Marketing Automation

CRM Series: How Much CRM Experience Do You Need to Be Successful with Marketing Automation?


We are excited to introduce Michael Loop as today’s guest blogger. Michael Loop is the co-founder of Datarati, Asia Pacific’s Fastest Growing Data Driven Marketing Automation Agency.  Michael has successfully delivered over 200 marketing automation and CRM implementations across the globe.

“How much do we need to know about our CRM system to be good at this marketing automation stuff?” I seem to get a variation of this question at the beginning of nearly every implementation.  Inevitably my reply remains the same no matter what the industry: “You need to know a lot!”

Most marketers have never had to know much about their CRM.  Many are lucky to even have access to the system.  Once the initial shock from my reply dissipates from my inquisitor’s face, I attempt to explain.  To be successful with marketing automation, you MUST closely align yourself to the overall business process.

You need to know things like:  What are all of our fields used for?  What do their values mean?  What are related objects?  What do we store in them?  And overall, how do all of our teams from sales to finance use the CRM system on a daily basis?  If you’re not familiar with this information and how it’s connected, your reporting and insights will be misleading or wrong.

For me, marketing automation is less about automated emails, WYSIWYG editors, drip lead nurturing programs, or even complex scoring models.  The difference between ordinary and great marketing automation implementations is not who uses the most functionality, but how the tool is used to improve their business processes as they stand today.  These optimizations need to be carried out in both the marketing automation tool and the CRM.  Similarly the processes must be agreed upon by marketing and all other CRM stakeholders.

Here are a few examples of process gaps that we see on a daily basis:

Lead Status

Your company holds a great event and captures over 400 Marketing Qualified Leads. You import them into your marketing automation system and pass them onto sales to qualify and convert.  The majority of companies we speak to do not have a firm understanding across sales, let alone marketing, on what each of their Lead Statuses represents. When should a lead be moved from ‘Open’ to ‘Working’, versus ‘Contacted’ or ‘Unqualified’, versus ‘Recycled’ or ‘Qualified’, or simply creating an opportunity?  If a week after the event, 350 of your 400 leads were sitting at a status of ‘Contacted’, what sort of insight could be derived as a marketer?

Lead Source

In nearly every implementation I’ve completed over the last 10 years, I have struggled with one question, “what does ‘Web’ mean as a Lead Source?”  Why does it seem to source such a large proportion of leads coming through across all companies and all industries? (The largest and clear favorite is still the worst Lead Source for every team: “Empty”).

Similar to the above scenario, if your team created 1000 leads last month and 900 have a Lead Source of “Web”, how can you make an informed decision on where to spend budget for acquiring more leads? Even worse, what happens when you close 70% of your marketing sourced revenue from “Web”?  If it was a good month, how can you replicate that great revenue producing quarter? If bad, how can you avoid the same mistakes?  The majority of these ambiguous Lead Statuses stem from historical CRM values that were created years ago with little to no logic.  To request a change to these values might be an internal faux paus or take months to be approved by the “committee”.

Opportunity Management

Have you ever had an account executive update a marketing sourced opportunity to a Lead Source of ‘AE Generated’?  Or created a great opportunity that strangely was closed out, only to miraculously see a new one created in its stead seconds later?

Marketing is inevitably moving towards being measured by the pipeline and revenue it creates.  Understanding the intricacies of how your Sales team creates, manages, progresses and closes their pipeline is vital for marketing’s success.

In summary, all CRM processes need to be monitored.  They need to be clearly understood, documented, agreed upon and audited by all relevant parties.  If marketing does not start “knowing a lot” about CRM processes and looking beyond just the new features of their marketing automation tools, not only will they be unsuccessful with marketing automation, but they will be ineffective in their roles.

Be sure to see some of our client presentations at this year’s Marketo Summit: