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Posted by on in eCommerce

If there is one thing you should consider for your 2017 inbound marketing plan, it's finally starting your business blog.

You have most likely heard that blogging is important, but let's be real, it's just ONE MORE THING to add to your to do list. Well, that may be true but a little effort can go a long way when it comes to the benefits of blogging. I'm going to share a few of the biggest reasons to make starting a blog a priority.

 

B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads than those that do not.1Tweet: B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads than those that do not. http://bit.ly/2jchIRZ

 

1. A blog can help drive traffic to your website - New and updated content signals search engines to check in on your website and see whats changed or added. It shows you are actively managing your content. Now, let's think back to 2016.  How many times did you add content to your site?  I don't just mean simple product addition, but keyword laden, optimized, searchable content.   Blogging is the opportunity to consistently add content. You are creating more pages for search engines to index and creating another opportunity for your website to show up in search results.

2. A blog can help to establish thought leadership - Use your blog to answer questions or address concerns that your customers have had. Show customers that you are attentive and knowledgeable.  If you are able to continually provide helpful and/or interesting content you will be turned to repeatedly for your knowledge.  **This is a good place to mention that you should empower your employees to write blog posts.  The people that sell your products and services will/should know the most ;-)

3. A blog will help to convert traffic into leads - EVERY well-written blog should include a lead generating call-to-action. Send your readers to your website where they can download a white paper or free e-book, access a webinar or free trial in exchange for their contact information.  BOOM!  You now have a new prospect to market to.

 

 

Noggin Nugget: Check out this case study published by HubSpot. It shows how blogging, as part of your inbound marketing plan, can increase your traffic significantly.

b2ap3_thumbnail_How-One-Companys-Investment-in-Blogging---SEO-Increased-Traffic-By-Over-2-500-in-One-Year.png

 

 

Following up on last months blog -

Managing Your End-of-Year eCommerce Reporting and Analysis

Did you know that you are not limited to the reports available using Magento's reporting feature? 

Allegro can help you accomplish your reporting goals by extracting and organizing your data to create a custom reports that fit your needs.  What if you could be provided a clearer picture of your business' performance?  Maybe you would like a report that shows sales by category or payment type or even which products were most added to carts and then abandoned.  We can help you get the data you need to make informed business decisions.  

Contact Allegro for more information about how to get the data you want and need from your Magento store.    

 

1. https://www.insideview.com/social-selling/

 

Now that the end of the year is upon us, it's time to see how well your eCommerce site did in terms of sales and marketing. Magento makes reporting easy with built in sales, product, and customer reports.  You can access all of the reports in the admin section.  You will see a variety of options to choose from.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Magento-Reports.png         

Consider taking a look at the following:

Total online sales - What portion of your total business income came from eCommerce sales? 1

New customers - How many new customers registered and bought something from your eCommerce site?  

Best selling products - Plan for next years product offerings and inventory levels by finding out which of your products are best sellers.

Coupon usage statistics - Are your promotional campaigns successful?  Do you need to revamp your strategy?

* Did you know that Allegro has an optional custom extension that supports coupon use back to the ERP?  If you'd like to learn more about this and other available extensions, visit http://allegroconsultants.com/erp-applications/extensions.

You can set up a report in just a few simple steps and the process is basically the same for all reports.  You may remember that we went over this in the first blog in this series - Using the Abandoned Carts Report.

I'll quickly review it here using the sales report as an example.

Running a Sales Report in Magento

Step 1: Select the report.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Sales-Report---Orders.png

 

 Step 2: Select reporting options.

View combined data for totals across all sites or select a singular site.  Select filters.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Sales-Report---set-up_20161228-155934_1.png

Step 3: View or export the completed report.

To simply view the report, either for quick analysis or to ensure accuracy before exporting, choose "Show Report".  When ready, choose the desired format and "Export".

  Sales-Report---View-or-Export_20161228-155955_1.png

Noggin nugget: e-Commerce-driven mobile revenue will surge by at least 50% by the end of 2017 2 

Following up on last months blog -

3 Essential SEO Elements that Should Never be Overlooked

Did you know that optimizing images can also contribute to quality SEO?  It isn't just about choosing the right image for your product or article, but also giving it a good title tag and alt text.

