Marketing Automation Integration: What You Don't Know


Marketing automation tools can transform the way you do business through the ability to know where leads are coming from, how much those leads cost and how much revenue those leads will bring in.

This is easier said than done, however. The biggest obstacle involved with marketing automation tools is that it isn’t your only tool. You most likely have a CRM tool and Google Analytics tracking on your site, and you may have other tools like call tracking.

While most, if not all, marketing automation providers claim they can integrate with CRM’s like Salesforce and sync up with a plethora of API’s, these claims tend to be overzealous. Connecting all of your data is difficult, but it shouldn’t take away from the power marketing automation gives you. Here are a few things to know before committing to a marketing automation tool.

Your Marketing Automation Tool Won’t be a Data Hub

Even though many tools say they can integrate with multiple API’s and softwares, they generally don’t aggregate everything together. In fact, most tools will sync with a CRM like Salesforce rather than the marketing automation tool.

For example, if you wanted to sync call data from a call-tracking service to your marketing automation tool for calculating ROI, you would need to transfer the data into your CRM before transferring the data from the CRM to the marketing automation tool. This process means that your marketing automation tool can have all of the data you need, but it won’t be the hub many are advertised as.

Appending Cost is Iterative … and Tedious

A powerful feature of marketing automation tools is being able to calculate ROI. This is made possible by adding in cost data for each campaign you are running. Each opportunity will have a value. When an opportunity is won, the cost of the campaign will be input into the ROI equation along with the opportunity’s value, giving you ROI. The cost data is all manual however.

Let’s say you have three campaigns: organic, Adwords and word of mouth. At first, it seems like organic and word of mouth shouldn’t have a cost associated with it and the Adwords campaign will just be the cost spent on Adwords. This is an acceptable strategy, but it will not provide a true ROI. This is where the cost calculation becomes very complicated.

The organic campaign would need to include the cost of all activities meant for obtaining organic leads. These can include blogging, SEO work and site updates. Word of mouth would include all costs associated with trade shows, conventions, presentations and any other person-to-person marketing costs. Finally, the Adwords cost would also include the opportunity cost for updating internal campaigns rather than working on client projects.

Altogether, adding cost to campaigns starts off as an easy task but quickly becomes a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Applying accurate costs is difficult and takes patience, but its overall value far outweighs the challenge it presents.

Calculating Conversions Requires Manual Work

At this point, you are probably wondering “Why it is called ‘marketing automation’ if nothing is really automated?” Well, most of the tool is automated, but it takes more setup than indicated to get the automation up and running.

Tracking conversions is your number one source for knowing how your business is doing. Most of the time, these conversions can come from multiple sources. If you are tracking contact conversions, you are talking about both calls and contact form submissions on your website. This is where the data integration becomes an issue.

You know that some of your calls are turning into leads, but they aren’t anywhere in the ROI calculations because the call-tracking tool and marketing automation tool don’t sync up. You have to create a campaign in your CRM that serves as the bridge between the tools. Now this won’t be the same situation for everyone, and it all depends on the tools that you are using, but be aware that there are intricacies with every tool that you will need to work out.

Marketing Automation Requires Manual Analysis

The data gathered through a marketing automation tool won’t simply tell you everything that is and isn’t working with your marketing strategy. Make sure you have someone who is capable of data analysis beyond what these tools offer.

Marketing automation tools are fantastic at providing top-level reports, but the underlying data they collect is far more valuable (and much harder to analyze). Having someone on your team who can use tools like Excel, “R” (an open source statistical analysis software) and Tableau will help you find the elusive answers to those big questions you have regarding your current marketing strategy.

In all, using marketing automation is the next step in improving and understanding your marketing strategy. It requires more manual work than advertised, but the answers that come from using marketing automation easily make it worth the set up.