Integrating e-mail and CRM, the new face of digital ads and learning your customers’ buying process


What should small businesses consider when integrating e-mail marketing with CRM?

“If you already have a CRM solution, check whether your vendor offers a built-in or add-on e-mail market­ing system,” says Angie Hirata, worldwide director of marketing and business development for Maximizer Software. “When choosing e-mail marketing vendors, ensure the features you need — text or HTML e-mail, open and click-through rate tracking, and testing — are supported. Ask if e-mail marketing is included with your CRM license fees, or if there are incremental costs like additional license or set-up fees, and addi­tional costs per contact or per e-mail. Factor this with your customer and prospect list sizes, and the frequency for calculating the annual budget impact.”

Finally, Hirata adds, consider how tightly integrated e-mail marketing will be with your other CRM pro­cesses. “Integrating e-mail marketing with your CRM system should be a cost-effective approach that enables you to have a more streamlined process,” she says.


What is the best way to use digital ads today?

“Today’s interactive digital ads enable advertisers to generate stronger engagements with consumers than ever before,” says Jason Scheidt, director of market­ing at EyeWonder. “These online ads can be very powerful due to their ability to deliver almost unlim­ited brand experiences and leave rewards to their audiences. Due to their versatility, they should be used according to the specific campaign’s objective.”

Because they usually enable users to opt in to the ad and then control the amount of time spent with it, digital ads are inherently non-intrusive, as opposed to the unwanted pop-up ads of the Internet’s early days. Scheidt concludes, “By featuring user-valued items like downloadable coupons, interactive games, or music videos, digital ads are increasing voluntary interaction rates among users and creating a much stronger tie between brands and consumers.”


How can I determine someone’s buying process?

“While buyers are not particularly consistent in the way they buy at the conscious level, their decisions are usually consistent with a subconscious value struc­ture or scorecard,” responds Rolf Wulfsberg, director of research at Siegel & Gale. “Most people aren’t able to tell you how they make decisions because they hon­estly do not know. They tend to provide answers that either make them sound smart, represent what they think the interviewer is looking for, are politically cor­rect, or represent how they think they make choices.”

Decision makers’ perceptions of the brands compet­ing for their business don’t necessarily mirror their actual choices, Wulfsberg concludes. “Marketers need tools that both mirror the actual buying environment and identify and quantify the impact of each brand attitude on purchase behavior. Without them, the chances of understanding consumers’ actual brand decisions are pretty slim.”

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