In our work with many marketing teams using NetSuite, a common theme we hear is that NetSuite is a very important system and does a lot for companies. It’s a foundational system upon which operations are run. But when it comes to providing tools that are truly driving growth – transforming marketing – that’s not the area that NetSuite specializes.
Bedrock Data helps companies connect NetSuite to marketing systems such as HubSpot, Marketo or Pardot – in a way whereby they can use these modern marketing systems to drive and measure marketing, while remaining in sync with NetSuite.
Amanda Daume is a Bedrock Data customer who has hands on experience with Bedrock Data’s marketing-NetSuite integrations, in her role as Director of Sales Enablement for Revenue River.
Amanda and I recently got together to talk about driving growth through NetSuite and marketing integrations, review the key use cases and answer questions from those considering a NetSuite-marketing integration.
The Challenge: Repeatable Growth
Zak: We both work with NetSuite users every single day, and the one thing we continue to hear is, “NetSuite is a very powerful system,a foundational system that we rely on, does so much for the business; but when it really comes to driving growth, managing data driven marketing, closed loop marketing, implementing coordinated marketing initiatives in partnership with sales, that's often where NetSuite falls short.”
So Amanda, the question is: how do marketers overcome these challenges?
Amanda: You're right, that for many companies, the responsibility for growth is falling more and more into marketing. Marketing is right there alongside sales with responsibility for growth objectives.
For marketers to do that, they need modern tools and those tools do tend to extend well beyond the capabilities of NetSuite. It starts with a marketing-managed database of both customers and prospects. And having the right set of tools to engage that database, and measure that database. That’s a key theme for the marketing automation movement over the past decade.
Central to this growth is going to be the website as the center of demand generation. So having that marketing system connect to the website, connected to the CRM, it's that full ecosystem that you need to integrate. And with that, you need closed loop tracking so that you can determine which marketing programs are driving opportunities, pipeline and closed won deals.
Zak: I see it as a two-part challenge. Part one is – are you making an impact that is helping to drive growth? And then part two is – when you do – can you measure it, to identify the initiatives that are repeatable to drive consistency and measurable growth?
Amanda: We find that there are specific programs that marketers can drive, in coordination with sales. It's no longer just sales outbound initiatives. Marketing automation systems are often needed to coordinate the sales and marketing engagement. So marketers can track what they are doing to move the needle, and measure the impact.
These are coordinated, programmatic efforts, some of the categories that we see marketing programs being built out. Nurturing programs to nurture an existing database. Account-based marketing or ABM programs to target specific accounts from a net new perspective or an existing perspective. As well as programmatic customer upsell initiatives. All of these things require that marketing database I mentioned, along with a marketing-led approach to engaging that database.
The good news is – the data integration piece is not what’s going to get in the way. There’s a ton to do to drive growth, but Bedrock Data has made the integration of data between NetSuite and third party marketing systems much easier than it’s been in the past, by pre-building the key use cases needed to be successful.
Zak: So that sets the context for what marketers are dealing with, and the environment that’s putting more and more onus on marketers to deliver. How are you seeing that play out specifically in the NetSuite community Amanda?
NetSuite-Marketing Integration – the Revenue River story
Amanda: We are seeing real world examples of this, for sure.
Several months ago, a company came to us. This company had added HubSpot to expand their website and digital marketing, and at the same time the business was implementing NetSuite.
We showed them what would be possible by combining HubSpot and NetSuite – that they’d be able to build intelligent marketing programs that drive prospects into the pipeline. They'd be able to get more from the database by turning old stale leads into fresh new opportunities through their email nurturing campaigns. And they'd be able to measure marketing's contribution to closed won revenue.
In the last few years there's been a huge shift in perception from marketing as an arts and crafts department to a department that's really responsible for making an impact on the bottom line. And largely it's been difficult to demonstrate their contribution in a meaningful way. So when we shared these items with them they were thrilled and it was time to get to work on figuring out how exactly we were going to implement HubSpot and NetSuite.
Zak: OK got it, so this was before we met.
Amanda: That’s right – this is the story of how we met.
We looked at a few different options. We considered a custom integration, but quickly realized that would be a lot of work, both to setup and manage on an ongoing basis. And not something we wanted our team to focus on.
We reviewed one-way connectors, and then realized that would not support the use cases needed to have a functional marketing integration with NetSuite.
As we learned about Bedrock Data, that became the choice. Bedrock ticked the box on all of the use cases, and the fact that there were pre-built integrations meant we didn’t need to spend the time figuring it out.
