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Why CRM and Marketing Automation Need Each Other

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Why CRM and Marketing Automation Need Each Other


Turning prospects into loyal customers is a multi-step process requiring the combined efforts of cross-functional teams. Thankfully, there are different types of technologies available to make the task more organized and easy — like customer relationship management software (CRM) and marketing automation.

But it’s not just about how much easier it makes your job. When the two software work together, it can become a more streamlined process that can potentially convert more prospects into qualified leads quicker and more effectively.

And more businesses are seeing the value in integrating the two. In fact, 52% of marketers prioritize implementing marketing automation platforms that can integrate into other solutions to enhance their marketing efforts.

In this post, we’ll review what marketing automation and CRM software do, and why they need each other to better help your business.

CRM and Marketing Automation

Before we dive into why marketing automation and CRM should be integrated, we need to understand their specific functions.

What is marketing automation software?

Marketing automation software helps marketers promote and streamline content without manual application. This includes automating the distribution of content and reporting analytics derived from how prospects interact with it. It pulls data from when leads visit your website, open an email, fill out a form, or read a blog, and makes the data easily accessible for the business to build its strategy.

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Ultimately, the goal is to streamline the process of taking a lead, nurturing them, and moving them to a sales-qualified lead. Essentially, it’s all about lead generation and personalization.

Some of the best marketing automation software include HubSpot, MailChimp, and Marketo.

What is customer relationship management software?

On the other hand, customer relationship management (CRM) is software for sales and service teams to manage their pipeline and lead qualification processes. It historically tracks customer data, including dates and notes of phone conversations, past purchase records, and email interactions as they proceed through the buyer’s journey.

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Essentially, with this software, your salesperson can see the full picture of who a prospect is, their history with your company, and their journey to becoming a customer.

Best CRM for Marketing Automation

HubSpot is one of the best choices for CRM marketing automation tools because the HubSpot Marketing Hub includes the foundational CRM functionalities, so you have both software in one.

And for seamless CRM integration, users can manage both their sales and marketing strategies in the HubSpot Marketing Hub and advanced Sales Hub together for more sophisticated features in marketing automation and CRM.

If you’re interested in using HubSpot for your marketing automation needs, but need some guidance on assessing your marketing automation strategy, use our Simple Guide to Smart Automation.

a simple guide to smart automation to assess marketing automation strategies

Download for Free

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Now that we’ve discussed what each software does and how they can help your team, we can address the big question, “Why do these need to work together?”

CRM and Marketing Automation: Why You Need Both

When marketing automation and CRM software work together, they provide a seamless journey for your customers as they go from visitor to customer. Integrating the two software will give your sales reps the full picture of a prospect’s interaction with your company. Your sales rep will know the marketing history of their prospects.

Let’s go through a tangible example of how the two software can work together.

Example of Marketing Automation and CRM Integration

To start, let’s say a marketer attracts a lead through a blog post, much like this one.

Perhaps they found the content insightful and decided to download a lead magnet and fill out a form. Once that happens, the marketing team starts nurturing the lead through an email marketing campaign.

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These actions evolve this reader into a marketing-qualified lead (MQL). After a while of engaging with more content, when the lead requests a demo of the product, they then turn into a sales-qualified lead (SQL). Once this happens, the sales rep who’s responsible for the demo goes to the marketing automation and CRM software to gather information on their interactions with the company.

Sales can then look through what offers the prospect has downloaded, what blogs they’ve read, who they are, and what company they work for and use it in their strategy for the demo call. So now they’re prepared to answer the right questions and personalize the sales call to better connect with the qualified lead and nurture them into a sale.

So we’ve taken the prospect all the way through the funnel, and now they’ve made the purchase. Keep reading to see how CRM and marketing automation contributes to that success.

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Benefits of Integrating Your CRM with Marketing Automation

Building off of the progression of the example, the integration of CRM and marketing automation software has the ability to:

Offer Better Visibility to Marketing and Sales Teams

This allows both teams to know where they are in the process and what their next actions should be in the future.

Shorten the Sales Process

Without marketing automation used in conjunction with CRM, it potentially takes a much longer time to source leads. Both software makes the process of taking prospects through the sales funnel with

Provide Consistent Messaging

The marketing and sales professionals that affect the customer’s experience can be aligned when engaging in client-facing communication. It’s not as much of a challenge to provide consistent messaging when you have all the contextual information available in cross-functional software.

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Unify Your Data Management

With the software already working together, salespersons don’t have to go out of their way to request customer profile information and instead were readily able to prepare to sell based on unified data management.

Enhance Pipeline Management

Both teams in the process have a process that involves observing and tracking the step-by-step progression of a lead.

