Picture this: You’re an email marketer for Run Central, a mid-sized athletic company selling running sneakers, clothes, and gear. You love your company, team, and customers.
As an email marketer, you’re responsible for creating the content that goes out to all your customers, prospects, and leads. You write copy, segments lists, think about conversion opportunities, and report on monthly metrics. It’s a big job — and it keeps you very busy. You can spend hours crafting the perfect email.
In fact, you spend so much time planning and executing on the email strategy, you hardly ever connect with the other marketers on your team who manage the company’s blog and content, social and chat, website, video strategy, events, PR, and more. And this isn’t unusual.
Traditionally, marketers focus on the details — they sweat the small stuff and divide to conquer. One marketer may be in charge of improving conversion metrics, while another focuses on SEO and someone else optimizes product pages. You might even have an intern creating some Instagram stories.
But when marketers complete these tasks in isolation, prospects and customers are left with a disconnected experience.
Marketing is about more than single, solitary interactions -- it’s about building a complete customer experience.
If you want your business to succeed, you need to take a step back and see the bigger picture. How do all your marketing activities connect? What do your customers really experience? And how can you keep your team working towards the same goal? Let’s find out.
Your Customer Journey Isn’t As Linear As You Think
It’s easy to imagine that the customer journey is like a well-traveled, east-to-west road trip, following a single, straight highway from awareness to consideration to purchase.
Buyers start with an ad, check out a blog post, visit a website, sign up for emails, talk to a rep, and end with a purchase. Mission accomplished.
And sure, sometimes prospects take the most direct route on the buyer’s journey highway, but most of the time, they take a few detours.
By trying to force the customer journey into a linear, step-by-step mold, you risk losing prospects that don’t fit your design. Consumers want information before they buy, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method for getting it.
The truth is, the customer journey is messy and can be difficult to predict — everyone’s is a little different. Some customers may look for information about your brand through search, while others may click on an ad, an email, or seek out reviews from friends.
And the journey doesn’t stop there. Marketers shouldn’t stop interacting with customers as soon as they click “buy” -- if you want to maintain and nurture unique relationships, you need to continue to interact with customers after you make a sale. That’s why it’s important to connect the dots between your marketing efforts to build one cohesive brand experience.
How to Connect the Dots
I know what you’re thinking. Easier said than done, right? But there’s a pretty simple solution, or at least there are some tools that can help. Let me explain.
As a marketer, you’re probably used to using multiple tools and point solutions to connect with prospects and customers. Not only is this method inconvenient, but if all your marketing efforts aren’t connected by a customer management solution, or CRM, it also creates a disjointed experience for customers. Marketers need to take a step back and see the bigger picture. If you want to build a complete customer experience, focus on connecting your marketing software with the tool that should be at the core of your marketing efforts: your company’s trusty CRM.
CRMs are traditionally considered a tool for sales teams to track leads, prospects, and customers. With them, reps can see every interaction a contact has had with a brand. Everything from calls with a sales rep to website visits are tracked and logged in a contact record.
While you may be familiar with a CRM, you probably aren’t using it to its full potential. Masters of email marketing, live chat, ads, and social media tools they may be, marketers rarely use a CRM for anything other than creating email lists, if at all. Think about it. You probably stress over the last-minute details of a campaign and track its success, but I’m guessing you rarely check to see how your campaigns are influencing individual contacts, or who’s consistently engaging with your marketing efforts.
Your CRM is your single source of truth — it connects all of your customer information and allows you to take strategic action.
By putting it at the center of your marketing strategy, you can truly personalize your messaging. You can use any data point or marketing engagement metric to segment contacts beyond lifecycle stages. This allows you to create more targeted, meaningful content and ads and expedite the sales process, helping your entire company grow better. Without a CRM, your personalization efforts are smoke and mirrors at best, and insufficient at worst.
How Your CRM Works With Other Tools
Of course, your CRM is only as strong as your other marketing tools. When paired correctly, it helps eliminate friction and save time so that you can focus on building a complete customer experience.
CRM and Email
How many times a week do you email your customers? How many of those emails do your customers actually read? With email and your CRM, you can go beyond first name email personalization — segment your contacts into different lists based on any CRM data point like location, page interactions, and more. And it doesn’t stop there.
Combining a CRM with your email tool allows you to use personalization so that each email recipient receives updates and information that are relevant to them. Not only can you personalize text, but you can also switch up CTAs to send a contact to a different landing page based on CRM data you've collected. By sending relevant, personal emails, you can build trust and provide value to customers and prospects.
A CRM can also help you and your team save time. Avoid exporting and importing lists of contacts into your email service provider (ESP) — when your email is connected to your CRM, all of your contacts live within one system. This keeps all of your contact information up to date, helping your team stay compliant with CAN-SPAM laws, send segmented emails easily, and effortlessly report on email deliverability.
Exporting and importing contact lists from your CRM into an email tool may not seem like a hassle, but it really impacts your ability to send the best and most relevant emails to your prospects, customers, and fans. For example, if you export a segmented list from your CRM on Monday and three of your contacts opt out of emails on Tuesday, they’re probably going to be pretty annoyed if they see your name in their inbox on Wednesday. Similarly, if a contact visits your pricing page or shows interest in purchasing after you’ve already exported a list from your CRM, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to convert. Exporting and importing lists excludes the level of detail required to build a complete customer experience unless you have a unified database.
