By CommenceCRM

What’s the Difference Between Marketing Automation and CRM?

Colored business application icons on device screen. Marketing strategy.

Living in a competitive, data-driven world means your business has to do more in order to keep up with ever-changing customer preferences. Fortunately, there are now tools designed to boost your sales and attract more clients to your business. Two of the most popular ones are CRM and marketing automation.

So what is the main difference between CRM and marketing automation? Each system has its own goals. Marketing automation software focuses on lead nurturing, while customer relationship management (CRM) software nudges customers through the sales pipeline. Another difference is the sales pipeline stage they work on: Marketing automation generates the leads, and these leads are converted into buyers using CRM. Together, these two programs perform hand-in-hand to deliver results.

What Is CRM?

CRM stands for customer relationship management. It’s a technology that allows you to keep track of interactions with potential customers and handle relationships with existing customers. Generally, CRM solutions help your organization improve by finding new customers, getting in touch with them, and organizing their information so that you can win their business.

CRM is mostly used by sales teams and customer service teams, although marketing, recruitment, business development and even upper management benefit from CRM. This is because CRM gives everyone a clear picture of what is going on with the company’s external relations.

How Does CRM System Work?

Fundamentally, CRM systems serve as a centralized storage space for prospect and customer data. Colleagues in an organization can track how each other are doing, because every interaction with a customer is recorded by the CRM. You will also have access to customer history, which serves as a reference to consult with in case issues arise.

More sophisticated CRM software can even collect data from leads and customers through various touchpoints: social media, websites, email, and so on. Other CRM systems also offer analytic capabilities, synthesizing data into a report ready to be used by an organization. An effective CRM database can also be used for filing important notes, scheduling follow-ups, and organizing sales team processes.

What Are The Benefits of CRM?

For a small business with few customers, CRM may not be a “must-have” yet. But if you want to grow your business and engage with more people, it definitely pays to invest in a CRM system as early as possible. Here are some benefits of getting CRM:

  • Central, organized database: Your sales team can easily share documents with each other, so you won’t spend time looking for files or encounter difficulties in case someone leaves.
  • Fewer administrative tasks: You won’t have to waste valuable time doing manual tasks such as data entry, since those processes are automated under CRM.
  • Smarter decision-making: CRM can assist you in analyzing customer information, forecasting sales, and evaluating sales performances – allowing you to make better decisions for your company.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is a technological feature that allows businesses to manage marketing campaigns and processes across multiple channels even without hands-on intervention. Using marketing automation software, businesses can send customers targeted, automated messages through text, email, web, and social media.

With automation software, your marketing team can improve how it generates, nurtures and scores leads. Not only that, but they can also measure the overall ROI for campaigns. Marketing automation is a tool that will save you a lot of time and money, because it lets you put a finger on your market’s pulse.

How Does Marketing Automation Software Work?

Marketing automation is effective for streamlining the responsibilities of a marketing team. The process begins as you collect customer data through interactions on various digital platforms. The data you collect create an in-depth view of each customer. From there, you can program the software to respond automatically to leads and customers.

Good automation will identify your audience, design appropriate content, and trigger actions or messages based on a schedule or specific customer behavior. For example, a lead who viewed your website makes an inquiry through email. With email marketing automation, the right series of messages or helpful articles can be sent to that lead – ensuring that they aren’t ignored or receive a late reply.

Aside from this basic function, marketing automation can also automate segmentation and lead qualification based on customer profiles. This helps your team create relevant content and messages for their target audience.

What Are The Benefits of Marketing Automation?

Your marketing efforts don’t have to be a hit-or-miss situation. Marketing automation is the solution for managing a cohesive, streamlined campaign every time. Here are some of the benefits in implementing marketing automation:

  • Efficient lead nurturing: Turning leads into potential buyers is the goal of marketing, which is why marketing automation pays a lot of attention to lead nurturing. From lead scoring to email marketing, marketing automation software ensures that your company consistently reaches out to potential clients – without exhausting your staff.
  • Detailed customer profile creation: Marketing automation captures information about your customers through their web behavior, email open rates, and other responses. This attention to detail creates more specific audience profiles.
  • Personalized messaging: Personalised content lends a human touch to marketing, which is why it’s an effective way of nurturing leads. Email marketing or targeted ad campaigns would translate to better sales if buyers received unique content tailored to them.

