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3 Reasons to Integrate CRM and Marketing Automation
Technology is the key to staying on top of today's marketing trends.
Posted May 4, 2015
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Modern marketing is evolving to meet new business-side demands for better attribution and ROI, as well as customer demands for less spam and an increasingly personalized experience. Technology advances—along with the shift away from spending marketing dollars on advertising, trade shows, and other interruption-based, one-size-fits-all marketing—have opened up entirely new options for personalization at scale, along with the ability to track and optimize marketing efforts in the digital world.

To take full advantage of today’s technology stack, companies must align sales and marketing on both a technical and human level; a 2014 report released by MathMarketing revealed that alignment between marketing and sales can help companies become 67 percent better at closing deals and generate 209 percent more revenue from marketing. With full business alignment and technology integration, CRM and marketing automation can enable closed-loop reporting, consistent sales attribution, and scalable 1-to-1 marketing.

Aligning People and Technology to Close the Loop

Closed-loop systems allow marketers to understand where the content is connecting with customers—literally “closing the loop” to enable a consistent attribution model where revenue is tied back to the source. Before focusing on technology, sales and marketing teams have to first align on goals and cadence; decide which information is necessary and which is noise; and define a calibrated workflow based upon the following:

  • The important messages/offers by stage
  • Inbound content placement and progression
  • The type of date needed in both CRM and marketing automation applications
  • Lead-generation strategy: (a) When a lead is marketing- or sales-qualified; (b) cadence and volume of nurture flights; (c) best practices for automatically assigning prospects to different campaigns based on contextual data
  • The type of lead and action information each department needs access to

Once teams agree on what and when information is necessary, the next step is to integrate the marketing automation and CRM systems to ensure that the two systems, as well as the marketing and sales department personnel, have the data they need to function well and make better business decisions.

Connecting Your Systems

Every company has different integration needs and resources, so sales and marketing leaders need to align on an option that best fits their needs. Whatever the decision, companies must integrate their marketing and CRM systems on some level. Even with the best alignment and intentions, manually transferring data between systems will ultimately result in duplicated, missing, or outdated data. Businesses have a few options for connecting marketing and CRM systems:

1. Out-of-the-box integration is the common default when selecting a monolithic software suite (read: SAP, Oracle) with native integration to applications within the suite. However, this approach limits options to those offered by one vendor.

2. In-house integration should be considered via API when a developer can work with the marketing team to adjust integration points and ensure that software updates are compatible across systems over time. This method opens up the most flexibility, but also typically requires more resources and dedicated expertise in the long run.

3. Systems Integrators (SIs) are an option for companies with the means to outsource. Consideration should be given to a maintenance plan, and businesses should look for dedicated solution expertise. This option is a good middle ground, offering some flexibility without the overall resource requirements of in-house integrations.

4. Self-service integration platforms are a new way for marketers to take control of their applications’ environment and bypass the cost of outsourced development without giving up flexibility. Cloud-based solutions designed for modern marketers use integration-platform-as-a-service (IPaaS) capabilities to connect CRM and marketing automation solutions with simple step-by-step setup processes and Web-based management.

The Power of Integration

Integrating the right data between marketing and CRM systems gives teams the power to improve upon every process and customer touch point—the results include higher conversion rates, increased revenue, and the confidence to implement new strategies based on a deeper understanding of customer needs and behaviors at every stage of the sales cycle.

Closed-loop reporting by life cycle stage and revenue offers critical insights for sales teams to gain visibility into what messages, offers, and assets are effective at each stage in the funnel. By incorporating closed-loop reporting from marketing automation systems like HubSpot, employees can use joint marketing and CRM data to prioritize marketing and sales efforts that drive agreed-upon KPIs, leading to less time wasted on low-value efforts.

Consistent sales attribution relies on closed-loop reporting to shed light on every aspect of the sales cycle and attributes credit to the source of the revenue. With synchronized marketing and CRM systems, employees can see where market-qualified and sales-qualified leads differ in accuracy and targeting. Proper integration makes everything trackable, from what generated the prospect to what ultimately converted the sale, allowing companies to better meet prospect needs and increase revenue in future campaigns.

Personalized marketing at scale taps the potential of integrated CRM and marketing systems to automate inbound and outbound campaigns based on data like deal status in CRM; time elapsed since the last interaction with a sales rep; information on whether the contact is an active opportunity or a current customer; and more. Without using information from both systems, companies simply blast the same message to everyone without the context of where they sit in the buying process.

Integrating sales and marketing software is essential for inbound marketing and sales to work in tandem. Otherwise you’re just firing in the dark with limited knowledge of what you’re aiming at, or whether you’ve even hit anyone. CRM and marketing automation integrations have been made easy with a plethora of options, including easy-to-use self-tailored platforms made specifically for marketing and sales teams.

Today, the question isn’t just how to integrate your marketing and sales technology. Instead ask yourself: How can you align the two departments to take advantage of data-driven sales and marketing?

Peter Chase is the founder and vice president of business development at Scribe Software, an established global provider of data-delivery solutions. Daniel Lynton is the founder and CEO at LyntonWeb, an inbound marketing and technology agency that helps clients around the world grow their businesses with cutting-edge marketing strategies and solutions.

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