In a world inundated with communication, information is power. Competition is greater, customer behavior is more visible, and practically everything we do creates a data point. But, the reality is, your company probably doesn’t use information as effectively as it could.
One reason is that most organizational functions still operate in silos. Each function has a specific set of tools and technologies to engage, track and monitor customer and prospect interactions. Today, the three different functional tools for engaging with customers across sales, service and marketing is defined as CRM. Often sales force automation (SFA) and customer service tools are integrated to create a holistic record of customer interactions over time. But what about the third pillar under the CRM umbrella: marketing? Where is the tool to manage and act on this data?
An emerging class of marketing technology has been developed to fill this critical void in CRM data marts. Marketing automation technologies typically include e-mail marketing, campaign workflow, Web analytics, content management, a marketing data mart and robust integration with SFA tools. However, marketing automation solutions are still emerging technologies. A few common misconceptions stunt adoption.
For example, consider this common question: “We use sales force automation to store prospect activity, and we have an enterprise-class e-mail marketing tool. Why do we still need marketing automation?”
The first question to ask is how deeply your existing sales force automation and e-mail marketing tools integrate. Many e-mail marketing tools have pre-packaged integration with SFA, but the integration is often at an aggregate level. What is actually needed is deep integration across e-mail, Web analytics, social media, telesales and field sales. Marketing automation tools have built-in workflow triggers and deep integration with sales force automation tools, so prospects can be handed off to sales at just the right time.
Another common question is: “We have an enterprise-class Web analytics tool. Are the Web analytics capabilities in marketing automation tools redundant?”
Marketing automation tools don’t replace Web analytics; they use some of the same basic techniques to provide a completely different set of tools for sales and marketing. For example, marketing automation integrated to Web analytics and e-mail provides visibility to clicks and tracking of the link and corresponding Web activity and behavior. Combined with other marketing history data in the marketing automation tool, this can help to alert sales reps about key account activity or trigger an e-mail campaign based on a customer behavior threshold. Marketing automation makes this Web analytics data actionable.
To be effective, marketing automation must integrate tightly with the sales force automation tool, e-mail marketing and Web analytics to not only prioritize leads, but also provide a window into the prospect’s intentions. By increasing efficiencies through better qualifying leads and increasing effectiveness by ensuring sales efforts are more personalized and relevant, marketing automation enables sales teams to do what they do best: sell.