Why your SME should consider a Customer Relationship Management platform

Why your SME should consider a Customer Relationship Management platform

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Investing in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be one of the most effective means to increasing customer engagement and retention for an SME. A CRM solution enables a business to efficiently collect a wealth of data on its customers’ behaviours and preferences, and then quickly respond to these via personalised communications. CRM tools can also play a vital role in aligning a business’s Marketing and Sales activities.

 

Let’s have a look at 4 reasons why your SME should consider investing in CRM software to grow your business: 

  1. A single view of the customer
  2. Real-time data access
  3. Nurture leads with optimized user journeys
  4. Track your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)

 

 

A single view of the customer 

A CRM platform allows a business to collate all of the data it holds on a customer, including previous purchases and interactions with the customer service team, in one place. This can then easily be viewed and acted upon by internal teams. The more you know about your customer, the easier it is to meet their future needs. Having a complete overview of all your customers also helps a business to segment its customer base and develop different strategies for each.

 

Real-time data access

The real-time data collection and analysis most CRM tools offer enables companies to gather information on prospects or clients straight away. You get actionable information on who is visiting the website and which content they are viewing. You will see which emails they are opening or clicking on, as well as which forms they have filled out. 

You will also learn about their preferences, which goods and services they buy, and how to upsell to them. By capturing behavioral data CRM tools allow you to engage in a more personalized manner.

 

Related: What is Employee Experience?

 

Nurture leads with optimized user journeys

96% of people aren’t ready to buy from you the first time they visit your website.

The same can be said for a trade show, networking gathering, or company conference. Rather than launching your sales pitch straight away, it is important to get to know your prospects and engage with them on a more personalized basis. This is conveniently accomplished by developing lead nurture journeys using a CRM platform.

As an example: email addresses can be collected via a form on your website. When this occurs, a sequence of automated email messages can be triggered. Each message can share more about your products and services, while also being tailored to any subsequent actions the lead completes (such as downloading additional product guides).  

This prompt, and customised way of following up with leads, can significantly increase conversion rates.

 

Track your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)

CRM tools can help you answer crucial business questions, such as:

  • Which marketing strategies are the most effective? E.g. Paid Search, SEO, or word-of-mouth?
  • Which methods of customer service do your customers prefer, such as do you need a live chat or phone support?
  • Which customer segments are most profitable? 

 

A CRM tool provides real-time filtering and monitoring, allowing you to understand important performance drivers such as:

  • Which sources your new marketing leads are coming from
  • Effectiveness of the sales conversion funnel
  • The efficiency of  your customer service team in handling queries

 

Related: How to Drive Sales Through Customer Retention

 

Here are three of the most common CRM tools SMEs can consider: 

  1. Hubspot – assign your customers to specified stages of the sales funnel where you can personalize their user experience with your business through content and marketing material.
  2. Salesforce – ensures trouble-free contact management by providing access to important customer details and relationship history. It provides a full description of the client, with insights and engagement-enhancement techniques.
  3. Freshworks – designed to help sales teams never fall behind with built-in phone and email, robust insights such as lead scoring, website monitoring, and intelligent workflows.

 

A CRM system can be the missing link for small companies looking to get closer to their clients, generate more leads, and increase revenue. Customer Relationship Management solutions provide you with the data and knowledge you need to automate your processes and improve your customer experience.

 

The SME Guide to Digital Transformation

The SME Guide to Digital Transformation

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The latest guide in our Business High Five series, The SME Guide to Digital Transformation, offers useful guidance on how to introduce digital technology to help your business succeed.

 

Download our complete guide to Digital Transformation

 

Some of the important topics our guide covers include:

 

An Introduction to Digital Transformation

This refers to an overall transformation of organizational activities aimed at leveraging opportunities created by digital technologies and data.

Here are some of the reasons why this type of transformation is proving to be so valuable to many SMEs:

  • Acceleration of Change
  • Global Competition
  • Customer Expectations
  • Digital Adoption

 

 

How to create a Digital Transformation Strategy

With the help of new technologies, you can future-proof your SME by transforming your business model to increase productivity and profitability.

By making use of the following steps, you can craft a winning digital strategy for your business.

  1. Get buy-in
  2. Make sure you have sufficient funding
  3. Assess the current state of your business
  4. Determine the objectives & desired results
  5. Conduct a gap analysis
  6. Create a transformation roadmap

 

The Power of Data

Having access to data is critical to achieving your transformation objectives. But data is meaningless if it isn’t put to use. Companies who exploit their data and operate on it easily gain an advantage over their competitors.

 

Related: The rise of eCommerce

 

Examples of Transformation Across Industries

Digital innovation has an effect on various sectors in a number of ways. It provides extraordinary opportunities to follow new market models, but each industry’s solution is distinct.

In the guide, we explore examples in the agriculture & manufacturing, healthcare, and retail industries.