Minimize Human Error

If you might have an outdated system or process in place for lead tracking, it’s probably a manual process that comes with human error and prospects slipping through the cracks. You can’t scale a system like that.

Your marketing automation and CRM should be connected so your sales team has the right tools to close a deal.

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Combine Your CRM and Marketing Automation Efforts

Integrating these systems should help you understand the gaps and friction points in your marketing and sales process. It can help you discover why leads aren’t moving from MQL to SQL or why prospects aren’t closing. CRM and marketing automation can make your marketing team, sales team, and customers happier by streamlining the marketing and sales process.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Closing your team’s technical gap without hiring

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Closing your team's technical gap without hiring

It’s no comfort knowing you’re not the only one having trouble finding tech talent. Demand is high, supply is low. And everyone has teams and projects stuck in limbo.

What would be comforting is a solution. Well, here you go.

I’ve helped many marketing teams close the gap in their technical capabilities without writing a single job description. The reality is you have many more options than you can envision right now. All you need to do is expand your frame.

Expand Your Frame

When making a decision, framing helps you focus on the proper outcomes. The hard part may be setting the frame to the right size. Make it too small and you miss big chunks of the panorama. Too large and you lose the details. 

It’s also a fantastic way to think more strategically. While others are getting up in tactics, e.g., hiring, you can think of the outcome you’re hoping to achieve and determine the fastest way to get there. 


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The frame here is not that you need to hire someone, it’s that you need a certain set of tasks completed. Instead of hiring you should consider two other options: automation, i.e. no-code, and adjusting your team’s priorities. Looked at that way, you may already have all the skills you need.

No-Code & the New Engineers

The rise of no-code software tools is one of the most significant developments in the marketing world. No-code tools are meant to be used by non-technical folks. They have drag-and-drop interfaces and tend to be highly user-friendly. Examples include Zapier, Tray.io, and countless others.

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A huge problem for marketing teams is their technology is too complex. Doing anything significant means getting an engineer. Even sending emails requires technical help. With multiple no-code options in every category, there’s no need for this.

Instead of hiring someone to support marketing automation, find a software solution anyone can use. In practical terms, it means avoiding options like Salesforce, which requires in-house expertise, hundreds of pages of documentation and the proper alignment of the moon to make it work. Other solutions are drastically easier to use, though they may have less functionality. 

I tell my clients to prioritize the ability to connect their tools rather than just their raw capabilities. You may have the best email marketing solution, but it’s not as valuable if you can’t easily export data to a CRM. Be biased towards no-code, and you can avoid hiring.

I recently helped clients connect their Hubspot, Google Sheets, and a website using only no-code tools like Zapier. We were able to get everything done in a matter of weeks with no involvement from their engineers. In addition, the marketing team could send better-targeted emails and measure their performance better. All they needed were the right tools.

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Adjust Your Priorities

Think over how your team spent their time over the past week. Were they working on the highest impact tasks? Unfortunately, there’s a good chance the answer is no. It’s easy to fall prey to “busy work” or get stuck doing jobs that should be automated.

Bill Gates once said there’s no point hiring someone to do an inefficient process. You’re just scaling bad habits. Instead, clean up your processes before adding more bodies. You may discover plenty of time to research software tools and tackle new tasks.

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Read next: Broaden your marketing ops talent perspective

The fastest way to adjust your priorities is to run a time audit of your team. Ask each member to record how they spent their time over an average week. You can then work with them to figure out how to remove tasks from their plates. Low-hanging fruit includes manual input, work that no one sees or failure work—where tasks are redone multiple times. 

After running an audit for one team we found they spent way more time cleaning up data rather than using it. We figured out what was causing the errors and duplication, solving them through formulas and other measures. They were able to shift around 20 hours to other tasks. Many teams have similar hidden opportunities.

Digital-First Means Being Lean

Being digitally savvy isn’t about hiring as many people as possible. Digital channels offer the ability to be lean as you scale. Think of influencers who run channels with millions of views out of their parent’s basement. They have a lean but effective production. Years ago, the Instagram team had less than 100 people before being acquired by Facebook.

As you shift into digital, you have the opportunity to restructure your marketing teams and take advantage of trends like no-code. The first step is to expand your frame. After that, you might see more opportunities.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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About The Author

Ruben Ugarte is the global expert in Decisions, Strategy, and Data and author of the Data Mirage and Bulletproof Decisions. He helps executives at the most innovative medium and large enterprises find their hidden treasures and use them to dramatically boost performance, increase profitability, and make their teams world-class. He has done this across five continents and in three languages. His ideas have helped hundreds of thousands of people make better decisions.

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