These days, if you ask marketers if they would prefer a marketing automation tool or a CRM application, most would chose marketing automation. It’s not really a surprise since CRM is most widely regarded as a sales tool that marketers are forced to use.

But what if you can’t afford to have both at your company? Can you get by with just a CRM system?

Marketers are pretty savvy people (I’ll count myself among this group!). We’re used to having budgets reduced in favor of an increasing sales budget and we’re used to having to justify spending money for our campaigns. While it’s not a preferred way of doing our jobs, we can make CRM work. Let’s take a look at some CRM features that are made for marketers.

Campaign Management

With campaign management, you can have all of your campaign information in one place. And, more importantly, you can see how your marketing campaign performs every step of the way. For example, if you are running an event, you can see how many invites were sent, how many registered and how many attendees you had. Lastly, you can analyze how many lead and opportunities were generated by a campaign and then make smart business decisions about where to invest your marketing dollars.

Lead management

Lead management is one of the ways your marketing department can align with your sales department. When a lead comes in it can be scored and nurtured. Additional information can be captured about the lead as it’s discovered and when the time is right, marketing can hand off a qualified lead to the sales organization. Additionally, now marketing can track that lead all the way to a closed opportunity.

Libraries for Collateral Management

Many CRM systems come with a place to manage marketing collateral. Rather than putting all of that information on a server, it can be organized in your CRM application. Marketing can easily publish the most recent version (the version history can be seen by all). Marketers can see a list of commonly used files so they know what their sales department likes. Additionally the Library can send out alerts when some content has been updated so it keeps sales up-to-date with the most recent versions.

Email

Email has become one of the most cost effective ways to market to your prospects and customers. With a CRM system, marketers can send out emails to the right list at the right time. There’s no need to send out one generic email to all of your prospects. With email campaigns, you can send out a personalized message that is tailored to the right audience. Don’t forget to include a call-to-action to get that prospect back to your website!

Analytics

Every marketer needs to look at the data to make sure their campaigns are working. How will you know which is the most successful? With analytics you will have the data at your fingertips so you know which was the most profitable and should be run again in the future. Additionally, it’s always nice to back up a request for more marketing dollars with data!

Business data add-ons

While this isn’t an out-of-the-box feature of CRM applications, it’s a common one that companies add. With a business data tool, you can get clean and current data imported right into your CRM. That means that marketers can pull targeted lists for their campaigns or fill in some incomplete records with pertinent information. Here’s the bonus… sales can use this kind of tool, too!

Web-to-Lead and Workflow

When people visit your website, you want to capture their information. A CRM application can provide a “web-to-lead” form which allows you to put a form on your website and when people submit their information, it is automatically imported into your CRM system. From there, you can customize your CRM to automatically kick off an email to this new lead, change the lead status, etc.

Social CRM

Social media in today’s business world is inescapable and it’s here to stay. With social media you can monitor your brand and promote your marketing campaigns and listen and respond quickly to questions and requests. Today’s CRMs are adapting to the changing needs of social networking by providing social profiles and activities of your customers or monitoring lead and prospect comments on the social channels. The overall goal of Social CRM is to strengthen your relationship with prospects and customers.

See? All is not lost if you can’t use a marketing automation system! While it may not be ideal, for a budget-conscious company a CRM system may be the best place to start. Remember, Marketing Automation is the relatively “new kid on the block” and at one time, everyone had to “make do” with CRM. Marketing campaigns were still effective and yours will be too!

Launching a CRM implementation? Be sure to read this to learn the do's and don'ts to ensure it runs smoothly.