CRM vs Marketing Automation: Key Features

Even though they share some aspects and functions, the difference between CRM and marketing automation lies in their key features. Because a CRM tool is focused on getting buyers through the sales pipeline, it is more concerned with maintaining the quality of customer service interactions.

On the other hand, marketing automation platforms are more attuned to the outreach experience: How will the marketing department urge prospects down the marketing funnel to begin their journey in the sales cycle? This is one of the problems marketing automation solves.

To get a better idea of what makes up the difference of CRM vs marketing automation, here are how their features compare with one another.

CRM FeaturesMarketing Automation Features
Contact managementLead management
Workflow automationEmail campaigns
Built-in analyticsSocial marketing
Artificial intelligenceReal-time team alerts
Sales forecastingCustomized templates
Customer serviceTrigger responses

Basic Features In a CRM Tool:

  • Contact management: Contact management allows your CRM to segment contacts into groups to cater to their needs efficiently. This CRM function lets you personalize your approach towards customers.
  • Workflow automation: There are a lot of mundane tasks that salespeople drudge through, such as data entry and organization. A CRM platform can automate these processes and let employees devote their energy to more productive tasks.
  • Built-in analytics: CRM built-in analytics can assist the sales team and upper management by providing insights on the quality of customer experience, so changes can be made to boost customer satisfaction rates.
  • Artificial intelligence: CRM systems include artificial intelligence capabilities that recognize patterns for successful sales, which can help in planning out your sales process.
  • Sales forecasting: Using data collected from CRM, the sales forecasting feature can determine metrics for success and predict where you’re headed in the next sales cycle.
  • Customer service: Because CRM is built to enhance customer relationships, customer service capabilities are a must-have. Through this function, you can track and manage individual cases and keep customer satisfaction high.

Basic Features Of Marketing Automation Platforms:

  • Lead management: Marketing automation can serve as a space for marketing teams to input new leads into the system, so the data can be analyzed. Aside from tracking leads, automation software also manages lead information through lead scoring and lead assigning.
  • Email marketing: Marketing automation tools offer end-to-end email campaign functions. Not only does email marketing allow businesses to monitor customer communication, but it also saves time since no one has to manually send content to individual email addresses.
  • Social marketing: Social media communication channels are great for interacting with customers. This marketing automation functionality can integrate social media with your software, allowing you to analyze customer activities and schedule messages across various channels with one click.
  • Real-time alerts: Automation software should send real-time alerts to team members whenever any workflow requires an action. This is especially important to prevent customer queries from being ignored.
  • Customized templates: Marketing automation tools should allow easy editing and template creation, to prevent your emails and newsletter from looking canned.
  • Trigger responses: An excellent customer engagement strategy will always include real-time responses. You can miss opportunities if you delay even a little bit, which is why marketing automation has trigger response capabilities. Trigger responses are activated by customer actions, and it gives the impression that you’re responding immediately.

Choosing Between a CRM System vs Marketing Automation Software

A lot of people tend to focus on the difference between CRM vs marketing automation, but the reality is that both tools are necessary for growing your business. CRM and marketing automation should work together to generate leads and convert them into paying customers.

Some companies choose to emphasize the difference between CRM vs marketing automation because some businesses require one function more than the other. If your company has a limited marketing department, you would prefer marketing automation. However, if you’re having problems with managing customer data, then it’s better to choose CRM.

Ideally, CRM and marketing automation should be combined into one tool. Instead of viewing them as opposing technologies, some companies have already begun to integrate marketing automation functionalities into their CRM systems. This lets sales and marketing departments collaborate on one platform. In the long run, this combination can save your business more money and time.

Excel With Commence Cloud CRM

For small and mid-sized businesses struggling to manage customer data or simply want to keep their operations working efficiently, Commence Cloud CRM is the platform for you. We help businesses create customer relationship management software tailored to what they need – marketing campaign management, customer support, reporting and analytics, and more. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our amazing CRM and marketing automation features.