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Connecting CRM and CMS

I came from the old school of content management.  My documents resided in folders.  No, not the electronic ones on my PC, but the ones in my filing cabinet.  With the age of computers, I graduated to electronic folders.  But, having no standardized way of organizing them for easy access, I was forever trying to figure out where I had put a specific file and trying to figure out if it was the latest version.  My filing system needed to change as it was a big waste of my time.  Along came Content to straighten me out and educate me on a better, more effective way of doing things.

I now have a website with web content management capabilities.  My choice of poison?  Joomla!  I have to admit, I didn’t choose it because of its capabilities but because it was open source and I had resources to help me through the learning curve.  But kudos to Joomla!.  It has been good to me and it’s one of the best open source solutions available. 

I also use Salesforce.com Content Management which allows me to manage my documents in a more effective fashion.  Using Web 2.0, which facilitates interactive information sharing and collaboration, it’s a lot easier to find the information I need and to push important documents out to my clients.

Using a content management system (CMS) has opened up a whole new world for me, and more importantly, a way to grow my business with limited resources.  I now have the means to organize my web content, publish, share my blog articles and, make it easy for me to be actively involved with social media. 

I don’t have to worry about old versions going out to my clients and if I ever want to collaborate on a web article with my partners, I can do that too.  And the best thing is; I can do it on my own.  I don’t have to worry about outsourcing every time I want to make a change or even if I want to create a completely new website with new content.  My content management system (CMS) can grow with my business.

The Evolution of Content Management

We have come a long way since file folders in a cabinet.  We have high tech and the internet to thank for that.  Our customers, prospects, and employees can access our content on demand via the web, easily and quickly. 

Our customers want all sorts of content.  Not just brochures and datasheets.  They want white papers or e-books.  They want to read articles and blogs that they can access through social media websites that they visit regularly like LinkedIn Groups and Facebook.  They want to find up-to-date information from business-focused resource websites like BNet.  They want to go to technology websites like destinationcrm.com for CRM information and Hubspot for marketing expertise.  And, we need to be there, as well as our own website.

Not only do we need to be able to offer a variety of content in different locations that our customers are visiting, we need to supply content in RSS, HTML and XML.  We need to supply documents as a pdf or in Word for downloading.  And that is just one type of media.  We also have a swarm of other formats for audio and video as well.   Software vendors must be having a heyday selling us software to be able to meet these demands.  Yes, content has changed big time since the coming of the internet and with that, the demand to manage it has become complex.

Why CMS?

I view new technologies and new ways of doing business with a perspective that many of my younger colleagues don’t.  I do not believe in technology for technology’s sake, but believe that there must be significant advantages not only on paper, but in a practical sense.  It is important to understand why you need CSM and what it will do for you.

Small businesses like CRM Connect, use CMS to organize and contain all web based content.  This makes it easy to update, maintain and distribute through all required channels. Other businesses have more stringent requirements and need to organize, review, update and control their secured and unsecured content through workflows.   The more complex their processes and content requirements, the more critical it is to make sure it is managed in a cost effective manner.  And of course, from the customer’s view point, we need to make sure it is available where they are searching and in a format that they want. 

Is the Time Right for CMS?

There will come a point when CMS just makes sense from a resource and cost standpoint.  Some fundamental questions that should be asked include:

  1. Does it significantly improve my productivity?
  2. Will it increase sales?
  3. Does it benefit my customers and/or prospects?
  4. Will it reduce my costs of doing business (sales, marketing, services, and customer support)?
  5. Will using CMS result in a positive ROI? 

The 4 C’s of CMS

Just like CRM, CMS involves people, process and technology, and many businesses have the need to Contribute, Collaborate and Circulate (share) Content.  Make sure you cover the who, what, and how’s of the 4 C’s to help you determine which CMS is the best choice.

Contribute – Who needs to contribute, how do I want them to contribute and where should they contribute.  What security levels do I need?

Collaborate – What types of content do you need to collaborate on?  How do collaborators access the content?  Is version control important?  Who do people need to collaborate with?  Do I need to implement workflows for better productivity?

Circulate and Share – How do people access the content?  Do I need to have specific content available through my website, extranet and intranet?  What format is best for sharing?  Do you want to push out information automatically by setting up subscriptions to workspaces?  Is the content going to be shared by other applications such as a web-based knowledge base, or your CRM?

Content – Consider the types of content that you have.  Is it used for marketing, sales, service, and customers?  Do you need to update it frequently?  Is it graphic-rich, multi-media, large or small file size?  How will content be maintained and by whom?

The First Steps Into CMS

It’s not surprising that the number one pitfall for CMS failure is not aligning the correct solution to the company’s requirements.  Just like CRM, make sure that you identify your objectives, create a strategy and build a culture within your organization that will help CMS succeed.   Make sure that you cover all technical, business and content process requirements.  If your organization has more complex requirements, a toolkit by SDL Tridion can help you through this process. 

CMS and CRM

I have recently been thinking about the importance of content management and CRM.  Both tools can be used to support the customer and to help make businesses more productive and lower their costs.  Integration of these two applications will help in eliminating silos by giving better visibility and making it easier to access content whether you are in sales, production, engineering or marketing or a customer looking for an answer.

Choosing a CRM and CMS solution that will allow you to listen to the voice of the customer, have access to a knowledge base and supporting content, and capture historical data through a single user interface will be a tall order.  One such solution that is going in this direction is Orchestra CMS by Stantive Technologies.  Stantive not only offers content management solutions, but, they also use Salesforce.com  which has integrated Twitter and Facebook into its application so that we can listen to the voice of the customer and respond to their needs.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM can also be integrated to CMS like SharePoint for additional functionality. 

It will be interesting to see what the CRM world will look like in the next few years as the complexity of the internet evolves and our customers rely more and more on the content that they can find in cyberspace.  But, with the right tools and the right strategies, we will be able to meet them out there and respond to their needs.

Want to know where to go from here?  Contact CRM Connect, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it