Our client also liked the fact that Bedrock connected NetSuite to many different marketing automation systems, so there would be flexibility if they ever wanted to change their marketing system.
Bedrock Data has pre-built integrations from NetSuite to many different marketing automation systems including HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, Act-on and Eloqua
Zak: Can you walk us through what the NetSuite-marketing integration helped your customer achieve.
Amanda: Inevitably, the bottom line is that it's helped increase both the marketing and sales teams' efficiency and effectiveness.
The first key use case is delivering leads to sales without friction. Before they were on a cadence of exporting leads out of the HubSpot platform, into the hands of sales. And they're also forwarding lead notifications from email. Those processes just aren't self-sustaining and they require time and attention, a lot of handholding. And any time that's the case, there's a big potential for a breakdown, if someone's sick or they're on vacation, the sales ready leads could be lingering out there to the point of missing the opportunity altogether.
So by connecting your NetSuite instance with your marketing automation, you can inject that automation that will help leads move from marketing into sales' hands. That frees up your time to spend on more productive activity.
The second benefit we saw, the connection allowed us to provide sales reps with the visibility that they need. The key for setting sales reps up for success is giving them what they need in an intelligent way.
Providing key info in a format that's easy for them to access and use. And if they already spend a majority of their day in NetSuite, it doesn't make sense to send them on a scavenger hunt to collect what they need through email threads or Google searches or social media. More time on research obviously means less time on active selling, and that's something that will definitely impact the bottom line.
The third benefit we saw, connecting NetSuite with the marketing platform allowed for better targeted marketing. And if your team is manually handing off marketing leads to sales for follow up, then there's a good chance that any kind of disqualification that the sales team might be doing is happening in a vacuum. And maybe they store that information in some notes section or in a spreadsheet or something. But if your marketing team can't access it, then it loses its value. So by connecting NetSuite to the marketing platform, we could set up a feedback mechanism that captured that disqualification information inside the marketing software, so that the marketers could use it to improve their campaign strategies and the overall messaging. That of course led to attracting and converting better qualified leads on the front side. Which ultimately saved sales time on the back side because they weren't having to spend as much time disqualifying bad leads.
And finally, the integration helps generate the full funnel analytics that everybody's talking about. They're incredible illusive and tough to dial in, but when you've got a well-integrated marketing and sales system it's a little bit easier. So when the marketing records and the NetSuite records that were associated with real revenue dollars were allowed to sync up, able to tie the sales outcomes back to the marketing initiatives with accuracy and in real time. With that data we were able to see what marketing channels were contributing the most to revenue. That way we could do more of what’s working and less of what wasn't working.
Zak: It's interesting Amanda, because all of these benefits that you’re talking about, they all interrelate.
It starts with getting that lead to sales when the prospect is ready to engage. If someone's in your website, they fill out a contact sales form, you don't want there to be delays, you don't want manual spreadsheet uploads. You want that to be in the rep's hands as quickly as possible.
And then you want reps to know why they're getting the lead, and that's the visibility point you're making. And then you want to close the loop back to marketing, whether it's a nurture bucket, whether it's customer base to be able to communicate and segment. And then you want to measure it all.
Typical Data Flow of a NetSuite-Marketing Integration
Zak: Can you walk us through the typical data flow you see for a NetSuite-marketing integration.
Amanda: At the core of the integration, and this piece is critical, it's a bi-directional sync where marketing contacts that meet some established criteria are synced over into NetSuite for sales follow up. And leads that are manually entered in NetSuite from a salesperson could be configured to sync into the marketing platform for additional nurturing. So if a salesperson gets a new lead through a referral, you want that to also sync back to the marketing automation system so that the marketing system has complete and consistent data.
For any lead in NetSuite, once sales creates an opportunity and associates with that contact in NetSuite, the information will be captured inside of HubSpot, which gives marketing the visibility into what happens with the leads that they're handing off to sales. Oftentimes in systems that aren't well connected that's just a big black hole that leads go into and marketers are often frustrated by that, but they just don't know what's happening.
And finally, when the opportunity is marked as closed won inside of NetSuite, the contact will become a customer inside of HubSpot or your marketing automation platform. And attribution at that campaign level will be available and that's what helps marketers determine which initiatives were successful and which weren't. Again, we want to do more of what works and less of what doesn't work.
