Many companies today have a CRM system in place and don’t think they need marketing automation too. Some are under the impression that the two software programs do the same things: after all, they both store customer contact information and they can both send emails to clients. But I’m about to give you a quick introduction to the key functionalities of both types of software and why you need marketing automation to complement your CRM so you can experience healthy revenue growth.
CRM and Marketing Automation Software: What Exactly Do They Do?
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software was first introduced to the marketplace in the 1990’s. Utilizing a CRM has become a standard business practice, especially for B2B companies. Their primary function is to house all your client data: everything from contact information to purchasing history, to a communications log. CRMs are also used to manage prospects currently in the buying process. A good CRM will provide insight into open opportunities, project potential revenue, and (provided the users take good notes) a history behind how deals were successfully closed or embarrassingly lost. It’s no surprise, then, that in most companies the Sales department is the biggest CRM user. CRMs are, in fact, designed with sales teams and their needs in mind.
So if the CRM “belongs” to the sales team, then Marketing Automation (MA) software “belongs” to the Marketing department. It’s almost like the “Swiss Army Knife” of business software because it is so multi-faceted. At its core, MA software helps you automate many of the marketing activities (plus manage the multiple digital channels you market through) that are integral to acquiring leads online.
Going deeper, Marketing Automation software helps you monitor your lead’s activities as they progress towards becoming a paying customer. You can see if your lead interacted with your content on social media, or if they visited a page on your website to download information. You are also able to determine if their level of interest in your business is smoking hot or ice cold. Your MA software also helps you to personalize your communications with your leads at scale. You can send them the information they care about the most at regular intervals so that your company and how you can help them stays on the top of their minds.
Why You Need Marketing Automation, Too
Marketing Automation software certainly knows how to “play nicely in the sandbox” with CRMs. They can leverage the data already housed in your CRM so you can formulate a smart approach to communicating with both your clients and prospects. Better than that, because lead acquisition is its’ specialty, MA software can help your marketing team turn over piping hot leads to sales by using lead scoring. With data in both platforms synced, you can actually see the genesis of your client relationship, from lead through conversion and into the customer lifecycle. Neither software can deliver that complete picture on its own.
Another reason you need Marketing Automation to compliment your CRM is to gain greater visibility into which marketing strategies are yielding the best ROI. Once you know what is working like gangbusters, you can do more of the same. The digital landscape changes daily and consumer behaviors along with it. MA software can help modern companies keep pace and shift their tactics to ensure the pipeline is always filled with the right types of leads. So even though MA software is focused on marketing activities, it yields many results that Sales benefits from.
Marketing Automation Can Help You Improve Sales
In the past, Marketing and Sales teams in many companies sat in their respective corners and only came together to duke it out in futile blame-game sessions when revenues were down. Thankfully, the business world has been seeing greater alignment and collaboration between these two departments. Companies have evolved to see that both teams are directly serving the bottom line, just from two different, but symbiotic vantage points.
In this new zen atmosphere of collaboration, MA software has proven itself to be a huge asset for Marketing teams to deliver hot leads to the sales team. How? MA software helps marketers to:
- Nurture and navigate prospects through a buyer’s journey.
- Lead nurturing often leads to bigger sized deals.
- Prioritize leads.
- Identify leads who are ready to buy.
- This shortens the sales cycle.
- Calculate ROI on marketing campaigns.
- Marketers can do more of what works to generate more high-quality leads.
Which Marketing Automation Software is Best for You?
Have I convinced you yet that you need Marketing Automation as much as you need your CRM? Did I give you the impression that Marketing Automation can come in and “MacGyver” your revenue? Awesome… my plan worked! When implemented properly, an MA solution certainly can help you reach your revenue goals faster.
But allow me to also paint you a realistic picture. It’s rare that you can “unpack” Marketing Automation software and use it as is, straight out of the box. It is not a one-step process to implement. The most successful implementations begin with choosing the right platform for your business needs.
Here are some key items to consider when you’re researching Marketing Automation platforms:
- Have your goals listed by priority.
- Is the platform easy to use? How quick is it to move around?
- How long is the process to get the system up and running?
- What will it cost to plan and implement the system (think internal and external.)
- Will it play nicely with your other software like your CRM and ERP? Is the integration native or an API?
- What does the vendor’s onboarding process look like?
- Is there an extra fee for customer support? What are the hours that support is open?
- Does the system have a native integration with your CRM?
- It’s always recommended that you have one person on the team in charge of maintaining the system.