How to Integrate CRM and Marketing Automation

This is article #47 out of 50 in The Startup Marketing Playbook.

The CRM and marketing automation system are the two most important software packages that make up the modern marketing stack. Together, they serve as the core infrastructure required to operate a successful inbound marketing program. Therefore, it’s critical that you tightly integrate them, sharing data so leads get the right message at the right time.

For simplicity, the automation system is home-base for marketing and the CRM is home-base for sales. Ideally, the sales team is rarely — if ever — interacting with the automation system. Your goal is to only present the information most relevant to the stakeholder. For example, the sales team should only be focusing on MQLs and opportunities, not leads higher in the funnel.

There are two integration paths to consider:

Sync all incoming leads

In this model, every time a target fills out a landing page form to download content or register for a webinar, their contact information will be synced to the CRM.


  • CRM and Marketing Automation system have fully matching data


  • CRM becomes cluttered with records that sales may not be using
  • CRM has records that may not be truly qualified to become customers

Sync only MQLs and below

In this model, you only sync contacts to the CRM when they convert from Target or Lead to MQL. An MQL will be passed to sales to do a qualifying call and then schedule a demo.


  • CRM is cleaner: sales only sees data relevant to them


  • CRM is incomplete: it does not have data for every contact in your database
  • If sales needs to interact with a non-MQL, they need access to the automation system

My recommendation is option #2: syncing only MQLs. You should always opt for a simpler approach. Sales should be focused on MQLs and contacts in lower stages of the funnel, like Opportunities. You should leverage your automated marketing workflows to engage targets and any other contact in a lifecycle stage above MQL.

Once you have selected an integration path, there are a few other considerations:

Bi-directional syncing

While the initial objective of the integration is to get new Targets and MQLs into the CRM, once they are there and interacting, you’ll want to log all of their activity. For example, when a sales rep emails an Opportunity, that email will be logged in the CRM (automatically by a tool such as Cirrus). That logged email should ultimately be stored in the marketing automation system as well. If marketing wants to build a list of all Opportunities that have not had any engagement in the last 30 days, contacts can be included based upon that logged email activity.

Opportunity and customer activity syncing to CRM

Finally, any marketing activity that happens once a contact has become an Opportunity or Customer may be relevant for sales. You need to make that data easily accessible for them in their home-base, the CRM. Each time a contact downloads a piece of content or opens a marketing email, a new activity record should be created in the CRM.

Note: there are some all-in-one CRM and marketing automation systems, such as Hubspot. In this case, the integration is effortless. If you are using a different system such as Salesforce, the integration requires a bit more configuration, but often has clear documentation from heavy use.

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