The second half of the Top 20 Bloggers list is the half that holds the most surprises and fresh faces. This year, however, it also has the most variety — from non-English speakers to blogs targeted at small businesses — as well as plenty of marketing-oriented content.
There also are some re-entries to the list. Some of the people who made past lists but then dropped out have rediscovered their blogs and come roaring back.
The second 10 of the Top 20 is where more niche-focused bloggers crack the list — and, since there are likely to be some you haven’t heard of before, in a way it’s more interesting. Without any further delay, here are the second half of 2014’s best CRM blogs:
11. Jesus Hoyos – CRM en Latinoamrica
CRM in Latin America is a lot like CRM anywhere else — the basics are global, but the details are local. Jesus is adept at articulating both the essentials from his experience as a CRM consultant and the nuances he’s encountered in his work in Latin America — which, he notes, is not a single homogenous market but a series of distinctly different locales with different customer expectations, legal issues and sophistication levels.
Jesus is a great source of industry news and trend analysis for every market, and his blog is packed with guest commentary, social media content, videos, and links to podcasts. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you can enjoy what he’s creating — a button on the home page translates it into whatever language you’re comfortable with. Prolific and insightful, Jesus’ blog becomes more essential every year.
Total Posts in 2014: 84
Recommended post: “16 Business Intelligence Metrics You Should Have in Your CRM”
12. Destination CRM Blog
With a large cast of bloggers — David Myron, Leonard Kile, Maria Minsker, Oren Smilansky and Sarah Sluis — there’s never been an issue with Destination CRM coming up with content for its blog. The trick is keeping the ideas coming — it’s really easy to fall back on the “I had a bad customer experience and here’s how it relates to CRM” posts.
Luckily, the staff had a lot of things to draw from — events, especially, which this blog handles in its own unique way, presenting takeaways in the form of quotes from important participants and thus letting the show speak for itself.
The bloggers’ voices come through best when they’re presenting their own analysis of trends or technology announcements, and these don’t stay confined to pure CRM topics but spill into brand marketing, customer service, social media and other related areas.
Total Posts in 2014: 109
Recommended Post: 5 Ways to Create a Better Customer Experience
13. B2B Lead Roundtable Blog
If you’re out of ideas for using CRM to fill your pipeline, dip into the wealth of ideas presented by the 14 bloggers who populate this blog overseen by Brian Carroll. Each post is a little lesson in the best practices for not just generating leads but cultivating them at every stage of the buy cycle.
Great posts on lead nurturing, sourcing leads and working smoothly between sales and marketing are par for the course — they don’t stand out, because every post is outstanding. The blog takes its own advice and makes sure that every example of content it provides is valuable and relevant to its audience.
Lead-generation pros need this blog. CRM pros should check it to see what can and is being done with the data their systems capture.
Total Posts in 2014: 50
Recommended post: “Lead Generation through Influencers and Experts in 4 Steps”
14. Mike Boysen – Effective CRM
As a CRM consultant, Mike sees the world through the eyes of someone who craves process, order and clear definitions. As a person, a parent and a customer, however, he’s driven by different and more personal things. The two come together neatly in his blog, where Mike reality-checks CRM and lead-generation concepts and engages in a bit of blue-sky thinking of his own.
Mike has a way with a metaphor — I particularly like his column that likens attempts to create an alternate acronym for “CRM” to Prince’s ill-fated attempt to rebrand himself as “the symbol.”
He’s also tapped into an important vein of material by discussing leadership — not the sales leadership you see elsewhere, but the real leadership that businesses need throughout their ranks to get important things accomplished. This is a human aspect of change that needs to be written about more often.
Total Posts in 2014: 21
Recommended Post: “Measuring Customer Experience One Step at a Time”
15. Graham Hill
A busy Graham missed some past lists because he didn’t post enough — and this year’s posts all came before August! — but when he does, he delivers an advanced-level course on whatever it is he’s taking on.
This year, three posts tackled the technically and ethically prickly concept of value-based pricing — an idea that’s in use in some areas (like sports tickets) but that raises the hackles of many customers, and many sellers, too.