The title tag is shown as a tooltip when you hover over the element.  While not required, it can prove useful in certain situations.  For example, let's say that your image is actually a "Buy Now" button. Your title tag could contain, "Buy my new cookbook now for only $9.99!"  The tag offers and additional call to action.

The alt text describes what’s on the image and the function of the image on the page.  Used by screen readers, the browsers used by blind and visually impaired people, alt text will tell them what is on the image. So using the button example from above, the alt text could read, "button to buy new cookbook".

There is much more to know about selecting, using and optimizing images for SEO.  If this is something you would like me to dive deeper into, let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

1. The online sales report will only show sales through the website.  OneSource ERP customers will need to check their ERP for a complete sales picture.

2. Think Tank Gartner via https://reviewsquirrel.com/ecommerce-trends/

 

There are 3 essential SEO elements that should never be overlooked when optimizing an ecommerce site.  They are the Title Tag, Header Tag, and Meta Description.

As we all know, SEO can improve the visibility of your website, increase traffic and boost your brand’s revenue.  So, let's take a look at how these three elements fit into your website optimization plan.

The title tag is used by search engines to determine a page's topic.  They are also displayed in SERPs (search engine results page).  A well written title tag will show the user what they can expect from the page.  In this way it is important that you are clear in since this is one determiner in whether or not your user clicks through to your site.   From a search engine perspective, your title tag will be compared with your page content to ensure that you have keyword consistency when pages are being ranked. 

Header tags are pieces of HTML code the allow certain words to stand out on a page.  The most important being <h1>.  This would be the category name on a category page and product name on a product page, etc.  They are the headings that show what your page is about.  The heirarchy of importance begins with <h1> and works down to <h6>.   Not as important, the tags <h2> - <h6> usually describe subheadings.  They could be thought of as ways of organizing content for readers.  It is important that your header tags contain keywords so that while skimming for pertinent information, the reader can determine if they want to read further.

A meta description is a short paragraph of text placed in the HTML that describes a webpage.  While used by search engines, they should be written for humans.   The most important things to remember when writing an effective description are that it include keywords, is relevant to the page content, and is no longer than 160 characters.  A compelling meta description tag could entice searchers to click through from the SERP to your site, especially if the description includes the keywords they were searching for.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_search_20161130-191026_1.jpg3

 

Allegro's OneSource ERP users are in luck as many of the SEO tasks are handled for them.  Allegro uses data in the ERP and maps it to correct fields in the Magento back end to fill in the important tags and meta data described in this blog.  If you are not a OneSource ERP customer and would like help with optimizing your website, contact us.  We can evaluate your site to determine how strong your SEO game is.  If you need help implementing changes, we can do that, too.

 

Noggin nugget: 75% of search engine users never scroll past the first page of results. 1

 

Following up on last months blog - Using Coupons to Help Boost Your Ecommerce Sales

Do you wonder about how and when to use coupons? Here are three effective ways to use coupons.2

1. Push inventory that just won't sell.

     Create coupon codes that target these specific items.  An alternative to using a percentage discount would be to offer them free when a certain dollar amount is reached on a sale.

2. Show appreciation to loyal customers.

     It costs more to get a new customer than to keep one.  Send an email to older, loyal customers and offer a discount as a show of thanks.

3. Reward new customers.

     First time customers want to know that you appreciate their business and will be there for them in the future.  Offer free shipping on their first order or apply a surprise discount at checkout.

 

 

1.- imFORZA.com

2. - https://www.shopify.com/guides/make-your-first-ecommerce-sale/coupon-codes

3. - https://www.godaddy.com/help/adding-meta-tags-to-your-website-6548

 

 

Posted by on in eCommerce

Incentives such as coupons are a great way to boost sales by winning over new customers, encouraging additional spending, or enticing customers to return to their abandoned carts. From a marketing standpoint, coupon codes can help build mailing lists and provide campaign content.  The OneSource ERP Ultimate edition framework allows you to take advantage of this functionality from your Magento eCommerce platform.  Coupons can be configured for one-time use per customer or for a given date range.  Track your multitude of web site coupon codes individually in your ERP or bundle them all together into a single ERP summary discount code.  Contact Allegro for more information on how to  use coupon codes with your OneSource ERP.

 

Noggin nugget: “In 2014, 16 billion digital coupons were redeemed. This figure is projected to grow to 31 billion online coupons in 2019. Experts claim that redemption will mainly be driven by mobile coupons.” 1

 

Following up on last months blogIntegrating Google Analytics with your eCommerce Site

Are you still considering Google Analytics for your business but haven't taken that final step because it seems daunting? Google Analytics has introduced the GA Demo Account. The Demo Account offers a fully functional account filled with data from the Google Merchandise Store, an eCommerce site that sells Google branded merchandise.

 Google Analytics demo account reporting screen

The features and functionality you will explore include:

  • Access all the Standard reports to see which ones are useful to you
  • Get inspiration from predefined dashboards and segments imported from the Solutions Gallery to create your own
  • Alter reports by adding table filters and secondary dimensions, and by changing the report type
  • Learn how to compare audience, acquisition, behavior and conversion performance to a previous date range period
  • Create your own personal assets such as custom reports, annotations, shortcuts and custom alerts
  • Become familiar with the predefined attribution models and even create your own
  • Determine whether features you don't haven’t implemented could be beneficial to you e.g. AdWords and Search Console integrations
  • Use it as a companion when following a training course

Access the account and more information HERE.

 

 

1 Statista - https://www.statista.com/statistics/321227/number-digital-coupons-vouchers-redeemed/

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a powerful web service that allows business owners and marketers to measure traffic to their website and analyze customer behavior in order to increase sales and conversions on their website. While there are many aspects of GA that require more than a basic understanding of the service, even the most basic reports and data can still offer a wealth of information that can help you make business decisions that will impact your bottom line.

Why is Google Analytics important?

The data that Google Analytics provides can help you make informed choices about your online strategy as well as bring to your attention problem areas that need to be addressed.  Have you ever wondered how many people visit your site every day? Every month?  How about where they are coming from?  Did they come straight to your website or did they do a Google Search to find you?  What search terms did they use?  How long are they spending looking around your site? These are the types of questions answered by GA.

How do I get started?

Integrating your Magento site with Google Analytics really is a simple task.  If you can follow step-by-step directions, Google will "walk" you through it.  However; if you are new to ecommerce or analytics, it can seem daunting - setting up the property, assigning filters and segments, ecommerce tracking settings, etc.      

Are you ready to make informed business decisions?  Ones that will help you offer your customers a better online experience and in turn increase sales.  Contact Allegro for more information about integrating GA to your Magento site.  Once your site is set up, Google Analytics will begin collecting data within 24 hours!

Noggin nugget: According to Search Engine Land, Google handles at least 2 trillion searches per year. 1

 

Following up on last months blog - Using the Abandoned Carts Report in Magento


By now, you should have had a chance to take a look at your Abandonded Cart statistics and hopefully you have a better understanding of how this information can be beneficial to your online sales.

To dive a little deeper into abandoned carts,  I want to introduce you to the "Quote Lifetime Days" setting.  This setting allows you to control how long a "quote" or incomplete order hangs around BEFORE it is considered abandoned.


Log in to your Magento Admin. Go to System->Configuration.

 Magento Dashboard

 

Scroll down the left to the Sales section and select Checkout. Under "Shopping Cart options, edit “Quote Lifetime (days)”.

Magento DashboardMagento Quote Lifetime Days

 

 

1http://searchengineland.com/google-now-handles-2-999-trillion-searches-per-year-250247

Posted by on in eCommerce

Abandoned cart

 

When you are running an e-commerce store, inevitably you will experience shopping cart abandonment - customer adds items to their cart but leaves your site before checking out.  In fact, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.63%.There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon. Customers experience unexpected costs at checkout, the checkout process is too complicated, found a better price elsewhere, etc. No matter what the reason, they all equal the same thing - lost sales.  The good news is that you can use the abandoned carts report to identify the customers in question and try to win them back!