Keep in mind the connection between the two systems can be structured in ways that allow you to extract other meaningful insights throughout the sales cycle that you can use to optimize the buyer's journey. Again, it's all about kind of focusing on the customer and how can you improve the whole process of them from first interaction with your brand to when they enter the sales cycle, how they are engaged with throughout the sales cycle, and ultimately how they become a customer.At the foundation of Bedrock Data’s pre-built marketing-NetSuite integrations are contacts/leads, accounts and opportunities
Zak: I want to zoom in for a moment on the bi-directional arrow for syncing contacts and leads, and why that is so important.
Leads can come from either direction. I've seen some approaches where companies became overly rigid in their thinking – for example having a misconception that all leads are going to originate from the marketing system, and never originate in NetSuite. That's not practical.
Salespeople need to enter data into NetSuite. What happens when people call you up on the phone? What happens when the salesperson is generating a new relationship, what happens when they get a referral, or a new contact at an account? There's many reasons why these could be entered into NetSuite, and that's why it’s important that leads can come from either system, and de-duplicate across both systems.
Also, once leads flow from a marketing system into NetSuite, you want further updates that come from the marketing automation system to update in NetSuite. Sales is adding information. The marketing system could still be adding information.
One last point, it's not super common, but we have customers that are using multiple marketing automation systems with NetSuite. Maybe there's two different divisions or two different subsidiaries that have used different systems. Maybe a company got acquired. We may see HubSpot with one division, Marketo with another division, and Bedrock can connect both of those into NetSuite as a master CRM system.
Giving Sales Reps the Info They Need, Right Inside NetSuite
Zak: There are different approaches for providing sales reps visibility to key marketing data in a CRM like NetSuite. Bedrock Data’s approach is to use custom fields in the CRM to map in key data from the marketing systems. We find this approach works great because it doesn’t require any additional software or plugins within the CRM, and it gives a customer full flexibility to configure their contact layout with the information.
As someone responsible for Sales Enablement, I know this is very important to you. Can you share how that’s worked for the sales reps?
Amanda: Absolutely. Earlier I mentioned one of the benefits of having NetSuite connected to your marketing system is that you can feed the sales team leads with intelligence and context. In mapping the data from a system like HubSpot to NetSuite, you can decide which fields appear on the NetSuite record, so the important information coming out of HubSpot is passed along in an effective way, and nothing gets lost in translation.
The sales team then can use that information to their advantage when reaching out to, and engaging with, a particular prospect. The possibilities here are practically endless. Lead source is something always included, as that tells the sales rep where the lead came from.Here’s an example of sales rep visibility to key marketing information in NetSuite, directly on the NetSuite contact layout
Zak: Philosophically I'm excited about how Bedrock Data does this, because it's all about, making it simple and easy for the rep. I
The NetSuite administrator has full flexibility, where you want to put the information and how you want to label it. No matter how you do it, it's a snapshot right there on the NetSuite record that the rep is using every single day. No extra clicks, no plug ins, it's all right there, clean and simple.
What we commonly hear from customers with this approach, is the salespeople like it and really appreciate it. And as marketers you don't hear that everyday. So that is nice to hear.
Amanda: It absolutely is. And when you've got a group of really engaged sales reps, it's always awesome to get their feedback. And when they're asking for additional information, you know, "Oh, it would be really great it we could also see this, or what if we added this, then you know, we are able to determine XYZ thing about this particular prospect." So when you get them involved and engaged in talking about the potential there, that's exciting.
Empowering Marketers with Closed Loop Reporting
Zak: The last big topic I want to go over is closed loop reporting. Using a marketing automation system like HubSpot, Marketo or Pardot is very empowering to marketers, because they open up more and more marketing channels. These systems are much more than email today – some combination of online advertising, social media, website and more.
What’s even more empowering is the ability to connect your marketing initiatives through to sales results, by feeding opportunity data from NetSuite back into the marketing system.
Each marketing automation system uses this a little differently, and I’d like to highlight how it works for those 3 systems – HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot.
Can you get us started Amanda on this topic by sharing your experience with your customers.
Amanda: Our experience is specific to HubSpot. There’s a view where you can see which of the sources generated the most customers. Marketing can lean on this attribution model to identify their campaign strengths and weaknesses and use that to influence the strategies moving forward. So they can be efficient and effective, do more of what works and less of what's not working.
HubSpot’s Lead Source report connects lead sources such as organic search or paid search through to the number of customers ultimately acquired from this marketing channel. A NetSuite integration connects NetSuite CRM data back to HubSpot to power this report.
Zak: What's key here is this is the value of being able to bring that NetSuite opportunity data back into the marketing system. Ten or 15 years ago, marketers might be criticized for not having their eye on the true business outcomes. This kind of report is what connects all this through closed loop reporting. And feeding NetSuite opportunity data back into the marketing automation, which in turn is connected back to the original lead or contact or account, is what makes all that possible.
