What’s up?

We hope your subscriber base is. Growing your audience goes hand in hand with growing your content business. And email addresses are the valuable compensation paid by some in your audience.

Why are email addresses important?

Email addresses enable you to have direct contact with your audience. They also are so much more when you treat them as the digital identity “code” for your subscribers. Then, you can connect the dots between their touchpoints with your content brand.

Email addresses are the digital identity for your subscribers. They let you connect the touchpoint dots, says @AnnGynn. #contententrepreneur #creatoreconomy Click To Tweet

How does that work?

You achieve that understanding of connections and behavior through CRM – customer relationship management – software.

Isn’t CRM software designed for bigger businesses?

Yes, most of the software is targeted toward operations with big teams in part to get all their customer data on the same page. It’s most frequently used as a sales tool (that’s why “customer relationship” is included in the name.) But a CRM can offer significant advantages for content entrepreneurs.

What are the benefits for a content entrepreneur?

CRM software can help content entrepreneurs have quality data. You can better nurture your relationship with your subscribers when you know who they are and how they interact with your brand.

And all that data – and the resulting knowledge – can be invaluable to positioning your content business as a good investment for brand partnerships.

#CRM software help #contententrepreneurs develop quality data to better nurture their relationship with #subscribers and brand partners. #creatoreconomy Click To Tweet

What’s about upgrading to marketing automation?

Don’t run too quickly in adopting helpful tech solutions. After an email database, the next step is to implement a CRM. After that is running smoothly, you can begin the evaluation of marketing automation software to help streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks. (Some CRMs include marketing automation software.)

What else?

Among the CRM features outlined by TechTarget, the most useful for content entrepreneurs include automation features for self-service contacts (i.e., chatbots), contact flow, and analytics. It also may use artificial intelligence features to analyze subscriber interactions.

Tilt Talk and Advice

When should you go from an email database to a CRM?

You don’t need to rush into acquiring a CRM. Get hold of your basic audience data first. For example, your email software can help you generally understand your subscriber behavior, such as open rates, click-through rates, etc. 

But at some point, your email database will be too big to accurately assess and interpret the group’s behavior as a whole. You may want to switch to a CRM when you want to better understand how segments of your subscribers respond to which content and what actions they take.

Use a CRM when your email database gets too big to accurately assess and interpret your audience's behavior, says @AnnGynn. #contententrepreneur #creatoreconomy Click To Tweet

What’s another reason to expand to a CRM?

When you expand your content product line, a CRM can be a good option. Now that your audience can sign up for multiple content subscriptions, you want to know how it all connects.

Let’s say your first product is a free newsletter. After 12 months, you’ve grown the subscriber base sufficiently to add a paid online course. Six months later, you add a merchandise line.

Each of the products lives on a different transactional platform. Without a CRM, you would have to manually go through each database to see who subscribed to the newsletter that also purchased merch and eventually bought the online course (or any combination of those.)

You also would have to manually review to understand how people who bought the online course, for example, previously interacted with your brand – and how they continue to interact.

Any other reasons?

Generally, a CRM also is helpful as you grow your team. The more people involved, the more essential a single customer platform is.

Why is it good to understand the audience’s behavior?

Knowing how your audience interacts with your brand leads you to identify which channels or opportunities motivate them to take their commitment to the next stage.

That ability to predict your customers’ behavior can be invaluable as you chart the growth path for your content business.

How do you find the right CRM for your needs?

Don’t go for the software with all the bells and whistles. You won’t need them. Outline your basic requirements and leave a little room for expansion, such as marketing automation. Look for a CRM that can integrate with any other tech-based client-related platforms you already use.

What if you’re not ready for a CRM?

That’s OK. As you continue to grow your audience (and your content business), look at the subscriber data you do have access to. Take some time to manually spot-check the data to observe behavioral trends. Does a subscriber consistently open your emails on one day of the week? What’s the average time for the highest traffic on your blog? 

Taking that data-first approach to your audience base will help you be better informed and more comfortable when your business grows to the point where you do need a CRM.

About the author

Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. An IABC Communicator of the Year and founder of G Force Communication, Ann coaches and trains professionals in all things content. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.