CRM: What It Is, Why You Need It, and How To Spot a Good One

Written by Jaclyn Levi

You continue to hear about how vital a CRM (or Customer Relationship Management system) is for your organization, but you also hear about the dozens of other tools you should have to manage and market your event. The truth is, a CRM can be the difference between declining revenue and a thriving event year after year.


With hundreds of CRMs and software systems out there, how do you know you’re investing your time in the right one? Here’s the lowdown on why a robust CRM is essential to your business and what you should look for as an endurance sports organizer.


CRM refresher: The Basics

A CRM is a system for managing your relationships with your current and prospective customers defined by its core functionality: to store a directory of your customers’ information online. The latest and greatest CRM tools (including haku’s Community) store your customers’ information in the cloud — which means it’s accessible anytime, across any device. For you, that means saying bye-bye to clipboards or mounds of paper at your desk or even on event days. If you’re currently inputting customer info into spreadsheets manually, you know how much time this could save. As an endurance race organizer, your CRM is the best way to keep track of who your customers are and how they are interacting with your organization, recording everything from the amount spent, past events participated in, and even the number participant referrals. A top-notch CRM will help you deepen your relationship with your customers even after they’re done participating in an event. All in all, your CRM is the brain for your customer relationships, helping guide you in decision making and drive engagement.


What to look for in a CRM

So you’re ready to begin your quest to find the perfect CRM, but how do you know which one to choose? A quality CRM’s super power is all the insights it can help you cull about your customers in a way that is easily understandable and lets you take action on it.


1.) Automation 

Any CRM worth its salt will reduce your administrative workload by automating data collection, crunching the numbers for you, and making the information actionable. Your CRM should automatically collect and store all essential and industry specific information from your customers at the point of entry, whether it be registration, donation, or something else. And it should do it seamlessly, with no major importing and exporting. That data can then be made available to drive smarter marketing and business decisions.


2.) Analytics
Smart companies know the value that lies in relying on data to make critical decisions about everything from marketing to pricing strategies. Your CRM should provide you quality analytics about everything from customer habits to community demographics and serve as your gateway to gain a deeper understanding of your business and participant trends. This will be the basis of generating new ideas and testing strategies to boost participation, retention, and revenue.


3.) Email Marketing
Any marketer can tell you that the key to effective communication is by engaging your audience. And one way to start is to speak to them familiarly and convey a message that pertains to them. That is why being able to segment your audience and send targeted email campaigns is essential. But just being hooked up to email marketing templates won’t quite cut it. A valuable CRM will give you deep analytics into how your campaigns have performed help you track the success and value of your efforts.


4.) Campaign Automation
Nourishing relationships can guarantee customer happiness and engagement, and a good CRM will help you do this with minimal investment of time and resources. Platforms that provide robust campaign automation should stand out to you. Why? Well, automated campaigns, like birthday offers, new event announcements, and win back campaigns, far outperform one-offs blasted to your entire customer list. Data from Square shows that open rates for automated campaigns are 1.7 times higher than offer campaigns that are sent to the entire customer base.


5.) Social Media Integration
Social media integrated with your participant data – what could be better than that? Look for a CRM that can provide insights that help you understand which participants are influencing the most customers from their social media to your races or check out how many participants are posting their results for friends and family to see. This way, you can be sure your most loyal customers get the recognition they deserve.


6.) Customer Retention Tools
Since increasing customer retention by 5% can ultimately increase profits by 25% to 95%, you’ll want to invest in a CRM that gives you features to drive customer retention. Look for key capabilities that enable you to create loyalty and rewards programs, provide personalization, and offer promotions to increase your retention rates and skyrocket sales. Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what your participants are saying about your events? A good CRM will give you that, helping you understand overall customer sentiment and even aid you in collecting direct feedback. But it shouldn’t stop there. Take it a step further by looking for a CRM that lets you take action on feedback, helping you create one-on-one dialogues, resolve any complaints, and pinpoint areas that need improvement. As the IT advisory and research company Gartner points out, “CRM will be at the heart of digital initiatives in coming years…as digital business is crucial to remaining competitive.” Getting in on the CRM can help give your business a leg up, and help you jump start growth more efficiently than ever.