If you ever tried a free software trial, there’s usually not a lot of risks. You test drive it and if it fails to perform, you can simply click “No thank you” when prompted with a monthly subscription request. However, it's not that easy when it comes to workplace integration technologies. Knowing their capabilities - and any gaps or flaws upfront - is imperative to business success, especially as it relates to enterprise software solutions.
With today’s competitive market, integration failures can cost your business time and money. Businesses don't want to lose customer retention due to gaps in CRM that's not fully integrated with their other technologies. Further, no organization wants data leaks, poor data hygiene or disruptions with customer interactions. It’s one of the reasons an ERP system (back-end process) and CRM (customer-facing data) go hand-in-hand. They are both proven to provide 360-degree views. Hence, software solutions, while top of mind, must fully integrate and leave zero room for error to ensure business continuity.
Let’s take a look at questions you should ask about marketing automation technologies to ensure they integrate with your existing technologies. Then, we'll explore how marketing automation and CRM integration helps businesses unify their sales and marketing teams.
Will this integration work with our other software? That's a big concern for a lot of businesses. They may not have the budget or maybe they're not ready to take a chance on integrating disparate systems. Taking a supplemental model from a single provider might look like the answer. However, it’s not suitable for long-term growth.
To meet business expectations, select cost-effective solutions that centralize data, easily display customer behaviors and maximize workflow prioritizations. Consult with leading web design vendors and include your IT department in your discussions. Furthermore, with any new integration, you’ll want to ensure your new technologies can meet customer and client expectations and project deadlines.
Use the best practice questions below about integration capabilities to help ensure deployment success.
Is it really a seamless, automated data transfer connection?
A lot of new tech boasts about seamless integrations. Some of these are pre-built platforms that include automation. But secretly they might not tell you that you need to now make daily imports to keep your information up-to-date. Manually scheduling data transfers is a huge no-no. It’s also an added step that can lead to lags and silos which you don’t want.
How to Address This
Talk to your vendors to confirm automatic transfers of data. Then, create a model of your business processes. Outline which processes and data you need to share and when this should occur. Lastly, include how frequently transfers should take place to ensure users can then execute their tasks.
What could possibly go wrong...now and later on?
Businesses don't want scope creep (uncontrolled growth, over-budget projects that don’t meet deadlines). Hence, you should map out your plans in advance. To keep your projects controlled, documented and well-defined, establish a time-line.
How to Achieve This
Outline your initial parameters and expectations on your go-live dates, one month in, after one year and further on. Next, consider your scalability.
Questions to ask about cloud computing might include:
- Will you need to connect more systems down the road?
- What about your future product or service expansion?
- If this doesn’t work with our existing technologies, should we consider a custom integration, i.e., custom APIs?
- What current pain points need addressing?
- What future pain points might occur?
- What about changes to your site as you work in new markets?
Having flexible integration options and measurable goals can help keep your expectations and numbers in check. Consider the metrics and KPIs you want to establish. Then, talk to your vendors and account managers about having all your technologies fully integrated and how to streamline those processes. These can all help you to consistently monitor growth instead of applying temporary fixes.
When is the best time to deploy?
Are you really ready to boot up to that API system? While it’s tempting to quickly say “Yes” and hit the ‘go-live’ button, it’s a costly mistake you want to avoid. Deploying a new system requires a special recipe for success.
To Achieve This
Create a deployment checklist. It might include the following items:
- Confirm test scripts run correctly. Outline the metrics and goals you want to achieve before testing starts.
- Clean and scrub all data and remove duplicates before transferring any information. Train staff ahead of time (hands-on training, demos) on the new software.
- Assign tasks to staff and walk them through any new daily assignments.
- Decide which workflow campaigns to automate.
- Establish both online support and in-person training to fast-track users.
- Confirm your vendors are available especially after deployment. You may need them for follow-ups and any “tweaks” or patches. Discuss how they will handle upgrades.
Now that we've explored integration questions, let’s take a look at marketing automation and CRM integrations.
CRM and Marketing Automation
Fully leveraging all your technologies can help you maintain a competitive edge in a complex business environment. When your technologies are fully integrated, they should work seamlessly for both your marketing and sales teams. But, what happens when they don’t? Here are a few questions to ask about marketing automation and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
What problems can occur if we don't unify our systems now?
A CRM integration for sales teams can come from native integrations built into the CRM system. They can also come from third-party integrations developed for you or custom integrations with custom APIs. Some businesses mistakenly started with a CRM system and then added on marketing automation. The problem with this is it can become laborious, separate interfaces, with separate databases and logins. That means it’s prone to gaps and silos. And, you don’t want roadblocks with your messaging.
Downstream problems with separate systems can include:
- Fragmented customer journeys: Your marketing team may not have full or direct access to your CRM and miss out on valuable insights that can maximize campaigns.
- Maintaining separate databases: If a change in one database isn’t reflected in another.
