The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2015: Part 1
What makes a great CRM blog? Generally, the same things that make a great CRM implementation: good planning, thoughtful responses to a changing market, consistent posting (the "adoption" part of blogging), the right technology, and people with the right personality. It's the classic "people, processes and technology" trilogy, really.
Do a Google search for "CRM blogs" and you'll get about 22 million hits. That means those that made our annual list of the best blogs and bloggers are one in a million (or more literally, one in 1.1 million).
Our criteria are fairly simple: each blog must have at least eight posts in the previous year; it can't be a from a vendor, unless it's written in such a way as to be virtually vendor agnostic; and it must show a masterful grasp of both the human and technological elements of CRM. That narrows the field only slightly. From there, the judgment is based solely on the quality of the content.
In past years, we've started with No. 1 and worked backward. This year, we're turning it around and starting with No. 20 first. Next week, we'll reveal the top 10, but let's start with Nos. 20-11, featuring several newcomers, some niche CRM sites and several industry stalwarts. Let the ranking begin!
20. CRM Simplified
The exception to the rule about vendors: If your blog is conscientiously not about your company, you can make this list. This blog qualifies under that caveat; the folks from WalkMe thoroughly grasped the idea of selling the ideas and not the product (there's no mention of the parent company in this blog since back in March).
As a result, they've produced a helpful and creative blog that will be especially useful to those looking to implement CRM in a greenfield environment and to those looking to make a CRM buying decision for the first time.
Editor Michael Taylor mixes up some useful original content, some helpful curation (in the form of "This Week's Must-Reads in CRM" roundups) and even the odd product review.
CRM Simplified has real potential for helping to educate readers and turn them into more confident buyers (which should be the goal of any vendor-sponsored blog). It also has the potential to move up this list if it can sustain its 2015 momentum.
Total posts in 2015: 55
Recommended post: "4 Frightening CRM Training Experiences"
19. Duct Tape Marketing
John Jantsch is not only a knowledgeable writer and an articulate advocate for small businesses' use of customer relationship tools, he's a master at pulling in excellent guest bloggers. In 2015, the Duct Tape Marketing blog hosted scores of contributors with unique expertise in strategy, technology and tactics, expanding the voice and bringing new ideas to its readership.
John also makes sure that his appearances in other media have a home here, and his weekly roundups of curated content add to the depth of information. If you're in charge of CRM, marketing or loyalty efforts as a small but growing company, you're likely to find ideas that can lift you out of your rut and help spark a renewed contribution to your company's growth.
Total posts in 2015: a lot (website limitations prevent a complete count)
Recommended post: "How to Make Guest Posting the Secret to Traffic Success"
18. Inside CRM/Toolbox.com
Drawing from Ziff-Davis' many publications and relationships, the blog is now massive in volume of posts, somewhat inconsistent in tone and level of content, and written by an interesting mix of consultants, journalists and other thought leaders.
Sometimes, posts of a very tangential nature turn up ("The Future of Ethical Breach Security" -- interesting, but is it CRM?).
It's not all curation or repurposing. Some very good writers populate its posts, including veterans like Rick Cook. (An aside: As the first editor of InsideCRM and the founding blogger, I am somewhat pleased to see him still writing for the site. Sniff!) Well worth a weekly look to scan the headlines and read what applies to your CRM issues.
Total posts in 2015: 355
Recommended post: "Eliminate Customer Frustrations With CRM"
17. Bob Thompson - CustomerThink
CustomerThink always has been a little confounding to this list. Consider the entire site? Consider individual bloggers? No matter which way you slice it, Bob Thompson should be on the list.
A veteran thought leader with the ability to organize other thought leaders (not an easy task), he wrote a baker's dozen plus two thought-provoking posts in 2015. Many dive down beneath the surface coverage and immerse the reader in analysis of second-level issues that can make or break CRM and customer experience.
CX received a lot of attention from Bob in 2015, and some tough love as well, thanks to his ability to frame the discussion of this and other trends in business terms. CX is nice for the customer, but it should be done for a reason and with a business objective in mind, a concept Bob reminded his readers of in 2015 in fully half of his posts.
Total posts in 2015: 15
Recommended post: "Has CXM Jumped the Shark Trying to Be the Theory of Everything?"
