Creating Alignment: Integrating Your Marketing Automation System (MAS) with CRM

Over the past year, I have been involved in multiple Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Integration projects. At Tegrita, we implement various integrations— from Salesforce to Oracle CRM OnDemand to Microsoft Dynamics, and others (like SFTP based integrations). Our specialty is Eloqua so I will specifically be speaking about that. However, many key points generally apply across all Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) and CRM systems.

The Importance of Marketing and Sales Alignment

Many companies are new to the world of Marketing Automation or to Customer Relationship Management. Creating a system that can help identify and qualify Leads to move them from Marketing to Sales is extremely important. Further, having the ability to move Unqualified Leads back to Marketing can improve the productivity and success of sales reps and marketers. For example, Marketing may not be delivering quality Leads to Sales and Sales may not be disqualifying Leads for Marketing to follow up on.

Building a custom integration enables the flow of Lead, Contact, Account, Opportunity, and Custom Object data into your MAS to improve segmentation and personalization. Armed with quality data from CRM, your campaigns can better target niches within your database. Your communications can also become more meaningful with personalization based on relevant Contact information.

What Are Your Goals?

Create goals based on the level of experience of your team. My suggestion is to think in terms of “crawl”, “walk”, “run”, especially when building a new integration. It is also important to qualify all decisions in terms of personalization and segmentation into your MAS. From the CRM side, are decisions impacting the quality of data your sales reps see? For instance, if you have a large number of Leads in CRM that are dormant, an integration is a unique way to identify these Leads for a re-engagement campaign. You can target Opportunities that are Closed-Won or Closed-Lost who are transitioning back to the top of the funnel. With an integration, you can create nurture tracks to continue working with your Closed Opportunities.

Building the Integration

Eloqua allows for the inbound synchronization of Lead, Contact, Opportunity, Account, and Custom Object data for most native integrations. Outbound, a standard Eloqua integration, can create/update Leads, update Contacts, create Campaign Associations, and send Activity data. The build process involves identifying your Lead Management paradigm, the fields that need to be synced, and finally, building the integration. Your MAS may be different and take a holistic approach to data where everything is synced between both systems. Check out this post over at on what Lead Management is and why it is important.

For an Eloqua integration, the most important concept is- “The Contact is King”. Duplicate Leads and Contacts will be merged when syncing to Eloqua. Only the most recent CRM Lead and CRM Contact IDs will be synced to the Eloqua Contact. To avoid creating Eloqua Contacts with inaccurate data, it may be necessary to run a clean-up in your CRM before building the integration.

Syncing from Eloqua to your CRM requires an understanding of how Leads are created and converted to Contacts. Some questions we ask during the discovery phase are: “Does your organization create a Lead every time someone raises their hand?”, “Would you rather have an existing Unconverted Lead be updated instead?”. Answers to these questions help us ensure that the flow of data into CRM reflects your business model.

Once the build is complete TEST, TEST, TEST. Ensure Leads are being created and updated. Verify Contacts are being updated. Be sure Lead, Contact, and Account data is pulling in correctly. If there are any Custom Objects, look at the data coming in and make sure it is complete.

Beyond the Initial Integration

An integration should be conceived as a living thing. It is understandable that your strategy will naturally change over time, so my recommendation is to consider a quarterly and yearly review of the state of Marketing and Sales. Have you been following your roadmap? How have campaigns met expectations? Where can both organizations improve?

Integration of your Marketing Automation System and Customer Relationship Management System will amplify the success of your Marketing and Sales efforts. Create a set of goals you would like to achieve and set checkpoints to make your goals a reality. Once you are ready to build out the integration, think through what data is being sent between the two systems. Finally, run outbound and inbound tests to ensure the integration is working as designed.

To learn more about how Tegrita can help you with your CRM integrations, or if you have general integration questions, contact us.