He’s also a blogger who’s clear about the value of CRM as a tool not for short-term acquisition but for extending customer lifecycles and maximizing return from each relationship. His blog is not filled with squishy feel-good platitudes but with practical advice.
Your business should serve the right customers — and among those, the customers most likely to reward you the best should be your priority. That’s a concept Graham articulates clearly in nearly every post. As a bonus, every post comes with an extensive “further reading” list so you can dig deeper into Graham’s topics.
Total Posts in 2014: 8
Recommended Post: “Why Customer Focus is Not Enough to Succeed”
16. Wim Rampen’s Blog
Wim is not a CRM guy, specifically — don’t expect CRM how-to’s from his blog. However, he does deal with issues that directly impact CRM and affect its performance. Marketing and service strategy, brand development and customer experience are his areas of focus, and while he doesn’t blog a lot, what he does write is insightful.
This year’s posts homed in on several diverse areas: content marketing (Wim is hopeful its potential will equal the hype, but skeptical); the Internet of Things and its benefits and perils; and the need to create great touchpoints for customers in order to develop a good brand image and a great customer experience.
He’s not going to tell you how to de-dupe your customer database or create a customized feature in your CRM. He’s going to tell you stuff that’s a lot more important.
Total posts in 2014: 6
Recommended Post: “Big Data, Trust and ‘You as a Product'”
17. Nick Baggot’s CRM and Digital Marketing Blog
Penned by yet another independent — this one a consultant on CRM, data and digital marketing strategy — Baggott’s blog is a mix of commentary, curation and some firsthand research into trends he’s interested in.
His posts are often short and to the point, yet crammed full of data — as was the case with his video game usage study, or the 20 most popular brands on Twitter.
Baggot’s skill is in surfacing unusual facts and spotlighting interesting case studies that illustrate how the world is getting faster, more interconnected, and more challenging to market to.
Total Posts in 2014: 22
Recommended Post: “Digital Trends that Marketers Need to Think About”
18. David Raab – Customer Experience Matrix
David’s a well-known consultant in the world of marketing automation, but he’s also got his extra fingers on the pulse of other related customer-facing software. His posts about specific companies and product announcements are the best analyst reports you won’t be paying an arm and a leg for (although I imagine he’d be happy to let you throw money at him for expanded analysis).
For instance, his thoughtful look at Hubspot’s move into CRM is something that could not have come from someone with a pure marketing automation background. David understands clearly that the best marketing efforts are worthless without the connection to the next stage of the process, which makes his evaluations and opinions so valuable.
Once in a while, he just has fun on the blog — as the recommended post below makes abundantly apparent.
Total Posts in 2014: 55
Recommended Post: “7 Marketing Automation Myths to Ignore – Illustrated Edition”
19. CRM Switch Blog
Not many consulting firms make this list — a proliferation of people involved in the blog often means pressure to make the blog a cheerleader for the firm instead of a fair dealer of information for potential customers. CRM Switch dodges this problem neatly. Despite a host of bylines — Steve Chipman, David Young and Charles Tatum crop up most often — the blog stays neatly focused on customer problems instead of on selling solutions.
The difference is somewhat nuanced — posts like “3 Examples of Workflow in CRM” or “3 Keys for Social Media Success” easily could become gateways for solutions pitches, but they don’t. Instead, they’re well-informed, sometimes longish posts deep in detail and very helpful for people trying to make CRM decisions.
The content on this blog is first-rate, and it should be examined by a lot of other companies as an example of how their blog could help customers along the buying journey.
Total Posts in 2014: 79
Recommended Post: “Friendzoned: Misunderstanding the CRM Sales Relationship”
20. Duct Tape Marketing
Good heavens, is John Jantsch a busy man! He knocked out a book in 2014 and populated his blog with an enormous volume of posts — all targeted at smaller businesses, but all of which still have conceptual value for businesses of all sizes.
John did introduce a regular guest blogger feature that brought a lot of fresh new voices to the discussion, but his is still the dominant voice — especially on the podcast entries on the blog.
Each post features a good idea, which is a perfect approach for small business. Implement 10 good ideas in a year and you’ll get far — and John gives you a big menu to choose from.
Total Posts in 2014: 250
Recommended Post: “How to Surround Your Customers and Prospects”