Often, people mistakenly think that marketing automation software and customer resource management (CRM) software are interchangeable, but these people soon find out that although the two work together, neither operates at its full potential without the other. In fact, each tool serves as a complement to the other. Marketing automation software allows your company to:
- Schedule e-mails so that they’re sent at the right times;
- Connect e-mail messages to specific landing pages;
- Target customers based on demographics and behaviors; and
- Track visitor behaviors.
All these are elements that your CRM solution really doesn’t work with.
Where CRM Fits into the Puzzle:
CRM, although primarily a sales tool, serves the marketing team’s needs—it has to, considering that most customers are almost 60 percent through the sales processbefore they even speak to someone from sales. With so much of the process spent engaging peers through social media and conducting research on various products and vendors, customers need not rely on the salesperson as the sole source of information regarding their purchase.
The company’s CRM solution helps manage this process by identifying the source of each lead that comes in. Capturing this information helps marketing understand which campaigns are effective and where it needs to concentrate additional resources if something isn’t working as expected. With these data available to the marketing team, the group can make better decisions about where it should make future investments.
Tracking conversations across the various social channels is only part of what CRM contributes to the equation. Most tools allow for direct access to the larger social tools not only to engage with customers but also to track their conversations and research prospective leads.
Knowing what customers have already purchased or continue to purchase is some of the most important data marketers can have, allowing them to customize their efforts when marketing to those who are already loyal to the product or brand. This is where CRM solutions are essential tools to the team. With past transaction histories providing every piece of analytical data about this segment, marketing can focus on reaching out to the existing customer base in a way that best targets their needs.
It’s true that CRM solutions are considered a tool for the sales team first and foremost, but as more companies rely on these applications to provide them with the data needed to make the best decisions possible, these systems will continue to cross over into both departments. Marketing automation will always be what marketing teams turn to for campaign management, but the database that powers the CRM solution will always provide the analytics that drive decision making. As social media and content continue to play a major role in the procurement process, CRM applications will grow in their scope proportionately.
Companies that are serious about maximizing their marketing efforts would be best served by looking for CRM and marketing solutions that work together to magnify current efforts.
About the Author
Jeff Orloff is a content developer for an e-mail security awareness company. He has been involved in technology for years, working with networks, Web, and security. In addition to Jeff’s hands-on work in IT, he has written many articles on the same topics. Jeff is an analyst with Studio B.