Where do I find this gem of a report, you ask?

Log in to your Magento admin.  Click on Reports->Shopping Cart->Abandoned Carts

Abandoned cart report screenshot

The report display will show you the following:

  • Customer Name
  • Email
  • Number of Items
  • Quantity of Items
  • Subtotal
  • Applied Coupon
  • Created At
  • Updated At
  • IP Address

 

In this example you can see that "Bob Smith"  has abandoned his cart.  If we now visit Bob's Customer record, we will see exactly what was in it when he left the site.

Click Customers->"Customer Name"->Shopping Cart

 Abandoned cart report screenshot 2

 

 

Now, what to do with all of this new found data?

There are few ways to approach your abandoned cart data.

1. Analyze the amount of abandoned carts your site is experiencing then take a look at where you can make improvements.  Is the checkout process lengthy or complicated?  Should you offer a wish list for convenient "saving" of items the customer is interested in?  Is your site optimized for mobile devices?

2. Seize the opportunity to "remind" the customer that they have left something behind. Many successful online businesses use remarketing campaigns to bring the customer back to their cart and encourage the completion of the sale.  Often times the emails will include an incentive in the form of a coupon or free shipping.

3. Use the product data to learn about trends in popularity.  Are there certain products that are consistently left in carts?  Are certain products most likely to be part of a completed sale following an abandoned cart email?

 

Noggin nugget: Studies show that in 2015, $4tr of merchandise was left in abandoned online shopping carts - the largest amount of cart abandonment ever seen!3

 

 

1- Baymard Institiute, http://baymard.com/lists/cart-abandonment-rate 

2- Statista, http://www.statista.com/statistics/232285/reasons-for-online-shopping-cart-abandonment/

3- Supply Chain Brain, http://www.supplychainbrain.com/content/general-scm/quality-metrics/single-article-page/article/despite-record-e-commerce-sales-69-percent-of-online-shopping-carts-abandoned/

The Internet is such a ubiquitous part of our life, especially with the staggering range of devices connected to it. Not just smart phones and tablets, but such things home automation allowing you to control your house's lights and thermostat from across the globe, cameras that can instantly upload pictures for viewing by your friends and family wherever they are, and ordering goods from "local" artists that are local to another continent.

All this started from the submission of a proposal to CERN for a distributed information system submitted 10,000 days ago as of 28 June, 2016. That Sunday, on 12 March of 1989, saw a truly life changing idea be born.



Tagged in: CERN Internet Mozilla

The writing was on the wall last year that Google and other search engines were putting more and more emphasis on the mobile responsiveness of web sites.  This is important for more informational sites such as our own Allegro site but it is critical for those companies that sell products directly over the web. If your rankings are reduced, your customers may likely find someone else to buy from instead of you.

As of this spring, Google changed their search algorithms to provide greater weight to responsive web design. Fortunately , they also then provided helpful tools to test your site such as their Mobile Friendly Test. Initially Google stated that this would only impact the ranking of mobile sites and not the more typical "desktop" sites but the true impact was quickly felt.  Within the first week of implementation, pages on mobile sites were getting a huge spike in their presence on search engine results versus "desktop" sites using the same keywords.

The morale of the story is to make sure you pay attention to your Google tools and analytics. Make sure this new paradigm in search ranking doesn't leave you behind.

Posted by on in eCommerce

E-commerce, the buzzword for looking something up on the Internet and purchasing it, has never been just about the random consumer.  Businesses too search for goods and services and buy them on-line all the time.  The brand engagement firm Sullivan created a nice infographic recently about the growth of B2B (business-to-business) e-commerce, estimating B2B online sales to top $1.1T (yes, trillion) by 2020.  9 out of 10 execs purchase business products online with half of them buying a competing product to what they originally searched for because the competition made it easier to purchase.

