The Shifting Role of the CRM in Marketing: What The Experts Say

Back in the day (we’re talking circa the mid-1960s,) CRM systems consisted of the, then, highly technical equipment: Rolodexes, Filo-faxes, and organised filing cabinets.

Filing cabinets are the original office-based cloud systems!

Fast-forward to 2019, and the CRM landscape has evolved from a relatively simple application into (actual) cloud-based technology mixed in with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities.

The technologies that drive CRM have changed drastically over the years. But even though CRM technology has gone through serious evolution…

…the main goal of the CRM still remains the same.

And that is?

To consistently know more about your customers so you can provide a higher level of customer satisfaction every time.

With this aim of achieving customer satisfaction in mind, it’s no wonder that the use of CRM has grown exponentially. And it has no plans of slowing down anytime soon either with CRM revenues expected to reach over $80billion by 2025.


Previously the CRM was once considered a tool used solely by the sales team. But in recent times, it’s become apparent to us that it has become an essential tool and a huge part of the marketers’ day-to-day life.

But why is that?

We searched high and low and couldn’t find any literature to support our insight.

Well, at Ruler Analytics, we’re not ones to rest on our laurels.

So, we wanted to discover what it is that marketers are doing with a CRM that’s never been done before.

And, for good measure…

We also wanted to uncover some of the ways that marketers have adopted the tool through innovative ideas and methods they’ve discovered, that helps them make it their own.

To do this, we needed to know what it is about CRMs that make marketers tick.

We reached out to some of the top marketers who are using CRM in their marketing day-to-days and picked their brains for some golden nuggets.

And what did we find out?

Well, lots actually as you’ll see below…

But one of the common themes that stuck out more obvious than others, was that…


The CRM is not Just-a-Piece-of-Technology

It’s much more than that.

It’s the method. A practice. It showcases the importance of managing the relationship you have with your customers.

With the aim of structuring ways to deliver more relevant, engaging and valued experiences to your customers.

Gary Arnold, Technology Director at Edit stated that “from the perspective of “CRM” as a set of technical capabilities that help us with our goals, then we typically see that our clients benefit from a range of things.”
These included:

  • A CRM allows you to harness data about your customers to improve customer understanding and create better-personalised experiences.
  • Using marketing activity data, combined with engagement and conversion data, allows you to understand the return on investment and prioritise marketing spend in the right areas
  • Coordinating and executing personalised experiences across any channel the CRM is connected with ensures more relevant and consistent communication is delivered to the customer.
  • Allowing different teams to come together and plan/execute customer experiences helps manage the workflows and activities associated with delivering CRM strategies.
  • CRM allows you to cull real-time information and make it instantly available to the client, so they can make real-time decisions based on market trends.
    Knowing that their clients are benefitting from their CRM is worth its weight in gold. But the clients aren’t the only ones who benefit.

You see, at Edit, they’ve innovatively integrated their CRM with their content management system.

This allows them to fully automate the delivery of personalised content to specific customers through their favourite channel. And ensure that the content is optimised automatically for that specific channel.


Using CRM to Record and Track Information

Information is key!

Another benefit of CRM that the majority of our marketers were all in agreement with, was the ability to track and record vital information more efficiently.

Sean Potter, Content Manager at Evoluted, sees two ways that CRM has helped them streamline operations:

  • Having vital email and phone correspondence recorded and stored in the one place allows key stakeholders instant access to this information.
  • And the ability to track work that’s billed separately from different marketing retainers permits payment processing and tracking to run more efficiently.

Sean also told us that CRM is a huge part of his day-to-day operations, as it supports all the core areas of their business and “not just external digital marketing.”

But what have Evoluted done with their CRM to make life easier?

They’ve created customised contact lists that can be easily exported into their workflows, allowing them to track their own internal marketing activity more accurately.

Samantha Noble, CEO & Founder of Biddable Moments, also uses CRM to track information about potential clients she’s speaking to. Allowing her to keep logs of these important conversations.

Samantha told us that “It also creates reminders so I can reach out to anyone who has not got back to my previous emails.”

By customising their CRM, Biddable Moments has set up various sales stages which trigger reminders to be sent to them depending on the stage that the lead is at.

According to research by ZoomInfo, lead nurturing can result in a 50% increase in sales-ready leads and a 33% decrease in cost.

Similarly, this is how Diptii Tiiku, Senior Director of Corporate Marketing at Ridecell, incorporates the company’s CRM. Prospects are pushed through Ridecell’s marketing funnel by engaging with them at different stages of the funnel.
More recently, Ridecell has also moved their marketing efforts to an ABM approach where marketing programs and initiatives are designed to target key strategic accounts in the CRM database. Customized account-based marketing reports are built using CRM and ABM platforms to track key account metrics and progress.
By employing ABM tactics and integrating CRM in their marketing stack allows Ridecell to focus on the right people from their strategic account list in order to engage them and move them through the funnel.

According to FlipMyFunnel, companies using ABM generate 200% more revenue for their marketing efforts compared to those that don’t.

On a different note, Lawrence Jones, Paid Media Manager at Venn Digital, believes that “using a CRM system in an audience-driven paid media landscape is essential.”

From paid search to paid social and everything in between, having a CRM which captures vital information which can then be used to improve campaign performance, can set your business apart from your competitors.

