Marketing Automation: The Missing CRM Feature

The leading CRM applications are impressive in their scope, features, and flexibility. They are designed and marketed as critical infrastructure that ensures the smooth flow of customer information throughout the enterprise, and that provides customer-facing staff with the information and capabilities to enhance their productivity and impact. In our experience, the extent to which CRM applications fulfill this promise depends greatly on what department you consider. And the department that is least served by the leading CRM applications is marketing. What is it about marketing?

For sales users, CRM can support their planning activity – considering what customers to approach, for example, about a given product. CRM also provides great tools for users to record the outcomes of their sales activities to feed into the planning process and to communicate with other parts of the enterprise. CRM applications do not help sales users as much with the actual act of selling – but then this is not really expected. Sales is viewed as an art, and heavily dependent on human interaction. No salesperson would expect their CRM application to make their sales calls for them!

In marketing, CRM provides similar support to users in planning and recording outcomes. However, unlike sales, the execution of a great deal of marketing work is achieved with technology tools- the clearest example of this is email marketing (though there are others – including social media marketing and search engine marketing). Indeed the share of marketing work that is digital is increasing. And yet the leading CRM vendors have seemed content to leave features to support this work out of their products, resulting in a broken, incomplete process. The features are there to plan the activity, and to record the outcome, but the user is left to his or her own devices to actually execute the activity.

This gap where features could (and should) be provided to complete the user’s process is a source of justified frustration for marketing users.

Thankfully, a straightforward solution exists. Each of the leading CRM vendors has within their app/ISV ecosystems mature marketing products that fill these functional gaps, and deliver an end-to-end solution for marketing teams (at least in the area of digital marketing). Vendors such as ClickDimensions, CoreMotives, ExactTarget have built businesses around seamlessly plugging this functionality gap for CRM customers. Other vendors such as Eloqua and Marketo have standalone marketing tools that integrate with the leading CRM packages.

Our recommendation for all clients considering a CRM application implementation to support marketing is to consider including a marketing add-on as part of their solution. For most clients, the out-of-the-box CRM marketing features only deliver half a solution, and a lot of disappointment.

What are your thoughts on marketing automation and CRM? Are you looking to implement a marketing automation solution, or perhaps integrate one with your existing CRM? Reach out to us below, or contact us today. 

Phone: 312-602-4000
222 W. Adams
Chicago, IL 60606
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