How to Effectively Use Your CRM System to Craft a Winning Email Strategy

If you’re in the business of marketing, you realize that email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach and communicate with your customers online.  Most business owners recognize the importance of email marketing, and usually attempt to set up an email marketing program.

So let’s take an example of a company that wants to engage in email marketing, but doesn’t have a CRM system. Typically, the first thing that comes to mind is to use their contact manager, such as Microsoft Outlook, to send outbound email messages. However, once they start to send emails to more than a few hundred individuals, they run into problems. Deliverability of the emails diminishes, Internet service providers begin to prevent them from sending large blocks of emails and block their address, and the server’s bandwidth starts to choke (resulting in significant slow downs). Further, if they want to personalize the email, such as “Dear John”, they will not be able to achieve this.

It’s at this point that business owners decide that they need to use a better tool to send their emails. Let’s now assume that a business is using NetSuite’s CRM. Here are some of the advantages of using NetSuite’s combined CRM and ERP for email marketing.

  1. All Customer Information In One Place – NetSuite provides THE central database for customer information. In other systems, the customer’s personal information may be one system, and their sales orders would be on another. In NetSuite, all of the customer’s information is located in one system – and that means that you can schedule emails based on both the customers data, as well as their purchase history. This provides a business with a more strategic and tactical approach to emails, allowing them to know when to send different types of emails based on where the customer is in the sales conversation.
  2.  A More Cost Effective Solution – The NetSuite email marketing tool is good for companies that have a modest amounts of leads, and have relatively complex email reporting/distribution requirements. Standalone bulk email solutions like ExactTarget and Silverpop charge per send or per send package are none to be more economically if you are sending millions of email per month.  But they are weak in that they are not connected to the business data.
  3. Bringing More Employees Into the Conversation – When businesses use Outlook for their email marketing, one of the severe disadvantages is that the conversations remain personalized in the senders inbox. When using NetSuite’s email marketing tool, multiple employees can enter into the conversation, track the progress of email sends, and make suggestions for customer interactions – not to mention track clicks, open rates, etc. Another feature is that the sales team can also continue to attach information to different leads – such as who has converted from a lead to a prospect and finally to a customer. That customer then is segmented into a different email list within the CRM.

The company that continues to use Outlook without converting to a CRM is at a disadvantage against their competitors. When combining a CRM with an email marketing tool, your business becomes more effective at communicating with your customers, which leads to better business, and more revenue.

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Marty Zigman

Holding all three official certifications, Marty is Southern California's NetSuite expert and leads a team of senior professionals at Prolecto Resources, Inc. He is a former Deloitte & Touche CPA and has held CTO roles. For over 25 years, Marty has produced leadership in ERP, CRM and eCommerce business systems. Contact Marty to set up a conversation.

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| Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Category: CRM, Marketing, NetSuite | 6 Comments


  1. Ira
    Posted March 6, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the article. For businesses that have utilized iContact for their email marketing, is there API integration between iContact and NetSuite? Even if so, would you still recommend dropping iContact?

    Thanks Much,

  2. Posted March 7, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Hi Ira,

    Depending on the email volume, you may want to consider the NetSuite solution. Since it is fully integrated, you won’t be slinging around data trying to keep your target list in sync. You can grow the attributes on your CRM records by watching open and response behavior and ultimately conversion to sales. Visibility is very good.

    Here are some articles I wrote on this subject:

    Finally, here is a philosophical / architecture discussion of Best of Breed:

    Are you currently using iContact? How much email a month do you plan to generate?


  3. Ira
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    While I have used iContact, I am by no means attached to it. As mentioned, integration and visibility are key, and if the NetSuite email marketing platform is anywhere near as user friendy, I’m going with it. Emails are likely to be sent between 2-3 weeks apart, since we won’t want to oversaturate our customer base. Our company is a startup, so we’re not likely to send over 5K count per send initially.

    I previously read your best-of-breed article, and it is spot on for the discerning (and non-discerning) entreprenuer.

  4. Posted March 7, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Hi Ira,

    I urge you to leverage all you can in NetSuite before going to other solutions. The tools are robust. The more you learn the platform, the greater the dividends it will pay. Your email volume should work just fine with the base edition.

    Are you gearing up to learn SuiteScript or SuiteFlow? These technologies help you adapt the tool to your specific requirements.


  5. Chaunce Stanton
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Hi, Marty – I am a marketing guy. I’d like to get your feedback on this: while I agree with keeping data “all in one place” as you suggest, NetSuite for email marketing has its limitations.

    For example, I need to blast 50k now and again. Not happening in NS. Even for a 1k blast, it dribbles the send. (Not to mention the marketing UI is not up to par with current email/marketing vendors in the marketplace.)

    I can tell NS didn’t have pro marketers in mind when they developed solutions – their own website/resources are not written with a “customer-facing” (or layperson) mentality. The ease of campaign set-up, email editing, template library, reporting, flexibility and “cool” factor definitely is not there in NetSuite.

    But, it’s the ERP we have.

    For now, I’m limping along with third-party ESP, which is frustrating. The other third-party ESPs and automated marketing platforms claiming NS integration via plug-in is growing (MailChimp, ConstantContact, Pardot, Act-On etc.) but they all rely on a single solution (Cazoomi’s SyncApp).

    For reference, MakesBridge claims native NetSuite integration (and with Salesforce).

  6. Posted April 10, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Hi Chaunce,

    I agree with your assessments. For larger transaction volume, NetSuite’s native tools are not as powerful as the point solutions. Still, there are important considerations here:

    1. Where is the master CRM information? Are you keeping it within NetSuite?

    2. How do we effectively target? In my mind, that requires a central repository of the attributes. NetSuite should be robust enough to hold all the attributes you care about, if you extend it with the built-in tools.

    3. Is it possible to invest in a different email distribution engine which has the capacities you need yet minimizes all the back and forth that comes up with when we cobble it together?

    Which platform are you leaning towards and why?

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