We all know sales and marketing alignment is critical to growth, and a key part of that is sales and marketing systems alignment.
Due to the constant interplay between marketing and sales, and the fact that the customer buying journey is often a rapid fire back-and-forth between marketing and sales engagement – the degree of success of a marketing automation system and surrounding programs are closely related to just how tight the integration is between the marketing automation system and its corresponding CRM system.
At Bedrock Data, we work deeply with this every day with our customers, helping them connect a range of marketing automation systems (HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua & Act-on) with a range of CRM systems (Salesforce, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, Zoho, ConnectWise, Close.io, PipelineDeals and Pipedrive as the most common).
This is what we’re seeing as the 12 key requirements for a high performing marketing automation and CRM integration:
#1 - Rapidly push leads to CRM/Sales
When you are talking about handoff of leads from marketing automation to CRM, there is no room for delay. Every second matters in lead follow up, so once marketing is ready to handoff a lead to sales, you want that to move into CRM without delay. Every second matters, and it must scale based on different lead volumes. As one marketing operations manager recently told me, “we care about the speed to lead.”
InsideSales.com performed a famous study a few years back which showed staggering degradation in the ability for a sales rep to qualify a lead as handoff time increased. The odds of qualifying a lead after a 5-minute handoff were 4 times greater than qualifying a lead after a 10-minute handoff. And the odds of qualifying a lead after a 5-minute handoff were 21 times greater than after a 30-minute handoff. So, yes, “speed to lead” matters.
#2 - Control rules around which leads synchronize
There are different approaches for determining which leads should sync from marketing automation to CRM, and companies want to have control over these rules. At the very least, there is a minimum set of data such as email address, company and name required to push a record into CRM systems. CRM admins appreciate putting controls over which data synchronizes to help maintain data cleanliness and quality in the CRM system. Other potential gates for handing off leads may be based on a lead score, a specific definition agreed to with sales or a specific set of actions taken by prospects.
Managing Bi-Directional Updates
#3 - De-duplicate leads by common identifier across marketing automation & your CRM
Prospects can reach out to us in different ways – and a common way for prospects to reach us is calling up the company or the account manager. If an email address is entered to the CRM that already exists in the marketing automation, or vice versa, you want to maintain a single unified record, and not create duplicates across your system.
Duplicate data leads to inaccurate reporting and confusion amongst teams, and leads to flawed communications. You don’t want to communicate to the same person as both a customer and a prospect, for example, because of duplicate data records across CRM and marketing automation. Duplicate records can also lead to non-compliance of unsubscribe requests which is a major no-no.
A large frustration we continue to here around specific native connectors are an inability to de-duplicate leads in at least one direction – so for example leads created in the CRM system that already exist in the marketing automation create duplicates which lead to data issues down the road. Duplicate data across systems creates unnecessary friction and also leads to reporting issues.
#4 - As records change, fields sync between both systems…
Marketing and sales are constantly learning new information on prospects – e.g. capturing information on lead forms or finding out new information through a conversation. The CRM-Marketing Automation integration needs to maintain updated records in both systems, as data updates in both systems. If, say, the phone number of a prospect is updated in the CRM system (and the CRM system is the system of record for that field) then that field value should sync back to the marketing automation system.
The other advantage of field-level syncing is a higher performing (read: faster) synchronization between systems – see point #1.
#5 - …While controlling system of record on a per field basis
Part of maintaining these updates is establishing a ‘system of record’ to determine which system ‘wins’ in the event of data conflict. As these rules can vary on a field basis, you need the flexibility to determine this at a field level and not just at the data object level.
#6 - And supporting custom fields across both systems
Companies have custom requirements around the information they use to qualify prospects. One example of a question may be ‘purchase timeframe’. As you create custom fields in your marketing automation and CRM system, you want to ensure that these fields are synchronized between both as well.
