In the beginning, there was pencil and paper. Did it work? Yes. Was it super efficient and capable of keeping track of large amounts of data in a neat and organized way? Not really.
A marked improvement came with the invention of the Rolodex, something a person under the age of 40 has probably never seen in their life. It was a desk tool to help businesses file and organize their customer information.
Then, the computer age brought us spreadsheets, which were seen as the ultimate solution to keeping vast amounts of customer data and interactions organized. Oh how we used to love what we now so mercilessly mock.
But then came CRM (customer relationship management) software and suddenly a whole new world opened up. The continued expansion and integration of automation inside of these systems has enhanced customer engagement and management to levels thought previously impossible.
What is CRM and Marketing Automation Integration?
Before we start combining terms, we should probably get the definitions of each term straight first.
What is a CRM?
If you type “what is a CRM?” into Google, you’ll get about 46 different definitions that all basically say the same thing with a few words switched around. I think a fairly agreeable definition of a CRM is that it is a system that manages a company's interactions with existing and prospective customers, helps to identify sales opportunities, records customer service issues, and assists in customer retention.
As a side note, 999 times out of 1,000, when someone is talking about a CRM they are specifically talking about software, not just a general method of managing customers.
What is Marketing Automation?
As for marketing automation, it is software that automates marketing tasks such as email marketing, lead generation, lead scoring, and lead nurturing. Translation: mundane marketing tasks don't need to be done via manual labor.
So What Does a Combination of the Two Look Like?
Very simply, CRM and marketing automation integration is the process of linking a CRM system with marketing automation tools to create a seamless flow of customer data and information between the two systems.
This integration helps businesses to centralize customer data, track customer interactions and behaviors, and manage data across multiple channels in a more efficient and streamlined manner, allowing for more targeted and personalized marketing campaigns, which improve conversion rates and customer engagement.
How is it Done?
Integrations are technical and easy to screw up; it’s not a time for guessing or “winging it”. The following steps should be considered:
- Plan Ahead: determine the objectives, goals, and requirements of the integration
- Choices: choose compatible CRM and marketing automation tools that fit your needs
- Map it Out: map out the data fields between the systems for a seamless data transfer
- Cleaning: make sure your data is clean and accurate before integration
- Syncing: establish data synchronization and flow processes to ensure both systems are updated
- Define: define the triggers and set up workflow and automation rules to streamline processes
- Test: test the integration to ensure it is functioning properly
- Training: provide training and support to your team to ensure successful adoption
- Monitor: monitor the integration regularly to ensure it's running smoothly and make adjustments as needed
Some additional best practices to keep in mind….
You will need to choose a single source of truth, or essentially decide which system will be the primary source for customer data. This will ensure better data analytics and insights. Speaking of customer data, ensuring that all data privacy regulations are followed and that data is secure is job one.
Also, consistency is important. There should be cross-functional collaboration between teams using the systems and lead scoring and segmentation rules that both systems can use to determine how leads should be routed, scored, and nurtured.
There are several methods for integrating CRMs and marketing automation software:
- API integration: allows data to be transferred between the two systems seamlessly and in real-time
- Plugin integration: many CRMs have plugins available to integrate with popular marketing automation tools
- Third party : there are many third-party tools available that can bridge your CRM and marketing automation platform
Regardless of the method, the integration should be set up to sync data such as customer contact information, behaviors and interactions, campaign responses, and lead scoring. This will help ensure there is a seamless flow of data and the ability to track customer interactions and engagement across both systems
The Magic of HubSpot
If you're interested in making the whole process a lot easier, just go with HubSpot.
Because HubSpot has a native integration with its marketing automation platform that allows users to integrate and manage multiple marketing channels and tools in one place. The integration includes features such as email marketing, lead nurturing, lead capture and scoring, social media management, and sales tracking. HubSpot also offers integration with various third-party tools, such as social media platforms, landing pages, and form builders, to extend its marketing automation capabilities.
HubSpot CRM marketing automation = #winning
So should you integrate your CRM and marketing automation software? Take a look at the benefits and decide if you can afford to NOT integrate:
Not Every Customer is the Same
Understanding customer needs, preferences, and behaviors is vital. Integrating CRM and marketing automation provides improved customer segmentation and targeted marketing as combining data from both systems provides more comprehensive insights into customer behavior and preferences. This enhanced personalization of marketing efforts leads to an overall better experience and more applicable communications for each customer.
Integrating systems provides a more streamlined and automated approach to marketing, leading to increased return on investment. By tracking customer behavior and engagement, businesses can identify leads and tailor their marketing efforts to target those leads more effectively. This can lead to an increase in qualified leads and improved conversion rates. By targeting qualified leads more effectively, businesses can reduce their marketing costs while increasing ROI.
Integration eliminates manual data transfer between systems, saving time and increasing efficiency and productivity. The automation of repetitive tasks such as data entry, email campaigns, lead nurturing, and follow-up saves time and can increase employee capacity in other areas that require attention.
Integration allows businesses to centralize customer data, which makes it easier for teams to collaborate on customer accounts and helps align sales and marketing efforts, leading to improved collaboration and better results. This ensures that everyone in the organization is on the same page and working towards the same goal. RevOps, anyone?
Embrace Modern Technologies
Bottom line #1: If manually tracking customer information and laboriously sending out individual marketing messages sounds awesome to you, then integrating a CRM with marketing automation may not be your thing.
Bottom line #2: If streamlining your workflow, personalizing your communication, and driving more sales sounds awesome to you, then integrating a CRM with marketing automation is probably your thing.
Confession: I was having trouble coming up with a “bottom line #3”, so I asked ChatGPT to write a witty line about how and why using spreadsheets to track customer data is a bad idea. The response: “Using spreadsheets to track customer data will make you sheet-faced.”