8 min read
Oct 6, 2017

Integrations 101: What Is a CRM Integration?

What is a CRM integration? Here we go through what it is, software that can benefit from a CRM integration, and some example apps that integrate with CRMs.

Suzie BlaszkiewiczAnalyst

While looking for the perfect accounting, project management, or marketing app, you keep seeing two words pop up: CRM integration. Your software sleuth skills yield some results: accounting app Xero integrates with Capsule and Insightly; email marketing solution Mailchimp integrates with Nutshell and Prosperworks.

Those results could be helpful, but first you need an answer to your underlying question: what is a CRM integration? Even more, what does accounting or marketing software have to do with customer relationship management (CRM)?

In the cloud-based world of business software, integration is essential. It allows for data to be transferred from one piece of software to another. It connects the dots so that you can get a more holistic view of your customers, get a history of communication, or eliminate the need for duplicated data entry. This information sharing can be a one way or two-way exchange between apps.

For CRM, this is especially important. A CRM houses all of your customer data, and there are plenty of apps that can benefit from these juicy bits of information. Here, I'll go through what a CRM integration is, the type of software that benefits from a CRM integration, and software options for each combination of integration.

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What is a CRM integration?

A CRM manages customer data and information, typically from the sales perspective. A sales team will use a CRM in order to keep track of their pipeline, see the history and status of customers, and get a summary of sales figures and forecasts. Typical features of a CRM include:

  • Contact management in order to manage customer history and current status;

  • Task management in order to assign tasks to various members of the team, or organize personal workflows;

  • Automation to target certain customers (with marketing material or follow-ups, for example) based on actions or their status in the sales pipeline;

  • Reporting features to get an overall view of sales figures.

A CRM integration will either make use of some of this data by sending and incorporating it into other software, or by collecting data from other apps and including that info in your CRM. For data that's added to your CRM, it can give you a more holistic picture of your customers by including related info like balance owing (accounting), a history of customer service requests (customer service), or previous marketing campaigns sent (email marketing).

These integrations can be native, meaning that they were developed by the same developer as the products, or can use a third-party software like Zapier to bridge the gap between apps.

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Which software needs a CRM integration?

Almost any software can benefit from a CRM integration, but there are some software categories where a CRM integration can be particularly useful. I'll go through popular integration types below, as well as examples of common CRM software integrations, based on an app's integration score in our our Category Leader ranking.

CRM and email integration

Whether it's an email service like Gmail, or email marketing software like Mailchimp, being able to connect email is one of the most important integrations for a CRM to have. This integration makes it easy to send emails directly from your CRM (coming from your professional email address), get a summary of CRM data in your inbox, or send out email campaigns to segmented contacts. This integration can include the ability to:

  • Set up triggers to automate emails for customers at different stages of the sales funnel;

  • Get a history of all email communication that syncs automatically into your CRM;

  • Create and sync segmented mailing lists to be able to better target marketing campaigns based on customer status.

CRM and email apps that integrate include:

CRM and marketing software integration

CRM and marketing automation software can sometimes overlap. When they don't, having an integration between the two helps extend their functionality. A CRM and marketing software integration ensures that customers are being sent the right marketing materials at the right stage of the sales cycle. A typical integration between the two gives:

  • Automatic two-way sync between lead and contact data in both apps;

  • Lead source data from your marketing app, which can be added to that contact's CRM entry;

  • Full-funnel analytics to show which marketing campaigns led to closed deals.

CRM and marketing apps that integrate include:

CRM and accounting software integration

CRM and accounting software might not seem like they have a lot in common, but this integration can give you important data about the status of client transactions, invoices, and historical purchase data. It basically lets you keep track of your finances on a per-client basis, while also giving an overall summary of purchasing or spending data. This integration can do things like:

  • Sync data around client transactions and interaction history;

  • Create and send invoices to clients with outstanding balances, and sync this data between apps;

  • See historical spend data and and sales opportunities related to that data on a per customer basis.

CRM and accounting apps that integrate include:

CRM and customer service software integration

Customer service and CRM software are closely linked because they both deal with the same thing- customers. Integration between a CRM and customer service software ensures that no matter when, where, or how your customer may have contacted your company, you'll have a record of the interaction. A link between the two apps can:

  • Give customer service reps important details about a customer's history when handling a support ticket;

  • Give sales teams insight into previous customer service tickets to inform the sales cycle;

  • Sync data seamlessly between customer support and sales departments and set up triggers for customer service events to trigger CRM actions (or vice versa).

CRM and customer service apps that integrate include:

If you're looking for more CRM integrations:

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