Marketing technology in a professional services firm typically includes three main systems: Client Relationship Management (CRM), eMarketing or Marketing Automation systems and the firm’s website. These are all very different systems with distinct functions and purposes.
- CRM is primarily used to hold information on contacts such as location, title, phone number and email address, to segment or categorize contacts into email and event lists and to track activities with contacts or companies.
- Marketing automation is used to send emails and record interactions with those emails.
- The firm’s website provides information on the firm and its professionals and expertise. This can include office locations, practice specialties, detailed biographies and articles or alerts.
Benefits of Integration
While each of these systems can provide individual value for the firm, integration can make them exponentially more powerful and take the return on your marketing investment to a new level. Tying these systems together can help to automatically and seamlessly share information, streamline processes, minimize or automate repetitive tasks and, most importantly, provide data-driven insights into the interests and concerns of the firm’s contacts.
For instance, professionals write thought leadership pieces to showcase their knowledge on given topics or to share information on developments in the law. These are then distributed to lists of contacts who would potentially be interested in these topics. But many firms never quantify the results. How many people was the article sent to? How many people read it – or, more importantly, who read it? Analyzing which clients and prospects read the mailing and then tracking and understanding their subsequent journey through the website can translate into a number of potential opportunities.
Integrating the email marketing/marketing automation system with the CRM allows not only more efficient list generation, but also easy access to information regarding the specific types of content that individual recipients are interested in by revealing which emails were opened and clicked. Once that data is in the CRM, you can generate an array of reports to show information to facilitate business development such as which current clients read a mailing (great for facilitating cross-selling) or what types of information prospects may be interested in.
In addition to reporting on the interest generated by your mailings, integrating the eMarketing and CRM systems can assist with your CRM data quality efforts. Regularly generating and circulating reports from the CRM system on bounced emails is a great way to keep the system up to date by sharing this information with your professionals. For example, maybe an attorney knew that a contact had switched jobs but had forgotten to update that information. Conversely, if the attorney was not aware of the job change, the bounce report can reveal this information, giving them a great reason to reach out to congratulate the contact on their new job.
Considerations for “The Best” Integration
Bear in mind that not all integrations are created equal, and some CRM/eMarketing combinations work better than others. It is important to discuss integration options with potential vendors before choosing a system. When having these discussions, it will be imperative to have a vision of the information you will want to report on and the format required. For example, if you want to report on recipients who clicked a link and which link was clicked, the integration will need to allow that specific information to flow from the eMarketing system into CRM. Once you have that level of detailed data in CRM, you can slice and dice it in a multitude of ways, such as clicks by client or related professional.
Another feature of a good integration is the ability to automate the delivery of emails based on CRM data. Professional services firms are just starting to learn the potential of this functionality, which has been used by traditional sales organizations for years. An example of this would be automatically sending an email to any newly added contacts asking them to choose areas of interest and provide the electronic consent that is necessary to satisfy data privacy regulations.
If the marketing automation system is also used to manage event RSVPs, that workflow will also be vital to a successful integration. Do your professionals want real-time RSVP reports? If so, then mapping that data between the systems will be important. What about post-event follow up? Rather than having to create separate lists in CRM for those who attended and those who didn’t, a marketing automation system allows for filtering of invitation recipients based on the attendance field selected in CRM. Those who have indicated that they will attend may get a follow up email a few days before the event with directions, while those who indicated that they are not attending may get an email expressing the firm’s regrets that they can’t attend but offering to share materials afterwards. Any recipients who haven’t responded may get additional emails to encourage them to respond.
Let’s not forget about the website. Most firms already have a sign-up form on their site to allow visitors to register to join mailing lists, but does that information get automatically added to the CRM? If your sign-up form generates an email that requires a human being to manually type the data into CRM, then you have a great opportunity to streamline your processes by having this automated. Some firms use this integration to encourage visitors to enter information about themselves before they can download specific content, which is a great way to capture new contacts in CRM.
As you can imagine from the above examples, successfully integrating your marketing technology systems requires input and participation from a number of key stakeholders. Individuals responsible for marketing, business development, communications, events and even IT should usually be included to help define needs and gather requirements. All existing processes should be talked through and mapped out as a part of the process. Then, once the integration is in place, documentation and training will be essential to ensure effective use of the technology and prevent missteps or wasted, duplicative efforts.
Your CRM system should not be a silo of data. To provide maximum benefits, it needs to be integrated with other key systems to collect additional information, which can be used to provide valuable business development insights, boost data quality, streamline processes and supply the best return on your marketing technology investments.