Best Practices for Marketing Automation with your B2B Biz

While it would be nice to have an infinitely large marketing budget to carry out customized, artisanal marketing campaigns from scratch, few B2B companies have the resources this would require. This is where marketing automation comes in.

It’s not only a question of budgets: most companies have marketing best-practices that have been laid down over the years, and sticking to them becomes more difficult if there are too many hands in the operation. Marketing automation platforms are a must-have not only to keep budgets under control, but also to enforce a measure of standardization.

Automating certain processes can eliminate basic, repetitive tasks and cut the time required for others both for marketing and sales staff. These solutions also allow companies to centralize their marketing collateral such as email templates, landing pages, blogs, white papers, videos and other content. While this is all valuable, to get the most out of an automation platform it is critical that companies integrate their marketing platforms with their customer relationship management systems.

Here are five best practices for getting the most from the integration between your marketing automation and CRM.

Best Practice #1: CRM and Marketing Automation Shouldn’t Run Parallel to One Another

Deploying CRM and marketing automation side-by-side, with little to no integration, can be cumbersome and lead to data leaks, errors, duplication and disruption in customer interaction. Close integration with the marketing platform and the CRM system allows a company to transfer lead information seamlessly between marketing and sales, helping staff in both departments to know the right content to send at the right time to the right leads or customers.

Better alignment between marketing and sales vastly improves visibility into contacts as well as the effectiveness of campaigns. This, in turn, improves the return on investment of marketing resources and adds more accountability (thanks to better reporting) to the process.

Best Practice #2: Synchronization between Sales and Marketing

While marketing and sales teams have the same goal — gaining new customers — their methodology tends to be quite different. They will touch customers at different times in different ways, but to the customer, the efforts need to be unified. (Nothing will lose a customer faster than receiving conflicting information from the same company.) Since the goal is a team effort, so too should be the work. If a sales rep updates a customer record in the CRM system, the marketing team must have that updated information immediately, or they risk missing new opportunities or wasting the customer’s time with irrelevant offers.

A unified approach to data management such as what we offer at Agile CRM means that all the contact, communication and other informational data is saved under one single platform. From here, the data is organized, easy to view and edit, and optimized for analysis. New data is easy to input and organize, and tracking and reporting of intelligence becomes more efficient.

Companies should particularly look out for solutions that offer integration audits to ensure that data sharing and updates are happening regularly and accurately. It’s also worthwhile to look for a marketing solution that scores leads and passes this information on to the CRM system so sales professionals don’t waste their time on dead ends. Research conducted by Gleanster estimated that only 25 percent of leads are legitimate and should be advanced to sales.

Best Practice #3: Ensure that Integration Goes Both Ways

In some instances, marketing platforms touted as integrated connect in only one way. To get the most out of an integrated system, it’s critical to ensure that the CRM system “talks” to the marketing automation platform and the marketing platform “talks” to the CRM system.

When CRM communicates with marketing, it’s usually about updating contact information. When marketing synchs back with CRM, it’s often critical information about a change in the customer or prospect’s position in the sales funnel. Regular bi-directional updates can also eliminate duplicate information and keep the data cleaner and better organized. Look for a solution that allows users to designate a “system of record” that takes precedent in the event of a data conflict.

Best Practice #4: Make It Timely

While many solutions share information, not all do it in a timely way, which can lead to missed opportunities. Look for a configuration that rapidly pushes leads to the CRM database from marketing, and marketing activities to CRM. This feature is of particularly valuable if users can set rules about how and when synchronization happens (CRM administrators will appreciate these controls in the interest of data cleanliness). Setting up “trigger activities” can help both sales and marketing prioritize their time.

Every second matters in lead follow-up. A study conducted by InsideSales.com found significant degradation in the ability for a sales rep to qualify a lead as the handoff time increased. The odds of qualifying a lead after a five-minute handoff were four times greater than qualifying a lead after a 10-minute handoff and 21 times greater than after a 30-minute handoff.

Best Practice #5: Choose a Solution with Rich Analytics

Data is plentiful today, but without a robust analytics engine, it’s simply confusing noise. When companies integrate CRM and marketing, they’ll have twice as much data as before, and some of it may conflict. Ensure that analytics lies at the core of any integrated solutions you consider so the extra data becomes an asset rather than a source of confusion, and consolidated reporting means saving time in checking the health and status of both sales and marketing campaigns.

Integrated CRM and marketing automation solutions bolstered by analytics allow companies to track data in two ways: by users and by leads, leading to bi-directional views that can inspire new synergies. Marketing and sales personnel can filter down by almost any data point and track whose engagement with the company is on the rise and whose is on the wane. This way, companies can quickly identify who needs the efforts of sales and marketing the most, and coordinate their activities to present a unified front to the lead or customer. Snapshot-style data capture can provide historical point-in-time reporting typically not available with separate solutions.

CRM typically sees one side of a customer. Marketing sees another. When the two operations work in synch, companies can gain a desirable 360-degree view of all marketing and sales activities both online and offline. The combination of both helps companies build a foolproof program that provides them with all the insight required into nurture prospects through the whole customer journey.

Source: CrowdReviews