As a publisher, you must constantly look for ways to catch and retain the right audience on your website. However, without reliable data, you never know what exactly appeals to your target audience.
How do you track your audience’s actions, store and analyse audience data, and launch new campaigns that deliver exceptional results? First, you need a CRM platform.
The tool will enable you to manage all the interactions with your website audience in one interface, automate your email campaigns, centralise campaign performance data, analyse readers’ online behaviour, and more. In other words, a CRM system organises most of your business processes.
This article will briefly cover the importance of customer relationship management for online publishers and list the best CRM systems experts in the publishing industry recommend.
What does CRM stand for?
CRM stands for customer relationship management. It’s a practice of collecting and interpreting customer data to build personalised marketing or sales campaigns and strengthen relationships between a brand (or a publisher) and its customers (or readers).
CRM systems are tools – cloud-based on on-premise – that assist brands in managing their relationships with customers.
When implemented correctly, CRM software collects data from all the company’s marketing channels and business automation tools, such as web analytic tools, social media channels, online form builders, survey tools, etc. You can later analyse the processed and organised data and use it to launch new marketing campaigns, optimise your site content, and more.
Why do media publishers need CRM systems?
Conclusion: there’s no doubt that e-Commerce or SaaS companies need CRM software – it helps them manage sales processes more efficiently and increase conversions. But how does CRM help online publishers?
It’s no secret that publishers monetise their content in different ways:
- By selling exclusive content, like ebooks, video tutorials, etc.;
- By leveraging subscription models;
- By selling their digital space to advertisers;
- By adding affiliate links in their content;
- By publishing sponsored articles;
- By offering membership.
Whatever monetisation model(s) you choose, you need an excellent understanding of your target audience to make profits. It would help to publish content appealing to people you want to encourage to pay for a subscription, click on your partners’ ads, buy your affiliate products, or take any other action.
Compiling and analysing audience data without a centralised solution would take a lot of manual effort if publishers didn’t use CRM systems. More specifically, the software allows you to:
- See all the website performance data in one dashboard;
- Keep track of all the user interactions with your website, affiliate links, social media content, and email campaigns;
- Run lead generation campaigns;
- Launch personalised email campaigns;
- Run audience surveys and analyse the results;
- Manage campaigns and events;
- Manage subscriptions and memberships;
- Create detailed audience profiles;
- Identify drops in engagement and see the reasons that have led to the issue;
- Streamline sales of digital ad space and manage partnerships (sales funnels, invoicing, etc.);
- Provide clear and detailed audience reports to advertisers interested in your ad space,
- Report on the results of PR campaigns and sponsored articles for partners, and many more.
In other words, implementing a CRM solution is a way to save your time, build lasting relationships with partners, grow your audience without much effort, and, most importantly, boost profits.
Top-rated CRM platforms for online publishers
Publishers should be cautious when choosing the CRM system – only a few platforms from a large variety of options will meet the needs peculiar only to the publishing industry. Below are top-rated CRM solutions created specifically for digital publishers.
Of course, we’ll start with Salesforce. The world’s most popular software providing customer management service offers unique features for media publishers. The platform is used by media giants like Financial Times and News International.
Top functionalities of Salesforce CRM for publishers include:
- Tools for monitoring and managing social media engagement;
- Tools for analysing website performance;
- Mobile apps and tools for managing subscriptions and member profiles;
- Email marketing tools;
- Tools for launching triggered advertising campaigns and remarketing campaigns;
- Sales management tools, and more.
Christina Scott, CIO of Financial Times says the ability to use the Salesforce solutions to monitor and engage with social customers is crucial to the company: “Marketing Cloud lets us use social media to see how we’re doing. Social media is the fastest growing traffic source to FT.com, increasing by 20% in the first six months of 2012, and is an increasingly important driver of new customers.”
Workbooks are one more established CRM platform with an excellent reputation. The tool is suitable for subscription-based media businesses.
The most valuable Workbooks features for media and publishing industries are:
- Subscription management.
- Event management.
- Audience analysis and management.
- Media sales management.
- Payment management.
With Workbooks, publishers can manage invoices, commissions, and discounts. It’s also helpful in keeping track of the sales cycle, from initiating conversations with advertisers to providing informative reports to partners.
Workbooks are praised for their user-friendliness, excellent customer service, business automation functionalities, particularly for small businesses. “Workbooks is a customer relationship management platform that offers a wide range of tools and features that help organisations accelerate growth, automate business processes and reduce corporate costs; in addition to being software that focuses on customer satisfaction, it has an organised interface with an intelligent design, affordable, competitive pricing even for SMBs and excellent customer support,” says the Workbooks user.
Magazine Manager is a software developed specifically for the needs of online publishers. Due to its simple, intuitive functionality, it’s widely used by niche publishers, newly-built media outlets, and local media publishers.
The CRM platform includes marketing and sales automation software, a centralised ad management system, an invoicing system, features for audience analytics, and more. It’s focused on helping sales teams identify potential advertisers and converting them into contracts.
The Magazine Manager features include:
- Audience insights;
- Email marketing;
- Contact management;
- Sales activities calendar;
- Proposal templates;
On the benefits of the system, one of the Magazine Manager users says: “I like the breadth of reports that are available to help track sales and keep up with a large sales team. However, for an individual salesperson, it is hard to pretend like work is getting done when using this software. The ability of our leadership to hone in on an individual’s performance is key.”
MagHub is a cloud-based CRM platform helping small, mid, and large-sized enterprises in media business streamline workflows.
Whether you represent a print or digital media company, MagHub will help you manage projects more effectively.
With Maghub, publishers can:
- Manage subscriptions;
- Plan publications;
- Automate and manage billing processes;
- Manage freelancers;
- Launch marketing projects;
- Automate marketing campaigns;
- Create proposals to potential partners;
- Sell advertising space;
- Analyse the performance of ads displayed within your website;
- See operational reports;
- Manage your relationships with partners;
- Create tickets, assign tasks, and provide status updates.
The product has a simple pricing structure and doesn’t require constant upgrades.
“I love the fact that when you create an order for a client, it automatically creates artwork tickets for each issue on their order. You can also assign different statuses to different tickets. So nearly everything in Maghub is completely customisable depending on your industry,” says a delighted MagHub customer.
RunMags is less popular but quality CRM and magazine publishing software. It enables publishers to:
- Sell advertising;
- Create proposals that convert;
- Manage production;
- Manage contracts;
- Access secure payment portals;
- Deliver projects for partners;
- Manage subscriptions and renewals;
- Launch email campaigns;
- Create informative reports.
RunMags is an excellent choice for startup publishers.
“I like the most reliable features they include; Circulation Management, Campaign Administration, Substance Administration, Publicizing Management, Layout & Plan, Magazines, Pamphlets and Newspapers,” shares the RunMags user.
Which one is right for you?
Are you looking for a simple solution to manage your audiences, trade ad space, and launch automated campaigns? Then mid-sized publisher-specific platforms, like Magazine Manager and MagHub, are suitable for you.
Suppose you’re looking for a more advanced solution to streamline sales and marketing campaigns, manage your relationships with advertisers from initiating your first conversations to delivering comprehensive reports, manage billing processes, and more. In that case, solutions like Salesforce CRM and Workbook will better fit your needs.
Make a list of the features you’re looking for, set a budget you’re ready to spend every month and pick one or two platforms that meet your criteria. Then, after watching product demos, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.