marketing automation and CRM integration best practices

CRM and Marketing Automation Integration Best Practices

Integrating your CRM with your marketing automation helps align sales and marketing and greatly improves your chances of success with promising prospects and existing customers.
Article Outline

There’s no question that marketing automation is a valuable tactic. 88% of marketers report that marketing automation increases their leads, and 77% say it increases conversions. As a stand-alone tool, marketing automation is highly effective, but what happens when you amplify those results through the right integrations?

Seamless integration between your marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) has the potential to multiply your results, convert more marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales qualified leads (SQLs), and drive higher sales.

To reach your target market, you need the right tools behind you. After all, you want to grow by communicating the right messaging to the right people at the right time. A critical part of making those tools work harder for you is understanding how they can integrate to add up to better sales results.

Why Integrate Marketing Automation with Your CRM?

Effectively integrating your marketing automation with your CRM allows you to maximize the power of each tool’s capabilities and transform how you engage and communicate with customers. A few examples include:

  • Organizing and streamlining your company’s prospecting and customer retention activities by consolidating vital activities and information.
  • Capturing more advanced insights into the customer journey, which sales and marketing can leverage to prioritize efforts.
  • Avoiding lost productivity and waste of critical resources on poor leads.

Often, sales and marketing communicate with prospects and customers using different verbiage or attempting to appeal to different pain points. Integrating marketing automation with CRM increases visibility, ensuring uniform and targeted messaging to various audiences and individuals. If you ever update or change communications, both teams can view the changes and adjust accordingly.

Guide Users Through the Customer Journey

A large goal of integrating your marketing automation platform with your CRM is to allow marketing and sales teams to attract more leads and guide more prospects through the purchasing cycle to increase revenue.

When marketing automation and CRM are in sync, your team can review the available data to better understand how the prospect or customer is engaging with your company’s website, products and services. As a result, you can serve them valuable content that informs buying decisions and promotes conversions based on where they’re at in the customer journey.

Marketing and CRM Software Integrations Improve Data Hygiene

Whatever you hope to achieve through sales and marketing hinges on the health of your email list, but unfortunately, many companies struggle with data hygiene.

Research shows that between 10% and 25% of business-to-business (B2B) marketing database contacts contain critical errors. As a result, many marketers are sending emails to unverified recipients who are uninterested (or no longer interested) in receiving those communications. Those unwanted emails are then reported as “spam,” which damages deliverability and open rates while decimating your email reputation.

However, if you’re using a unified system to input and monitor your data, you’re far more likely to maintain a high level of data hygiene – and ensure that your messages are being received and opened.

Integrating your CRM and marketing automation platforms has many advantages, but the main point is that when you align these systems, you align everything else that your sales and marketing teams are working on to achieve synchronicity between the two departments. Still, it’s one thing to talk about the advantages of integration, but actually bringing those benefits to life is another topic altogether. Let’s get to it.

Follow These Tips to Maximize the Automation Integration Relationship

Do your marketing automation software platform and CRM systems integrate? If so, that’s a great start. However, just because they integrate doesn’t mean they align. Or rather, it doesn’t mean that your marketing and sales teams are working together to ensure that alignment. Here are five best practices to make sure that you’re getting the most from your CRM and marketing automation integration efforts.

1) Leverage Marketing and Sales Personalization

The true beauty of integrated marketing automation is that it empowers marketers to personalize their campaigns to appeal to their target audiences at the company and individual levels. When you properly integrate an effective CRM, you can improve that level of personalization even further.

For instance, your CRM should be able to transfer important information (company size, deal stage, deal size, deal status) automatically to your marketing automation tool, eliminating a lot of tedious work along the way. Your marketing team can then use this information to make their key deliverables more targeted and direct, especially as they support your sales team with content to help late-stage buyers convert. 

Another way to leverage marketing and sales personalization through aligning your CRM with your marketing automation platform is by ensuring emails to prospects appear to be coming from their assigned sales reps. This means your marketing automation tool should have the capability to pull critical information from the CRM directly and then update key email identifiers, such as “From” name, address, and even the sender’s email signature.

2) Establish Accurate Lead Scoring

The faster you respond to a lead, the more likely that lead will become a customer. Studies show that businesses that respond to leads within five minutes are 100x more likely to connect and convert opportunities. However, on average, it takes B2B sales teams 42 hours to respond to a new lead, and 38% of those leads never reply. After 30 days, 90% of those leads go completely inactive.

An effective strategy to automatically determine which leads are ready to pass to sales is lead scoring. Identify your personas, determine which user interactions and characteristics are most important to your company, and then assign point values to each interaction. Key interactions will vary from organization to organization, but opening an email, downloading an eBook, and visiting a pricing page are all common lead scoring actions. Make sure to get input from relevant sales, marketing, and executive stakeholders, and then put your scoring plan into action.

3) Maintain Visibility Into Post-SQL Activity

A lead isn’t going to suddenly change how they interact with your company just because they’ve transitioned internally from an MQL to an SQL. Furthermore, the actions they take and the way they engage with you online will directly influence how your sales team decides to communicate with them. Therefore, those same sales reps need to have a clear line of sight into those activities.

Most CRMs can deliver up-to-today and even real-time information on these post-SQL activities to help ensure that sales reps can react appropriately based on lead behavior. However, once a lead is passed to sales, reps should only receive highly relevant information.

Set up triggers for bottom-of-the-funnel activities like downloading a product comparison checklist or buyer’s guide. This will alert your sales team whenever it’s time to alter or accelerate their approach with the lead or customer.

4) Eliminate Duplicate Instances

One of the primary benefits of integrating your marketing automation platform with your CRM is the ability to unify your data through automated communication between the two systems. Unfortunately, prospects don’t always reach out in the same way, leading to duplicate instances in your records.

For example, if a prospect downloads an eBook, then also calls your company and is put in touch with a sales rep, the sales rep’s first inclination might be to enter the prospect into the CRM. Naturally, this could lead to duplication if the prospect had already been registered in your marketing automation tool.

Duplication is especially hazardous because it leads to false reporting, compliance issues (which adversely affect deliverability) and, potentially, mixed messaging in your outbound communications. So, to avoid having multiple instances of a single platform in your software, you need to be sure that both your sales and marketing teams are regularly reviewing their accounts for duplicate records and then deleting them. However, you should also create a note in the individual’s CRM record that they reached out multiple times, but you made sure to eliminate the duplicate entry.

5) Integrate with Agility

The first month or so of your new CRM and marketing automation integration will feel amazing. Your sales and marketing teams will be connected in ways they never realized were possible, and you’ll likely see a pronounced increase in productivity and performance.

Maintaining this edge requires you to adjust at regular intervals over the lifetime of your integration – likely to both the CRM and your chosen marketing automation tool. Furthermore, you’ll likely need to adjust on the fly to avoid downtime. This means that your integration needs to be configured in a way that doesn’t require any heavy coding knowledge. 

Ready for Results? Integrate Your CRM with Act-On Marketing Automation Software

Many marketing automation platforms require complex, lengthy CRM integrations or make it difficult to migrate your data if you terminate your relationship with the vendor. Choose a platform that integrates natively with the most popular and powerful CRMs – such as Salesforce, Dynamics 365, SugarCRM, and Zendesk Sell. Your technology stack should integrate seamlessly and create a real-time data sync that drives greater insights around customer interests and behaviors and propels business growth forward. Talk to us about how your current CRM can work with Act-On to bring the sales results you’ve been looking for.

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