means that stability and investment from your chosen vendor is secure. No other CRM system has invested or continues to invest at the scale in which Salesforce continues to do.

The Scalability

One of the great aspects of Salesforce for hospitality is that it’s suitable for businesses of all sizes. Not only will it support small hotels, bars, restaurants and venues, its already supporting complex hospitality businesses, such as Caesars Palace, Quintessentially and Opentable.

This provides great comfort, in the fact that, it is possible to grow Salesforce with your hospitality company and provide Lightning speed, no matter how many users or customer accounts you control.

With the Salesforce API (Application Programming Interface), there are hundreds of possible integrations, so no matter if you move to another accounting system or change your ecommerce systems, there will be a solution to integrate Salesforce within that ecosystem.

The Affordability

Salesforce can start as low as £20/month per user, which is perfect for small hospitality businesses and start-ups. You get access to many of the features mentioned here including the huge community and resources that Salesforce provide and three free upgrades a year.

If more users are required or you have a more complicated booking and sales process, Lighting Professional and Lighting Enterprise allow for more bespoke customisation and open up more features of the Salesforce platform. Prices for the upgrades range from £65 to £120 per user, per month.

The Support

Ongoing support with a system as critical as CRM is an important consideration. As more and more systems become integrated together, so the overall solution increases in complexity.

Although other CRM systems exist with similar core Salesforce integrations, no other solution offers the range of vendors to provide ongoing support and development.

Salesforce as a system is constantly growing and evolving, with new features added every year. Because of this, the solution will need ongoing support and development, so Salesforce have many Salesforce Partners, who can support and maintain any implementation at an additional cost.

To put the scale of their partner network into perspective, Salesforce host a yearly event, called Dreamforce. Dreamforce ’16 was attended by over 171,000 people, from 83 countries. Over 15 million people participated online, and for the first time, 125 viewing parties were hosted, globally.

Conclusion

The Salesforce platform will allow you to grow every part of your hospitality company within an integrated suite of business applications. Monitor and manage everything from bookings and sales leads to customer support, and from digital marketing to website analytics — all from any desktop or device.

 

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