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Blending Marketing Automation and CRM to Unify Your Strategies

Laura Barker


Of all the marketing platforms and tools businesses have on their toolbelt, marketing automation and CRM software are two of the most valuable in terms of understanding customers and potential customers, and turning them into buyers. In fact, 77% of businesses that use marketing automation see an increase in conversions, and the average ROI on CRM software is $8.71 for every dollar spent. 

The benefits of each of these technologies alone are clear — but what happens when businesses combine marketing automation and CRM strategies? Let’s explore exactly what we mean when we talk about marketing automation vs CRM and why marketers should rely on both to maximize their overall strategy.

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is the process of using software to carry out mundane or repetitive marketing activities and campaigns. It’s a technology used to streamline marketing operations, improve efficiencies, and drive better performance — while saving human team’s time and resources. 

For example, marketing automation software can send emails, score leads, post to social media channels, and more throughout the entire buyer journey. And by using a CRM, marketers can spend their time and energy on more high-value tasks like research and in-depth campaign orchestration.

What is CRM?

On the other hand, CRM, which stands for “customer relationship management,” software helps businesses acquire, nurture, and retain all relationships with customers and potential customers. CRM software is designed to consolidate and track user data in one place, giving customer-facing teams a quick and easy look into customer profiles and where they’re at in the sales journey.

CRM software tracks and stores all communication touchpoints like emails, past purchases, social media mentions, form fills, etc. — as well as any additional data resulting from those interactions. Some of the most popular and well-known CRM providers include Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho.

How Marketing Automation and CRM Work Together

Individually, marketing automation is often thought of as a marketing tool while CRM is thought of as a sales tool — and each provides business with unique benefits related to growth and revenue. However, to get the most value out of each technology, marketers should use them in tandem.

When integrated, marketing automation and CRM create a two-way flow of customer data. Marketing automation draws on the CRM to decide who, when, and where to send communications, and then information about customer actions is sent back to enrich the CRM. Think of it as a continuous loop of growing information that can fuel your marketing engine. 

Maximize Your Overall Marketing Strategy

Together, marketing automation and CRM support each other to form a seamless journey from prospect to repeat and loyal customer. Here are some of the benefits of CRM and marketing automation integration.

1. Connect your sales and marketing teams

Integrating your marketing automation and CRM softwares creates better coordination between sales and marketing. Often, these two organizational departments have differing ideas about where customers are at in their buyer journeys, what interactions should happen next, and what kind of messaging resonates best. When the systems are integrated, both teams can see a complete picture of what’s happening, what’s working, and what’s not so they can better align their next steps.

In addition, employees get visibility into what kind of messaging is being used (and how that messaging affects performance) to communicate with customers across both sales and marketing — things like terms or phrases used often, positioning of product benefits, etc. This allows your sales team to speak with customers in a way that is consistent with messages they see in your marketing materials, and vice versa.

2. Unify customer data

Data is king — it tells us who our customers are, how they behave, and where to reach them. But if your data is unorganized or inaccessible, it’s essentially useless. By using CRM and marketing automation together, businesses can consolidate all of their customer information into one place, making it easy for sales and marketing teams to access comprehensive customer data to inform decision making.

Bear in mind that when unifying marketing automation and CRM data, it’s important to avoid duplicate records, like entering a prospect’s information into your CRM who has already been registered in your marketing automation software. Duplication can lead to false reporting, compliance issues, and inconsistent messaging, which could be the difference between a sale and a lost customer. To avoid duplication, ensure you have processes in place to regularly review your system for errors and set standards to prevent them from happening in the first place. 

3. Personalize brand messaging

CRM software is a great tool for collecting customer data that can be used to personalize your marketing messages. But by combining your CRM with marketing automation, you can achieve more advanced and effective personalization with less effort.

For example, say a purchase event is added to your CRM for a specific customer. This information is then sent to your marketing automation software and triggers a promotional email to that customer featuring products similar to the one they purchased.

71% of consumers expect personalized interactions from brands, and 76% get frustrated when they don’t receive it. Using CRM and marketing automation together helps marketers target their audiences more precisely and tailor messaging based on actual customer behaviors.

4. Achieve more ROI

More data, better alignment between teams, and increased personalization mean you’ll be better able to meet your customers’ needs, leading to happier customers and more conversions. CRM and marketing automation integration creates more opportunities for up-sells, cross-sells, and a shorter overall sales process in a way that benefits both your business and the customer.

Double Down on Marketing Automation & CRM

Take your combined automation and CRM strategy one step further with AdRoll’s Unified Contacts and dynamic list builder capabilities. AdRoll integrates with your CRM and ecommerce platform to help you understand your audience on a deeper level and create hyper-personalized experiences via web ads, social ads, and email.

Blending Marketing Automation & CRM: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between marketing automation and CRM?

Marketing automation is technology that streamlines key marketing workflows like sending emails or posting content to a website. It also measures the performance of those marketing initiatives and records how customers interact with them.

CRM is a tool businesses use to organize and store customer data, such as demographic information, records of customer communications (such as phone calls or emails), past purchase history, etc. 

How does CRM and marketing automation work together?

CRM and marketing automation work together by feeding each other information about marketing activities and customer data. When used in tandem, the technologies help businesses align marketing and customer-facing teams, enhance and unify customer data, personalize brand experiences, and earn more revenue. 

Is CRM a marketing automation?

CRM is not marketing automation. Rather, CRM is a tool used to manage customer data that, when integrated, can enhance marketing automation efforts. 

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