CRM Visibility to Key Marketing Data
#7 - Making specific marketing activities visible to sales in the CRM system
After a lead or customer is handed off to sales, that person will continue to interact with marketing programs – whether it’s attending a webinar or viewing a white paper on a specific topic. It’s important for sales to have visibility into these activities as it may drive urgency around the sales process, or help to inform sales conversations. And this visibility should be easy accessed by sales reps – as activities directly in the CRM system they are using every day.
Some systems deliver this activity level data for sales via an iFrame embedded into the CRM system; our experience with that as users is that although they look attractive, sales reps generally don’t find value with them, and they don’t want to have “yet another interface” to try to figure out. The sales rep preference, and something they actually use, is to present the relevant activities to them in the activity view that they are using every day to keep track of other sales activities such as their conversations.
#8 - And with the ability to specifically highlight trigger activities
The point on relevant is critical above – inundating sales with ALL marketing activities won’t work for sales. What matters is the key activities that sales and marketing identify as potential prospect trigger actions, such as a specific type of website interaction or consuming a high value, late stage content. This is what should be made easily visible for sales and stand out from other activities.
For example, Marketo has a capability to label these as “Interesting Moments”, and other marketing automation systems could tag these in dedicated fields. Highlighting these interesting moments above and beyond all marketing activities helps sales keep an eye on the most important prospect engagement within a longer stream of activities.
Effectively Align Data for Marketing Targeting & Personalization
#9 - Align contacts to accounts to use account level fields as part of targeting
An important requirement for CRM-Marketing Automation integration is that it enables marketing targeting based on the CRM data. For most CRMs, key data will “live” on the account level and then contacts are related to those accounts. When feeding this data into the marketing automation system, you need to ensure that related account data can be accessed for targeting purposes. For example, if you want to target customer contacts from accounts from a certain industry, size or geographic area – you want that to be easily done via your marketing automation interface and not require a data project.
#10 - Align lead owner field to leads to be able to use lead owner fields as part of personalization
A very impactful marketing automation system feature is tailoring email marketing to leads based on the assigned sales rep – everything from the email From Name and From Email Address to the email signature including name, title and phone number. This can be a significant data challenge, so it’s important that the CRM-marketing automation capability provides a mechanism for the marketing automation to directly pull this data from the related lead owner. If not, you will be missing out on a critical personalization capability!
#11 - Pull back opportunity data for closed loop analytics connected to marketing activity
The Marketing Automation-CRM Integration needs to pull back the opportunity data and ensure there is a relationship (1:many) from the originating lead record. This allows for analytics connecting to further down-funnel metrics such as opportunities, customers and revenue $.
Each marketing automation system has different ways of leveraging this data. HubSpot manages the opportunity data as part of the HubSpot CRM, but a CRM integration can be used to populate the data from a third party CRM. That can then be used to view down-funnel metrics such as customers as part of standard HubSpot reports (aka Customers by Lead Source, Customers by Web Page) and for drill down reporting around revenue created as part of HubSpot’s paid reporting add-on.
Self-administer as Marketing Operations without Engineering or IT Required
#12 - Setup & manage through configuration not code
The world of sales and marketing moves fast. As the Marketing Automation and CRM system integration is the backbone of how the teams systematically interact and operate, there are inevitably going to be the need to make adjustments. This includes rules for what data syncs between systems, and when. And given the frenetic pace of sales and marketing and the need for business agility, it’s important these rules can be adjusted directly by a marketing operations team without relying on coding or engineering resources.
We see this as critical for success – the owner of this marketing automation and CRM integration is a marketer or marketing operations – and therefore the tools need to enable them to manage it. This leverage auto-mappings and best practices to make this as fast as possible to setup, with controls around which records sync and the aforementioned functionality required such as what types of records sync and based on what criteria.
If you are interested in talking about how Bedrock Data can improve your marketing automation to CRM integration, check out our connector library or let us know if you’d like to schedule a conversation with one of our specialists.