You can find more details as well as the infographic here

Tagged in: B2B eCommerce Magento

Posted by on in eCommerce

Buy versus build is a discussion that comes up a lot in the IT and management field, especially if you are a consulting firm like Allegro. The problem with "buy" is that it is never that easy. The question should really be "integrate versus invent" as no matter how cookie cutter your new IT application, it will have to be connected with the rest of your IT infrastructure to truly be of any value to your business.

This article from InformationWeek looks at the hidden impact in losing technical expertise for companies that too blindly pursue an "always buy" mentality. While you do not want to painfully build everything yourself, you will need that expertise to skillfully integrate any bought IT system with the rest of your business infrastructure and then extend it to reflect and enhance the unique benefits that your company offers over your competitors.

This is why we at Allegro have turned to open source applications such as the world leading Magento eCommerce platform.  Your "buy" choice can start with a baseline Magento installation that has all the core eCommerce functionality necessary.  Supplement that with the "build" addition of targeted modules and custom enhancements and integration, whether from your internal staff or quality consulting firms such as Allegro.  This type of strong integration and customization is where companies really stand out.

We here at Allegro are very excited to see the ongoing maintenance releases for Joomla! with their latest 3.3.1 release in June of 2014.  We have found Joomla! to be a very powerful content management platform and this most recent update further demonstrates the communities ongoing contributions to this product.

You can read the details of this release in these release notes.

Tagged in: CMS Joomla!

Magento, the world leading open source e-Commerce solution, has made the difficult decision to shut down their Magento Go offerings.  This is to allow them to focus their efforts and resources on developing their core Magento product and get away from offering a hosting solution.  They are no longer accepting new accounts and will be shutting the service down altogether on February 1, 2015.

As a business owner, I can understand the difficulty in making such a tough decision but I applaud them for focusing back on what they do best.  We here at Allegro have had great success in using their products for our own clients, implementing in such diverse areas as furniture sales, organic health food products, plumbing supplies and direct B2B interactions.

I am looking forward to seeing the results of this new focus in the coming year.  You can read more about Magento Go and their plans on their site.

Whether it is relaxing by the pool enjoying vacation with your family or filling in time while traveling to yet another client site, many of us turn to books to fill in this time.  If we're feeling motivated, these books are business or technology related to help us keep current in our professional life.

Progress is providing an unexpected boost to anyone looking for that next inspiration.  As part of their revamped website, they have started a book club to poitn out new releases in such areas as SaaS, mobile computing, social media and more.

Take a look at the OpenEdge Book Club to grab the leading chapter of these recommended books and start reading today.

Tagged in: cloud mobile OpenEdge SaaS

Everyone loves a good buzz word.  All too often, this love affair leads to assumptions and misplaced trust and we all have heard about what happens when you assume.

 

Last month, a code hosting and project management service provider was forced to shut down because of failure to use common sense.  They advertised full redundancy and kept not only client information in their Amazon EC2 cloud but also backups of that same information.  Unfortunately it seems they did not have redundant backups stored elsewhere.  While Amazon's EC2 services protected them (as expected) from random failure, they were not protected when attackers hacked into their accounts and, after a failure to extort money, proceeded to delete their various client snapshots, SVN and GIT repositories, server instances and other critical data and backups.

 

Like any other service, putting something into "the cloud" has its benefits but should never be considered the silver bullet to resolve all of your worries.

Tagged in: Amazon cloud hackers

Posted by on in OpenEdge

Absolutely!

While PUG Challenge is void of a lot of fancy marketing and loud crowd pumping music, there are many things the conference doesn't lack.  Like, technical sessions, workshops, vendors, and networking.  I mean everyone loves a great party, but the real reason for spending the time and money to go to PUG Challenge is to learn - learn how new developments in your Progress software can save your company time and money. 

PUG Challenge was born of the desire to learn.  Programmers not wanting to have to sift through the rubbish to get to the good stuff.  For three full days, you can immerse yourself in Progress OpenEdge technology.  There are over 50 technical break-out sessions planned plus 5 workshops, a vendor expo, a Partner track, commercial sessions, "Info Exchanges", an "Offsite Adventure" and endless opportunities to network with your peers and Progress engineers.  Whew! (Sounds like a good kind of tired to me!)  In just a little less than a month this will all be taking place with or without you. 

