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7 Data Sources You Should Absolutely Be Plugging into Your CRM Your CRM is your secret weapon, if you're filling it with the right data.

By Angela Ruth Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Caiaimage | Tom Merton | Getty Images

Personalization is already reshaping the way businesses interact with customers, with 69 percent of marketers connecting personal engagement to an improvement in retention rates. Tools are already available to help businesses reach out directly to customers based on specific interactions they've had with a business, and those solutions are only growing more sophisticated. But, as marketers are already learning, in order for personalized marketing to work well, companies need a database fully stocked with information on each customer.

Whether you're already engaging in personalized marketing or not, it's never too soon to start collecting data. Below are seven data sources you can connect to your CRM to help you build a strong database.

Related: 10 Reasons Why Good Customer Service Is Your Most Important Metric

Referral Sources

If you're putting expense and effort into marketing your business, you should be tracking where new customers learn about your offerings.

Those referrals may come from a mutual friend, a Facebook ad, an email message, an organic Instagram post, or any number of other sources, but it's important to track them. However, convincing people to let you know where they heard about you can be challenging.

Consider creating a separate coupon code for each marketing effort. This will not only encourage them to try out your products or services, since they'll get a discount, but it will give you the information you need to adjust your marketing efforts moving forward.

Related: Steal These 4 Proven Customer-Retention Strategies

Past Purchases

One of the most important pieces of information you'll find in a good CRM is a record of an employee's past purchases. With this data in place, you can create marketing campaigns that specifically target them with products they might want. If they call into your customer service center, your representatives should at least be able to see at a glance how long they've been a customer.

While you'll likely provide top-quality service to everyone who contacts you, seeing that someone is a long-term loyal customer will give you an opportunity to say, "Thank you."

Related: 25 Tips for Earning Customer Loyalty

Phone Calls

When a customer calls your business, are you logging the activity? Does your sales team track each of its attempts to reach out to various leads? There are tools that make it easy to help you monitor your calls and put that information to use.

Over time, you'll be able to take one look at a customer's record and know whether they might be likely to convert with one more phone call. Your customer service team should also be easily able to track a customer's history when they call in with a complaint.

Experiential Marketing Data

As marketing has continued to trend toward live experiences to further engage fans, consumers have developed a hunger for in-person interactions. For that reason, experiential marketing has taken off. In the past, experiential marketing has not been data-driven, and analyzing customer behavior at an event or activation has been much more challenging than with a website, where software monitors every click.

Experience Relationship Management (ERM) platforms like AnyRoad have found a solution for that by collecting data along the entire customer journey for various events, brand homes, and live branded experiences -- making it easier for businesses to understand their attendees, gauge the impact of their marketing efforts, and build robust data that can be plugged into their CRM.

This service will only increase in demand as companies turn toward experiential marketing to create brand champions.

Related: 5 Ways to Build Killer Relationships With Customers

Web Analytics

Web analytics seem to grow more advanced with each year, with some tools even tracking mouse movements and scrolls. However, improving your website's effectiveness is only part of the value of gathering this information.

Choose a CMS that has the ability to pull this data and help you use it in your marketing efforts, including customizing your emails and helping your customer service team personalizing their interactions. Over time, you'll be glad you have this information to create more sophisticated marketing campaigns.

Social Media Profiles

Customers regularly hand out information on what they're doing, buying, and thinking on social media. If you have a CRM that can access that information, you'll give yourself an edge over the competition.

Instead of thinking of various social media sites as venues for marketing to your customers, consider them sources of very important information. You can use that data to improve your products, offer better customer service, and personalize your marketing efforts across the board.

Once you've begun gathering this information, you'll likely find that you can improve the effectiveness of any social media outreach you're doing.

Related: Mark Cuban on Why You Should Never Listen to Your Customers

Survey Responses

Some information simply can't be gained through signups and analytics. For that information, surveys can be invaluable. Withfill-out-your-nps-survey/" rel="nofollow"> most surveys getting a response rate between 5-20 percent, many brands find that they have an uphill battle trying to get even a few customers to respond. Try to remove any barriers by creating a seamless user experience for your surveys. You can also incentivize customers to participate by offering free products or one entry into a contest with a lucrative prize. Make sure you're gathering data from these surveys beyond what you can determine through social media profiles and tools like website analytics.

Your CRM is one of the most important tools you have in building and growing your business. It's important to make sure you're filling it will data that will help you with your personalization efforts, even as technology makes it easier to customize each interaction to the customer on the other end.

Angela Ruth

Entrepreneur and Consultant

Angela Ruth is a freelance writer, journalist and consultant in Silicon Valley. She is a member of the YEC and a startup aficionado. You can follow her online on Twitter and Facebook.

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