That’s why it’s so important to connect your CRM and marketing efforts. With a fully integrated system, you can skillfully market to the right contacts with minimal effort. You can establish rules that automatically sort a prospect or customer into the appropriate list when they move into a different stage of the customer journey, allowing you to send targeted emails based on their previous brand interactions.
Not only does this help your team, but it also removes friction from your brand experience. Instead of adding to your customers spam folder, you can use CRM data to send personalized emails about brand events happening in their area (not across the country), product information based off of ads they've clicked on (not a standard sale promotion), and content suggestions that align with other posts they've read on your website. You can provide value and increase delight.
Many of our customers are using HubSpot CRM and Marketing Hub to create better experiences for their own customers. Thomas Berry of Picmonic says, “As a startup, we're always looking for new tools that will help us make an impact on a smaller budget. We often end up signing up for lots of disjointed tools, which can make it tough to get a full view of the customer journey. With HubSpot's email tool, we're able to combine those automation tools with the insights we gather in the CRM. We always aim to put our customers first and with these powerful tools, we can provide them with an even better experience.”
Best of all, when your CRM connects your entire company, you can see how your email strategies are impacting your customers in the context of all your other marketing, sales, and service efforts, helping your team to set clear goals, maintain alignment, and adjust your strategy in real time.
CRM and Ads
Using a CRM with an ads management tool is the best way to leverage your customer data and create high-performing audiences at scale. While third-party data helps you reach a broad persona, the first-party data you get from your CRM lets you target a hyper-specific group of people. It allows you to create relevant ads for any audience, no matter what stage they’re at in the buyer’s journey.
For example, you can create a custom audience of all the contacts in your CRM who viewed a certain product. Based on this audience, you can then create an extremely specific ad that provides information about that product to propel them along their buyer’s journey. You can then see exactly which contacts in your custom audience interacted with your ads, not just an aggregate number, helping you create even more relevant content.
This make a big impact on your customers. Seriously. Think about how many ads they see in a day. How many of those do you think are actually relevant? By promoting highly targeted ads, your customers won't be surprised or frustrated when they see one in their feed. The ad won't feel promotional or gimmicky — it will be familiar and helpful because they've interacted with similar content in your emails, on your website, or in other marketing efforts.
Jamie Hall and the team at My Arsenal Strength have the right idea. They're using HubSpot’s ads tool to fill their CRM with leads, and understand exactly how their contacts are interacting with their ads. "Adding the HubSpot Ads Tool has been a very valuable tool for our company,” says Hall. “We are able to analyze various details, such as seeing where our contacts interacted with our ads, which helps us determine next steps with various ad campaigns. It's also helpful as we utilize social media outlets to have those leads generated automatically into our HubSpot CRM."
Connecting your CRM and ads tool also allows you to attach deals to your ads attribution and report on the true ROI of your ad spend, helping you set and allocate budget for future ad buys.
CRM and Your CMS
Finally, if your customers interact with your email, ads, and social, they're going to expect that you recognize them once they get to your website. For example, if a customer has read an email about a specific product and liked an ad about the same product, they're going to be pretty frustrated if they can't easily find that product when they visit your website. Similarly, if a customer purchased a product from your site in the past, they won't want to re-enter all of their shipping data when they make their next purchase.
Your website shouldn't be flat and impersonal — it should be dynamic and conversational. That's where your CRM comes into play.
By connecting your content management system, or CMS, to your CRM, you can become the architect of your company’s flywheel — and create personalized site experiences. Conversations with prospects begin on your company’s website. You can manage those conversations, at scale, by using contextual data to share relevant content, create streamlined interactions and sign-ups, and route questions and inquiries to the appropriate department.
Integrating your CMS and CRM also allows you to access the data you need for a complete view of your visitors' interactions with your site. Based on that and other general information from your CRM, you can adapt your site to each visitor by optimizing website content, forms, and more.
What Success Looks Like
CRMs serve as the foundation for all your marketing efforts. It is the one place where everyone across your entire organization can view metrics, track progress, and optimize strategies for success.
When used appropriately, it allows you to connect the dots so you can create the complete customer experience your customers crave.
Combining your marketing efforts with a powerful CRM helps you eliminate friction and build your brand — and because it spans so many business functions, it provides the transparency your team needs to stay on top of their goals. Imagine not having to worry about disjointed or competing marketing efforts, conflicting goals, and wasted time — with a CRM, your contacts can view a blog article, an Instagram post, a product page, or any other piece of marketing at any time and know that it’s coming from a single trustworthy company. That’s the power of a CRM.
When marketers leverage their customers’ data for good, they can craft remarkable customer experiences. That’s why at HubSpot, we have incredible marketing tools like email, ads, forms, and live chat available for free within our CRM. Learn how you can improve your customer journey with the HubSpot CRM and Marketing Hub.
Originally published May 13, 2019 8:00:00 AM, updated October 21 2020