Marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) go together. These tools should not only be a process that flows clearly from beginning to end, but also one that blends at needed points to create a cohesive story about the customer. They both paint half of a whole picture. So, why do they get cordoned off into different workflows in the business world?
Companies have fine-tuned the way their organizations run, with each department being hyper focused on the tasks at hand. This is fine and all, but it is not the most efficient user experience process when it comes to converting marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales qualified leads (SQLs). Integrating marketing automation and CRM is how we remedy this. Marketing automation nurtures relationships with audience members by streamlining the content production and promotion process. CRM aids sales teams in managing data to turn qualified leads into customers. Combining these two systems is how they reach their full potential.
Walking Through the Software
To fully understand why these two systems create a powerhouse team, we have to understand how each function on their own and the role each plays in the overall process.
Marketing automation makes the work of the marketing team easier while also personalizing the audience’s experience. It is common for marketing departments to be tasked with repetitive marketing functions like email, social media, or ad campaigns. In turn, marketing automation can automate the campaigns and activities associated with this process to free up time for employees to work on higher-level tasks. With a good strategy in place, a good marketing automation platform should help you identify your audiences, create appropriate content, and follow workflows to trigger specific actions based on prospects' behavior.
A good marketing automation platform should come with many features. These are key functions that will allow you to nurture leads, personalize marketing strategies,manage campaigns, and integrate with your CRM. You should be able to:
- Build customer relationships. You help your audience learn more about your business and what it has to offer in a mostly hands-off process thanks to marketing automation. This is done through tasks such as personalized emails that foster relationships and increase conversion rates.
- Automate email workflows and social media. Social media doesn’t have to function in real time when you are able to automate the posting process. This allows you to schedule posts ahead of time and plan them out in a strategic way. You can also save time on email workflows because these tools make the process quick and accessible.
- Track customer interactions and manage leads. Marketing automation platforms help you organize your customers' journey from their initial interaction to completing the purchase. It gives you insight on their behaviors and actions by seeing information like how long it takes to complete purchases or which marketing campaigns are most effective.
- Examine metrics. Marketing automation platforms come equipped with analytics dashboards that help you visualize the lead generation and nurturing process. You are able to pull real-time reports that give insight on conversions, open rates, and other important data.
This tool works by following a predetermined workflow while creating an in-depth profile of your potential customer. The process begins by collecting data. This could be through any number of interactions that your business has with its audiences whether through emails, social media, website clicks, or app usage. Once this data is in the software, the marketing automation does the rest of the work for you. This means determining and targeting interactions that fall under the right audiences and scaling. It walks your prospects through their own journeys with your products or services by tailoring messages and delivering a personalized experience.
For example, you plan out an entire month’s worth of marketing assets to share on social media in conjunction with the launch of a new product. These get scheduled ahead of time so when launch time rolls around, your team can focus on more important tasks related to the new products. Your audience finds your website through the social promotion and signs up for a coupon for first-time customers. Your marketing automation begins following email workflows, sending each customer subsequent emails that showcase more about your business’ story and your products. Someone gets around to considering a purchase and adding the item to their cart but ends up abandoning it before checking out. Your marketing automation steps in again to send an “abandoned cart” email and reminding them of their first-time shopper discount. This brings the thought back into your customer’s mind and they return to your site to finalize the purchase, after which they receive automatic order updates and thank you emails from your business.
Manual action on your end isn’t needed. You provide the strategy and guidance, and marketing automation does the rest. And, while it may seem like your team could manage all the tedious tasks on their own, one of the key benefits and purposes of marketing automation is scale. Your company is able to repeatedly produce results in an efficient way across thousands of leads.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
On the other side of the process, customer relationship management is used by sales teams as a tool to manage customer data as well as any sales opportunities. This type of platform helps take the leads generated by the marketing team and convert them into customers.
Effective CRM platforms integrate with your business operations. It should help streamline your sales process. You should expect CRM to impact the following:
- Organization. Lead information is one of the most important things that is stored in CRM software. It creates a centralized database where members of your team can access information that can help inform current and future sales and marketing efforts.
- Task and progress tracking. Dashboards have become useful tools for getting a comprehensive look at business activities. You should be able to use a CRM platform to track the progress of sales and other tasks while also automating menial work to save your employees time.
- Sales Insights. Recognizing customer purchasing patterns is how you discover marketing and lead generation trends. CRM provides you with detailed analytics that help you understand the customer and their behavior.
- Automated reports. Compiling past performance data is how you retain current customers while also nurturing prospective customers. You are able to use CRM sales reports to review data, identify trends and staff performance, and adjust goals and metrics for future sales projections.
A CRM system keeps your team on top of their game. This can ultimately save you a lot of time and money. Your salesperson is able to grasp a good understanding of prospects and take them from being a lead to a customer.