 

Tools, platforms, technologies to aid your Digital Journey

A wide range of digital tools are available across industries. Here is a list of basic, yet very important (and mostly free) technologies that are relevant across most industries and will help you along your digital journey.

Some of which include;

  • Google Analytics
  • Xero
  • Pardot
  • Hootsuite
  • Oracle

 

Download the full SME Guide here.

 

 

The value of debt for business growth

The value of debt for business growth

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Regardless of the size of your company or how great your product may be, at some point, every business will need more finance than they have immediately available. When this happens, accessing additional funding will help to give your company the fuel it needs to grow. 

 

 

It may seem counterintuitive, but Trevor Gosling, Co-founder, and CEO of Lulalend – a financing partner to South Africa’s small- to medium-enterprises (SMEs) explains that fast access to capital plays an important part in any business growth strategy.

Gosling says that there is often a misconception that all debt is bad or that it is only used by struggling companies. “In fact, the opposite is often the reason why some of the world’s largest companies, including the likes of Apple and Coca-Cola, routinely seek capital infusions to keep profits within the company, maximize their tax savings, and assist with short-term financial obligations.”

 

Related: How to get a business loan?

 

When raising funds, selecting the right type of business financing plays a very important role in determining how a business accesses capital and long-term profits. “For business owners, debt can also help to improve the bottom line of a company because it makes expansion possible, can enable increased marketing efforts or the purchasing of new equipment and products,” he adds. 

Loans can also support seasonally driven companies that are often extremely profitable during peak season trading but need the extra cash to buy inventory and supplies during the quieter months. This is where debt can help to bridge the gap and balance out uneven cash flows throughout the year. 

 

Generally, the two most common ways in which businesses raise additional funding is through selling equity in the business or with debt financing. For many of South Africa’s burgeoning SMEs, what matters the most is the overall cost of business funding and the speed at which it can be acquired. While both financing options can help to give access to capital, using debt to support growth rather than equity is generally preferred. 

 

Related: How Refinancing Can Help Consolidate Your Business Debt

 

“While you will owe interest on debt, unlike equity, the funding that it provides doesn’t mean you will have to lose a stake in your business. Any profits that are made after paying debt and interest will be yours to keep. It’s also now possible to acquire a business loan in as little as 24 hours” Gosling explains. Additionally, if you choose to take on a partner to increase capital, it will also mean that you lose full control of your business and be asked to share profits made going forward – which for many fast-growing start-ups is not always the most attractive option. 

 

While loans are a great tool to finance inventory or equipment purchases, an increasingly popular debt instrument is a business line of credit or Credit Facility. Gosling says that a Credit Facility is one of the best ways to manage cash flow – especially if a business needs immediate access to funds to cover short-term expenses while waiting for customer payments.

If you manage your debt responsibly by making on-time payments this can help to improve your business’s creditworthiness. In turn, these smart credit habits can help to increase your overall funding limit, lower future costs, and help you to obtain better terms for your next loan.

 

Related: Practical cost-saving tips for your business

 

“The critical step that business owners need to consider before taking on any form of debt is to ensure that they have a plan on how to use any additional funding to generate a return and improve profits,” Gosling explains.
“If you don’t have a plan, or if you feel that your company is struggling financially, taking on debt for the wrong reasons can cripple your business,” he adds. 

To assist businesses to recover and grow during these difficult times, Lulalend is offering its first-time customers the opportunity to take out funding but only start repaying after 60 days, which gives them two months of cost-free capital.

As an accountant, how do you support your business customers’ working capital needs?

As an accountant, how do you support your business customers’ working capital needs?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

The owner of MS Catarino&Co, Sergio Catarino, has been a tax advisory accountant for over 18 years and recently faced this question. He was looking for a way to assist one of his clients with accessing working capital when he came across Lulalend’s affiliate program. 

The Lulalend affiliate program facilitates a quick and easy referral process for businesses and individuals who want to help their network of SMEs find a quick and flexible working capital solution. With Lulalend’s affiliate program, you can go the extra mile for your clients by helping them easily apply for working capital to take advantage of opportunities and help grow their businesses. When you help grow your client’s business, you could earn up to R60 000 in commission. 

Sergio takes a personal approach to his business clients’ needs: “We’re a small company that’s been in the business for over 18 years. Any new client is considered as family, where our approach is to dedicate regular time to them, other than just annually during tax season. We review their wills, company progress and ensure all their affairs are in order.” 

We go the extra mile for our clients when they are in need of assistance and try as much as we can to assist them –that’s why I referred my client to Lulalend.

My client runs a well-established business that’s been trading for almost 30 years. Due to the current climate, they were looking for a way to increase their cash flow. As an advisor for my client, I considered the needs of his business and looked at what will be best suited for his circumstances. We go the extra mile for our clients when they are in need of assistance and try as much as we can to assist them –that’s why I registered as a Lulalend Affiliate to refer my client to Lulalend.

