I recently read an interesting article on Pardot’s blog by Jenna Hanington called 10 Steps to Pass Marketing Automation 101. It talked about some great first steps to take: experimenting with drip campaigns, integrating web tracking services like Google analytics, and scheduling social posts and email drops. To me the most important piece of all was integrating your Marketing Automation (MA) solution with your existing CRM solution. Admittedly I don’t have a ton of experience with CRM solutions other then salesforce.com, but having said that integrating salesforce.com with the Marketing Automation solutions I have used in the past has been crucial to both my individual success as a marketer and my Marketing team’s overall performance.
Your company’s entire Sales and Marketing database (hopefully) is stored in your CRM solution and your MA solution will initially have to pull information from there to populate its own database. If they are not synced properly you could get corrupted or incomplete information from this process. Also as you run campaigns in your MA solution you need to be able to send complete and accurate campaign information back to your CRM solution. This helps you understand how all your leads and contacts progress through your Marketing and Sales funnels, enabling you to determine if responses need to be sent back to the top of the Marketing funnel or if there are bottlenecks in the hand-off between Marketing and Sales.
Additionally you need to make sure that the numbers in your MA solution match up with the numbers in your CRM solution. In many companies Sales and Marketing already have a contentious relationship (this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone). However this gets exacerbated if Marketing can’t prove the effectiveness of its campaigns to Sales, Sales is unhappy with the quality of leads coming from Marketing, etc. If Sales can’t see accurate Marketing numbers inside your CRM solution there is no way they will go looking for those numbers in your MA solution. You need to have accurate marketing metrics in your CRM solution that reflect what is actually happening with your programs so Sales can Marketing can get on and stay on the same page. Like your Sales and Marketing teams your CRM and MA solutions need to be in constant communication, exchanging information about what is happening with your customer and prospect database, and tracking and measuring the results of your campaigns.
The bottom line is this: integrating CRM and Marketing Automation solutions is a critical step towards creating a complete demand generation lifecycle that generates lots of net new responses and drives revenue for your company.