I am often asked to explain the difference between the various marketing technologies and show how they can be linked together to provide efficiency and scalability. The following diagram has been created to answer this:
The CRM (customer relationship management) system is at the heart of the operation and is the means of managing and organising all of your business's relationships and interactions with existing and potential customers. Salesforce is the acknowledged industry leader, but is strongly challenged by MicroSoft Dynamics and a host of lower cost alternatives such as SugarCRM, Zoho and Pipedrive. Clients will sometimes come to us with a preference already established, which can then influence the other technology choices.
The CRM needs feeding with data, which can come from a variety of sources. Your sales team might be collecting new contacts while networking or at events, or you might purchase a list to get things going. If your website is effectively built for lead generation you will be regularly collecting new leads via inbound enquiries, form completions and downloads.
A useful technology for lead gathering is website visitor identification software. This uses a database of IP addresses to match and identify the names of the companies visiting your website. Some providers also give the opportunity to purchase the email addresses of decision makers at the identified businesses. The industry leader in this field is Lead Forensics although we prefer Gator Leads, previously known as WOW Analytics. You can read our blog post on website visitor identification software for more insight into what to expect from this technology and how to get the most from it.
The marketing activity is driven by a marketing automation system, which, in many respects, is like an Email Service Provider (ESP), for example MailChimp, but with many more powerful features added. For example, you can programme messages to go out when a prospect performs a particular action. This can be anything from a simple thank-you message for completing a form to complex cart abandonment and lead nurturing sequences.
The single most powerful element of marketing automation for us, however, is lead scoring. This allows you to track and respond to the lifetime engagement of a prospect rather than single interactions like an email click. As a prospect shows interest in your content or services, the lead score will rise allowing you to precisely time a direct contact.
The greatest efficiency is achieved when all the various systems are linked together. Some technologies come out of the same stable with integration built in (e.g. Salesforce/Pardot and Microsoft Dynamics/Click Dimensions), but where this isn't the case, integration can often be achieved using an API link or third party software such as Zapier. Once linked, the need for double keying is eliminated and immediate actions can be initiated. For example, a lead can be identified via the vistor identification software and added directly into the CRM. An introduction email is then triggered from the automation system and the engagement with it measured in the lead score - all with just one user action.
At the end of the day, these systems are all programmes and databases in one form or another and none of them are effective when they are not implemented in the right way. Processes have to be put in place to get the right information into them in the first place and then to make sure that the alerts and triggers that they generate are acted upon effectively.
We have a lot of experience of implementing marketing technologies and can help you make the right choices, fast-tracking you to success by sharing the best practices we have developed. Please contact us for more information.