Secrets & lies: Integrating CRM and e-mail

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If e-mail is the heart of your marketing program, then customer relationship management data is what makes it tick—if you know how to integrate it. Janine Popick, CEO and co-founder of e-mail service provider VerticalResponse, provides one secret and exposes one lie to help you get more out of using CRM in conjunction with your e-mail marketing campaigns.

Secret: E-mail marketing is the most cost-effective use of your CRM data.

Companies use CRM in a variety of ways. Salespeople use it to keep track of their customers and prospects, tracking and storing data each time they communicate with someone. Call centers use it to provide better service in a more timely fashion. General marketers may use it to create and send direct mailings based on buying trends or create completely new campaigns. Only recently, however, have e-mail marketers gotten in on the action and used CRM to craft campaigns, segment lists and better target messaging, Popick said.

“E-mail makes CRM data instantly more valuable,” she said. “For segmentation and filtering, CRM can add information where there would have otherwise been a void.”

This is especially true for b-to-b marketers that may require only a name, e-mail and title of those who sign up for their lists. By merging e-mail data and CRM, data you can, for instance, identify geographically significant segments or segments that contain only your best customers. “When you combine CRM data and e-mail databases, all of a sudden you see where people are, what they want and what they can use,” Popick said.

Lie: If you use CRM data, you don’t need anything else when planning a campaign.

Yes, CRM implementations generate lots of information, but it’s not the only place you will find actionable data, Popick said. “You’ll still have data in different places. For example, your business might have opt-in forms for white papers on your site, sign-up forms for webinars in GoToMeeting, purchase data in Quickbooks and business card data you collected from trade shows in a spreadsheet,” she said. All that data may be sitting in disparate databases.

You’ll need to make time to gather this data together and, once you have it synched, make sure that it’s updated on a regular basis and used to populate your CRM system, Popick said. One way to do this is to use a contact management solution that can integrate all your data sources and repopulate them with the resulting file, she said—and the more frequently you do this, the better.

But it’s not enough to have the marketing department doing all the work. Everyone else in the company needs to understand how important CRM data is to your marketing efforts, Popick said, or they won’t bother telling you if they create a new data source or do their own segmentation. “You need to show that by not segmenting and communicating to your prospects via e-mail, you don’t convert prospects to customers in a timely fashion, therefore losing potential revenue and [wasting] the money you spend to get your prospects,” she said.

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