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Marketing Automation & CRM – the Greatest Benefits and Best Practices

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Marketing automation is an effective solution for sending highly targeted messages and pushing deals forward in the sales pipeline. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a tool for gathering and organizing all your customer data. But what happens when these two solutions are combined and their features are utilized together?

Dive in to learn what are the best ways to utilize the combination of marketing automation and CRM and what value this duet can actually bring to you and your business. We also show five practical use-case examples you can use for inspiration. At the end of this article, you can book yourself a free trial of the comprehensive CRM solution Pipedrive. 

The tools in a nutshell

The integration of marketing automation and CRM has many perks. It helps to deepen the cooperation of marketing and sales, enables a better understanding of customer behavior, improves the lead quality and saves resources.

To understand how this is possible, some basic knowledge of both systems is needed. Here it comes in a nutshell:

Marketing automation is software designed to automate some repetitive marketing tasks, like emails or push notifications. With automation technology, you can pull data from other channels and utilize it in marketing campaigns.

Marketing automation enables carefully targeted, personalized and rightly-timed customer communication. Automation technology can be used for many purposes – one is to drive leads through the sales funnel into conversion.

Liana Technologies' survey respondents rated improved targeting of messages and a better marketing ROI as the most prominent benefits of marketing automation.

In our international marketing automation survey, the respondents rated improved targeting of messages and a better marketing ROI as the most prominent benefits of marketing automation.

A customer relationship management (CRM) solution allows you to manage all your company's relationships and interactions with customers and prospects. It stores, for instance, the information on how long a person has been a customer and the history of their purchases.

CRM helps to segment customers accurately, plan sales activities, improve customer service, monitor deals and streamline processes.

All customer data exists in CRM, which makes integrating it with marketing automation necessary in order to get data into the automation system. However, CRM and marketing automation benefit each other much more than just by being a source for customer contacts.

Meme picture: a man is pouring fuel on fire, symbolizing that data is fuel for marketing automation.

CRM and marketing automation greatly benefit each other by passing on useful information between the solutions.

The benefits of integrating marketing automation and CRM

Let’s go through the greatest advantages the combination of marketing automation and CRM brings to you.

Improved cooperation between marketing and sales

The challenges in cooperation between sales and marketing is an evergreen topic. This is where the integration of CRM and marketing automation steps in.

The buyer journey doesn’t look the same for every prospect – the route is rarely straightforward and might even seem illogical compared to the path you had in mind. This means that sales and marketing must work closely together in order to meet the prospect's needs and help them to convert at any possible point on the customer path.

Sales and marketing often have different views of what can be defined as a lead. Integrating CRM and marketing automation makes the touchpoints more clear. Sales will have a better vision of when they should contact the prospect, and marketing gets to know in which stages their messages are needed.

Two-way flow of customer data

Using marketing automation and CRM together enables a two-way flow of customer data. This is great news, because 

  • No data gets lost in the way, because it’s imported and exported from one system to another
  • You can trust that there are no blockages in the flow of data 
  • You don’t have to track communication with one customer from several places.

You’ll be able to send automated messages to different segment groups fetched from CRM. After implementing the marketing actions, the data in CRM is enriched with the customer's actions. (Psst, you’ll get more tips for this later in this article!)

Personalized customer communication

Personalizing messages is crucial: the more personalized the messages are, the more likely the customer responds to them. However, 55% of marketers don’t feel they have sufficient data and insights for effective personalization. At the same time, customer data is stored in several different systems.

The combination of CRM and marketing automation offers a solution to the problem: you can send triggered, tailored and personalized messages based on customer’s behavior. Certain customer data points can be used to personalize your messages: past purchases, won and lost deals, interests, company data and so on.

Find new ideas for personalizing your email messages: 8 Tips to Personalize Your Emails

The more systems are attached to automation, the clearer the picture of customer’s behavior is. You can gather together all possible actions, like newsletter clicks and website visits into the customer's CRM profile.

As an end result, sales can be more strategic in their communications and the interaction with the customer is more efficient. Marketing gets a better vision of what kind of messages resonate the best and which content leads find the most helpful.

Seamless customer experience – and more sales 💰

Thanks to synchronization of marketing automation and CRM, you’ll be able to serve your current and future customers better. You can more easily examine and analyze customers’ behavior and base your future actions on those insights.

Thus, you can send marketing messages your customers are interested in at the right time, leading to more up- and cross-sales and higher customer satisfaction. The sales process might also shorten because customers’ and prospects’ needs are always responded to at the right time.

A modern automation platform also enables giving points to prospect’s actions. After a certain amount of points is reached, sales know that the lead is warm enough to be contacted. In the best-case scenario, before making any calls or sending any emails, sales has a large amount of data in CRM about the prospect's actions and needs. 

How to get started

Now we understand why it is so important to use these tools together, but the question still is how to do it. Here are the steps to follow.