16. CRM Switch
Produced by a consulting company, CRM Switch frequently employs a simple conceit. By comparing two similar things that are frequently confused for each other (single tenant versus multitenant CRM, cloud accounting adoption versus CRM adoption, etc.), Steve Chipman gets the opportunity not just to explain the differences but to clarify the definitions.
Vendor reviews, examinations of best practices, and examinations of frequently experienced CRM deployment and adoption problems command the rest of the content. The blog is not upper-level strategy reading but rather a set of advisories: what to watch for, what to expect, when to expect it, and the things to do so that the reality matches your expectations.
Total posts in 2015: 20
Recommended post: "CRM Campaigns vs. Marketing Automation Campaigns"
15. Nick Baggott's CRM and Digital Marketing Blog
Nick Baggott's blog, which effectively intertwines CRM and marketing issues (as they should, since they're two sides of the same coin), is a go-to source of on-point statistics (he highlights interesting findings with a bit of commentary), infographics, and data-supported arguments in favor of sales and marketing best practices.
His posts are short, punchy and to the point; the only time they are long is when he publishes interview transcripts various sources have done with him.
Nick is working toward the goal of getting businesses to take a more holistic view of their sales and marketing operations and the technologies they employ while encouraging businesses to pay attention to the human side of the equation through social media. If alignment is on your docket for 2016, check out Nick's blog for stats and strategies to back up your initiatives.
Total posts in 2015: 22
Recommended post: "Engagement and the Customer Experience: Some Observations"
14. Effective CRM
Mike Boysen just edged over the minimum number of posts this year -- which is good, because he's on the list, but bad, because I would have enjoyed reading more from him.
He frames CRM problems in familiar, funny and original ways -- not as in "8 CRM Ideas You Can Learn from 'Game of Thrones'," but with truly clever metaphors (like the recommended post) and provocative headlines, then lives up to those components of his posts.
He often provides a list of "additional reading" items at the end of his posts, making him one of the few effective creators/curators. He's also acutely aware of the impact of culture on CRM and is clear in his caveats to readers: CRM is not merely about changing your software, but about changing your attitudes and processes.
Total posts in 2015: 8
Recommended post: "CRM Rescue: a TV Show That Would Fail?"
13. Customer Experience Matrix
David Raab was the first writer to assume a leadership position in discussing marketing automation. Since he grabbed that spot almost a decade ago, Customer Experience Matrix has expanded its range of topics as the technology has grown in acceptance and been integrated into other aspects of the sales and marketing software ecosystem.
Part of that is by necessity: He's had to incorporate analytics, predictive technologies and other emerging trends into his coverage, or else he'd become obsolete. However, he incorporates these trends into his analysis with great agility that also permits considerations of the human aspects of marketing to remain in place. No matter how automated the marketing process is, it is still all about reaching the customer, and when the customer changes the ways businesses use technology must change too.
Analysis of acquisitions and business moves and vendor overviews round out what is consistently a must-read blog for anyone hoping to have an understanding of marketing technology.
Total posts in 2015: 50
12. B2B Roundtable
This blog turned off what had been a prolific tap in April after posting enough material to qualify for this year's rankings. If it's the end of the line for the blog -- penned primarily by Brian J. Carroll but assisted by other able writers including Erin Hogg, Jessica Lorenz and Josh Wilson -- then it went out on a high note.
Populated with practical, statistic-laden posts about effective lead generation, lead nurturing, business-to-business relationship building and the strategies that drive them, this blog is for the CSO, not the CIO.
It dwells squarely on the human side of CRM and explores the behaviors marketers and salespeople can take to help woo B2B customers. Those behaviors result in data that can be collected, analyzed and acted upon, but B2B Roundtable doesn't put the data cart before the customer horse.
Total posts in 2015: 15
Recommended post: "Content Marketing Tips for Lead Nurturing"
11. Michael Fauscette
Only 10 posts landed on Mike Fauscette's blog this year, but that was OK. He writes long, meaty posts that take awhile to digest and are generous in insights.
Heaping helpings of software analysis and strategic analysis make each post something of an event, and they're spread across topics that are immediately applicable to CRM (customer experience, predictive analytics) and others that will shape CRM and other business software (net neutrality, assistive technology).
Regardless of the topic, the blog is worth a close reading and close consideration; if what Fauscette is talking about today isn't affecting your business, you can bet that it will affect it not too far in the future.
Total posts in 2015: 10
Recommended post: "Cloud Software and Business Modernization Part 2: Customer Experience"