Of course, with you is better.  We'll have more people to network with and you'll have no regret.

 

Tagged in: PUG

Posted by on in OpenEdge

On October 22, 2013 Allegro Consultants hosted the Progress User Group meeting with guest speaker Peter Judge, Principal Software Engineer with Progress Software. The topics included Horizontal Table Partitioning and OpenEdge Mobile. With mobile devices becoming increasingly popular, this topic has generated much excitement with our attendees and the majority of the business world as well. More than ever companies are taking a serious look at how they can get a piece of the action. Mobile applications allow people to use free time while out and about to search a specific item, comparison shop, and make purchases online. If a business does not have a mobile application, they may be missing out on opportunities to gain new business.

OpenEdge Mobile makes it possible to connect potential customers to the OpenEdge business logic your company uses every day. OpenEdge Mobile provides everything you need to develop apps for Android and iOS platforms. Mobile applications can be developed easily from the Progress Developer Studio. Design your app using drag and drop functionality to sculpt your user interface. OpenEdge Mobile gives you the ability to add your progress code, your own security protocols, so that your users can access your data. OpenEdge Mobile offers an express setup allowing you to have a basic setup up and running in minutes, offering testing to see your work in action, and a QR code to scan and see your handiwork on your own mobile device.

There are three different types of mobile applications, Native, Hybrid, and Mobile Web app. Native apps are specific to one particular device, which would require building an app for each specific operating system. This type of application would allow full access to features of the device, and distribution of the app on the AppStore, allowing restricted distribution of the app.

The hybrid app is one that would allow you to develop one app for a specific group of devices. Hybrid applications are device specific and use HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. This allows you work with most of the capabilities of the device, and you would also be able to distribute your app on the AppStore, but allow restricted access to the app.

The Mobile Web App uses HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript and allows you to develop one app for any device. For this app to work there must be an internet connection available. The access to device capabilities is diminished, and there is no native AppStore for distribution or restricting access to the app.  

OpenEdge Mobile uses the Hybrid App model which uses the native container and the web application as well. There is no need to learn new programming languages or purchase a specific computer to develop your app. Using the Hybrid approach also allows you to market your app in AppStores your customers are familiar with making it accessible to a wider audience. A hybrid application also gives you access to more functionality of the user’s device which gives a richer experience to the end user.

There are some expenses involved in going mobile. OpenEdge Mobile is only available in version 11.2 and up, so you may need to upgrade your software. OpenEdge Mobile also requires licensing. Depending on the device you are developing for, there are fees to submit your app to Apple or Google as well. It is typically a once a year subscription, and the cost is relatively low.

Connecting a device to your business logic can be made using different techniques, but the use of REST is the recommended method. Typically in the past, SOAP was used to connect the data to the mobile device, but REST is much more flexible and easier to use.

OpenEdge mobile uses drag and drop for the functionality of buttons, maps, and other interface items. Just drag over the fields from the table you are accessing and assign them to the desired display location. Button actions and page calls are all done for you through the intuitive tools of OpenEdge Mobile. Mobile development is just one of the new additions to the Progress Software collection.  Join us for our next Progress Users Group meeting to learn more.

One of the most important factors in the success of your CRM implementation is employee buy-in. The bottom line is that no matter how much time it took to plan your CRM, or how much money you spent implementing it, it isn't worth a dime if you can't get your staff to use it. It is easy as a manager to see the benefit, but how do you translate that to the masses.

Here are 4 easy steps to adoption:

1. Roll out your deployment from the top down. Let your managers and senior staff lead the way. Show that they are 100% committed to the success of the CRM. Allow them to experience some of the benefits and be able to share that before moving forward.

2. Use peer pressure. Prior to the big staff announcement of the new system, choose the most respected person on the team to be an evangelist. That person can set a great example for the rest of the team showing enthusiasm for the project.

3. Be sure to offer adequate training. Your least tech savvy user needs to be just as proficient as your IT manager. Begin with the basics. Have the team truly grasp how to perform the essential tasks for a bit before moving on to additional functionality.

