An effective customer relationship management (CRM) system is essential for businesses to manage sales pipelines and nurture leads. At the same time, dedicated lead generation tools provide critical capabilities for capturing, scoring, and qualifying new prospects across various channels. Integrating these systems delivers a unified lead-to-customer view that maximizes efficiency and conversions.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore best practices for connecting lead generation and CRM platforms to avoid data silos and enhance results.
The Case for Integration
Most businesses use a combination of software tools to handle sales and marketing processes. Typically, a CRM application manages current customers and sales pipeline data. Meanwhile, specialty lead generation tools power campaigns, landing pages, chatbots, forms, and other inbound lead capture across websites, ads, emails, events, etc.
Without integrating these systems, sales and marketing teams operate in the dark. Reps lack context on how and when a new lead entered the funnel to qualify and nurture them properly. Marketing can’t segment and target existing CRM contacts for cross-sell campaigns. Metrics get fractured across systems, making optimization impossible.
Carefully connecting lead generation capabilities with an existing CRM eliminates these issues. Everyone gains complete visibility into the lead origin, activities, and deal progress from first touch to close. This streamlines follow-up, provides critical behavioral data to segment contacts, and enables accurate sales and marketing analytics.
For example, a game art studio can generate leads even earlier in the pipeline by involving potential customers. Capturing these interested leads via online creative forums provides game companies with actionable data on fan preferences to drive further lead generation efforts. Carefully logging this lead origin and engagement data in an integrated CRM gives complete visibility into which assets and creative styles resonate most with target audiences.
Critical Capabilities for Seamless Integration
To truly unify lead and customer data across marketing automation and CRM systems requires specialized functionality:
Omnichannel Lead Capture
Robust lead gen software makes it easy to create forms, landing pages, and chatbots and leverage other tactics to absorb prospects from all digital sources into a single dashboard.
CRM and lead gen systems must connect via APIs to automatically sync matched contacts, timeline activities, documents, and other pertinent data in real-time or near real-time to avoid duplication.
Universal Tracking & Scoring
Marketing automation provides hidden site tracking and rich behavioral scoring algorithms to qualify anonymous website visitors over time once matched to existing CRM leads and contacts.
Intelligent Lead Routing
When a lead achieves a conversion milestone, programmatic hand-offs based on business rules ensure they get routed to the right sales rep or nurturing track for further development.
One unified reporting interface should tie together lead generation sources, pipeline performance, revenue impact, and customer retention data for a true end-to-end view of marketing and sales efforts.
Custom CRM Objects & Fields
IT teams need to be able to customize CRM records and objects to capture all lead gen data points natively during synchronization instead of using generic containers.
Top Software Solutions
Many purpose-built B2B marketing automation and CRM platforms meet the above requirements for integration out of the box:
- HubSpot – An all-in-one inbound marketing, sales, and service solution, HubSpot combines CRM and robust lead generation tools, including chatbots, forms, email marketing, landing pages, and analytics. Everything stays connected with no complex integration required;
- Pardot – Part of the Salesforce ecosystem, Pardot offers specialized B2B marketing automation for lead nurturing, segmentation, scoring, and routing into nearly any CRM platform. 200+ pre-built connectors available;
- Marketo – Recently acquired by Adobe, Marketo excels at multi-channel campaign execution and analytics paired with behavioral lead scoring algorithms and seamless integration with popular CRMs.
When researching integration, start with your existing CRM system, which already manages hard-won customer data. Explore available connectivity options for importing enriched, sales-ready leads from external sources.
- Salesforce – The market-leading enterprise CRM, Salesforce offers powerful APIs and pre-built connectors called Snaps to integrate marketing automation, chatbots, forms, and custom lead data;
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 – Part of Microsoft’s Power Platform, Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement handles enterprise-scale CRM, including templates to auto-capture web and social lead data into relevant pipeline fields;
- Insightly – Boasting “CRM made simple,” this nimble SaaS targets small businesses by providing an open API to connect lead gen tools alongside sales and project management functionality;
- Zoho CRM – Touted as an affordable yet capable CRM, Zoho offers an open API along with 350+ pre-built integrations and custom modules to capture and manage lead data from anywhere.
Prioritizing flexibility and connectivity in a core CRM streamlines augmenting it with lead generation strategies and capabilities down the line.
Once aligned on complementary lead management and CRM platforms, IT and business teams need to map requirements and configure the integration across these areas:
Choose Primary System
Decide whether the CRM or lead generation tool will be the primary repository for contact data, which gets ported to secondary systems.
Match Fields & Properties
Identify corresponding lead/contact fields across platforms, ensuring all Enrich contact records are in the CRM with additional data captured in lead gen forms and progressive profiling.
Automate flows for scoring/segmenting leads then assign to sales reps based on behaviors and readiness signals detected in the lead generation tool.
Enable Real-Time Sync
Use native connectors, APIs, or an integration platform to enable instant synchronization as lead data changes instead of daily or batched updates.
Clean Existing Data
Scrub existing CRM records for duplication and fill in missing fields to ensure accuracy when cross-checking against inbound leads.
Validate lead capture flows, routing rules, field mapping, and syncing to meet requirements through extensive testing before rollout.
While connecting platforms takes concentrated effort, the work pays compounding dividends over time through more efficient sales processes, higher win rates, and greatly enhanced analytics. Remember, revenue is generated from leads. An integrated tech stack that delivers a 360-degree lead-to-customer view holds the keys to maximizing growth and productivity goals. Reach out if we can help architect your marketing automation to CRM integration!