Marketo’s version of closed loop reporting is through the Revenue Cycle Analytics, and Pardot’s version is the Prospect Lifecycle Report. They are different variations on the theme, but in all cases they leverage opportunity data pulled back from NetSuite.Pardot's Lifecycle Stage report provides a view of your funnel from leads to qualified leads to closed won deals. The closed won deal data is populated from closed won opportunities synced from NetSuite back to Pardot.
NetSuite Integration Tips
Zak: Bedrock Data works with many different CRMs, and NetSuite is on the complex side. The complexity is driven by the amount of configuration that’s possible for a customer. That level of configuration is great for adapting to different business setups, but means that integrations also need to be able to adapt to varied data flows.
Amanda: Yes, we’ve certainly run into that as well with our NetSuite customers.
Zak: I worked with our on-boarding team to highlight a few key tips to getting NetSuite integrations right –we boiled it down to three.
The first is understanding required fields. Creating accounts, creating opportunities, even creating contacts or leads, there are always some number of required fields.
If you're feeding data in from a marketing system to NetSuite as part of an automated process, if NetSuite has required fields then as you're mapping out the business process it's important to make sure that the right data is getting fed into NetSuite so that these records can be created and not run into road blocks. Because if it's a required field, the same kind of error message that a user might hit if they were entering something manually, an integration can hit.
So understand your required fields. Ensure that if it's a required field in NetSuite, it has to be a required field in the marketing system that's feeding the data into NetSuite. It sounds simple, but if you forget it or if you don't do it and you go to set up an integration, it's the kind of thing that can end up sucking up a lot of time in terms of troubleshooting.
Another big NetSuite consideration is the notion of lead type in NetSuite. There are lead types of individual and company, and that can impact the work flow for how entities are created and moved through your sales process. And that's also vital to understand as you're kind of looking at the overall flow of data from a marketing system into NetSuite.
Amanda: We typically see lead type = individual and prospect = company, which is analogous to the way Salesforce works. But yes I know this is a key configuration within NetSuite.
Zak: Yes, and I want to break down those options in a moment here. I’ll close out with our third tip and then get to that.
The last area you need to understand is relationships between the objects you are integrating. Relationships within NetSuite are at the company level not the contact level. What I mean by that is an opportunity is related to a company, not the contacts. This becomes important when you're mapping data.
Back to lead types, there are three lead types within NetSuite. The first is lead type of company, where a company moves through at a company level. A lead is a company. That prospect is a company and the customer's a company. It's an account based model for tracking what you're doing.
The second scenario is you have a lead of type individual. That individual is converted to a company that has contacts. That is the traditional Salesforce model. That's the model that most people are most familiar with. Bringing someone in as a lead as a person and then having that convert to a company.
The third, which is known mostly as the B2C model, is it's individuals all along the way. B2C model, everything we're doing is to an individual customer, individual consumer. And then you're individual all the way through that process.
It's important to understand what your lead type is in NetSuite, your configured in one of these ways, because when you start talking about inputs and outputs for a marketing system, you have to know - are you mapping in a company? Are you mapping in an individual? Are you taking out a company, or taking out an individual?
In the remainder of this article, Zak and Amanda address audience questions related to NetSuite integrations with marketing automation.
Q: How about NetSuite ERP connecting to Marketing Automation?
Zak: What we typically see here is the objects that marketing automation systems can use from NetSuite, are the ones we’ve talked about so far – accounts, contacts, opportunities. So if you are talking about a NetSuite ERP integration to a marketing automation system like HubSpot, Marketo or Pardot, you can connect that same type of data.
Now, one trend we’re seeing here, is companies may use less of NetSuite’s CRM functionality so they are relying more on the operational CRM pieces and the ERP functionality, and then leveraging either HubSpot CRM or another specialized CRM for the early and middle stages of the funnel – BDR team, lead follow up, opportunity creation.
We call that the dual CRM use case, where they're using NetSuite as their master system and one of these more specialized CRMs, including HubSpot, becomes more the front end interface for it, becomes the front end interface for it. The data that we integrate is similar, but the business process will be different.
Q: How do you manage “single source of truth” between NetSuite and the marketing systems?
Amanda: Bedrock Data has a really neat standard capability for handing this. At a per field basis, the system of record can be controlled which will be the master system that is used to resolve data conflicts. This can be controlled on a per field basis.
