How Publishers Can Take Full Advantage of Their CRM

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So many CRM users swear by the system’s capabilities in managing sales — particularly in publishing, where an ad sales platform devoted to handling large media packages, smaller classifieds, and every ad sale-size in-between can be a godsend.

But as a publishing veteran myself, I can tell you that when it comes to magazine software and all they can revolutionize, ad sales aren’t the half of it!

Yes, using a CRM for ad sales management is a fantastic step in fixing one of the biggest problems that ails publications. But using it for that reason alone is like using your smartphone just to make calls — you’re missing out on so much more!

According to one report, 43% of CRM users use less than half of the features that their CRM offers … and I’d say that number is conservative. Regardless of whether that comes down to difficulty in understanding the system or ignorance as to all its capabilities, it’s an issue worth addressing if only because there’s so much potential on the other side.

How CRMs Work for Sales

On the sales side, there are a number of features that CRMs boast that make day-to-day work easier, particularly for those in the publishing industry and looking for advertising sales management software.

With Mirabel’s Magazine Manager, the Sales Cycle module offers 17 data fields in its Pipeline Opportunities workflow, along with numerous ways to view that information. Potential deals can be viewed by probability or by stage; viewed in a Kanban setting that allows opportunities to be dragged easily from stage to stage; or viewed in a split-screen that shows easy-to-reference contact information and activity notes to be seen as you work your way down the opportunity list.


Magazine Manager’s Opportunities page, in split-screen view

The entire concept of an enterprise-level CRM is to bring your entire organization onto one platform. But so often, we see only the sales and accounting sides adopt the program; production, marketing, and editorial continue to use their own systems because of change resistance and familiarity with “the way we have always done it.”

Many publishers come from sales backgrounds and are the drivers in adoption of media sales software, so while they make sure their sales team “buys in,” they are less insistent upon ensuring collaboration from the other departments.

So whether you’ve implemented the all-important CRM system into your day-to-day work already or you’re shopping around for the best magazine publishing software now, don’t forget to keep your other departments in mind.

Production: Putting Everyone on the Same Page

We’ll start with production, as it ties so closely with ad sales. CRM software for publishers can obviously simplify the logistics behind proposing, converting, and selling an ad, but the ad’s life cycle doesn’t — and shouldn’t — end there.

Tracking the production efforts and any necessary edits — be it changes to ad size, positioning, deadlines, or frequency — is a cinch with CRM software, particularly once paired with all custom-tailored instructions made during the sales cycle.

Mirabel’s Magazine Manager boasts an interface called the “Job Jacket” that simplifies the reviewing and sharing of proofs. Mapping and pagination are integrated into the system, and it being a CRM after all, it can track schedules, update with client feedback in real time, and even communicate with invoices should production charges be necessary.

Newspaper Manager JobJacket

Magazine Manager’s Job Jacket interface

Additionally, Mirabel’s DigitalStudio connects fluidly with Magazine Manager to make flat-planning and pagination easier for all departments involved. Why is it important for all teams to use a collaborative flat-planning tool? Because allowing sales people to review folios and flat plans in real-time can help identify problems long before that final, chaotic deadline week.

Digital Studio

Mirabel’s DigitalStudio

Every ad is unique, and with a CRM like Mirabel’s Magazine Manager that offers end-to-end ad sales capabilities, the aspects that make its production unique have room to develop. So when that two-page ad is sold, it can complete its full metamorphosis into a beautiful ready-for-print double-truck spread.

Editorial: Getting the Most out of Freelancers

Many publishers don’t bring their editorial staff into the CRM system, either out of unnecessary church-and-state concerns, extreme short-sightedness, or because they simply haven’t seen the light of the CRM’s full scope.

First off, any suitable CRM for magazine publishers should be capable of creating a firewall for users, whether that’s for security’s sake, privacy matters, or for upholding the separation of info or temptation along that church/state divide. The argument for bringing more editorial staff into conversations of pagination and production is one better suited for another blog, but in terms of the positives that an editorial team member can get out of a CRM, there are some fundamental weapons any editor would dream of having in their arsenal.

What editor wouldn’t love a contact management tool to better organize their stable of writers — particularly one where glorified, digitized “file cards” could be created, with fields to fill out a writer’s bio, specify a specialty or interest, or collect their most recent pitches? Instead of trying to remember which writers have an expertise in all matters Mexico and which are simply always trying to meet up for Margarita Mondays, let the CRM do the work.