- Billing: If a credit card expires in one database it might disrupt the data flow with the other.
- Data flows: Your data might smoothly go from marketing to your CRM but is CRM sharing data with marketing? Consider that potential lead that reverts back to a prospect. How is this reflected from CRM to marketing, if at all?
To Address This
Unifying your CRM and marketing gives you one interaction with customers and it’s always constant. As an analogy, it’s better to have one conversation (centralized data system) to improve customer experiences (CXs). Having two databases is like having the same conversation with a customer twice (it’s a loss of value and time).
Selling Points for Unifying CRM and Marketing Automation:
- The integration helps you efficiently analyze customer behaviors.
- The centralized platform simplifies your customer data and optimizes your customer relationships.
- Your marketing technologies can integrate with CRM and capture and measure your leads and contact data.
- They can also include capabilities to help CRM and marketing integrate with custom ERP's and/or accounting technologies.
- There are fewer user ID details to keep track of and you won’t have to spend so much time on scraping data.
- Your teams will have more accurate analysis in real-time and better campaigns.
The end result is a 360-degree view of customer journeys with no gaps, lags or broken integrations.
Will this improve our compliance management?
Another question to ask before any integrations is if your compliance best practices are up-to-date. You also want to address how marketing automation and CRM integration can help you meet regulations.
To Achieve This
Your email compliance policy should include protocols for sending email marketing. As an illustration, special watermarks can make your customers’ emails less vulnerable to Phishing attacks. An opt-out option on every email is another protocol to employ.
Will this system alignment improve our sales and marketing initiatives?
Maybe you’re new to CRM or you’re interested in changing your existing CRM. CRM provides data centralization to reduce confusion with multiple databases that can lead to gaps. It also provides better collaboration and increases teamwork.
Having data in one system can help raise productivity. All correspondence and customer data is sharable and in one central location. Further, CRM helps you create and share accurate reporting in real-time. From data-driven reports to a convenient dashboard, it’s easier to connect with customers, increase revenue and scale. And, when you combine that with marketing automation, you can improve workflows.
Automating your marketing (emails, texts, speech recognition technology for voice) gives you more time for customer interactions. From automating prospect engagements to single campaigns for targeted audiences, you can have more accurate data analytics and know which leads to follow-up on.
Your data-driven metrics and KPIs can also help align sales and marketing teams and reduce the dichotomy-laced relationships that exist between the two. With less friction, there’s more accountability - and less time wasted pointing fingers.
Questions to ask about sales software might include:
- Will it scrub the web and collect relevant data and remove dupes?
- Will it scour the collected information and then verify and score leads?
- Will it accelerate our onboarding process?
- Will it include AI insights and predictive scores?
- Will it deliver real-time insights in our CRM?
- Will it keep us abreast of account changes (threats, updates)?
- Will it include custom meeting briefs in our team calendars? Will it tell us which leads and customers to call first and what to say to them?
- Will it help improve performance for our sales reps?
- Will it help our sales team close more deals?
- Will it help us create lead follow-up tasks?
- Will it increase our revenue? And, by how much?
Are we losing our competitive lead by not integrating now?
If you’re having trouble tracking leads, sales team progress or managing customer data, you might need marketing automation and CRM. Other reasons might include if customer service is lacking and you have customer complaints and long hold times. You might also have problems tracking conversion rates from campaigns and testing their effectiveness.
How to Address This
Integrate marketing automation and your CRM. CRM helps you manage interactions and all communications with customers/leads and your brand. Marketing automation, on the other hand, can help optimize your marketing efforts over multiple channels. And, it can reduce repetitive tasks to free up time for your staff. That way they get more face time with customers and can close more deals. Together they’re a powerful solution as these essential components complement each other. By using marketing automation, you can reach wider audiences. CRM is there to help your sales staff nurture new and existing relationships.
A Unified Approach
Your sales and marketing teams share common goals - gain and retain customers and close deals/make sales. When you include your service team, now you have 3 separate teams that need to work with the same customer. It’s hard to attain this parity with siloed systems. Hence, integration is crucial as the integrated platform helps you track and analyze your customer interactions and behaviors.
Accordingly, your integrated software helps improve accountability and workflows. You can convert leads into customers and accurately track the customer’s billing and buying cycles. While you're at it, don't forget to optimize your site to reduce bounce rates. It can help with cross-selling products and generating leads.
Meet Your Business Goals With Integration Success
The best software integrations require careful forethought and planning. Follow our best practices and walk through the questions above with your teams, vendors and IT department. To optimize your software solutions and have a unified CRM, talk to Sync’s integration experts.
Synchronicity Designs is a leading digital marketing agency. We specialize in aligning marketing and sales teams through marketing automation and CRM technology integrations. Leverage the marketing automation, CRM and ERP solutions your business needs. We can assist with installation, deployment and support for a seamless transition that maximizes your ROI and growth.
Learn more about Sync’s integration solutions. Request a CRM needs assessment or schedule a consultation today!