Does your business need a customer relationship management (CRM) system and a marketing automation system? Although these two systems are well known for improving business processes, it is necessary for your marketing and sales leaders to understand the difference between the two, as well as the benefits they bring when used together.
Keeping up with technology and making decisions on IT expenditures is a daunting task due to the many options available in the market at various price points. For the most part, these expenditures are long-term investments toward expediting processes, freeing up human resources, making a profit and staying ahead of the competition – fundamental goals for any business.
CRM vs Marketing Automation
A CRM manages customer relationships, from leads to sales, throughout the sales lifecycle. Besides building and fostering customer relationships, a CRM helps market efficiently, sell effectively, and interact and respond to customers in real-time. In addition, a CRM platform offers insights into market trends and events that can help drive revenue and profits. So, CRM is extremely sales-focused where as a marketing automation system is relevantly marketing-focused.
A marketing automation system focuses on brand awareness, customer acquisition, and customer retention by generating new leads and identifying opportunities to cross-sell or upsell to existing customers. Top-of-the-funnel activity can then be followed using marketing automation to track prospect behaviors such as website visits, open emails, subscriptions to your blog or completed forms. Furthermore, marketers benefit from a marketing automation system by scheduling and tracking campaigns and simply providing a mass output of business to customer communications.
There are two specific objectives and a very distinct overlap – the customer. For example, where did the customer come from? To answer a question with a question, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the customer come from a relationship managed in CRM or a lead from marketing automation?
If your organization only has a CRM, the marketing department can benefit from the data stored in the CRM. However, this comes at the cost of increased manual effort and time constraints, not to mention opportunity costs. The benefits brought on by a CRM revolve around two key factors: how your CRM is built and the resource talent you have available. With that said, ensure that your CRM is built properly by answering the following:
– Are you collecting the right data?
– Is the data accurate?
– Can you easily export the data?
– Do you have the right resources to create the marketing output, track it
and get the data back into CRM for your sales team to execute?
Also, with a CRM, the sales process lifecycle may be streamlined for lead capturing, account creation, contact setup, opportunity management, product catalog, quote management, order management or invoice management. In addition, you can optimize the CRM sales process to boost sales and help guide you through the journey. But, if you don’t have a CRM and are managing the sales process through another application, such as Excel, costs are much higher with minimal long-term benefits. This also means you’ll have scarce resources, limited data and more manual work to do.
When to Integrate a Marketing Automation System
By leveraging marketing automation, you can efficiently market through various channels, such as social media, websites, email, or events to effectively gain a potential customer’s attention. Integrating a marketing automation system in combination with CRM brings the sales lifecycle to a full circle.
Once you’ve won their attention through these initial efforts, whether it was through an email campaign, tracking website traffic, or hosting an event, you can then begin to refine the data collected. Above all, this results in a focused marketing effort that highlights products or services to generate new leads, and due to integration, then puts those in front of a sales person in real-time.
With a qualified lead and CRM collecting all digital touch points, from human interactions phone calls, emails and meetings, the sales lifecycle begins. At the same time the sales team has a single view of the customer, managers also have the ability to monitor productivity, while the marketing team has the data needed to develop future marketing efforts to facilitate cross selling or up selling.
It’s also worth noting that many marketing automation systems contain tremendous “out of the box” functionality to easily measure and slice and dice results, allowing the marketing team to focus on the creative aspects of their job.
If you’re having a difficult time deciding whether your business needs both a CRM and marketing automation system, evaluate and identify your challenges when viewing your sales funnel. Each system is different but both systems may be valuable to either of your sales or marketing teams.
Additionally, most marketing automation systems allow data to sync to a CRM or vice versa to a marketing automation system by facilitating easy access through one system. In contrast, if you are leaning towards a CRM and marketing automation system together, there are plenty of CRM systems in the market that already include both.