CRM vs marketing automation: which one do you need?

If you are not sure of the difference between CRM and marketing automation then you are not alone; although they may appear to be much the same, they are different and each serves a unique purpose.  

The main variation between the two is the sector they are aimed at:  

  • CRM software – mainly sales focused
  • Marketing automation software – mainly marketing focused

So we are left with the differences between sales and marketing; whilst both are intent on boosting revenue, you could say that once the item for sale hits the market, the sales team need to get people to buy it – with sales being the process of converting leads into firm orders.

Marketing automation software

While CRM takes care of all client interactions and contact data, marketing automation software empowers companies to automate and measure all marketing tasks, including workflows; you can set up alerts to trigger calls, send emails automatically or even alert support staff when they need to get involved.

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The only thing that they really have in common is that both can store similar information such as contact details.  Marketing automation software makes it easy to track a prospect whilst they are at the top of the sales funnel, looking at such things as when they visit your website, read blogs or open emails.  It enables users to track and control email campaigns to:

  • Segregate prospects into specific mailing lists based upon interaction history.
  • Nurture leads, sending emails automatically.
  • View analytics to show the success of marketing campaigns at their end.

As you can see, marketing automation software prepares leads ready to send them on down to the sales team.  Once the leads are qualified, they are passed to the sales department and entered into the CRM.

CRM software

CRM stores all customer data and interactions showing how long they have been with the company, purchases made, conversations had, emails sent and received etc. including any dialogues with customer services. This data is then used to augment interaction between the customer and the company, not only boosting sales but increasing customer satisfaction. When the sales team use the CRM they are able to:

  • Identify quickly and accurately where the client is within the sales process and how far away they are from finalizing the deal.
  • Offer the client specific promotional offers and material to coax the sale and strengthen the relationship.
  • Sync sales data with social media interactions.
  • Set up alerts to schedule calls or appointments.

In a nutshell, the CRM enables the sales department to work far more accurately and personally, vastly improving the experience for the customer.

But whilst both sets of software are different, most marketing automation solutions allow you to sync with data in the CRM, thereby ensuring that all interactions with clients are accessible in one place.  You can sync the data both ways so that sales and marketing always know what is going on in each other’s departments.  Additionally, some CRM providers such as Infusionsoft and Zoho have developed marketing automation software, providing an all-in-one-system.  

If you are not sure which software you need, smaller businesses typically start with CRM and then as they grow, add marketing automation software that will integrate with it.

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Jane Tareen

About the author…

An MBA-qualified professional, Jane specializes in all kinds of copywriting and creative content production. With many years spent working in advertising and publishing, she is also skilled in editorial production and proof-reading. Whilst writing, she has a constant companion in the form of one very large Fox Red Labrador!

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Jane Tareen

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