“My client could see to his business needs from the funds he received and I earned my commission from Lulalend. That’s a win-win in my book.” 

As an advisor, I carefully looked at the figures and considered all the factors. I explained to my client that he could probably go to the traditional route, but at what cost? Traditional lenders want to secure everything; your house, your wife, your cat –but with Lulalend it’s different. He probably would have had to wait a few months for feedback, and that’s if he would have even gotten approval for business funding.

“It comes down to a trade-off. Does the client want money to be paid out fast, or do they want to wait?”

The bank will take its own time and still give the money on the provision that it’s secured lending. That’s the bottom line, and my client understood the requirements and repayments and was keen to proceed with his application for business funding from Lulalend.

 

Two fast and easy referral methods to choose from

 

All Sergio had to do was sign up to become a Lulalend affiliate by registering his details. He could then refer his client by either:

  1. Forward his client his unique referral URL that’s linked to his profile
  2. Or upload his client’s business information to his dashboard within five minutes  

Having access to his client’s information, Sergio decided to submit his client’s application and within five minutes the application was processed. Upon approval of his client’s business funding, Sergio received a 3% commission from Lulalend for helping his client grow his business. 

“My client could see to his business needs from the funds he received and I earned my commission from Lulalend. That’s a win-win in my book.”

 

“My client was impressed with Lulalend’s service and would choose them again in future,” says Sergio. “From the time he made the application, to the time that he was promised he would receive the funding. I am happy to say that we made the right decision.”

 

About Lulalend

Lulalend, South Africa’s first online provider of short-term business funding, provides a fast and transparent lending experience for SMMEs in South Africa. Their products, driven by AI technology, are specifically designed to make it easier for small businesses to access vital working capital. Their mission is to empower businesses and entrepreneurs across South Africa with the capital they need to grow. Learn more

4 Ways to Optimize your Digital Marketing

4 Ways to Optimize your Digital Marketing

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you want to make the most of your digital marketing efforts, you have to make all your tools and platforms work for you. This is why it’s important to understand how to optimize your digital platforms.

Here are our 4 ways you can optimize your digital platform to grow and better your business online:

  1. Use technology and data to determine the best way to reach your customers
  2. Make use of Automation Tools
  3. Optimize your SEO
  4. Take Advantage of Social Media

 

 

1. Use technology and data to determine the best way to reach your customer

Modern technologies can assist you in optimizing your digital marketing strategy by allowing you to quickly identify your target market and where to reach them. You can now easily collect data on your customer’s behaviours, evaluate this, and build a deeper understanding of the media they absorb.

For example, Google Analytics turns assumptions about your target audience into solid facts. Under the Audience tab, you can quickly understand who your customers are and where they are located along with a plethora of other stats. Under the Acquisitions tab, click All Traffic then Source/Medium where you will find how your customers and web traffic were referred to your site.

With the data, you can now readily access using these technologies you can create personalized messaging and focus your investments on delivering these messages through the right channels. 

 

2. Make use of Automation Tools

One way your business can save time and money is by making use of marketing automation tools. When you spend less time on repetitive tasks, you free up valuable time that can be spent focusing on analysing your performance data and making the improvements needed to generate more growth for your business.

Some tools can help you plan and schedule your efforts as well as track what is or isn’t successful. They will help you spend your budget smartly and increase your reach.

Here are a few tools to consider:

  1. Pardot
  2. Hubspot
  3. Activecampaign

 

Related: 5 Digital Marketing Strategy Tips: COVID-19 SME Support

 

3. Optimize your SEO

While SEO optimization may be more prominent in B2C organizations it’s becoming increasingly important to ensure your B2B business has a good SEO ranking. If it’s not something people can find on the web, a B2B enterprise runs the risk of falling between the cracks.

Having an SEO specialist on your team (or using an agency) will ensure your content is optimized with; Focus keywords, Google-friendly HTML formatting, and a URL structure that correlates with your product keywords – all of which makes it easier for your target audience to find your business in search engines such as Google and Bing.

Using free tools provided by SEO specialists like Moz, as well as Google (Google Analytics, and Search Console), you can assess the overall score of your product pages and decide where improvements are needed.

Make sure you use the same SEO auditing process for all digital assets involved in your campaign, including case studies and blog posts.

 

Related: The rise of eCommerce

 

4. Take Advantage of Social Media

Since its inception in the early 2000s, social media has transformed the way people communicate. Simultaneously, it has generated novel possibilities for digital marketers.

People pay a lot of attention to social media, making content here even more effective. Marketers can use social media to reach as many, or few – if you want to be very targeted customers as they choose. (depending on your budget). It is a strategy that is beneficial to all companies, large or small.

Social Media can be used to; Build a fan/customer base and continually engage with them in a cost-effective way, reach new audiences, enhance your customer service, gather feedback and enhance your overall online presence. Social networking is something you can’t ignore when it comes to improving your digital marketing plan.