Marketing and Sales Collaboration
A reality of the business world is that many people will individually employ these tools without thinking about how it affects customers and team members down the line. With a strategic plan in place to generate leads and grow an audience, many marketers can get caught up in the flow of finding leads and tossing them into their well-made email workflow without much afterthought. Sales teams may get super pumped about their numbers and continue striving for higher goals next quarter.
However, without looping in the marketing team on which products sold the best, which products were re-purchased most, and other important buying insights, it leaves them in the dark about how to best tailor future campaigns.
There are several benefits when both platforms are integrated to work as a team.
- You have consistent organization throughout your business. All the information is centrally located which keeps every detail on hand and accessible, keeping everyone informed and creating consistent communication. You can store anything from proposals, to call notes, to budgets—all valuable information in the hands of your team.
- You can segment leads. Because you have access to the full picture, your team is able to group leads based on the amount and type of interaction they have with the business. This allows marketers to create effective materials and salespeople to make informed pitches. It also makes it easier for your team to personalize their efforts.
- Your customers are better informed. Marketing teams that successfully nurture prospective customers are also creating educated customers who understand your company’s mission and the product. This not only makes it easier for your sales team to generate revenue, it also leads to loyal customers and repeat business.
- Your teams can take immediate action. Everyone is aware of when a lead or a customer takes a specific action and is able to follow up promptly. Sitting on a good lead for too long can make the trail go cold. CRM tools have the capability to set up an automated alert system so that your team is reaching out to customers in a timely manner.
- You can improve customer experience. Having knowledge of the customer’s history with the business is the best way to ensure they have good experiences with your team. This prevents team members from becoming too repetitive with a customer who has already had multiple exposures to the company. It also allows different team members to pick up from where another left off because all the information is right there.
There is a wealth of information on both marketing automation and CRM platforms. If both the marketing and the sales team had access to the same information, this would not only create a seamless journey for the customer, but also a complete picture of the customer for marketers and salespeople to reference.
This is how it looks when applied. Your marketing team creates stellar content and attracts a new lead through their recent blog post that highlights a new guide your company is releasing. This lead fills out a form to receive more information and is then led through the marketing team’s email marketing campaign. After some nurturing, this becomes a MQL that takes more interest in the company's product and requests a demo, turning them into a SQL.
Once the sales team takes over, they are able to look back through the marketing automation platform and find all interactions this customer had with the business, from the blogs they’ve read to the guides they’ve requested, as well as any relevant background information like who they are and what company they work for. The sales representative is able to use this information to create a strategic and personalized sales call.
As this first journey with the company wraps up for the customer, both teams are able to file important information and reference it in the future to inform their marketing and sales strategies. Maybe the customer was also interested in add-ons during the call. The sales team would have this documented in the CRM which could resurface later if other customers who purchase the main software also have the same buying patterns. This can be used by marketing to create new content next time around so that the products are advertised together more often.
Choosing Your Software and Making it Work
Aligning your two tools properly is how you get the results you are looking for. Some of the best marketing automation software these days feeds into a CRM tool. This all-in-one approach makes it simple by providing everything on one platform through one company. It can be great if you’re wanting a single platform to handle your entire process for you. A second option is to pick and choose different software that specializes in the needs of your business. This allows you to incorporate what you like about each platform and connect them yourselves. You can take steps to ensure your systems are seamlessly working together to achieve your goals with some digging.
Here’s what to keep in mind when you integrate your marketing automation platform with your CRM software.
- Leverage both platforms for personalization. Just because your marketing automation and CRM speak to each other doesn’t mean your teams should funnel their creative juices into one. You’ll want to use information gathered through both avenues to create personalized campaigns and paid advertisements.
- Monitor for repeats. Combining different platforms together requires some initial oversight. While creating a centralized database by integrating marketing automation and CRM software, you also need to keep in mind that they each store information that might be duplicates of one another. Double check to ensure tasks or customer information isn’t showing up more than once. This can cause confusion for the team and skew your data and workflow.
- Assign lead scores. Paired together, marketing automation and CRM can establish a lead scoring system that makes efficient use of your time. Lead scoring identifies leads who are most likely to make a purchase from your company. Your system can help you sort through data and rank everyone that comes through to show your teams where to best direct their marketing and sales efforts.
- Go with the flow. It is going to take some trial and error in order to form a marketing and sales tunnel that fits perfectly with your business. This may involve swapping out different platforms, training team members, or changing up work processes. Go into it with an overall plan that takes into consideration your time and budget and then adjust as needed to get to where you want to be.
A Hardworking Duo
When it comes to taking your audience through the marketing and sales pipeline, combining these tools may be one of your best business moves. Not only are you implementing an efficient and cost-effective MQL to SQL pathway, but you are also equipping your team with a system that can support their work while also allowing them to reach their full potential. Marketing automation and CRM software go hand in hand—any other setup would be a disadvantage to these dynamic systems.