It's easy to get frustrated when mapping out the complexities of integrating email marketing with a CRM application. Companies want to view all customer data, including email marketing statistics, in one easy-to-use application. However, few CRM providers have mastered the art of email marketing.

Some organizations attempt to build their own email tool within a CRM application for managing email marketing, but this often results in poor deliverability. A new system can't immediately leverage the whitelisting status that reputable email marketing companies work hard to maintain. Also, by bringing email marketing in-house, a company must dedicate staff time to developing relationships with ISPs.

Many firms turn to an API, or application-programming interface, as the solution. APIs bridge the gap between CRM and other third-party software applications, which is useful for organizations that wish to manage customer data and email campaigns in one interface. A user may view sales data, demographic, and other customer data in the CRM system. The API is simply a bridge between the two systems, allowing them to talk with one another.

Why is integration important? Simplicity. By using a single interface, users can quickly gather information from various sources rather than logging into different applications. Everything they need is available by the click of the mouse from their CRM's interface.

OK, I'm ready to integrate my CRM with an email marketing solution. What next?

Before you do hours of research on an email marketing company's API, ensure that your own system has an API. If you're using a CRM that does not allow third-party applications to connect, it may be difficult to achieve this level of integration.

Assuming you have a system that can plug in, you may begin shopping for an email marketing API. Your first step is to perform the standard email marketing litmus test:

  • Is it whitelisted with the major ISPs?
  • Does it use third-party services to measure deliverability?
  • Does it offer Sender-ID and DomainKeys?
  • Does it ban rented or purchased lists from their system?
  • Does it offer and encourage double opt-ins?
  • Does their feature set meet my needs?
  • Does it screen resellers and API users to ensure they aren't abusing the system?

If the answers to those questions are favorable, then one can move on to evaluating the API. At this point in the evaluation process, you should pull in your development team, if applicable.

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Drew Adams is president of Contactology (, an email marketing company. Reach him via