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Marketing automation (MA) technology is an essential part of any company’s marketing tech stack.
This involves more than just adding an MA tool to your assemblage of frameworks, languages and software products, however. You’ll need to integrate it with the other tools you use for marketing purposes. Essentially, this allows data to flow freely between each with minimal hands-on effort.
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to integrate your new marketing automation tool with your current customer relationship management (CRM) system.
We’ll discuss what goes into the process of integrating your marketing automation and CRM tools — and some key things to watch out for along the way.
Integrating your MA and CRM tools can positively impact your business in many ways:
Your CRM allows you to store any information you collect on your customers directly within their individual profiles.
With marketing automation thrown into the mix, the process of collecting, storing and managing this information becomes super easy. With automated data-collection tools (such as on-site behavioral assessments) at the ready, your team will have more customer data than they’d ever had before — making it easier than ever to make informed decisions when approaching customers.
Your MA tools also can analyze this data to assess the value of each lead you collect. This allows you to identify and focus on high-quality, high-intent prospects — and helps you avoid wasting time on leads that aren’t all that valuable.
Integrating your CRM and marketing automation tools also leads to better communication and overall alignment between your marketing and sales teams.
For one thing, both teams will have a singular definition of what’s considered a “qualified lead.” This will minimize the chances of your marketing team passing on poorly-fit prospects to your sales team — and will all but ensure the leads that do get passed on will be headed straight for conversion.
Secondly, integration allows both teams to stay on the same page when engaging with individual customers. Because all customer engagements will automatically be recorded and passed into your CRM, all team members will know exactly where the customer stands — and what will need to happen to keep them moving forward in their journey.
Going with the previous point, integrating your CRM and MA tools allows you to make your customer’s path to purchase as smooth as possible.
Again, because customer engagement data is logged automatically, your customer always will be able to pick up right where they left off with your brand. Whether resuming their digital experience or engaging with your team, your customers will never have to back-track before being able to press forward.
With marketing automation, you’ll be able to deliver relevant and valuable content to your customers when they’re most likely to engage with it. In automating this process based on your customers’ actions and other factors, you’ll be able to give them exactly what they’re looking for, right when they need it.
Ultimately, all of these benefits should lead to improved performance for your business.
Think about it:
If you can make all that happen, you’ll easily be doing more business than ever before — and will be using much fewer resources to do so.
All in all, it means increased profits and decreased expenses. (Which to be sure, is exactly what every business owner hopes to attain, right?)
While the process of CRM and MA integration will look different depending on the specific tools used, you’ll typically go through the following steps:
First, you’ll need to prepare your CRM tool for integration.
The goal is to ensure that the data collected by your MA tool(s) can easily be passed into and categorized within your CRM.
This may require that you add certain data fields into your customer profile template within your CRM. That way, when your MA tool collects data that fits into these fields, it will know exactly where to place them when injecting the data into your CRM.
(For example, if your MA tool uses Google Analytics to collect information on a website visitor’s company, you’d need to ensure the proper fields — company name, telephone number, etc. — are present within your CRM profile template.)
Without this step, your MA tools may end up collecting a ton of information — but not have anywhere to put it. If the data doesn’t exist in a place where your marketing and sales team can find it, it may as well not exist at all.
Overall, the actual process of connecting your MA and CRM tools is fairly straightforward. And, again, most modern tools provide a user-friendly setup wizard to help guide you through the process.
Still, the process isn’t completely automated.
As you go through the integration process, you’ll need to configure each tool to fit your specific needs best. Depending on the tools you’re using, these options may vary widely — but always will allow you to get more value out of each tool, in turn.
At this stage, you’ll have enabled each tool to communicate with one another — and will simply need to put the wheels in motion.
This is where you’ll need to ensure that the data being passed between each tool has a place to go. Additionally, you need to know that the data is ending up in the right place within each tool.
This part of the process may be a bit more hands-on in order for you to ensure accuracy. Still, for the not-so-technically-inclined, your CRM and MA tools likely will make this process as smooth as possible.
Ideally, you’ll start seeing the positive impact of integrating your CRM and MA tools almost immediately.
Instead of sitting back and letting your automated tools do their thing, you’ll want to continue making improvements to your related processes.
Your marketing automation tools may be able to automatically score leads as they come in — but only if you’ve told them how to do so.
That said, it’s crucial to create a solid definition of what you consider to be a “qualified lead” in the eyes of your team. While your MA tool may work off of a boilerplate definition by default, you’ll want to ensure it’s using your definition — allowing it to collect data only from the prospects that you want to engage with.
As you generate new high-value leads — hopefully in droves — your understanding of your ideal customer will continue to grow. In turn, you’ll be able to tweak your settings accordingly to ensure it continues to generate the absolute best leads for your business.
In some cases, you may actually want your MA tools to not send certain information to your CRM.
The reason being: Too much data — especially of the irrelevant variety — can overwhelm your system and your team. This is especially true when it comes to engagement data.
Technically, your MA tools will be capable of recording every single moment along your customers’ entire path to purchase. But, of course, you probably don’t need to know everything about their journey — especially the parts that were fairly inconsequential.
What you need to do, then, is identify the actions your customers take that show high intent to engage with or buy from your brand. Then, you can focus your MA processes and initiatives on these events — allowing you to deliver highly-relevant content, offers and services to your customers right when they need them.
Your MA tools will collect a ton of data from your customers and your team as time goes on.
And, again, not all of this data will be useful. What’s more, your tools may have mistakenly collected or created duplicate data in certain circumstances.
If a new lead submits their email address on 2 separate occasions when downloading 2 different lead magnets, your MA and CRM tools may create multiple profiles for 1 individual customer. This, in turn, could cause your MA tool to deliver the same message to the single customer multiple times — which, to be sure, won’t reflect well in the eyes of the customer.
So, at periodic intervals, your marketing and sales team should comb through your customer data to ensure duplicate profiles, engagements and other info are marked either for deletion or separation. That way, your team will still have full visibility of your customers’ actions, while your MA tools will continue to work off of the most applicable and appropriate data on hand.
As you get more acclimated with your MA tools, you’ll want to continue exploring the more advanced features and functions they have to offer.
The goal here is to continue tweaking your approach and your integrations based on your evolving needs and your evolving understanding of what marketing automation can do for your business. This may mean connecting the tool to different data resources, optimizing your processes or integrating new tools into your stack altogether.
On that note, you’ll want to keep a close eye on new technology as it emerges.
This may mean:
The takeaway here is to never become too content with your current marketing automation tools and integrations.
What works best for your marketing and sales teams today may not be your most efficient option a year from now. But as long as you continuously keep tabs on where marketing automation tech is headed, you’ll always be able to find the solution that best fits your needs.