Evaluate CRM platforms and marketing tools to stay competitive

Last updated:October 2017

Buyer's Guide

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Editor's note

Managing customer relationships is tougher than ever, since there is increasingly more customer data to sort through and analyze. In addition, the process of identifying, attracting and retaining customers is changing, as customers are now determining how engagement takes place.

To help this cause, customer relationship management technology has made tremendous inroads to engagement beyond simple marketing and selling. Today's CRM platforms and marketing automation tools can provide organizations of all sizes with a competitive edge, and help them increase revenue through sophisticated customer interactions.

Current CRM platforms go beyond traditional sales, marketing and customer support to provide innovative functionality in response to changing customer habits. For example, with more and more customers taking to social media to share their experiences with and opinions of products and services, social media monitoring can provide marketers with insight into customer buying habits.

Analytics functionality being used on customer data lakes can help organizations detect buying patterns so they can predict repeat sales opportunities. And the internet of things is a major driver of CRM, as it enables organizations to adjust their marketing efforts so they can capitalize on real-time customer opportunities signaled through these automated data streams. As the author of this guide, Scott Robinson, explains, "With the right tools, CRM can be game-changing."

Before investing in a CRM platform and the tools that plug into it, it is important to determine what features and options the various systems offer, and to assess how they match your organization's needs. For example, does your organization need only certain functions -- such as sales, marketing, service and support? Or, do you require enhanced features, such as cloud-based customer support or analytics? What about mobile deployment?

This guide can help you answer these questions and simplify the product selection process by providing a comparison of products from the leading CRM vendors. Using extensive research into the CRM market, TechTarget editors focused on the vendors that lead in market share, plus those that offer traditional and advanced functionality. Our research included data from TechTarget surveys, as well as reports from other respected research firms, including Gartner and Forrester.

A roundup of these CRM platforms and leading marketing automation packages provides an in-depth look at how each product is deployed, what size business the product is best suited for and what functionality the product offers. Using this information, you can compare the specific products to find the best CRM system for your organization's needs.

1How companies are using CRM to improve customer experiences

The best way to determine if this technology would be a good fit for your organization is to examine the use cases presented here.

2What to look for when buying a CRM system

All CRM platforms include core features, which generally provide sales, marketing and customer support. But some products offer enhanced features, such as social CRM, analytics and peer-to-peer product support. Learn what features and functionality you should look for in a CRM product.

3Assess which CRM tools best fit your needs

The leading CRM vendors, including Adobe, HubSpot, Marketo, Pegasystems and Zoho, have unique capabilities that help organizations address changing customer needs and provide faster access to information.

4What the leading CRM systems offer

Products from the leading CRM vendors address businesses of all sizes and offer a variety of deployment options and enhanced capabilities.