How well do you coordinate your company’s customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation? Are these two related processes managed separately, or do they work together? What are the benefits of bringing these two systems together, and why should I consider doing so?

These are all questions you should ask yourself when looking for ways to improve your overall marketing and sales ROI, sales funnels, and ongoing customer relationships. And let’s be honest, as marketers, those are things you’re trying to do on the daily. 

Bringing your CRM and marketing automation software together results in the best partnership since peanut butter and jelly. Let’s take a deep dive into why this coordination gives you a leg up and how to go about doing so. But first, let’s address the basics. 

What’s the Difference Between CRM and Marketing?

While CRM and marketing are related, they are not the same thing. Marketing is the process by which your company invites prospects to try your products or services and raises awareness of your brand. Marketing can be divided into two main categories:

  • Outbound Marketing – consists of traditional commercials and advertising that broadcasts your brand message to prospects. Inbound marketing is the process of creating content to attract customers to your brand by answering their questions before they are ready to buy.
  • Inbound Marketingfocuses on starting prospects down the sales funnel by offering free information in return for a conversion with a lead magnet. While some of the methods of reaching customers during marketing campaigns are the same ones used for CRM, the focus of marketing and CRM is different. These methods may consist of email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, PPC ads, or broadcast ads.

But what is CRM, you ask? Well, CRM is how you organize your prospects’ information so you can better manage them. Specifically, your CRM software should:

  • Enable your company to structure and plan optimal interaction with prospects and clients.
  • Harbor and organize information on your prospects gathered from your marketing campaigns.
  • Manage the methods and scheduling of client interactions by way of email, social media, texting, phone calls, or meetings. 
  • Allow you to determine which clients are the highest priority and how and when to approach them. 
  • Prevent prospects from slipping through the cracks and help cement your existing relationships. 

Now that we’ve outlined some terms and ideas let’s discuss why it’s key for your CRM software and marketing automation software to work together. 

Why Coordinate CRM and Marketing Automation?

While the goals for marketing and CRM are different, the relationships that begin with your marketing program continue with CRM. You can learn a lot about your prospects through their responses to marketing campaigns, which can then be applied to your CRM and help you interact with them going forward. Ultimately, marketing and CRM work in partnership to build the foundation that you need to earn a customer’s trust. Also, when you bring your CRM and marketing automation together:

  • There is less chance you will miss a prospect. Marketing automation gathers and sorts inquiries. Rather than missing an inquiry from a prospect, they can immediately be sent a relevant reply. The reply can be much more targeted than a generic “we’ll get back with you” message. You can immediately grab their attention with your responsiveness, and it can all be done automatically.
  • There is less chance you will lose a prospect. Without automating your CRM, there is a good chance you can lose prospects along the way. They can slip through the cracks or may not be getting an appropriate follow-up. Using marketing automation keeps you in contact with prospects until they decide they are no longer a prospect or until they become a customer.
  • It makes you more effective. Small business entrepreneurs are required to be a jack of all trades. They are the ship’s captain, but they may have to occasionally swab the deck or grab an oar. By automating your CRM, you are able to spend more of your time doing what you like to do and the things you are probably good at.
  • It makes your company more cost-effective. All-in-one marketing software is affordable for even the smallest of companies. These are exactly the companies that need to be efficient and effective with their resources. With affordable pricing available in packages to meet the needs of any size business, marketing automation makes the most of your financial and human resources.
  • Automation tracks your efforts. When properly used, marketing automation tracks your marketing efforts. Of course, you will still want to do A|B testing to hone in on tactics that work best for you, but automation can give you the valuable feedback you need. Automation marketing software allows you to track your marketing and helps you make more informed decisions.
  • It provides a strategic, simpler way to turn prospects into clients. Marketing automation uses a specific strategy to turn inquiries into prospects and prospects into customers. You can even be notified when a prospect is hot and ready to buy. It delivers a  consistent and repeatable process to drive more sales month after month.
  • It helps you make the best use of all your online marketing efforts. When you integrate your CRM with marketing automation, you combine your email contacts, website visitors, and social media efforts into one manageable system. There is no need to bounce between platforms or a variety of different software programs.
  • It can immediately help make you more competitive with larger companies. There aren’t many things you can do that will have more impact on how you compete than automating your CRM. It reins in all segments of your prospects and provides a systematic flow of prospects and clients.
  • Your competitors may be considering doing it. One of the best reasons to automate your CRM is that your competitors may be considering it. By automating your CRM now, you will stay ahead of the competition or at least compete more effectively against them. Smart, successful companies are always in search of better ways to do things. When it comes to CRM, automation is a better way.

7 Steps to Supercharge Your CRM with Marketing Automation

Here are the steps to take that will lower overhead cost, give you better metrics to track your CRM activities, and ultimately bring your marketing automation and CRM together.

1. Learn the System. 

Not using all the features of your cellphone isn’t a big deal (and honestly, who does?). But not learning about and using the features of your CRM and marketing automation system can cost you money in lost prospects and customers. Take the time to learn as much about your CRM and marketing automation as possible. And steer clear of CRM and marketing automation systems that are overly complex for your business needs.

2. Enter Data Consistently. 

No more bad CRM data. Your platforms will function only as well as the quality of the data that you enter. Reduce human error by automating as much data entry as you can. When importing bulk data from spreadsheets, make sure data is formatted correctly and that fields are correctly matched. Use drop-down fields instead of text boxes to reduce data inconsistency.

3. Make It Part of Your Daily Routine. 

Once you get your customer data entered, it’s important to use this valuable tool daily. Start with simple tasks like setting automation to absorb data from your online lead forms and respond with automated messages.

4. Monitor Your System.

Make sure data from forms are being properly absorbed into the system and segmented the way you want it to be. Consistently monitoring your data systems will save you from catastrophic mistakes when it comes to nurturing your leads.

5. Set Up Drip Campaigns.

Drip campaigns are automated emails that help with sales efforts by trickling messages to prospects, with the goal of funneling them into becoming customers. Choose a system that comes with a wide choice of attractive and professional-looking templates to help you easily create effective drip and email campaigns.

6. Monitor Reports.  

Each campaign you set up with marketing automation can be monitored with easy to read reports. It is here where you can fine-tune your campaigns and conduct A/B testing to improve your results. Like human salespeople, efforts should be tracked, monitored, and improved to make the most of your assets. Using data from reports can contribute to improving CRM.

7. Commit to Your CRM. 

Once you begin to see results from your marketing automation, you will better understand the full value the system brings to your organization and CRM. The longer you use marketing automation to improve CRM, the better you will be at using its full range of abilities. The better you become at using marketing automation, the more valuable the tool will become.

These two tools are sophisticated, and they’re even more powerful when they’re used in unison. They allow you to use the advantages of automation while personalizing your interactions with each customer. You’ll spend less time on routine tasks and systematically prioritize customer interactions resulting in a readiness to buy. You get the best of both worlds – more conversions through marketing automation and better customer relationships through CRM.

This blog post has been updated on 3/27/20.