In an age where websites, apps and search engines can record every bit of usage data, marketers need to develop and refine the way they track, analyze and use all relevant information to better connect with their audience. This is no longer optional if you expect to have success in a competitive marketplace.

Finding the right customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation (MA) tools is an important part of this process.

The purpose of a CRM is to improve relationships by compiling and analyzing that data. CRM tools allow you to learn more about your intended audience to better anticipate and accommodate their needs.

That kind of knowledge is obviously powerful, but it can become game-changing when paired with the right kind of MA tools. MA allows marketers to automatically schedule tasks such as emails and social media posts, making their communication with consumers more effective and their lives easier.

Let’s face it, designing a strategy of consistent communication with consumers – such as a drip mail campaign – is almost impossible for a small business or lean marketing department to implement manually.

With proven CRM and MA tools, small businesses can accomplish more without having to increase the size of their teams or worry about stretching their budget. Larger corporations, too, can yield massive returns with CRM and MA tools by increasing productivity within sales departments, customer service, supply-chain management and, most importantly, marketing.

Connecting the Systems

The simplest of customer interactions with your front end can easily be logged and sampled by a CRM tool. In an age where all online usage data is accessible and trackable, marketers have no excuse for not being at the top of their game.

And if you’re worried that ‘data tracking’ seems invasive, remember that the data is cached and recorded by computer networks whether you take advantage of that data or not. Using CRM and MA tools to collect data, analyze records and streamline interactions simply help marketers get the results expected of them.

How it works

CRM tools consolidate the data that sales teams, customer service departments, marketing campaigns and social media rake in. Not only do CRM tools organize all relevant customer information, but they provide analytics for varied reports, so you can study the statistics in simple, coherent formats. CRM software can segment your customers by any characteristic you want, providing vital business insights you may not have noticed otherwise.

Marketing Automation

MA tools further simplify a marketer’s workload, not only by systematizing social media, emails, and website announcements, but also by personalizing the approach for each prospective customer. Using recommendation algorithms, MA tools analyze previous interactions between a customer and a company’s front end to make particular suggestions for further interactions.

For example, if a customer shops around on your website, fills their shopping cart, and then closes out of the window, you can prompt your system to send them a “forget something?” type email to re-engage them, and perhaps send them a coupon code to nudge them further.

And, again, these tools do this without human involvement.

Sure, the marketer will determine what kind of content may be suggested and what types of data the tools should be most aware of, but the CRM and MA tools do all of the laborious drudgery. The marketer’s job is streamlined and simplified.

With a massive increase in connectivity, people have access to more options than ever before. In order to effectively reach them, amidst the sea of competitors, you have to utilize all resources at your disposal. By “learning” more about your customers and clients, communication can become much more personalized, and therefore more relevant to those customers.

In terms of customer interactions, data tracking and automation tools are paramount.

CRM Platforms

For the uninitiated, I would recommend using Salesforce (a CRM tool with other cloud-based services), which works well in conjuncture with Pardot (a B2B MA tool for generating more pipeline). There’s also the three giants: SAP (managing business operations and customer relations), Oracle (database management services for customer and supply-chain services), and Microsoft Dynamics (a CRM software package for sales, marketing, and customer service).

On the simpler end, there are free tools such as MailChimp (MA for e-commerce), Buffer (social media management), and Google Analytics (web traffic reports and analyses).

With unobstructed access to powerful tools such as these, marketers in the 21st century would be foolish not to track and analyze the relevant figures.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is founded on the availability of data and the automation of its application. Don’t wait until the Fifth Industrial Revolution to jumpstart your marketing department!