Spot the differenceNiroo Rad
Do CRM and CMS still exist as separate technologies? Niroo Rad asks the question.
Just as email marketing and 'a-thon-type' fundraising events are generally viewed by marketers as the best way to reach donors, so CRM (Customer Related Management) and CMS (Content Management Systems) are traditionally thought of as separate technologies.
For those traditional in thinking, prepare for a bumpy ride! Let's take this year's Comic Relief as an example. Over £102m was raised, a large proportion of which was donated via text message. For example BBC Radio 1's Longest Show Ever with Chris Moyles and Comedy Dave raised £2,622,421 alone. This has helped prove text-based donations are every bit as equal as those made online or by phonecall.
As fundraisers have had to adapt to this transition in the latest way to make donations, not-for-profits now need to adapt to donor and member needs and stop treating CRM and CMS as separate technologies; they are evolving together as one system.
CMS came about as a way for organisations to manage, distribute and control content for websites, while enabling staff at various levels to manipulate content as required. Graphics, text blocks, widgets, video and audio, banners and other content became easy to plug in or pull out. Because CMS had logic rules built in, branding and messaging remained consistent. Later, vendors bolted on e-commerce functions and integrated back-end databases to allow for further personalised content. Again, CMS parameters ensured a level of control.
CRM, on the other hand, occupied the realm of database management, providing a means to slice and dice restricted information with a degree of ease. Systems were built around a database, which forced specific types of information to reside in specific fields as a way to manage the data. The ability to quickly and accurately target information with a CRM system was incredibly valuable for those in charge of marketing, the same who more or less owned the CMS. The foundation of a CRM system is data that fits a form - first name, last name, etc. - while the basis of a CMS is large chunks of information (or files).
Technology has advanced, and the database concept is much more powerful today, with the ability to organise data and files in the same manner. For example, CRM data and functionality can be tagged, categorised and delivered to members and donors just like web content. Additionally, all of these elements, along with web widgets, such as social media tools, can be mixed and matched to create a highly personalised web experience for all users, customers and staff. Today, the interface for CRM is no longer web-based; it actually is the website.
Shifting to today's CRM+CMS
To migrate to CRM and CMS convergence, not-for-profits need to outline and document everything they plan to integrate to make the process more organised and meaningful. Organisations will need to look at the integration's impact on their workflow requirements and consider the new opportunities they can utilise to best support staff and fulfil donors' and members' needs. Integration will improve and streamline processes, increase productivity, and reduce costs and overheads. CRM and CMS convergence can also enable not-for-profits to make the most of new capabilities; for example, organisations can now explore adding social networking tools and collecting certification data online.
Integrating the CRM and CMS can help increase the overall efficiency of an organisation. Members can effectively manage administrative tasks, such as maintaining their records through an interface that is designed for consumers rather than staff. Not-for-profits can then record this information, as well as donations, event registrations and more from their websites, directly into the database. This prevents staff time from being wasted due to duplicate transactions or entry mistakes, which are often created when trying to manage multiple systems.
Not-for-profits should also compare their structured and unstructured data in order to build a complete picture of their customers or constituents. By piecing together demographic, transactional and motivational information as well as activity and channel preferences, organisations can capitalise on the hearts and minds of their donors and members.
CRM and CMS integration can also help improve not-for-profits' engagement with not only their target audience but also staff. For example, a website that can recognise and gather information on its visitors from the database can present tailored pages, and offer content that is relevant to specific members based on their own interests and the past projects they have participated in. Members and donors expect personalisation on an organisation's website, but often staff do not see the information that is delivered back. With this end-user data more readily available, organisations are able to treat members as individuals, increasing the opportunity for greater engagement and deepened relationships.
Today, the concept of separate CRM and CMS is outdated. Instead, a single application that is used to manage all data could be a match made in heaven for many organisations. By integrating CRM and CMS and using their web presence to the fullest, not-for-profits can effectively stay connected to donors and members and show their value by extending important self-service capabilities. With complete views of their data, organisations can be one step ahead of their competitors, offering personalisation and the best possible customer service to donors and members.
Niroo Rad, chief executive and managing director of ASI Europe