How the ALS Association Can Keep Its Momentum Going The non-profit, along with businesses, can utilize three secrets of customer-relationship management software to effectively follow up on leads.

By Brandon Bruce

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Chances are you've seen an ALS Ice Bucket challenge on your Facebook news feed. The campaign went viral and was without a doubt a win for the ALS Association in terms of making noise and attracting new donors.

But what's next? Now that the ALS Association has thousands of names and emails of those who donated, what does it do?

The truth is that the majority of these people are simply one-time donors who might never contribute to the association again. To change that, the ALS Association needs to be proactive in trying to convert these new supporters into lifelong donors.

Related: 6 Viral-Marketing Lessons to Learn From the Ice Bucket Challenge

But this situation isn't only limited to the non-profits. It affects businesses across industries. Many struggle to understand how to maintain engagement with prospects or customers, especially after a huge outreach campaign.

Enter customer-relationship management (CRM) software.

CRM platforms are increasing in popularity, and one giant stands out among the rest: Salesforce. In fact, one-third of CRM customers who use a cloud-based CRM choose Salesforce. (My company develops software that integrates with Salesforce.)

However, many of these customers either don't use this technology as often as they should or they only scrape the surface -- they don't dig deeper to get intelligent information in and out of their CRM tool.

And that's just the problem: What many businesses are missing is CRM platforms are more than just a place to store customer data.

Here are three secrets to CRM that businesses can use to better attract and retain customers and prospects.

1. Leverage integrations. Many CRM platforms have opened itself up to integrations and APIs, creating an advantage for businesses if they know how to use it properly. These integrations plug right in and track, record, update and build intelligent customer or prospect information without anything falling through the cracks.

Integrations are key because they create a seamless platform for using CRM software and lower the barrier to adoption and utilization.

Related: New CRM Software? What to Keep in Mind.

Salesforce and other CRM tools are only as good as the data that's stored in them. By leveraging integrations, your business makes getting good data in and out of your CRM seamless.

2. Incorporate engagement. You need to keep your users engaged, and CRM can play a big role. Even though the viral aspect of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge seems to be slowing down, the backend of customer-relationship management is speeding up. Platforms that incorporate gamification help your business do just that.

By motivating and rewarding your sales or customer outreach team, you're maintaining the momentum from the initial campaign and keeping things interesting.

3. Let the tools do the work for you. Combining CRM with marketing automation means that much of your ongoing engagement with customers can be automated. You can create customized email campaigns that keep customers engaged and coming back. And as you log additional details into the CRM software, your communications continue to become more precise, targeted and effective.

As an example, there's no reason the more than $100 million donated to the ALS Association should be a one-time event. Automated-marketing platforms, such as Pardot and Marketo, can make outreach with potential donors or customers or whomever it is you want to keep in touch with seamless.

CRM platforms such as Salesforce aren't just for show. By leveraging their ecosystems, businesses can more easily get good information in and out of the platforms to use to their advantage.

We'll likely see this from the ALS Association, so if you haven't already received a few more emails from the non-profit, expect one soon.

Related: 5 Social-Media Marketing Lessons From the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Wavy Line
Brandon Bruce

COO and Co-founder of Cirrus Insight

Brandon Bruce is COO and Co-founder of Cirrus Insight, which integrates Salesforce with Google's suite of applications. He once rode his bicycle across Death Valley as part of the Furnace Creek 508. He finished in 35 hours and seven minutes.

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