Integrating Your Marketing Automation Platform and CRM with Google Ads is a Common, but Complex Issue
When you search Google on the phrase “Integrating your CRM with Google Ads,” about 2.8 million results are offered. Obviously, this is a common integration issue. Having an integration checklist will help you plan your process before starting (which is the reason I wrote this blog). I hope my checklist will save you time, money and create ROI for you in the long run.
For the sake of giving examples, we’ll use Marketo as our representative Marketing Automation Platform (MAP), and explain how it connects to SalesForce (our CRM). These are not the only choices in the market, but they will serve to illustrate common opportunities and challenges.
Integration Checklist Questions
We list here a series of questions we will explore in the following sections. You might want to jot down answers to these questions first before we review each in detail.
- Do you have a separate Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) and Customer Relationship Management system (CRM)?
- Do your MAP and CRM systems have a clean, well-documented connection/interface?
- Is there a direct connection to the CRM from Google Ads?
- Are the forms on your site native to the MAP/CRM or do they pre-date it?
- Is your campaign naming convention consistent between the MAP, CRM and Google Ads?
- What elements do you wish to track across the three platforms?
- How long is your sales cycle in both time and number of touches to a closed deal?
- Do you have steps in your sales qualification process that are manual, requiring a human to make a judgement call?
- Will there be multiple touches before the MQL is handed off to the sales team?
- How many people will own this process?
Here are Additional Details on each Question and what they Imply
1. Do you have a separate MAP and CRM?
Some CRMs have great marketing automation built into their infrastructure and do not need the addition of a MAP. Often though, companies start with a MAP and eventually move to a full-blown CRM.
If you do not have an integrated MAP/CRM connection, budget additional time and resources to connect the two. This often can be a major hurdle in launching your campaigns. One of Beasley Direct and Online Marketing’s (BDOM) clients ran into this issue and an additional 6 weeks of development time was required to launch the campaigns.
2. Do your MAP and CRM systems have a clean, well-documented connection?
Both Marketo and SalesForce have invested time and money into creating these connections at the API level. Take advantage of this and use what’s there instead of trying to recreate the wheel.
Be sure to test the connection between the MAP and CRM before launch. In spite of having off-the-shelf solutions, BDOM has found allocating time and budget for running initial tests is key to long-term campaign and larger marketing initiative success.
3. Is there a direct connection to the CRM from Google Ads?
Is it one way or two way? Being able to send sales data back to Google Ads will make a much more efficient campaign over time. BDOM has found that where this exists the integration process is easier, and we are able to see a much more detailed view of what’s happening from click to meeting to closed sale. Be sure to spend time familiarizing both your marketing team and sales team with what results say. Having your sales team understand results goes a long way towards getting them to take online leads seriously as they allocate limited time to what they view as the best prospects.
4. Are the forms on your site native to the MAP/CRM or do they pre-date it?
It will save you time and lots of effort if you bite the bullet and convert all your forms to the native version offered by your MAP. This is probably the biggest source of frustration and delay when going through this process.
One of our clients chose to have a hybrid approach with new forms being built in Marketo and older forms being “imported” into the system. While they were able to make this work, it required additional development time when a new campaign would target the marketing collateral associated with an older “imported” form.
Spend the time and effort up front to convert older forms to your MAP. It will allow your team to be more agile and effective for future campaigns.
5. What elements do you wish to track across the three platforms?
Make sure your SalesForce campaign fields match your Google Ads fields. Also, importing your cost data into SalesForce can make your ROI much clearer at a glance.
This comes back to the idea of managing your resources effectively. We all have limited budget to drive traffic to our site, whether from paid search or email outreach. Being able to understand which traffic is driving the best leads and how much those leads are costing your company will allow your team to make better decisions on which campaigns are performing best. It also cuts down on the number of “poor” leads your sales team needs to shepherd from marketing qualified to sales qualified.
Your sales team has limited time to devote to qualifying marketing leads and will begin discounting them over time if poor leads are being sent because they appear to be “affordable.”
6. Is your campaign naming convention consistent between the MAP, CRM and Google Ads?
Keeping the naming convention consistent from the start will cut down on significant data issues. It’s easier to match them up at the outset of your integration process than going back to retrofit the data later.
One key field that needs to be included in SalesForce is the “gclid” field. This is the container that Google Ads uses to transmit all the campaign, ad group, ad, search term, targeting and cost info into a nice little package that SalesForce can decode.
7. How long is your sales cycle in both time and number of touches to a closed deal?
The more touches needed, the more you need to make sure you’re getting a clean, two-way data stream between Google Ads and your MAP/CRM.
Our team spent a lot of time and effort ensuring we are able to follow the lead stream with our clients to understand what is working. Having good, two-way communication between the eventual sale and the click that drove it is key. This can be the area in which a well-connected MAP/CRM solution pays for itself, giving the marketing team the data they need to focus on the best source of high-quality leads for the sales team.
8. Do you have steps in your sales qualification process that are manual, requiring a human to make a judgement call?
This is known as shifting a lead from an MQL (marketing qualified lead) to a SQL (sales qualified lead).
BDOM will sit down with our client’s marketing and sales teams at the beginning of any new engagement and ask how they qualify the lead, what makes for a good SQL vs. an MQL and what history the two sides have. This will often result in a better understanding on both sides and better long term buy-in to a process that may not be turnkey.
9. Will there be multiple touches before the MQL is handed off to the sales team?
Be sure that these are used to score the lead and it transmits to your CRM when the lead is transferred.
This again is a key step for getting sales and marketing on the same page in understanding the process and developing trust with the quality of the leads as they go through the pipeline.
10. How many people will own this process?
Is it just one person or are you splitting the work among different people and teams? Getting the multiple parties involved at the outset to discuss goals and possible issues is vital to having a successful process. Be aware that different team members will have different goals for the integration. Some may not want to do the work required and will need to be convinced of the final result’s value.
The ins and outs of the process will be very dependent on planning details before any steps are taken. Like any project, a road map with clear responsibilities will make your integration much more successful.
Additional links that can help you get started.
Link Salesforce and Google Ads accounts
Import conversions from Salesforce
Google Ads Integration Questions? | Marketo Marketing Nation
Google Ads Integration: Optimize Ads Using Marketo Offline Conversion Data
Do you need assistance integrating your Marketing Automation Platform and CRM with Google Ads? We can help. Request a free consultation here.
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By John Thyfault
Vice President of Search and Social Media Marketing
Beasley Direct and Online Marketing, Inc.