Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) are among the most commonly used technologies by B2B marketing leaders. Without a CRM and marketing automation platform, tracking ROI is impossible. The two technologies exist at the core of proper revenue attribution and, when used effectively, both can be extremely powerful, with great impact on revenue. On the other hand, when not used exactly as prescribed by vendors—as is usually the case—CRM and MAS can also be very dangerous, leading to misguided marketing decisions that wreak havoc on your bottom line.
In our new “B2B Marketing Stack Basics” series, we’ll examine the technology building blocks of a winning marketing stack—the strengths and weaknesses of leading platforms, best practices for campaign tracking, and tips to achieve true multi-touch revenue attribution. In our first installment we’ll cover the fundamentals, offering an overview of CRM and MAS technologies and taking a look at how they work together along the B2B lead lifecycle.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Overview
Many companies use their CRM as the system of record for nearly all business functions, but a CRM is primarily a sales and services tool, used to store data about existing customers and manage sales opportunities. It contains a database of all relevant information about clients and prospective clients and uses technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales pursuits.
Benefits of CRMs
- 74% of CRM users said their CRM system offered improved access to customer data. (source)
- CRMs can increase sales productivity by up to 34% and forecast accuracy by up to 42%. (source)
- Using a CRM has been proven to increase sales by up to 29%. (source)
Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) Overview
The MAS is the marketing counterpart to the CRM platform—focused on moving inquiries from the top of the marketing funnel through to sales-ready leads at the bottom of the funnel. Marketing automation provides a single solution that marketers can use for all aspects of campaign design—including email and landing page development, lead management and scoring, and automation and reporting.
Today’s B2B marketers would be crippled without marketing automation. Essential functions such as communicating with and tracking prospects become impossible or at best extremely difficult without it. In order to track revenue, you must first track campaigns and leads.
Benefits of CRMs
- B2B marketers who implement marketing automation increase their sales-pipeline contribution by 10%. (source)
- 63% of companies that are outgrowing their competitors use marketing automation. (source)
- 8% of successful marketers say marketing automation systems are most responsible for improving revenue contribution. (source)
The B2B Lead Lifecycle: How CRM and MAS Work Together
Marketing automation systems measure prospect engagement from the first time they interact with your company. Upon their first website visit, they’ll receive a cookie from your MAS, after which all interactions are tracked. A prospect is no longer anonymous once they provide their contact information (e.g. downloading an eBook, signing up for a webinar) and a lead is created within the MAS. From there, the lead is typically synced to the CRM.
One of the core functions of marketing automation is the ability to score prospects based on engagement. A prospect’s lead score will accumulate over time based on their interactions with marketing activity. Many companies develop nurture programs or a series of automated communications designed to help prospects self-educate. As a prospect interacts with marketing activity—triggered by nurturing or done organically—they’ll continue to accumulate points until they reach an agreed-upon threshold that deems them sales-ready.
While lead cycle processes vary between organizations, there is usually some threshold that determines the lead has reached a gating stage and is passed to a sales rep. Sales can either accept a lead, and convert it (more on that in the following section), or reject a lead, in which case, they often re-enter a new nurture queue. Alternatively, a lead may be disqualified altogether, in order to prevent any future engagement (e.g. competitors or bad records).
Much has been written about lead management and the various stages leads can pass through. Much of that discussion is beyond the scope of this series, but we recommend familiarizing yourself with this process if you haven’t already.
Have you been able to track multi-touch revenue attribution with your CRM and MAS alone? Stay tuned for the next installment of our “B2B Marketing Stack Basics” series, where we’ll go deeper on CRM best practices to make sure your leads, contacts, accounts, and opportunities are properly set up for multi-touch revenue attribution.