  • Acquire the technology. Invest in high-quality solutions that are already integrated together. For example, LianaAutomation is integrated with popular CRM platform Pipedrive, so you can start working effectively right away.  
  • Plan the process. Gather sales and marketing together to visualize and jot down the whole buying journey and to see which actions are needed during the way. Include pre-sales marketing, sales contact points and new customer onboarding to the roadmap.
  • Plan the personalization. Decide which data points you will use to personalize the customer journey. There's plenty to choose from, from location to age distribution, from types of products purchased to the number of purchases. Make sure that you collect all the needed information by using subscription forms, for example.
  • Create automation workflows. Start building the automation workflows for different purposes, like warming up the lead, onboarding and re-heating the customer relationship. Find inspiration from our free handbook of marketing automation examples to help your business grow.
  • Analyze and fine-tune. Once you’ve created and launched the automation, you need to monitor the results and make some adjustments if there’s room for improvement. You can try how fine-tuning the headlines, content or timing of the automation letters affects the results.

Practical use-case examples

Let’s go through some examples of using marketing automation and CRM together, and boosting sales at the same time.

Onboarding

Data source: CRM
Channel: Email / push notification 
Trigger: New signup / first purchase

Onboarding is one of the most popular ways to use marketing automation, and CRM adds a lot of power to the process.

After the sales mark a deal won in CRM, it gives a trigger to marketing automation to start the onboarding process for the new customer. Educate and give information to the customers and help them to use your products.

Later in the onboarding messages you can start to drive extra sales. One smart way to do this is to run a referral campaign, like Dropbox did. By offering free data storage for people who invited their friends to use the platform, Dropbox managed to reach 3 900% growth in just 15 months.

By offering free data storage for people who invited their friends to use the platform, Dropbox managed to reach 3 900% growth in just 15 months.

Dropbox managed to reach significant growth by running a referral campaign as a part of their onboarding automation.

Upsell

Data source: CRM
Channel: Email
Trigger: Customer segment: loyal clients

The customers who do multiple purchases are interested in your company and are often ready to buy some more. This makes them a great segment group for your upselling campaign. You can easily pull out the needed data from CRM, for example those customers who have bought at least three times from you.

Send a personalized campaign letter with a tempting discount code. Set an expiry date to make sure the customers react fast, and show clearly what value the offer brings to the receiver and why they need to seize the offer.

After a couple of days, you can send a reminder for those customers who didn’t purchase from the first email, telling that the campaign ends in three days.

At the same time, the upsell campaign offers a chance for more detailed segmenting. You can segment your loyal customers to platinum level, and decrease their status if they don’t purchase from the campaign.

Read Tempur’s customer story to learn how they utilized customer data for successful cross- and upselling campaigns.

Birthday gifts

Data source: CRM
Channel: Email/SMS
Trigger: Customer’s birthday

Remember your customer with a nice gesture on their special day! In B2C marketing you can celebrate the customer’s birthday, in B2B the anniversary of the first purchase.

Set the automation to check daily from CRM the people who have their birthday coming in ten days. Send these customers a personalized letter to celebrate the coming occasion.

It’s good to be proactive when it comes to anniversary messages since many of us like to plan the celebration beforehand. When the benefits are known well in advance, the customer is more likely to seize your offer.

Waking up inactive clients

Data source: CRM
Channel: email / SMS
Trigger: Condition

Passive customers are a great segment to encourage to make business with you again. Use CRM to fetch a segment of customers who haven’t purchased in a certain period of time. Start targeting them with personalized messages to warm them up again and encourage them to come back to you.

It’s important to communicate the value also in these messages. Show how coming back to you benefits the customer. For instance, you can send the customer an SMS telling “we have a free delivery for you”.

This automation chain closely resembles the upsell automation but has a different target group. The automation can run in the background and be repeated monthly or whichever cycle is suitable for your business.

Google is activating passive Google Maps users with an email that encourages them to add a new photo or a review.

Google is activating passive Google Maps users by encouraging them to add a new photo or a review.

Pull the data back to CRM

It’s important that marketing automation and CRM work in a two-way manner. You have to make sure that instead of just delivering the data, you also pull the data back to the CRM from the automation platform.

A handy way to secure this is to give the contacts scores based on how they react to your marketing messages. You can give the contacts different points on different phases in the automation chain: one point for opening the message, five points for clicking the salesy CTA and so on.

Thanks to the scoring system, you can separate hot leads from colder ones. Use CRM filtering to fetch all of the contacts that have lead scores over 5 and hand them over to your sales every morning.

Try the CRM that Boosts Closing Rates by an Average of 28%

An effective automated chain of messages can be created only with rich customer data at hand. A reliable CRM system is, therefore, a must. Pipedrive users close an average of 28% more deals after their first year of using the CRM. Get more clients with the help of Pipedrive and drive upsells with targeted marketing automation campaigns.

Contact us to learn more about our integrated package of Pipedrive and LianaAutomation.

Try Pipedrive for free

Mari Sihvonen
Content Marketing Specialist

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