Optimism Swirls, Confusion Remains: The CRM/Marketing Automation Conundrum


Share on LinkedIn

Over the past week, headlines reflecting optimism about growth of the CRM market, particularly social CRM, were plentiful. Coverage was primarily driven by new research from Gartner, Inc. that predicted that the CRM market “will enter a three year shake up in 2011, as a number of key trends take hold,” and that “sales, marketing and customer service technologies, projects and implementations will all see rapid changes over the next few years.” The firm predicted that “by 2013, spending on social software to support sales, marketing and customer service processes will exceed $1 billion worldwide.”

All this buzz got me thinking about some very real challenges facing marketers today, particularly related to current CRM investments. It’s clear that many organizations are still struggling to wring more out of CRM technologies, while some are left wondering if CRM goes far enough, particularly in the area of sales and marketing alignment, and if other investments like marketing automation may be necessary. I’d like to share some of my response to a related question posed in a recent FOCUS forum and offer insight from a timely whitepaper that delves deeper into helping marketers answer this question: “Why do I need marketing automation if I already have salesforce automation and email marketing?

From our perspective, one of marketing automation’s benefits is to provide a rich profile of prospect activity and behavior by contact record, as well as the means to act upon key buying signals. For those currently using a salesforce system with an enterprise-class email marketing tool, marketing automation technology makes email behavioral data actionable. Separate email and web analytics technologies just don’t cut it when it comes to making the data actionable for marketing and sales. This is where marketing automation shines. It allows marketing, and specifically the marketing technology, to automate the heavy lifting part on the front-end of the funnel so that sales works only leads that are truly qualified; and probably more importantly, marketing automation tools provide all of the relevant marketing history to the sales reps at their fingertips so that when they do engage with the prospect, chances for closure are that might higher.
In the FOCUS response, I suggested that when evaluating marketing automation vendors, marketers should be sure to ask very specific questions about CRM integration because, depending on their needs, standard out-of-the box integration won’t meet the needs of organizations that have anything other than basic marketing processes. We also emphasized the importance of “bi-directional” integration from the SFA to the marketing automation solution. This is critical functionality because updates need to be not only provided to the SFA system, but then back again to the marketing automation tool in order to provide the marketer with accurate attribution of sales to marketing campaigns in order to calculate ROI.

If these topics reflect conversations you are having within your own organization, I’d like to encourage you to read our whitepaper that discusses how marketing automation makes customer data actionable, sales reps more effective and helps produce a higher ROI from salesforce automation, email marketing and web analytics tools. What’s your view of the relationship between marketing automation and sales effectiveness?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kristin Hambelton
Kristin Hambelton is responsible for all marketing efforts for Neolane including corporate communications, branding, product marketing, demand generation, partner marketing, and operations.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here