CRM and Marketing Automation: Better Together

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The benefits of CRM are well known, but only over the past few years have the payoffs from adding marketing automation into the mix come into view. A recent report from Econsultancy showed that 94 percent of companies surveyed believe that personalization of the customer experience through CRM technology is “critical to current and future success”. Meanwhile, marketing automation has helped companies grow qualified leads by 400 percent or more through lead nurturing campaigns. When successfully integrated, the benefits of both systems grow exponentially by allowing companies to use data from CRM systems to power highly targeted and personalized lead nurturing campaigns with the marketing automation system. As marketing automation grows, it will become the dominant system of engagement, while integrated CRM acts as the system of record feeding the campaigns.

Established companies have already invested in CRM, and it’s becoming clear that marketers are looking to test the waters beyond those lead management capabilities – research from Software Advice showed that 91% of marketing automation buyers were evaluating the software for the first time. Combining the number of new faces in marketing automation with Raab Associates’ finding that the marketing automation industry has grown 50 percent YoY for multiple years now shows a burgeoning adoption rate. In fact, marketing automation revenue is set to grow by 60 percent in 2014 alone.

Behind the high adoption rate and increased revenue are some important statistics about how the growth of marketing automation is intertwined with CRM. According to research just released by Software Advice, a company that reviews marketing automation platforms, 48 percent of marketing automation buyers were already managing marketing activities with CRM software. This means that right now nearly half of the people adopting marketing automation can benefit from its synergistic dependency with CRM to power personalized customer engagement initiatives. The 48 percent of buyers expanding beyond CRM have realized that a system of record is no longer enough, and this is a trend that will continue to accelerate with the growth of marketing automation as a system of engagement for personalized marketing.

To effectively use CRM as the system of record for personalized marketing automation campaigns, new and existing buyers need to make sure there is a deep integration of customer data between the two systems. Integration with CRM is crucial for all aspects of marketing automation, but even more so for the personalized campaigns involved in lead nurturing, which, according to Software Advice, 40% of new buyers of marketing automation systems selected as their most desired feature (ahead of marketing analytics and lead scoring).
Software Advice
(Software Advice: Marketing Automation Software BuyerView | 2014)

As more functions that were once handled within CRM spin off into their own divergent systems, the need for deep integration and connections between business systems is becoming all the more important.

The findings of Software Advice’s Marketing Automation Software BuyerView report point wholeheartedly towards the ever-more important role marketing automation will hold for leading businesses. “Today there are more channels to market in, more types of marketing programs, more data available for buyer segmentation and higher expectations among your buyers and prospects. As a result there’s an increasing need for a marketing automation solution to manage these challenges,” David Raab of Raab Associates Inc said of the findings. Just as important as the growth of marketing automation is its ability to play nicely with CRM for customer interactions, which requires the right integration implementation or technology partner. By partnering with internal IT and/or an integration partner, marketers can break down silos between the two systems to improve lead generation, lead nurturing, and the bottom line.

Has your company adopted marketing automation and CRM? If so, how do you use each of the systems? Connect with me in the comments below or on Twitter at @peterrchase.

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