CRM integrations are the key to ensuring your small business extracts the most value from its software and data. Use this article to determine which integrations are the highest priority for your organization and for essential tips for preparing to integrate applications with your CRM.

Your CRM software should be the place where data coalesces to help your organization better understand its customers and make more informed data-driven decisions
Your CRM software should be the place where data coalesces to help your organization better understand its customers and make more informed data-driven decisions

CRM and email integration leads to more informed, data-driven decisions

Email integration is a standard feature of any CRM, and vendors you’re evaluating should at the very least be compatible with major services such as Gmail and Outlook. Integration with your email service of choice is possible, though potentially less seamless.

The benefits from CRM and email integration span sales, marketing and customer service and include:
  • Triggers to automate emails for customers at different stages of the sales funnel.
  • History of all email communication that syncs automatically with your CRM.
  • Segmented mailing lists that better target marketing campaigns based on customer status.

CRM and marketing software integration makes analytics more accurate

Though marketing tools such as personalized ad messaging and brand interaction tracking are often included with CRM, integration is essential if your business is leveraging separate software. Integrating CRM and marketing software helps personalize messaging and content to ensure customers receive appropriate advertising based on their stage in the sales cycle.

Benefits from integrating marketing data with your CRM include:
  • Reaching customers at earlier stages in the sales cycle and providing better targeted advertising from awareness to retention.
  • Two-way sync between lead source data from your marketing app and your CRM’s contact management database.
  • Improved analytics powered by a more complete view of the sales cycle and the ability to discover which marketing campaigns led to the most closed deals.

Curious what makes CRM a good fit for your business?

CRM and accounting data integration makes customer experiences more consistent

Failing to leverage valuable accounting information in your CRM, such as the status of client transactions, invoices, and historical purchase data, could cause your small business to provide an inconsistent customer experience.

Sales representatives should be fully aware of a client’s financial standing with your company to avoid coming across as uninformed (or worse: unconcerned) when interacting with clients. This information is also incredibly valuable when tailoring sales tactics and strategy to particular customers.

Integration between your CRM and accounting data provides:
  • A centralized repository for client purchase histories.
  • Automated invoicing to help close outstanding account balances.
  • Improved analytics powered by historical spend data, leading to increased sales opportunities and more effective marketing.

CRM and customer service software integration improves customer relationships

Similarly, missing integration between customer service and CRM can lead to frustrating customer experiences and is arguably one of the important integrations to get right.

CRM and customer service go hand in hand, and integrating them ensures no matter when, where, or how a customer contacted your company, you’ll have a record of the interaction.

Integrating your CRM and customer service software enables:
  • More informed customer service reps due to synced customer support and sales data.
  • Insights into previous customer service tickets than can help inform the sales cycle.
  • Triggers for customer service events that initiate CRM actions (or vice versa).

CRM and social media integration leads to entirely new customer interactions

Adding an integration between various social platforms (e.g. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) and your CRM could be a wise move if your small business actively leverages social advertising and engages with customers on social media.

Benefits from integration between social media data and your CRM include:
  • Additional data for customer profile development and lead identification, including social monitoring/listening.
  • Cross-platform social media response tools available within your CRM.
  • Marketing analytics and ad campaign monitoring enhanced by social metrics.

4 Essential CRM software integration tips

The above list can help you determine which CRM integrations will benefit your small business the most, while the following tips offer some advice on how to integrate effectively. Rather than looking at CRM in isolation, consider any software integration as a single piece of a larger puzzle. This will help prevent your small business from missing valuable integrations and purchasing software with duplicate functionality.

The following best practices can help your small business avoid common software integration pitfalls and position your organization for success as it grows:

1. Understand how CRM integration fits into a broader strategic approach to software adoption and application integration.

Consider whether the CRM solution you’re currently using, or one simply under evaluation, fits with your business’s broader software requirements both today and five years from now.

2. Keep in mind the costs and complexity associated with vetting, deploying and integrating applications from multiple vendors.

The benefit of circumventing CRM integration via a natively integrated software suite should be weighed against concerns that individual applications within a suite are not best-of-breed.

3. Ensure your business has the IT resources to configure and maintain the CRM integrations required to get the most out of your software purchase.

Involve your IT point person in developing an integration strategy, and always consult them before committing to any software that demands integration.

4. If an application vendor is pitching an open API as a plug and play solution to CRM integration, a red flag should be raised.

According to Gartner research (available to clients), APIs and integration are just two sides of the same coin. API’s enable data transfer and integrations carry out that transfer. Always remember an open API does not equal zero maintenance, plug-and-play integration with your CRM.

Discover the CRM integrations that matter most to your small business

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Next Steps

  • You might begin your CRM integration research by visiting the GetApp CRM category page and filtering by integrations to determine what different vendors support. Keep in mind, integrations should be one consideration in a much larger evaluation of CRM functionality, and in no way a deciding factor.
  • Review typical CRM features to better understand which functionality is most relevant to your business. Make sure the integrations necessary to make the most of your CRM are in place and fully operational.

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