Marketing automation and CRM are two different systems with the same underlying purpose. They’re both designed to increase sales by improving your ability to communicate with customers and potential customers. With this shared purpose in mind, it may surprise some people to find that these systems have historically been entirely separate.
That has all been changing over the past few years. CRM vendors, large and small, are increasingly offering options for including marketing automation in their CRM platforms. Whether through in-house development, mergers, or acquisitions, CRM vendors have found that CRM and marketing automation go great together, and are in demand from their clients.
Seeing how different vendors have gone about consolidating CRM and marketing automation functions illustrates how important this pairing has become. Below, we’ll examine some major and minor vendors, and look at how they’ve brought marketing automation functionality to their CRM platforms.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Way back in October of 2012, Microsoft acquired Evanston, Ill based MarketingPilot. Shortly thereafter, Dynamics users were able to access marketing automation functions via a connector to MarketingPilot. As anyone who has used a connector knows, this is not always an ideal solution.
Beginning in Q2, 2014, Microsoft released Dynamics Marketing as an update to their Dynamics CRM 2013 platform. Dynamics Marketing is a rebranded version of MarketingPilot, designed to work natively with Microsoft Dynamics 2013. This “hybrid” consolidation began with an acquisition and led to an in-house repurposing of the acquired software.
Salesforce took a similar tack with their acquisitions of Pardot and ExactTarget. These are both marketing automation platforms, with Pardot focused on B2B marketing. Prior to these acquisitions, Pardot and ExactTarget could be connected to the Salesforce platform. Now, both products are embedded and integrated in certain versions of Salesforce.
HubSpot is a bit of an anomaly in this instance– they started as a marketing automation platform, and are now adding CRM functionality. GIven their large customer base and solid popularity, it only makes sense for them to add CRM to their platform. HubSpot CRM is a ground-up build, designed to integrate seamlessly with their existing offerings.
Marketo is a popular marketing software vendor, whose offerings include marketing automation. Along with Turn, an analytics and advertising software company, Marketo hopes to create a scalable CRM platform. It’s only been three weeks since the announcement, so details are sketchy. The bottom line is, this merger should create another platform that incorporates both CRM and marketing automation.
Typically recognized as a popular marketing automation vendor, Infusionsoft has long offered an integrated CRM solution. Their all-in-one platform is targeted toward small businesses, and offers features such as CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, and more. They’ve received numerous awards, and a boatload of venture capital for product development.
Not for Everyone
Despite the obvious benefits of combining CRM and marketing automation, a large percentage of vendors seem satisfied leaving it in the hands of third parties. These vendors still rely on apps, plug-ins, and connectors to make the two platforms work together. The market will decide whether this is a wise choice on their part.
Combining CRM and marketing automation works, and it works well. As two separate systems, businesses are essentially splitting the sales funnel in two, and asking marketing and sales to each work on their half of the funnel in the dark. By bringing both systems together, each department has a full view, and better understanding, of the entire funnel.