It’s certainly an exciting time to work in Marketing and Sales.
It can be awfully confusing at times, too.
On the one hand, customers actually want to hear from you. But only if it means they get to interact with your brand in ways that are meaningful and memorable.
They don’t want a sales call.
They won’t read a marketing email.
They will, however, embrace a great experience. I’m talking about the customer service that goes above and beyond to anticipate their needs; the personalized message that’s been tailored specifically for them. These are the kinds of interactions your customers have come to expect, and there’s only one way to meet them.
Your teams will need to work as one cohesive unit.
It no longer works to treat marketing campaigns as one activity and customer relationship management as another. These days, the two should be deeply intertwined.
Which brings me to the purpose of this post. As more and more companies are discovering, it’s not just the line between Marketing and Sales that’s blurring. The systems these teams use are merging, too.
In response, many companies are starting to rethink their technology: Should you use CRM marketing, marketing automation or both?
To help, we’ll take a quick look at these two solutions, the functions they serve and the different ways they can be leveraged.
What is CRM marketing?
The biggest difference between CRM marketing and marketing automation lies in the features of each platform.
As the system typically used by Sales, customer relationship management (CRM) software has traditionally served as the hub for sales activities. It’s the place sales professionals go to get up-to-date data on leads, communicate with prospects and automate pipeline processes. While there are some ways to use CRM for marketing, these methods are generally limited to standard email communications.
With CRM alone, it can be difficult to keep track of multiple leads at various stages:
- Which prospects are eager to hear about your latest offerings?
- Who needs more time to warm up to you?
- Are any existing customers ready to hear about your other services?
As any seasoned sales person has experienced, these questions might be easy to answer when you’re working with five, 10 or 15 leads. But what if you want to understand what motivates the thousands of people who are visiting your website and signing up for your emails? It would be virtually impossible to keep track of them all.
That’s where marketing automation comes in.
How does marketing automation enhance CRM marketing?
Marketing automation platforms are most widely known for their ability to attract new leads. Marketers use this technology to create landing pages, build online forms, automate email “drip” campaigns and manage other activities that entice prospects to interact with the brand.
Where marketing automation really shines is in its ability to qualify those leads.
By setting up some simple lead scoring, you can automatically prioritize prospects based on real-time interactions with your brand. When someone deletes an email without opening it, their score is lowered. When a prospect clicks a link, their score is raised. Filling out a landing page form to download your white paper increases the score again, as does a visit to the demo page on your website.
Eventually, a prospect’s score will get high enough to indicate the individual is seriously interested in your products or services. This is when the contact is automatically passed on to your CRM so a sales rep knows to reach out.
This process ensures that your sales team is seeing only the most qualified prospects, rather than wasting time sending marketing messages to leads that in reality are not yet interested in making an actual purchase.
What it means for you
By now, you may be wondering which should come first: CRM or marketing automation. For awhile, many companies could get away with leaning on CRM to handle marketing in addition to sales.
But this is 2019, and your customers are expecting a lot more personalization than they did just a few years ago. Send the wrong message at the wrong time, and there’s a high likelihood you’ll lose a customer forever.
Our recommendation? Integrate CRM and marketing automation into one cohesive unit. Together, these two types of platforms can help you bridge the gap between Marketing and Sales to create the kinds of experiences that cultivate customers for life.