Is your Marketing Database Ready for Integration?

Is your Marketing Database Ready for Integration?

Simple data best practices to lessen the time and cost of integrating your marketing software with a CRM database

As a CRM and digital marketing technologist, one of the key functions of my job is to integrate marketing and CRM databases. Everyday I help organizations connect their marketing software, such as Mailchimp, HubSpot, or Constant Contact, with CRM systems, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Zoho CRM.

You might expect that the most time-consuming and expensive phase of such an integration project is the technical configuration to establish the desired exchange of data between the two databases. This was my assumption before I started working on these projects. Certainly, the technical configuration phase is not without its challenges, but it may surprise you to learn that this is generally not the most time-consuming or even the most expensive step of an integration.

In my 5+ years of guiding CRM/marketing integrations, the cost and timeline of many integration projects have been impacted by a critical phase that must be addressed before technical configuration can be completed – the preparation of the data from the marketing database.

Integrating digital marketing software with a CRM database requires that your contact data meets some minimum requirements. All too often, I encounter incomplete and haphazardly maintained data that must be addressed before the integration can move forward. Unfortunately, the burden generally falls on someone with close knowledge of the data (in this case, probably the data owner) to manually correct or update the data. This is a tedious process that can take weeks or even months depending on the extent of the updates required. Other times, data corrections may be completed by your integration partner (e.g., TopLine Results), which adds to the cost and time of the project.

As a digital marketer, I appreciate that preparing a marketing database for integration into CRM is not an area of expertise for most marketing professionals. To help, I’ve outlined a few simple data best practices that will lessen the time and potential cost when integrating your marketing and CRM databases.

Ideally, these are best practices that you will implement well before beginning an integration project. Even if CRM/marketing integration isn’t currently on your roadmap, these recommendations will result in data that is generally more useful, and you (and your team!) will be thankful should the time for integration ever come.

  1. Include Email Addresses for All!
    Ensure that ALL your contacts have an email address. Some marketing databases, such as HubSpot, allow contacts to be added without an email address. When completing integration with CRM, an email address is required to match the records between the two systems. Contacts with missing or incorrect email addresses may not integrate correctly.
  2. Remove Invalid Email Addresses
    In addition to ensuring all contacts have an email address, take the time to regularly remove invalid email addresses. Invalid emails are email addresses that have bounced. Contact records with emails that are no longer valid are generally not useful. Consistently cleaning your database is a great way to keep your data relevant and meaningful.
  3. Ensure You Have Names
    Ensure that all contacts entered into your marketing database have a first name and last name. Since most marketing databases only require an email address for a contact to be added, it’s very common to have a marketing database full of contacts with either incomplete names or no names at all. This is generally the biggest roadblock I see when getting started on an integration project as Last Name is a required field for all contacts in all CRM systems. The contacts in your marketing database can’t be added to your CRM If they have no last name. Sometimes we can automate updating last names by checking other data sources, but most often, this will require you to manually figure out and enter the last names of your contacts.
  4. Confirm Marketing Segmentation Elements
    Each organization will segment marketing data based on different criteria. The most common examples include the industry or market of the contact, geographic or territory-based details (such as state or a territory code), and contact ownership. Including segmentation details on each contact record will mean it’s instantly possible to create accurate, matching segments in both databases.

While these items may seem quite basic and obvious to most marketing professionals, they are the key issues I routinely see which slow down integration projects and affect the quality of data available. Fortunately, because these are simple items, it is relatively easy to implement a few best practices to ensure your data is in optimal condition, whether you are considering an integration or not.

TopLine Results specializes in integrating marketing software with CRM systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Zoho CRM. To learn more about the benefits of integration, or for personalized guidance on marketing and CRM data best practices, contact us at or call 800-880-1960.

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