CRM and MAP: Similar on the Surface Only
There are some things in life that look or sound alike but are quite different. To illustrate, consider crocodiles and alligators. Most people associate these creatures as being one and the same with big, snapping teeth, scaly bodies, and reputations for messy eating habits. In actuality, the reptiles are different on many levels, each with its own unique place and purpose in the world.
Similar But Different
This is relevant to modern-day marketing, since among some of the most noteworthy ‘confused-as-being-the-same’ examples are the concepts of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software and MAP (Marketing Automation Platform) software. While both feature common contact information about prospects or clients – name, address, etc. – it’s how the particular software uses that data to encourage prospects along their buyer’s journey that sets them apart.
The buyer’s journey is often represented by a funnel. CRM and marketing automation software each play their role at stages of the funnel. At a high level, Marketing Automation Platforms allow marketers to engage with prospects to convert visitors to leads. Customer Relationship Management software allows salespeople to engage with leads to convert them from interested buyers to actual clients.
Another way of visualizing the processes is as follows:
Deeper Into Automation – The Marketing Tool
Marketing Automation refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. A marketing automation platform enables marketing departments to automate time-intensive or repetitive tasks such as social media posting, email personalization, or contextualizing website actions.
The first goal of a marketing automation platform is to convert anonymous website visitors into known contacts. A common tactic to do this is through inbound marketing. Inbound marketing automation is centered around the prospect and gathers and uses information about an individual to understand what their wants and needs are. Effective marketing automation platforms take into account the evolving needs of prospects as well as the behaviors of interactions they have across all marketing channels – not just email.
Used to its full advantage, Marketing Automation empowers companies to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert them to buying customers, while turning customers into satisfied customers.
Taking advantage of behavioral inputs from multiple channels such as social clicks, viewing a pricing page, or consuming a piece of content provides marketers the context they require to fully understand a prospect’s challenges and how to guide them down the funnel. What’s more, the most effective Marketing Automation not only collects data from multiple channels but uses those numerous channels to pass along their marketing messages. This means the success of campaigns relies less on email and fully utilizes the myriad of channels influencing a buyer’s decision.
Once a prospect has exhibited sufficient behavior to indicate they are a likely candidate to buy your product or services, they are considered leads, and it’s up to the sales department to further the engagement.
Deeper Into CRM – The Sales Tool
Sales managers know the benefits of adopting a Customer Relationship Management system. Key sales data is stored centrally and presented in an easy-to-follow format, enabling them to monitor processes and staff performance and, as a result, optimize selling.
Having tight integration between a marketing automation platform and CRM ensures all the prospect’s background and engagement history are available to the salespeople. Where a marketing automation platform does much of the heavy lifting for the marketer, the CRM is more of an organizational tool, that enables salespeople to use the data to best approach each sales opportunity and help move the prospect along to the final sale.
Having marketing data available to the CRM is a great sales tool that should not be underestimated. In 2012, Tech News World published research that revealed that more than half of all businesses – 54-percent – expected to improve their sales via CRM.
Having key customer-related data stored in the CRM helps salespeople to analyze the needs of customers and anticipate their issues – all at the right time.
If used correctly, a CRM will boost the sales team’s performance, and will help them to excel in several critical areas:
- Better sorting and qualifying of leads
- Systematic and timely follow-up on sales opportunities
- Prioritizing follow-up activities
- Increasing target reach rates
Are combo platforms any good?
There are a few platforms that dip into the other side of things: CRMs that have marketing automation features, or marketing automation platforms that have CRM-ish features. These can be OK if you have very basic needs for features.
Problems with combo platforms arise when:
- Sales and marketing departments need different configurations
- Sales and marketing departments need different visibility into prospect activities
- There are ownership conflicts between sales and marketing
- The combo platform doesn’t provide the advanced features that sales or marketing wants
- The combo platform is too complicated because it offers too many features
If you’re producing effective inbound marketing content, generating a steady flow of new, organic leads, and ready to scale your successful efforts, then finding the right Marketing Automation Platform, with a well-integrated CRM is a must. ActiveDEMAND integrates natively with many of the most popular CRMs.