Combining Marketing Automation with CRM Can Improve ROI

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can be defined as managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects.

Business Know-How explains that many companies have invested in CRM as a way to retain more demanding customers. This is because as technology rapidly transforms, businesses must remain abreast of changes in consumer buying activity to effectively market to their preferences. The news source cites a study by The Center for Customer Strategy which found that consumers are less concerned with minor price differences and prefer to purchase from companies based on their value-added services.

CRM can be effective in retaining these customers because it helps businesses amend their philosophies from product-focused to consumer-focused. Actual CRM technology—such as Voice over IP (VoIP), speech applications, outsourced application delivery, social networking, wireless connectivity, presence technology such as RFID, open source CRM, queue management and embedded analytics—are simply tools companies use to carry out such strategies.CRM strategies can help businesses identify who their customers are, what they need and how to predict what they want. They allow companies to tailor offers to current customers, build closer relationships, make them feel more valuable and eliminate data overlap to improve customer service.

Integrating CRM and Marketing Automation Strategies

Going back to the technology of embedded analytics, a recent study from Lenskold Group found that integrating CRM with marketing automation software can help to better define analytical metrics and create better return on investment (ROI), as Destination CRM reports.

Researchers placed participants into three groups—marketers without marketing automation, marketers with marketing automation that wasn’t integrated into CRM, and marketers with marketing automation that was integrated into CRM.

What they found was that marketers who used CRM combined with marketing automation performed better overall.

“Companies using full-featured marketing automation integrated with CRM or sales automation indicate much higher rates of reporting and forecasting metrics,” noted researchers, as quoted by Destination CRM.

Specifically, 58 percent of marketers with automation and CRM (integrated marketers) were able to report performance metrics, compared to 36 percent of those that didn’t use automation. Furthermore, integrated marketers were more likely to report financial metrics compared to those without integration (46 percent to 22 percent) and forecast metrics (56 percent to 35 percent). In this case, performance metrics included opportunities such as the percentage of leads converted into opportunities

“The nexus of connected marketing automation and CRM is the central command center for managing and tracking campaigns across multiple channels through the entire lead lifecycle, from lead capture to revenue booked,” the Act On blog explains.

Bringing the Marketing and Sales Teams Together

CRM marketing automation combines the tech strategies of the marketing and sales departments, allowing both to make smarter decisions about where they invest their time and money. This is especially important considering the array of options marketers have to choose from—such as messaging, webinars, trade shows, ad buys, social media, email campaigns, etc. Without CRM technology, sales teams may find themselves wasting time cold calling and focusing on “inappropriate” leads, the news source adds.

Specific examples of the benefits of using marketing automation in tandem with a sales department’s CRM technology include the ability to create, automate and measure lead nurturing and marketing campaigns. It can also help score leads based on specific activities, profiles and special events, which allows for lead qualification using “proven” factors. In addition, sales leads can be managed or reassigned based on specific behaviors. This results in more time focused on valuable leads, a huge benefit for companies with long sales cycles.

On the sales side, integrating marketing automation and CRM can allow salespeople to see why a lead has been qualified and why it’s been assigned to them. They can then prioritize and interact with hot prospects and gain important information about a prospect’s interest and activities—which can be integral in forging a stronger relationship, creating more targeted marketing opportunities and facilitating more informational conversations.

Integration Increases ROI – Everybody is Happy

Returning to the Lenskold Group report and the topic of ROI, CRM marketing automation can help marketers examine the success (or failure) of a sales funnel from first contact to the close of an opportunity. Companies may also be able to use the technology to compare campaigns with results from other initiatives and develop reports of all efforts, InsideCRM explains.

DestinationCRM points out that other ways to improve ROI include targeting high-value, high-potential leads, improving conversion late in the funnel, reducing “leakage” by mapping out the life of a lead and looking for those that have “leaked” out of the process, and accelerating leakage of low-potential prospects and eliminating low-impact media.

For instance, marketing automation can provide companies with the ability to segment leads into high- or low-value during each stage of the client buy cycle.

Late-funnel conversion is described by the news source as an area of “low-hanging fruit” that could have a huge impact if rectified. Automation can nurture and improve the success of trials—actions that occur very late in the sales cycle—based on response and use (or non-use) of the program during the trial.

Reducing leakage refers to the adage “No Good Lead Left Behind,” the media outlet states. This can be an area of “big upside” for a company.  Leaks can be “plugged” by nurturing through a marketing automation process—for example, sending a premature lead back into a nurturing program. Setting up an automatic sweep of aged leads can rekindle relationships and potentially lost customers.

Accelerating leakage refers to “taking out the trash,” the news source states. By refining the funnel and working with only high-quality data, ROI can be improved and revenue can be saved.

Finally, CRM marketing automation can facilitate business discussion with proof points because of its metrics and reporting capabilities. Marketers may be able to reduce the disconnects they may have with sales over the ROI of certain actions, such as going to trade shows or running ads. Marketing automation helps remove the guesswork.