Zak: Yes. For any records where a value is blank, a new value can be brought in from any system, but this is usually used to ensure NetSuite as the CRM has overwrite capabilities for specific fields that should ultimately be controlled by the CRM. How have you seen that work for your HubSpot-NetSuite integrations?
Amanda: It’s worked well. Once data comes in from HubSpot or other marketing systems, you could configure NetSuite to be the system of record for key fields. And what that does is that ensures that, let's say salespeople are continuing to update NetSuite with key information, then as those updates occur they will be overwritten based on NetSuite. So, the original marketing system is feeding in data, but as those fields update in NetSuite, as that customer evolves, as more information is learned, you know, NetSuite will be set as the system of record. And we typically see the CRM as the system of record for companies.
Q: How do you setup data driven campaign workflows from the marketing systems and NetSuite?
Zak: Data-driven campaigns with work flows is a standard capability for all marketing automation systems, whether you are talking about HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot or others. It’s what tends to set them apart from more basic email systems like a MailChimp or a Constant Contact.
This applies to the integration use cases in that it takes CRM data to segment your database, whether it's a lead database in a certain nurture status, whether it's a customer segmentation in a certain segment by industry or company size or products, and then taking advantage of smart lists and trigger work flows, the marketing system to set up a series and sequence of automated campaigns. It's at the heart of this overall kind of integrated sales and marketing process that we're talking about here.
Amanda, any anecdotes you can share around data-driven campaigns so to speak? Or work flows and how you're seeing kind of the interplay between a HubSpot and a NetSuite around work flows?
Amanda: We've got a few different segments that we've been targeting. And that is based on last contact date, last updated on the NetSuite record from the sales side, when's the last time the salesperson engaged with that contact. And if it's not within the last 9 or 12 months, then they get put into a drip campaign to kick start that stalled lead or prospect. Same with contacts that are associated with opportunities that have stalled out in one of the stages. Wwith the intent of trying to kick start that into getting it to the next stage.
And then the closed lost opportunities, as long as the salesperson updates why the deal was closed lost, if it's bad timing or the pricing or they went with a competitor, we can put them in associated drip campaigns to say, "Six months from going with the competitor, how's it going? Are you happy with them? If you're not, we'd still love to talk." If the timing wasn't right you're staying top of mind with a periodic touch there. Or if pricing was the issue, if new products or services come out that have different price points, making sure to target those individuals or those leads.
Q: What’s the typical process for setting up a NetSuite marketing integration?
Zak: Bedrock Data has established these standardized, best practice integration use cases that we’ve been discussing
So we start by kind of validating the use cases -- automating lead delivery to sales, providing sales visibility, allowing for segmentation through marketing data, closed loop marketing.
Then getting into some of the NetSuite questions. What custom fields are important to you to bring over to your marketing system? What's your NetSuite lead flow configuration? So going through those questions.
Those answer, help us create a flow for the data that you're looking to accomplish. This is what gets configured through the Bedrock Data interface.
Amanda: I can jump in here and say that the nice thing is that it’s not a coding exercise, it's not a development exercise, it's purely a configuration exercise around these expert use cases. Which is why it can happen so quickly. There's no other NetSuite integration method with marketing that can happen as quickly as Bedrock Data can integrate and connect the systems based on the pre-built expert connectors.
Zak: That’s right. There is typically a little bit of NetSuite administration work. What is that? It’s the custom fields in NetSuite for displaying key marketing data. So there's a little bit of work in NetSuite to add those custom fields. Any NetSuite administrator can help do that.
Then through the Bedrock Data interface is where the fields are mapped and connected between systems. Testing the integration, make sure data is flowing correctly in both directions.
That whole process takes place over about a month. There's some scheduling of activities involved there. We've seen it happen faster, we've seen it happen slightly longer. We're coming in right on one month as the typical time frame from start to finish for a NetSuite and marketing integration. Which is the fastest NetSuite integrations out there when it comes to marketing systems.
Amanda, what have you seen from your experience getting on-boarded with a NetSuite-marketing integration through Bedrock Data?
Amanda: The onboarding team and the process has really been developed in a way that makes it easy. For me it was clearly articulated what I needed to do and by when I needed to do to hit our target deadlines. Which was great, and like I said earlier, the level that you can customize each of the field mappings and the rules that determine when a record syncs from one system to the other is incredible. Out of the box they're all sort of set up to best practice. But if you want to dig in deeper, you have the ability to do so. So you're not really restricted to kind of a one solution fits all, you really get the opportunity to customize it.