4. Calm the fears. Many sales people can be slow to adopt due to transparency of their activities. It is true that managers may hold sales people more accountable for their duties, but be sure to let everyone know that the system is for the good of the company as a whole. Accounting can pay out commissions more accurately based on closed opportunities, managers can monitor quotas to determine bonuses, and sales leads can be distributed more accurately and appropriately to just name a few benefits.

Download this useful guide to increasing CRM adoption rates within your sales staff.

Increase-CRM-Adoption-Rates.pdf

There are many offerings nowadays when it comes to how you want your CRM data delivered. Whether or not you choose on-demand or on-site will depend entirely on your business requirements. Some things to consider are:

  • Is the up front investment an issue?
  • How quickly do you need to be up and running?
  • Will you require extensive customizations?
  • Will you need to address business compliance issues?
  • Do you require source code access?
  • Do you favor vendor management of your instance?

There is a CRM solution that gives you more choice and more control when it comes to deployment options than any other.  Download this FREE whitepaper to discover how SugarCRM can offer you the flexibility to make the best decision for your business.

SugarCRM Deployment Options - Get More Choice and Control with Sugar

 

So, you've decided that it's time.  You see a CRM in your future, but how far? I am hoping to make the process a little easier with this series of posts about getting started with customer relationship software and have you quickly on your way to CRM success!  Below is a simple list of things to consider when finding the right package for your business.

1. Company Size - Determine how many users you will need to have access to your new CRM.  Also, be sure to consider how much data will be stored.  Don't just think about your business in today's terms, but the future also.  Hopefully, your business is continually growing.  You don't want to adopt a package only to quickly find out, you've outgrown it.

2. Company Goals - Why did you consider a CRM in the first place?  Are you looking for a central database for customer information?  Did you wish to streamline marketing activities?  Maybe your focus is on sales and you want to be able to manage your entire sales team and related activities in one place.  Take a bit to think about all of the reasons that a CRM can benefit your company. Set goals for what you want to accomplish with a CRM. 

3. Deployment Options - We will talk more about this topic later in the series, but a few things to consider are: What type of company are you?  Is it important for you to have complete control over storage and data protection?  Do you have the resources to maintain this type of deployment?  If you have limited IT resources or cost can be an issue, maybe on-demand or cloud deployment.

4. Mobility - Do you have a sales team needing mobile access?  Many of today's CRM options are internet based, so laptops are not a problem. But if tablets and smart phones are the primary mobile source, be sure the system you choose can support that.

5. Ease of use - Will the CRM you choose be time intensive to learn? Be sure that not only your IT staff can use the system, but the less tech savvy as well.  There are some CRM options that have a friendlier user interface than others.  Don't necessarily forgo functionality for ease, but consider that it will be much easier to get buy-in from staff if it isn't rocket science to figure out.  Also, if you do not have the financial resources for in-person training, make sure the CRM you choose has plenty of online resources available.

6. Ease of maintenance - Make sure that you research out-of-the box capabilities and match those to your specific needs. Do you have the IT resources to manage and maintain your CRM in-house?  Will you be able to handle any necessary configurations and customizations?

Of course, every business is different and you may end up with a longer list than this.  I just want you to have a place to start.  That's the hardest part, right?

Posted by on in Customer Relations

Keeping customers isn't easy. In today's business environment, it is imperative that you create a customer experience worthy of repeat business. Customer experience can be the single defining factor in differentiating you and your competitors. A CRM can be a key component to your business success.

The thought of implementing a CRM can be daunting. People, in general, are resistant to change. It creates fear and doubt. When it comes to the discovery process and eventual adoption of a CRM, things are no different. There are many decisions to make. Which CRM product best suits your needs? What type of deployment works best for your organization? How do you get staff to get on board with a new way of doing things? Over the next few weeks, I will be highlighting these issues and offering a way of working through the process; from discovery to adoption of a CRM. I want to help eliminate your fears and create a well thought out path to CRM success. Stay tuned...  In the meantime, check out this great whitepaper on achieving early success with your CRM deployment. CRM_Time_To_Value_wp.pdf