Having multiple capture points for micro-conversions such as guide downloads, newsletter sign-ups etc… enables you to build audiences of people who’ve already specified their interests.

Once again this is marketing gold, as from there you can tailor any campaigns and content to fit their interests specifically.


CRM Allows You to Proactively Pursue Clients and Forecast Sales

The additional CRM functionality of assigning and tracking activities on a contact-by-contact basis has made it easier to be proactive in pursuing new clients.

According to Warren Diggles, President and Creative Director at Diggles Creative, their CRM allows them to distinguish when a qualified lead is easier to pursue.

“If a lead seems particularly ideal then we engage them with one-on-one emails and set up follow-up activities.”

Warren also informed us that he welcomes the benefits of using CRM in marketing and how previously they were using forms to send contact information directly to email newsletter lists.

Although this was a useful function, the software was limited in its abilities when it came to customers and marketing efforts.

As he states himself, “The most important piece is missing from this solution–measuring how much revenue marketing is bringing in.”

CRM makes it possible for Diggle Creative to gain a better understanding of:

  • how marketing is helping them bring in clients.
  • what marketing activities are most effective.
  • and where they’re getting the best return on their marketing investments.

Warren also reckons that the way they’re using CRM could be of interest and benefit to others.

Their standard out of the box, CRM includes a data field for Lead Source. Typical sources are used like Website, Referral, Events, Direct Sales, etc.

Although this is good information, Warren wanted to break the source down one step further by implementing Lead Source Campaigns. By creating a custom application within the CRM it allowed them to track Lead Source Campaigns from each lead source.

So, now Ebook, Email Subscribers, Contact Us, Service Landing Page, etc… are campaigns that are nested under the website lead source.

This allows them not only to see the overall view of how the website leads perform against other sources…

…but it also enables them to drill down and see how different areas within the website perform compared to each other.

To top that off, Creative Diggle uses their CRM to forecast future sales that help them with staffing.

By using the “Opportunities” functionality to not only track sales opportunities from new leads but also sales opportunities from existing customers.

Tracking these opportunities in the CRM is an easy way for them to determine ahead of time if any freelance help is required for campaigns.


The Diversity of CRM Functions can Benefit Marketers in Many Ways

Throughout our research what amazed us most was the variety of answers we received in terms of what marketers are using their CRM for and how they’re customising it to suit their needs.

Dylan Walsh, Head of Partnerships over at CircleLoop, uses HubSpot to share information via deals, tickets, and pipelines which can be viewed by all members of the team in real-time.

They also use it for their blog writing and newsletters.

Being a cloud-based “anywhere” business phone system, CircleLoop is no stranger to understanding the importance of having extra functionality during phone calls.

This is why they’ve collaborated with HubSpot and created an integration with the CRM that allows you to call directly from within HubSpot. Where you can take notes and add actions whilst in the call.

This can be extremely beneficial to sales and marketing teams, with Innoppl Technologies claiming that 65% of sales reps using mobile CRM applications achieved their sales quotas.



James Owen, Co-Founder of Click Intelligence, also uses HubSpot as their CRM. But, they use it to track contacts and company profiles, which helps the sales team communicate faster and more efficiently.

This means they can assign and track deals easier, as well as monitor the performance of their sales and inbound marketing efforts.

Also, by using their CRM alongside their marketing workflows, this allows them to divide their sales leads automatically. Splitting the leads into their main customer personas.

Andrew Allsop, Founder of Wunderkind Agency, uses Pipedrive to turn potential leads into clients.

But that’s not all!

By using our very own Ruler Analytics integrated with their CRM, Wunderkind can automatically create leads whenever there is a new phone call or form completed in their Ruler dashboard.

Additional Information
Note: to automatically create leads in your CRM whenever there is a new phone call or form, you will need to implement the Closed-Loop Framework. This allows you to measure and attribute sales revenue back to your most valuable marketing channels. We have an eBook on how the Closed-Loop Framework works, which you can download here.

It also populates the lead with the marketing source information so they can track the source of their leads and measure their marketing efforts.

Andrew told us that they have “a further integration that sends our closed deals and the revenue value to Ruler, Google Analytics and Google Ads. From here, we automatically know how much we have to play with.”


Something Different

Out of all the information gathered, one of the most unique and innovative answers we received about how CRM is being used to make life easier for marketers, came from Inciner8 International.

Inciner8 specialises in the production and global supply of medical, animal, and general waste incinerators.

After interviewing their Marketing Manager, Alex Billingsley, we found that they integrate their CRM with a 3rd party API and Google Maps.

By entering shipping IDs within the order dashboard, they can then track in near real-time, the coordinates of the vessel. This allows them to determine whether it’s on time. And can highlight the number of days/hours it’s ahead/behind schedule.

This keeps their clients up to date on where the product is, and when it has arrived at the port.


So, what can we take away from the research carried out?

Well, one thing is for sure, it just goes to show how diverse CRM platforms are becoming and how far advanced CRM technology has come.

On top of that, it shows how important CRM is for marketers today to efficiently scale internal processes and grow revenue.

At the end of the day, your customers/clients are the most important part of your business, and maintaining their satisfaction should be a top priority.

Investing in a quality CRM and adapting it to suit and streamline your business is a step towards reaching new levels of success.

Written by

Digital Marketing Manager at Ruler Analytics with a background in SEO, analytics, content marketing and paid social. I help people (like me) close the loop between marketing-generated leads and revenue.