The Keys to Successfully Integrating Your Marketing Automation and CRM

Written by Lindsay McGuire on May 7, 2020

Posted in Workflow Automation

We all know sales and marketing alignment is critical to growth, and a key part of that is sales and marketing systems alignment.

There’s a constant interplay between marketing and sales. The customer buying journey is often a rapid fire back-and-forth between marketing and sales engagement. To run succesful sales and marketing teams, each team must have accurate, consistent access to the data within your marketing automation system and your CRM. Providing accurate, timely data to your sales and marketing teams is key to producing a smooth customer experience.

To achieve this, your marketing automation system and CRM need an easy way to transfer data back and forth as customer interactions develop. This is where a bi-directional integration fits in. You can easily connect your marketing automation system, like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua or Act-on, to your CRM system, including Salesforce, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, Zoho, ConnectWise,, PipelineDeals or Pipedrive.

Synching data between these systems can be incredibly helpful to your sales and marketing teams. Yet setting up an integration between your marketing and CRM system needs to be done right to deliver results. Here are 9 keys to successfully integrating your marketing automation and CRM.

1. Rapidly Push Leads to CRM/Sales

When you are talking about the handoff of leads from your marketing automation to your CRM, there is no room for delay. Every second matters in lead follow up, so once marketing is ready to handoff a lead to sales, you want that to move into your CRM without delay. Your integration needs to be able to quickly and easily pass information from one system to another in a timely matter. As one marketing operations manager recently told me, “we care about the speed to lead.” performed a famous study a few years back which showed staggering degradation in the ability for a sales rep to qualify a lead as handoff time increased. The odds of qualifying a lead after a 5-minute handoff were 4 times greater than qualifying a lead after a 10-minute handoff. And the odds of qualifying a lead after a 5-minute handoff were 21 times greater than after a 30-minute handoff. So, yes, “speed to lead” matters.

Sales statistics on qualifying a lead Statistics above come from this infographic.

2. Control Rules Around Which Leads Synchronize

There are different approaches for determining which leads should sync from marketing automation to CRM, and companies want to have control over these rules. At the very least, there is a minimum set of data such as email address, company, and name required to push a record into a CRM system. CRM admins appreciate putting controls over which data synchronizes to help maintain data cleanliness and quality in the CRM system. Other potential gates for handing off leads may be based on a lead score or a specific set of actions taken by prospects.

3. De-duplicate Leads

Prospects can reach out in different ways, like calling up the company or the account manager. If an email address is entered to the CRM that already exists in the marketing automation, or vice versa, you want to maintain a single unified record, and not create duplicates across your system.

Duplicate data leads to inaccurate reporting and confusion amongst teams, and leads to flawed communications. You don’t want to communicate to the same person as both a customer and a prospect, for example, because of duplicate data records across CRM and marketing automation. Duplicate records can also lead to non-compliance of unsubscribe requests which is a major no-no.

Learn More: 3 Ways Duplicate Data Can Hurt Sales and Marketing

4. Sync Fields as Records Change

Marketing and sales are constantly learning new information on prospects, from capturing information on lead forms to finding out new information through a conversation. The CRM-marketing automation integration needs to maintain updated records in both systems, as data updates in both systems.

If, say, the phone number of a prospect is updated in the CRM system (and the CRM system is the system of record for that field) then that field value should sync back to the marketing automation system.

5. Make Specific Marketing Activities Visible to Sales in the CRM System

After a lead or customer is handed off to sales, that person will continue to interact with marketing programs – whether it’s attending a webinar or viewing a white paper. It’s important for sales to have visibility into these activities as it may drive urgency around the sales process or help to inform sales conversations. It’s crucial that this information is sent from your marketing automation system to your CRM to keep sales in the loop.

Related: 7 Data Integration Difficulties Marketers Face

6. Highlight Specific Trigger Activities

Inundating sales with ALL marketing activities won’t work for sales. What matters is the key activities that sales and marketing identify as potential prospect trigger actions, such as a specific type of website interaction or consuming high value, late stage content. This is what should be made easily visible for sales and stand out from other activities.

7. Align Contacts to Accounts

An important requirement for a CRM-marketing automation integration is that it enables marketing targeting based on the CRM data. For most CRMs, key data will “live” on the account level and then contacts are related to those accounts. When feeding this data into the marketing automation system, you need to ensure that related account data can be accessed for targeting purposes.

For example, if you want to target customer contacts from accounts from a certain industry, size or geographic area – you want that to be easily done via your marketing automation interface and not require a data project.

8. Align Lead Owner Field to Leads for Personalization

A very impactful marketing automation system feature is tailoring email marketing to leads based on the assigned sales rep – everything from the email From Name and From Email Address to the email signature including name, title, and phone number. This can be a significant data challenge, so it’s important that the CRM-marketing automation capability provides a mechanism for the marketing automation to directly pull this data from the related lead owner. If not, you will be missing out on a critical personalization capability!

Read Next: Sales Automation Tools You Need

9. Manage Updates Without Needing Engineering or IT

The marketing automation and CRM system integration is the backbone of how sales and marketing systematically interact and operate. Given the fast pace of sales and marketing and the need for business agility, it’s important to have an integration that can be easily adjusted by a marketing operations team without relying on coding or engineering resources. This includes rules for what data syncs between systems, and when.

Tired of dealing with inconsistent data between marketing and sales teams? Formstack Sync is here to help. Discover how this bi-directional data integration tool can sync your marketing and sales data in a snap.