CRM and marketing automation

How to Use CRM and Marketing Automation to Improve Your Scalability

Latest posts by Matt Buchanan (see all)

Automation has become a business essential. For entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, the question always is, “How can I work smarter, not harder?” That’s where the power of marketing automation and your customer relationship management (CRM) comes into play.

With such high demand to cut down on costs while increasing profitability, businesses are turning to automation as a means to keep the engine running while focusing strategic brainpower on more revenue-generating activities.

A recent study shows that almost 44% of businesses are looking to increase their tech spend and replace outdated technologies. Whether it’s collecting conversion data or sending out a welcome campaign or improving team productivity, automation has a key role in every company’s ability to scale. By automating manual marketing operations like lead management, email campaign distribution and landing page lead capture, marketing automation tools provide numerous benefits.

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First, let’s take a look at the difference between CRM and marketing automation:

What is customer relationship management software?

A CRM is your contact database and centralized hub for capturing all customer and prospect data as well as any engagement or conversations between the contact and your team. Your CRM should act as your source to understand all interactions a contact has taken in. Capturing this information allows you to then integrate your CRM with marketing tools that can use that data to automate campaigns, tasks or list segments. For example, you can easily integrate your CRM with marketing automation platforms like Hubspot and create workflows based on personas for lead nurturing.

What is marketing automation software?

Marketing automation is the system you use that will take the data from your CRM and automate repetitive marketing tasks, track and measure campaign performance, automate email drip campaigns, improve productivity and hopefully minimize as many manual actions as possible in order to scale your business. Marketing automation, at its core, enables sales and marketing teams to spend more of their time on revenue generating tasks and ensure only the right and best prospects are being focused on.

The relationship between your CRM and marketing automation tools

If you think about the relationship between a car and its driver, a car has specific capabilities, and the driver is going to take stock of those capabilities and decide what to do and where to go based on their own needs. The car alone is valuable but has no direction or purpose without the driver. The same goes for your CRM and marketing automation tools. 

The car is your CRM, and the driver is your marketing automation system. Your CRM is meant to capture all interactions and data points from leads and customers at any point during the customer journey, and your marketing automation tools use that data to help turn it into a platform for profitability. 

If you don’t have a CRM, get one. If you do, make sure you’re getting the most out of it with marketing automation and lead management tools. 

In a recent study we conducted for local service businesses, we were surprised to learn that 82% of these businesses were using manual methods (pen/paper and spreadsheets) to manage their leads. 

Related: 5 Automation Opportunities Every Startup Should Seize

Here are some scalability benefits your business could realize by investing in CRM and marketing automation:

  • Track all critical data points and interactions across teams in one place. Your CRM is only as good as the information you tell it to track and store. Without this part, the rest doesn’t matter. You can set up all the fancy automations you want, but if the data in your CRM isn’t reliable, neither can the automations or management processes you have in place. 
  • Understand and invest in what is working in real time. Look at the performance of your marketing channels and determine where the budget should be best allocated. It all comes down to the volume of leads and the win rate of those leads turning into customers. Invest more in channels with steady volume and a lower cost per acquisition. 
  • Ensure every qualified opportunity is worked. The worst feeling is leaving an opportunity on the table solely because it got lost in the clutter. Configure your workflows to identify and alert a new opportunity, and create a task for a sales member to put it into action. 
  • Keep sales focused on what matters. All leads are not created equal, so leverage the power of your CRM and lead scoring capabilities in your marketing automation tool to identify new opportunities that are high priority and more likely to turn into a customer rather than just taking the calls as they come.
  • Eliminate costly time vampires. This can include things like hunting for contact information, updating incorrect contact data, cleaning up duplicate contacts, digging through contact history for last interaction, having to go ask someone about the last conversation they had with a prospect, accidentally calling the same contact as another salesperson and the list goes on…

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If you decide automation software is the correct route for you and your company, here are the top strategies to use to help you scale:

Use workflows to keep your data clean

Expanding on eliminating costly time vampires above, there are thousands of manual tasks that must be done when it comes to sending campaigns, creating email lists, creating tasks for the sales team, removing duplicate contacts, standardizing data points, etc. Create workflows that reduce those redundant manual tasks. 

For example: 

  • Remove test or dummy data created by your sales or product teams.
  • Automate assigning new contact/company records that are created by generating a workflow to a round robin format, and set the contact owner based on specific users you’ve selected.
  • Create a workflow that copies information from one record to another.
  • Automate task assignment when a contact owner is set.
  • When a prospect unsubscribes or hasn’t engaged for a set amount of time, create a workflow that adds them to a suppression list and removes them from your database.

Create email drip campaigns to nurture prospects

When you offer something of value like a discount off services in exchange for a prospect’s email address, you now have the opportunity to follow up with those prospects while they are figuring out how to best approach their specific problem. An automated email drip sequence educating each prospect on what is most important when determining how to best solve their current problem can be highly effective. Depending on how well your audience is segmented, it would be smart to create different contact lists based on specific user behavior or contact ownership and have your email content be dynamic based on the list segmentation. This makes your email highly personalized and more likely to convert. 

Use your customer data for upselling and referrals

  • Upselling campaigns: Use email automation to upsell your product or services to past or current customers. Automate your onboarding process in order to set the same expectations for each new customer, and deliver tip drips based on their user behavior. After a positive experience with your support team, enroll the contact in a review collection campaign to try and garner testimonials and Google reviews that you can use for inbound marketing efforts.
  • Referral campaigns: Use email automation to remind referral partners how great you are at what you do by sharing testimonials and case studies with them after you meet them at some event or in the field. Depending on the level of automation you like to integrate into your business email and CRM marketing strategy, we recommend using Hubspot so that you can keep track of everything all in one place.

Key takeaways on CRM and marketing automation

Now that you have your strategies in place, here’s how to implement CRM and marketing automation successfully:

  • You are only as good as the data you can trust. The only way you can set up automations successfully is by trusting the data you are relying on to trigger those automations. The more you trust the data, how it’s collected and when and how it’s populated in your system, the more scalable you can make your marketing operations. Be sure to verify where your data is coming from, and make sure all team members are using the same properties to evaluate performance and report on.
  • Choose someone to own your database. Your database and contact fields and properties quickly get wildly out of control if it isn’t standardized and has ownership by a single person — someone in charge of data hygiene, list segmentation and data integration.
  • Invest in proper end user training. One of the biggest reasons software fails is due to poor implementation. You can spend all the money in the world on configuring your new shiny tool, but if you don’t have all teams bought in to using the tool and have training in place to enable their success, then you will quickly find people reverting back to the way they used to do things. Prevent your team from tracking their own work in a spreadsheet by setting up the right SOPs and training from the get-go, and ensure all team leads have a unified goal to make using the platform successful.

Originally published Aug. 6, 2021.

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