Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) and marketing automation are two buzzwords in the marketing world these days. CRM tools helps the marketer track, record, and access customer data and performance metrics. It aggregates knowledge of customers and prospects. Marketing automation tools enables the creation and deployment of online marketing campaigns and sales activities that run on autopilot. It enables customized and personalized communication with prospects and customers.
While it is possible to run a CRM suite without integrating it with marketing automation tools, such a set-up will suck big-time and fail to meet realized objectives. It will be the equivalent of having a high-end smartphone without any apps installed.
There are many reasons on why it is essential to deploy a marketing automation suite along with a CRM suite.
1. More Powerful Data
Without a marketing automation tool, all the marketer would have in the CRM is static information such as customer demographics. The marketing automation tool powers the CRM engine to go beyond basic demographic information, to detailed behavioral tracking in real time or near real time.
Deploying marketing automation tools reveal what pages the prospects are visiting, the content that interests them, their buying cycles, and other key information. This allows the marketer to make strategic and relevant interventions at the right time. Without such insights, the marketer is virtually working blind, and cannot make informed predictions.
Marketing Automation helps to improve CRM data quality as well. For instance, the marketing automation suite appends information on to existing records, preventing the creation of duplicate records.
2. Customization and Personalization
CRM tools and marketing automation systems serve different functions, but both realize their full potential only when paired together. A CRM suite collects data on customers to offer insights on how to manage that customer, and identify sales opportunities. Marketing automation strives to deliver personalized and customized one-to-one communications with customers, powered by the data collected from various sources, for lead generation.
In short, CRM is a database, and marketing automation facilitates working on the information contained in this database. Marketing automation adds a lot more information to each lead profile, making available full activity and social media history to marketers and salespeople before they initiate contact. It gets better – such information is in real-time, allowing marketers to call at the right time. For example, they get an alert when a lead is currently on the website.
Pardot’s 2013 ‘State of Demand Generation’ study reveals that 77% of buyers desire diverse, targeted content at the different stages of their research. The marketing automation tool provides behavioral information that makes it possible for the CRM engine to send targeted messages and drip emails personalized to the prospects’ interests as well as stage in the marketing lifecycle. It also facilitates segmentation that makes emails more relevant to the recipients, and thereby deepens engagement.
3. Lead Prioritization
The data generated by the marketing automation system helps to score and grade leads, allowing the marketer to prioritize them in the CRM system. Rather than assume that all leads are equal, the marketer can now identify which leads are to followed up first, which leads require more time to be nurtured, and so on. The insights offered by the automation tool makes it apparent which leads are actually ready to talk to a marketer in the first place. Without such insights, the CRM engine is shooting in the dark when approaching a lead.
4. Better ROI
The ultimate objective of any marketing or sales intervention is to generate Returns on Investment (ROI). When the CRM is tied to a marketing automation system, campaigns created in the marketing automation platform map back to the CRM, making it possible to tie closed deals back to the campaigns that created them. This allows marketers to attach revenue to the campaigns, track the money spent on marketing, derive accurate ROI, project future revenue, and make marketing decisions that are data-driven.
Integrating the CRM engine and marketing automation suite makes it possible to undertake A/B test marketing assets to identify techniques that work best, and truly understand the contribution sales and marketing are making to the bottom line.
5. Improved Accuracy
At the very least, syncing marketing automation tools with CRM eliminates manual work, improving accuracy and boosting productivity. It becomes possible to do more with less, and be more agile at the same time.
Without a powerful marketing automation suite such as the ones offered by Hubspot or Marketo to back up the CRM suite, deploying a CRM suite would resemble running an ocean liner in a backwater swamp.
Image Credit: Marianna Spiritakis on Flickr