Crunching data and tracking leads is a core responsibility of today's modern marketing director. Building a tribe of engaged leads and prospects is more effective when you have a database to track everything.
Common sense tells us that the more people we have in our database, the more opportunities we have to nurture leads toward a sale. But is one database enough?
Sometimes, the answer is "yes." However, many organizations have more than one database that they use to track constituents. In many cases, it makes sense to have two databases: a marketing database and a CRM.
So what's the difference?
A simple way to look at it is that your marketing database is designed for your marketing team while your CRM is for your sales and customer service team. However, it does go a little deeper.
A marketing database tracks prospect activity at the beginning of the relationship. Your marketing database should be set up to collect leads, gather contact information, and track lead activity. It's also designed to send communications and campaigns to your database. Your marketing database exists for the purpose of nurturing your leads toward a conversion point at which point they enter your sales process.
A good marketing database will give you detailed intelligence on what your leads are doing and what kind of research they are doing on your organization. It helps you follow the life cycle of a lead, from the initial point of contact (search engine, social media, referral, etc.) to when they make contact.
So how does this differ from your CRM? While there is some overlap, your CRM takes over when a lead enters the sales cycle.
Your CRM is designed for tracking communications with the prospect, opportunities/deals, and customer history after the sale. Your CRM might contain many more data fields beyond the basic contact information for a person. It might contain historical information on products and services purchased by the customer and specific account and billing information.
So each database serves a different purpose but as you can see they work together to provide intelligence to your business development team. While your marketing team is busy running campaigns, testing, optimizing, and generating leads... your sales team is busy taking those leads and guiding them through the sales process with the intent to earn new customers. Following the sale, your customer service team continues to use your CRM to gather intelligence about customers.
As you can see, it's important to use both a marketing database and a CRM to cover the entire process of lead generation and sales. Many organizations use a CRM but lack marketing intelligence and lead generation while others might have a marketing database but lack a sales process supported by a CRM. The best way to optimize your business development process is to integrate sales and marketing with both tools.
If you strengthen your lead generation activity with a marketing database and track your sales and customer service with a CRM, you will have an excellent view of how well you acquire and support customers.