Does your business need both CRM & marketing automation?

Business & tech

To thrive in today’s competitive business environment and digital consumer age, you need to fully leverage every tool at your disposal. That’s why many organizations have already implemented CRM and marketing automation systems.

Let’s explore the case for each and discuss how system alignment can maximize the value of your sales and marketing tech stack.

Why you need a CRM

Perhaps you’re planning your first CRM implementation. Or, maybe you’re a long-time CRM user who is thinking about switching CRMs. No matter the situation, it’s wise to occasionally step back and consider the potential value of a CRM. Among the many use cases for a CRM, here are four that are top of mind:

Data centralization

Maintaining the same customer record across multiple databases creates confusion. Staff spend more time searching for data than actually using it to grow your business. By contrast, maintaining customer data in one system (in this case, your CRM) eliminates confusion by allowing staff to access information in a timely and convenient way.


Securely storing clean data in one system of record provides a natural boost to productivity. Since each contact is represented by one record within a single source of truth, your sales, marketing, customer success, and other teams gain a more complete understanding of the customer journey. Notes, invoices, quotes, proposals, and comments appear in a seamless thread of activity on the customer record, enabling system users to jump in and collaborate.


Creating sales reports is time-consuming and painful when your leads, opportunities, and contacts are tracked in spreadsheets. A CRM standardizes your sales management workflow and creates clear definitions for each stage of your pipeline. Standardizing your pipeline simplifies reporting, which, in many cases, can be completely automated via scheduled reports and alerts.

Accountability & control

Data-driven reports and dashboards provide your leaders with insights to make decisions, manage direct reports, identify risks, and capitalize on opportunities. From sales to productivity to on-time delivery, a CRM surfaces the key metrics that your business needs to continuously improve performance, better serve customers, and grow revenue.

To learn more about unified CRM benefits, read this.

Why you need marketing automation

Email is not dead. In fact, email is still one of the most effective (and affordable) methods for converting prospects into paying customers. It’s also an excellent solution for keeping existing customers informed and engaged.

Here’s how marketing automation helps your company use email to its full potential.

Prospect engagement automation

Prospects, in particular, require frequent follow-up to ensure a timely close. That’s where marketing automation comes in handy. By definition, marketing automation technology helps you automatically engage targeted groups of people—in this case, your prospects. Instead of manually creating, testing, and sending one email to each prospect individually, marketing automation enables multi-step, conditional sequences that (automatically) engage users as they progress throughout the buyer journey.

Flexibility for targeted, one-time campaigns

Not every campaign fits nicely into an automated sequence. Sometimes, you just need to send out a targeted message to a specific audience. Product announcements, survey inquiries, webinar invitations, and newsletters are examples of one-time campaigns that require flexible segmentation. A reliable marketing automation system makes it easy to quickly design and send result-oriented email campaigns.

Transparency into campaign performance

Your web analytics platform only tells part of the story. Anonymized data, while interesting, does not provide the actionable insights that sales reps need for post-campaign follow-up. Marketing automation systems deliver user-level activity insights with built-in scoring functionality. This helps reps decide who to engage next. Data-driven metrics also foster elevated levels of alignment between sales and marketing, which, ultimately, can lead to better campaigns and less internal friction.

Compliance management

Data privacy and email compliance regulations are complex for even the most experienced legal minds. Trying to navigate email laws without the right toolbox is, in most situations, a losing proposition. Implementing a top-rated marketing automation system can help your company maintain compliance while still benefiting from the power of email. Most, if not all, marketing automation systems put protocols in place to help customers reduce risk. Automatically adding an opt-out link to the bottom of every email is one example.

At the end of the day, it’s up to your company to ensure total compliance. But, picking a trusted marketing automation vendor can certainly help.

To learn more about marketing automation benefits, read this.

Challenges of CRM + marketing automation integrations

Until recently, deploying CRM and marketing automation technology in tandem was a complex process that relied on clunky data integrations and frequent list maintenance. Some CRM vendors have acquired marketing automation platforms in an effort to reduce frustration for customers. However, at the end of the day, you’re still dealing with two sets of databases, login IDs, and user interfaces. Managing two separate (yet integrated) systems defeats a primary purpose of implementing a CRM—consolidation into one source of truth—thereby causing several downstream issues:

Fragmented customer journeys

Let’s assume that your marketing team uses a marketing automation system, but they do not have direct access to the integrated CRM. In this situation, your marketers cannot track the prospects that convert into opportunities and customers. They do not have the insights that are necessary to create the campaigns that actually lead to revenue growth. Instead, they just spin their wheels optimizing for opens and clicks.

Frequent troubleshooting

Building integrations can be fun and exciting, but they break. Vendors update their APIs. Expired credit cards cause billing issues that turn off the flow of data. Changes to required fields in one database cause problems in another. In short, where there are integrations there will almost always be integration issues that must be solved by internal staff or costly consultants. Either way, fixing problems consumes resources that are better spent elsewhere.

Loss of the big picture

It’s difficult to gain a bird’s-eye view of your overall sales and marketing strategy when data is in two (albeit, integrated) databases. Sure, data may flow from the marketing automation platform to the CRM, but does it go the other way? What happens if a lead record is sent back to “prospect” status? When two or more systems exist, leadership wastes time debating questions like these instead of focusing on the big picture.

Time for a unified approach?

A unified CRM and marketing automation system, such as Insightly, solves many of the shortcomings of the traditional “integrated” approach. Instead of integrating to a third-party solution, a unified platform offers sales and marketing functionality under one roof, resulting in:

  • A comprehensive view of the entire customer journey, from prospect to advocate
  • No more broken integrations
  • Fewer user IDs, passwords, and user interfaces
  • Less time spent on deduplication and cleaning up bad data
  • More time for campaign optimization, data analysis, and strategic planning

Simply put, less can be more when it comes to your CRM and marketing automation needs.

Ready to see a unified CRM in action? Request a demo with an Insightly rep. You’ll also get a free CRM needs assessment.

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