Before we dig into three specific use cases for data integration, let’s clarify what we mean when we say data integration.
Data integration is a process which links data between various business systems. Many data integrations can be set up to run automatically and bi-directionally, making them very easy to set up and maintain. Integrations help you to maintain a clean database, because they can de-duplicate data and maintain the most up to date information.
Additionally, you can use an integration to view relevant data regardless of the system you’re using at that time. For example, you can view information about marketing campaigns (pulled from your marketing system) that have been sent to specific customers within the marketing system, the CRM, the sales program, or most other systems you may have connected through an integration. A useful integration will allow you to connect more than two systems, so that you can view a complete snapshot of your data without having to switch between programs and screens.
In order to capture the full power of a data integration, you want to be sure that you’re synchronizing data:
- Across multiple systems
- In near-real time
- With a quick, simple setup
Furthermore, data integrations will help you to run your business more efficiently, as it frees your employees from the time-suck of manual data entry. An integration will eliminate concerns of creating duplicated data or overwriting important information.
If you think the concept of data integration is a good one, but are struggling to envision how you can best implement it for your own business, here are some of the most common use cases for a data integration.
Learn More: How Bi-directional Data Integrations Work
Common Data Integration Use Cases
Data integration allows you to connect relevant data across platforms, and one of the most valuable formations you can establish is to synchronize your marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), and finance software. Let’s examine the individual components, and how an integration of these systems might look.
1. Marketing Software
You’re likely using software to automate your marketing campaigns and email communications. Whether you’re using a program such as Marketo, HubSpot, or MailChimp, you signed on to harvest the power of direct and personalized communication with your customers and potential leads. Marketing software allows you to:
- Compile relevant information to tailor marketing campaigns
- Create personalized email communications to customers
- Track results and report effectiveness of various marketing campaigns
- Gauge customer interest through analysis of click through rates and other statistics
A bi-directional synchronization of marketing data with your CRM can display the intersection between your customers’ interests and the effectiveness of your past and current email campaigns. With this knowledge, you can tailor future marketing emails to segments of customers based on the information found in your CRM.
2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
CRMs allow you to capture a wide range of information about the people who are interested in and purchasing your products. Programs such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Zoho, and others give you the flexibility of custom fields to record customer contact information, relevant preferences, qualified leads, and other data. This information is integral to identifying and targeting your ideal customer base, and if you’re currently using a CRM, you’re familiar with its benefits, such as:
- Capturing customer contact information at the point of sale
- Updating records to reflect accurate information about customers
- Maintaining a database of potential leads which can be tracked on the path to conversion
- Identifying future opportunities to approach, partner with or nurture relationships with clients
An example of an effective CRM data integration is setting up automatic record creation within your CRM whenever a potential lead fills out a contact form on your website. These actions within your marketing program can update that lead’s CRM data as well as trigger a notification to your sales team to establish direct communication.
3. Finance Software
Effective finance software, including programs such as Xero or Freshbooks, will help you to draw a complete picture of your business’s financial past, present and future. A necessary tool for any business, finance software helps you to keep your records organized so you can easily access information about:
- Your company’s expenditures
- Your customers’ purchasing trends
- Employee payroll
- Projected returns
- Ecommerce activity
- Invoice status
Yet another data integration possibility is to establish a communication among your sales team about their contributions to the overall financial outcomes of the company. By linking your sales and finance software, you can send automatic updates to your sales reps when they hit big-picture milestones in addition to department incentive levels. Your sales team can determine what approaches lead to increased sales or which scripting strategies succeed in converting challenging leads.
Putting it All Together
By establishing a data integration among your marketing, CRM, and finance platforms, you can leverage a wealth of information to help your business strengthen its sales and reputation.
An effective data integration will provide tangible evidence of success as your business seizes the insights that come from being able to view the complete spectrum of information about your customers, sales, and financial records.