Marketing Automation and CRM: A Love Story
by Aleksandr Peterson
Every love story is different, but the ones with happy endings follow a similar progression: Two people with a natural affinity for each other—after some series of trials and tests—join and live in harmony. When consummated, their romance is mutually beneficial and may even accomplish some “greater good.”
Maybe this formula brings to mind the rain-sodden scenes of a Nicholas Sparks novel, or the serendipitous ending of a romantic comedy, or even a personal narrative about someone special in your life.
For me, it brings to mind CRM and marketing automation software. As a marketer well-versed in business technology, I can think of no romance more divinely appointed than the union between these two systems.
Why these two?
Why are marketing automation and CRM so perfectly suited for each other? Is it fate? Astrological alignment? Sexual attraction? Nay. It’s about common interest—or, to use an industry term, functionality. CRM and marketing automation are built to serve at two ends of the same process and exchange data in the middle. They are functionally symbiotic.
A CRM is basically a database for storing customer information and moving leads through the sales process. For years, businesses have mostly used CRM for its sales and service utility. CRM was a single college grad living with roommates, eating cereal for dinner, and wearing the same pants for weeks at a time. Nothing wrong with that. CRM was alone, but content.
The rise of marketing automation changed that. Suddenly, CRM could reach the marketing side of the buyer’s journey, and marketers could reach the sales process. In the mid 2000s, vendors started turning out integrated solutions, and businesses started experimenting with new ways to manage the lead-to-revenue process.
As evidence of positive ROI poured in from the analysts and think tanks, the end-to-end approach caught on. In 2014, SiriusDecisions reported that 11 times more B2B companies were using marketing automation platforms (MAPs) than in 2011. Accelerated by new horizontal utility, the CRM software market climbed to $23 billion.
In the digital age, sales and marketing system integration is essentially a prerequisitefor scalable growth—especially for B2B companies.
Love’s bounty: The benefits of system integration
In your average love story, there are marked benefits to the consummation of a romance—love’s bounty, if you will. This bounty might involve eternal happiness, a cottage in the Hamptons, or the permanent demise of an enemy. Similarly, there are a number of benefits that come with an integrated CRM/MAP.
If your C-level execs don’t support the marriage of these two systems (like that estranged uncle who doesn’t bring a gift to your wedding), use these benefits to win their buy-in:
Visibility: Visibility is one of the most important success factors in B2B sales and marketing— visibility not just of discrete campaign components, but of end results. An integrated CRM/MAP gives salespeople visibility into lead intelligence (qualitative data from campaigns) and gives marketers visibility into revenue.
You’ll also have an easier time tracking important metrics like:
- Lead-to-customer ratio
- Average cost per lead
- Average lead value
- Lead-to-close cycle time
Personalization: With access to robust contact profiles in the CRM database, marketers can do a better job tailoring content and campaigns to specific people—whether that means personalized display ads, dynamic content, or email marketing. A CRM can also improve account-based marketing by providing the necessary data for targeted outreach and organizing leads by account group.
Personalized promotional mailings have a 29 percent higher unique open rate and 41 percent more click-throughs.
Improved lead quality: Instead of guessing about lead quality, you can create scoring rules in your marketing automation platform and automatically deliver leads to sales when they’re ready. A formal scoring framework helps prevent “bad” leads from wasting sales resources. Ideally, all of the leads you pass to sales will have purchase intent and match your ideal customer profile.
Anywhere from 66 percent to 81 percent of businesses still don’t practice lead scoring.
Higher conversion rates: Refining the quality won’t necessarily translate to an increase in quantity. In fact, you may even see less leads in your pipeline, but the proof is in the conversions. With a higher percentage of leads that match your requirements, better visibility, and a more seamless hand-off between teams, your conversion rate will inevitably rise.
According to Forrester Research, B2B marketers say marketing automation software increases their pipeline contribution by 10 percent, on average.
Sadly, two pieces of software can’t actuallylove each other (not yet anyway). That would be impressive, but weird. The love story between CRM and marketing automation, as you may suspect, is really a love story between sales and marketing. With a complete view of the lead generation process, you’ll have a better ability to set goals, forecast revenue, and decide which KPIs are the highest priority for both teams.
Stop restraining your passion, and get an integrated system. To quote dance-pop legend Rick Astley, “A full commitment's what I’m thinking of.”
For more information about integrated CRM and marketing automation software, check out my previous post.
Aleksandr Peterson is a technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. He covers marketing automation, CRMs, project management, human resources, and other emerging business technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
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