Email marketing is a great first step toward developing solid communications with your customers and prospects. But once you have moved past one-off messages and have decided to create prolonged, personalized messages powered by customer data, it's time to try marketing automation. No tools better exemplify the simplicity, effectiveness, and scalability of marketing automation software than two of our three Editors' Choice tools: HubSpot and Pardot.
But marketing automation apps with CRMs go much further. They tie directly into your site or app, adding all of your users into the CRM as soon as they sign up. They'll then monitor your site stats, showing how people discover you, which parts of your site they've seen, and then point out the people you focus on in your marketing efforts. They'll even automatically email your users to make sure they don't forget about your product.
Understand what’s working and how you can improve your marketing strategy over time with real-time metrics covering opens, clicks, and comparative stats per campaign. Individual campaign results automatically push to Act! contact records for a detailed interaction history. Perform A/B tests to pinpoint your most impactful subject lines and content to continually improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Marketing automation and customer relationship management systems are two different platforms. But they undeniably work together. CRMs manage customer data. Although you can have a CRM without marketing automation, marketing automation cannot exist without a CRM, according to Davis. The CRM serves as the central database for marketing automation. It’s where all the information is stored for each contact along their customer journey, he added. “It also allows multiple people, across multiple departments within your organization to remain synced up with the current state of the contact to ensure consistency in communicating,” Davis said.
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Similar to standard email marketing software vendors, marketing automation software vendors have created workflow templates that help guide you through the automation process. This way, you don't have to build new sequences from scratch. These templates usually start with a basic interaction, such as a "Welcome" or a "Thank you for making a purchase" message. Once a contact receives the initial email, he or she is guided through a sequence based on his or her actions. For example, if John receives a welcome message and he clicks a link to an offer, then that action automatically pulls him onto a distinct email marketing journey. Conversely, if Sally deletes her welcome message, then she may automatically be pulled off the workflow to conserve your email output.
There's also live chat, an extra that's a nice way to let people reach out to you when they're stuck. You can talk to people on your site directly from Interakt, leading them through your app or helping them see exactly which of your products is best for them. Combine that with in-app messages and email campaigns, and you have everything you need to lead your users through the sales process.
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HubSpot heavily relies on list building to help you manage your workflows. The tool lets you shrink (or grow) your lists in the same way you would narrow down products on Amazon or eBay, a feature which is incredibly straightforward and fast. When you add a URL to a contact record, HubSpot will automatically pull in demographic information, such as the contact's company location and number of employees. You can email a contact directly from the Contact Record, and you can make a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) call if you have turned on this paid feature of HubSpot Sales. This integration lets you log and save call information within each contact record so there is a transparent history of which marketers and sales professionals interacted with contacts. You can also schedule interactions with contacts. You won't find these features on the other platforms we reviewed.
There's also the marketing broadcast tools you'd expect to email all of your contacts, but there's also ways to send voice messages, faxes, or even print out paper letters with your contacts' personalized info to send out by mail. And if you're not already selling products directly from your site, you can use Infusionsoft's eCommerce tools to build your own store and track the purchases and pages viewed right in your CRM. It's everything you'd need to identify your customers' needs, customize marketing to them, actually sell your real products, and make sure you're staying on top of everything you need to do at the same time.
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).
There are plenty of businesses that rely on close personal relationships, where that have a hand-picked set of leads that their sales team works to turn into deals. They need to track what's said, note personal details about the contact, and make sure they know when they need to follow up. That's where the dozens of great traditional CRM apps come in, as we looked at in chapter 2. They're tools that can help your business track all of the info about your customers, your conversations with them, and convert them from leads into deals.
According to CLIENTSFirst Consulting, 30% of contact data changes every year. A contact will move addresses, get a new job, or might even retire, causing the data in both of your systems to become out of date. When putting this in a larger context where a company has 200,000 contacts in their CRM, this is potentially 60,000 contacts that end up having inaccurate data every year.
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Infusionsoft has found that its automation platform saves users about 28 hours per month when it’s integrated with users’ other systems. That platform automates lead capture and follow-ups based on user activity and collects data about customers to enable personalization. Its analytics reports shine a light on what’s working, what’s not, and what the current ROI is for any campaign.
Though it's not the easiest marketing initiative to execute on, marketing automation is certainly not impossible. Imagine you're trying to grow a plant. First you need fertile soil ripe for the growth of your plant. Next you need seeds themselves to care for, and last you need water and light in order to nurture those seeds into a lush, blooming plant. It's not foolproof, but it's not impossible. In our story, effective marketing automation looks just like nurturing this plant does. At the end of the day, we hope we've nurtured our leads (the seedlings) well enough to produce actual paying customers (a lush, full-grown plant.)