Going one step beyond that, a CRM like Magazine Manager (integrated with tools from Mirabel’s Marketing Manager) would allow editors to create forms and landing pages to simplify the pitch process. New, potential freelance writers could, for instance, visit the publication’s site and fill out a specially made sheet online with their ideas rather than having to send cold pitches to a clogged Inbox.

The pitching process becomes easier on the writer’s end, it allows better organization on the editor’s end, and it’s all done through a system already in use and trusted by the company.

Freelancer Form

This sample form, created through Mirabel’s Marketing Manager, could be easily amended to add fields and fit your publication’s needs. (1/2)

Freelancer LP

Once the form is uploaded to a Marketing Manager Landing Page template (like the one above), you can post the Landing Page on your site for any potential freelance writers to fill out. (2/2)

Marketing and Audience Development: Reaching New and Interested Audiences

The true power of a CRM can come down to all the tools with which it integrates. As a publisher wanting to get the absolute most out of your CRM, you’ll need to utilize the marketing tools that are built-in as well as those that play nice with the system in question.

Email marketing and audience development is becoming an increasingly important part of content strategies in publishing and beyond, and CRMs provide many tools with which to optimize any and all campaigns. Whether it’s the ability to build an effective email newsletter, the tools to segment and better target email lists, or the analytics to track open rates and bounces, a CRM should be there every step of the way.

While there are many marketing automation software options, you’ll want to make sure that yours integrates with the other tools you’re using, particularly any CRM you already have in place. Mirabel’s Marketing Manager is just the upgrade every publication (and Magazine Manager user) needs, with a Reputation Dashboard to oversee all aspects of any campaign.

What separates Marketing Manager from other email platforms is its integration with publishing functions. Segmentation is everything in the world of email marketing, and the ability to utilize contract data to build VIP lists for parties, or ad material status to set up custom production workflows, or simply strategize with dozens of accessible “triggers” within your publishing CRM is invaluable. Because of the tight integrations with Magazine Manager, Marketing Manager is able to perform dozens of functions that platforms like Mailchimp simply cannot.

Additionally, Mirabel’s Clean Your Lists is an email verification tool that further helps increase open and deliverability rates, helping to optimize the marketing efforts and boost conversions. Few if any email platforms have email verification programs built in, and the unfortunate result of bad emails getting sent out is that publishers get blacklisted. Email is the lifeblood of the modern-day publisher, and automating the clean up of your email lists is imperative.

Customer Service and Subscriptions: Improving All Interactions

Just as a CRM works wonders in keeping ad sales team members updated with need-to-know changes as they happen, that same live-updating functionality can be utilized by other departments, perhaps most effectively by the customer-service team.

Whether it’s documenting interactions across time or even across social media channels, a CRM can help build more dynamic profiles and foster better long-term engagement — something that’s always important to keep in mind when dealing with potential or current subscribers alike.

As powerful as Mirabel’s Magazine Manager is as a magazine subscription management software, the company’s newest soon-to-launch digital platform, ChargeBrite, will further help those businesses with a recurring revenue model. (And as with Marketing Manager in the email domain, ChargeBrite integrates tightly with the Magazine Manager CRM.)

From within your CRM, you can see what contacts have both advertising orders and subscriptions in a unified database where all of your data is in one silo. The HubSpots and Saleforces of the world integrate systems, but integrations are not the same as actually having your data in one database.

Integrations lead to duplicate data; unified databases allow for clean data. 

The Office: Empowering the Entire Team

Does your HR department need a digital hand in automating some of the hiring and onboarding tasks? Does your social media team need better scheduling tools and interaction-tracking?

These are just a few of the basic functions of a CRM, but they’re basics that work across the publishing landscape. No one has a better sense of your particular place in that landscape than you.

Your goal should be sharing information to increase efficiency, and the key to that is getting your entire company on one platform that shares data among all your departments.

If you’d like to know more about Magazine Manager, Mirabel’s Marketing Manager, or Mirabel’s DigitalStudio, request a free demo.


The Magazine Manager is a web-based CRM solution designed to help digital and print publishers manage sales, production, and marketing in a centralized platform.

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