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How to integrate your CRM and automated marketing systems

Indispensable tools of the trade, they have earned their spot for a reason. Both automated marketing and CRM systems have a direct impact on businesses’ bottom line, and the return on investment can make them a no-brainer. Powerful on their own, if a business manages to integrate them they are a force to be reckoned with. Done right, the two can increase sales beyond the improvements they’ve already brought; improve the customer experience, brand, and communication consistency; close many more leads who were on the fence or who did not really ever intend to purchase; and make the lives of both departments much easier.

It’s synergy at its best. 1 + 1 = 3

Even if marketing is automated, companies often rely on humans to close. Your marketing and sales funnel may take them to an expert or a sales representative (hey, so does ours!) And that’s exactly why integrating your marketing with your CRM is one of the best things you can do for your salespeople and for your company. After all, if you can make a great product but you can't sell it, what's the point?

The reality is that most businesses face a decision between lesser evils: do you get less capable software that does not address all of your needs, but which has both sales and marketing? Or do you choose the best tool for each job but entrench the divide between your different departments? Bearing the risks that come with siloed thinking, inconsistent communication and duplicate records & data entry and dealing with them as they come. If you do find one that fits all the bills, you are likely looking at hundreds, if not thousands per month.

This article is intended for small and medium sized businesses who are looking to integrate their existing CRM and automated marketing, or for those who would like to get it set up.

Table of Contents

  1. What is marketing automation
  2. What is CRM
  3. Differences and why companies use both, separately
  4. Divorced software
  5. How to marry them and get the best of both worlds
    a. Use an existing tool
    b. Use off-the-shelf automation tools
    c. Build it from scratch using Airtable
    d. Hire an expert to set it up
  6. Key takeaway

What is marketing automation?

Salesforce defines marketing automation as “technology that manages marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns, across multiple channels, automatically.” Business can target potential and existing consumers through various channels and at specific or dynamic time intervals. Learn more here.

What is CRM – Customer Relationship Management?

Salesforce defines it as “technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers” with the goal of “improving business relationships” with existing and potential customer. Learn more here.

Differences and why companies use both, separately.

Automated marketing deals with campaigns, triggered or sequential emails. And while they might have a little personalisation, it won’t be much.


CRM on the other hand keeps track of customers’ details, notes on meetings and interactions, and customer emails or complaints.

Although some CRM systems do include various marketing management and automation tools, they are typically not on the same level as a full-fledged platform built specifically for it. What’s more, every business is different and niche use cases means that companies can be better off choosing the best tools for their needs even when these are from entirely different vendors.

Divorced software

So, your automated marketing software is from one vendor, and your Customer Relationship Management system is from an entirely different one. They are usually entirely different departments in the first place, after all.

An inelegant but common solution to bridge the gap is to merely give sales people access to the marketing software or data, and marketing people access to the CRM system. Many popular CRM systems have some built-in integration available. Less elegant still, but better than nothing, would be to send relevant information to the sales team when passing them over.

Let us be real: sales people are not likely to keep track of everything the marketing department does, nor fiddle around a different system to find out what material has been sent. At the same time, your marketing department should continue nurturing the relationship with the client after they have converted; keeping a new customer is much cheaper than acquiring a new one. In turn, they are unlikely to keep track of what the salespeople have told them or how the conversations went.

Getting different messages from a company can be very frustrating for clients and damage your brand. If caught out, all of the communication is put in question. Where the salespeople just telling me what I wanted to hear? Was the marketing just undeserved hype?

How to marry them and get the best of both worlds?

Use an existing tool

The easiest situation of all, you haven’t yet decided on which tool to use. This is when you can really think about what features you want and choose a tool that will serve you now and continue serving you as your business grows.

One thing to note is that it is much harder to migrate once you have chosen a solution. Friction to change from employees and other priorities means that people will likely just make-do with what’s already available instead of putting time aside to try something new, even if it would be beneficial in the long-run.

We built custom solutions and can provide guidance and advise for free on which tools to use, specific to your business needs. Fill in the form below to get on the phone with us.

Use off-the-shelf automation tools

If you already have well-established tools, migrating them to a new one will be a time sink and likely a hassle. Not to mention new training and the possibility of not being able to migrate everything over, or to encounter severe roadblocks.


Using off-the-shelf automation tools such as Zapier can get your systems talking, quickly. This way, an email from marketing can be sent and signed by the representative they already have a relationship with, and representatives can be immediately alerted when a user performs a bottom of the funnel action. You can try them out and slowly build on them, too.

However, if you want automations to occur the moment an event triggers them, be prepared to pay top dollar. Zapier has a 15-minute delay on all automations unless you opt for their highest-tier plan. A study by Inside Sales found that a 5-minute handoff increased the likelihood of a successful lead by 5 times in comparison to a 10-minute handoff. 

Additionally, these will either require you to set them up or hire an expert, and pay the monthly plans, too. Troubleshooting with some of these tools – finding out if, where, and what error occurred can be a crusade on its own. And you are typically limited to 1,000 automations a month – a relatively simple action can easily use up 5 of your zaps.

Built it from scratch using Airtable

This is one of our favourite tools, and is great for all sorts of databases, database management, automated email and marketing, and automation. It makes it a perfect candidate for an all-in-one, tailored to your needs system.

It will require a bit more set up though, and if you really want to unleash Airtable’s power, you will need to use code to enable things it does not natively support. But once you do, it can be a game-changer. It is incredibly flexible, and dashboards can be dynamic, user friendly, and modifiable, so they change and grow as your business grows without needing much faffing about once it’s been initially set up.

Hire an expert to set it up

The fastest way to get set up with a superior system, hiring an expert could mean you spend less than a working day, spread out over a couple of weeks, from initial call to having a completed, fully integrated system that works.

Likely the option with the highest upfront cost but highest return on investment is to get it made for you by an expert or a team of them.

Depending on who you go for will be able to get your systems talking and create synergy and automation between the two without any wonky workarounds – custom- and purpose-built code that is instantly actionable and lets your people focus on what they do best while providing a consistent and superior customer experience. Or if you haven’t yet set one up, they can build it from scratch (hint: we can do both). 

Additionally, once a project has been built for you, you do not need to upgrade to a EnterprisePremiumProMaxPlus subscription tier if your business is successful as the subscription craze scientifically extracts the most dollars it possibly could. You can choose to host it on your own server, computer, or have them set up an Amazon Web Services (AWS) server, so you pay a nominal monthly fee + any server load/use, which is usually negligible for this application. 

This does not even touch upon the ease of mind and faster turnaround times of having an expert, dedicated troubleshooting and support team.

Key takeaway

Integrating both systems can help you close more sales, maintain better control and visibility over your entire sales funnel and increase its efficiency.

Instead of having your sales and marketing separated, integrating both systems can seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. And there are various approaches you can take depending on your goals.

We are experts at custom software automation and integration; Airtable, Python, and JavaScript are our backyard. Our clients have seen the benefits of end-to-end, purpose-built automation first-hand and every single one has come back for more projects that help them build a faster, more resilient and scalable business.

If you want the most efficient and seamless integration between the two, you can speak to an expert for free by filling in the form below.

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