Even the simplest CRM system will use a dozen database tables to manage these processes, and some of the tables are quite wide (it’s not at all unusual to have 200 columns for the Account table) and tables may have several children.  The tables, however, hold standard data types (almost never a BLOb), and documents that might be attached (pointed to from tables) are static files and not part of a document management system.  However, CRM systems typically have several integration points with other parts of the corporate infrastructure (such as contract management, electronic signature, shipping/distribution and accounting systems).


Automation is a surefire way for small businesses to save time and money, and marketing is the perfect arena for doing so: Marketing automation maintains brand messaging while reaching thousands more people than a single person ever could. The key is simply determining which platform fits your company best so you can save even more time while building your bottom line.
First, let’s be clear about the distinction between sales and marketing roles: you wouldn’t believe how many companies scramble the definitions.  As a card-carrying marketing guy (yes, I made it to Sr. VP at publicly-traded companies), I maintain that the outbound part of marketing (the real users of marketing automation) needs to focus on getting the right message out to the right prospects.  People who respond with the right level of interest are handed off to sales for qualification, and people who don’t are kept in the system for cultivation and “re-marketing.” Outbound marketing is also involved in the care and feeding of existing customers, to cultivate loyalty and repeat business.
Perhaps best known as an email newsletter app, ActiveCampaign also includes a full-featured CRM with marketing automation. You can gather leads, with rich profiles on each one that include your conversations with them, their latest social network updates, and more. Then, you can convert them to leads, sort them on a kanban-style board as you take them through your sales process, and keep them updated about your company with beautiful email newsletters.
Marketing’s core objective is to feed the pipeline for sales. At the end of the day, the sales team is marketing’s number one client. Marketing’s role in the lead nurturing process has grown over the last decade to align with the lengthening sales prospecting process. Most B2B purchases—especially technology purchases—span multiple departments, which means there are multiple stakeholders involved in any buying decision. According to CEB, 5.4 people now have to formally sign off on each purchase, this is 40% larger than it was 2 years ago.

Marketing automation plugs into a company's CRM system, which, typically, has its own native marketing automation cloud service (such as Salesforce Pardot and Oracle Eloqua). Eloqua will work with other CRM platforms that compete with Oracle's, and Marketo, an independent marketing automation platform, will work with Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft and other CRM systems. HubSpot also is a popular marketing automation platform that has its own CRM backbone.
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