Better together: The importance of integrations

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Marketing automation platforms are a powerful tool in their own right, but it’s not until you integrate other systems that they really shine.

Marketing automation and CRM are often mentioned in the same breath when considering one or the other – and for good reason. Like Sonny and Cher or potato and gravy, they’re better together. By actively syncing back and forth, you’re always working with the most up to date view of your organisation’s database, and sales have valuable prospect engagement insights at their fingertips (among many other benefits).

A great start, no doubt, but what about the other platforms you rely on to execute your marketing activity? They all play a role, but we often use them like someone coming off the bench with 5 minutes to go – they’re just not getting a chance to hit full stride. The lack of today’s most precious resource – time – often has us falling into the trap of using the bare minimum to get things going. We’re not investing the effort upfront to properly tap into and utilise the numerous ‘smarts’ of these tools or effectively harnessing the depth of information produced by them.

Often, the prospect of collecting, managing and moving resources and data between systems is just too daunting, leaving much of it to fall between the cracks – or it simply gets left behind. But there is a better way.

Integrations exist to make your life easier. While we know marketing automation platforms do more than just send emails, they’re infinitely more valuable when you start connecting other apps in your ecosystem:

  • CRM: From defining and targeting ideal customers to establishing lead scoring and better aligning sales and marketing teams, CRM integration is the cornerstone of an effective marketing function that generates a single source of truth for each prospect.
  • Social media: Having evolved from fad to bona fide marketing tactic, understanding what your audience is doing online is more important then ever. More than just social listening or content calendars, a number of social platforms natively integrate with marketing automation systems to allow you to track social activity from initial engagement through to lead conversion.
  • BI / Reporting: Perhaps not top of mind for many, robust reporting tools can deliver insights that just aren’t possible within a marketing automation platform. Intelligent data manipulation and visualisation can play an important role in demonstrating the outcomes and value of marketing activity, helping to influence future funding decisions.
  • Webinars + events: Traditionally featuring a number of touchpoints, webinars or physical events offer many opportunities to capture rich information and automate workflows. Customised pre- and post-event communication can be triggered based on a prospect’s registration or attendance status, along with any other engagement – website visits, form fills, event material downloads, etc. These can all be automatically captured and added to a contact’s record.
  • Google AdWords + Analytics: While not as critical as capturing engagement against a contact record, the ability to view reports and dashboards in one place is particularly handy. For some top tier platforms, you also have the ability to gain deep insights into revenue generated by keywords – insights that aren’t possible without additional parameters provided by the marketing automation platform. This can help determine ROI and shape future campaigns.
  • Almost anything else you can think of…. The beauty of integrations is that – thanks to APIs – the options are almost endless. Naturally, native integrations offer a more seamless experience with better functionality and more stability, but APIs are an attractive plan B. Companies like Zapier and Cazoomi have established API integrations for literally thousands of apps, so all the hard work is done for you – no developer experience required. With a line of code and a couple of clicks, you can implement automated workflows that will trigger when a defined action is taken. For example, when a new lead is identified in your Facebook Ads account, automatically add them to a list in Marketo.

That all sounds great, but at the end of the day, how does this help? The very essence of lead nurturing is providing clients and prospects with timely and relevant information so you can identify more leads. Understanding what’s relevant and when to send it is driven by audience insights – what have my prospects engaged with and via what medium? What type of content are they looking at and how often are they consuming it? Are they interested in a particular solution or offer? The answers to those questions – and many others that will undoubtably arise – often lie in those siloed systems that don’t get the attention they need.

Investing the effort to properly integrate your suite of apps will not only save you serious time but also deliver a clear, complete view of your prospects. When coupled with other initiatives like lead scoring and intelligent nurture programs, you’re well on your way to capturing, qualifying and handing over more leads for your sales team, while freeing you up to spend time on more important strategic tasks. It’s a win-win.