What is difference Between CRM and Marketing Automation

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Are you one of those who think that CRM and marketing automation as the same? Well, many of us do. However, each of these serves a different purpose. Both marketing automation and CRM appear to work the same way. Both systems perform an outstanding job of capturing basic customer and prospect details. Both systems include an automation component as well; however, the difference lies in the type and level of human interaction involved.
I need sales automation tools for my sales team and marketing automation tools for my marketing team. Should I go for two separate tools? Will single software serve the purpose? Such types of questions are common. Marketing and sales are unquestionably intertwined. Both the departments need to work together to succeed in gaining leads. However, can both departments have similar software solution for their operations? Marketing means pulling inquiries to the right channel whereas customer relationship management means transforming those inquiries into business associations.

Let’s have a more in-depth look at the features of both marketing automation and CRM to understand the fundamental differences:

  • Marketing Automation Software Features

marketing automation

Marketing automation is all about cost-effective and efficient communication with prospects. CRM platform in its broadest sense provides a set of processes that enable to manage customer relationships effectively. The prime focus of CRM software is to manage workflows through the sales funnel.

Like we said earlier, at their heart, both CRM and  marketing automation tools aim to perform the same function that is to collect and manage customer data which is then used to trigger marketing/sales actions. Marketing automation begins with an online marketing focus whereas CRM or Sales force automation tools have a sales orientated background. The marketing automation has the execution of campaigns at its core, whereas CRM is about opportunity management. Moving leads to an opportunity and managing those opportunities are prime functions of CRM system. Marketing automation platforms lack this feature.

Let’s see features of both of these software platforms:

Marketing Automation CRM
Analytics Contact and lead management
Lead nurturing Sales forecasting
Social marketing Task management
Email marketing Reporting
A/B testing Territory management
Multi-channel marketing Email integration
Landing pages
  • Marketing Automation vs. Sales Automation

Marketing Automation provides effective and low-cost communication with prospects through emails and social media. Thus, every marketing automation system has basic email blasting and Workflow automation with many additional features that enable effective and impressive mail sequences on an industrial scale. Today, marketing automation also includes Channel marketing automation.

Marketing automation is a way to automate, streamline and quantify marketing activity. It includes everything incorporated in marketing such as design and manage campaigns like forms, emails, landing pages, gates, etc. However, when a contact turns to be a qualified lead by your marketing standards, it enters the sales funnel from the marketing funnel and at this point, the CRM process comes into the picture.

CRM is a way to build and manage sales customer relationships. It automates the sales force processes and handles all of the business interactions with prospective as well as present customers when a contact comes in the sales funnel.

CRM systems narrow down the process and optimize the value of one-on-one interactions. Benefits of CRM include creating a seamless, personalized customer experience by taking the customer’s journey to a deeper level. It allows having greater visibility and targeted approach to each relationship that a company has with prospects and customers. The latest trends in CRM such as cloud-based CRM and AI in CRM, combine the advantages of cloud technology and Artificial Intelligence with traditional CRM that enable the businesses to reap the benefits of these processes to maximize their profitability.

Both these systems fulfill specific objectives of a business to communicate with contacts at all points of the funnel. Depending on what’s the purpose, whether to optimize efforts or to close more business or to increase customer satisfaction, it is essential to identify which tool should be used and when it should be used.

However, most of the times, the need of keeping customer data at a single place against using multiple tools for different departments poses a challenge to businesses. Taking care of all of the processes as the company grows and creating a personalized, seamless customer experience through their journey becomes a challenge. Will combining the marketing and sales become a smart option?

  • Combining CRM and marketing automation– ‘Sales marketing automation’

Combining CRM and marketing automation

When the two functions blend, both the departments can work as a single unit.  Sales can use the persuasion tactics and information sharing whereas marketing can have better visibility. Such a way of close working of two functions can help in getting the two divisions work in alignment and stay on the same page.

While working as a single unit, besides their traditional roles, marketing will also be responsible for sales revenue and sales will be accountable for ROI of marketing campaigns.

CRM and marketing automation also facilitates consistent communication to the customer during the marketing sales cycles.

Automation aids the sales pitch means more conversions.

Combining CRM and marketing automation brings transparency in the process, as both the teams are on the same page.

As both departments are combined, the needed insights will reflect in the system.

All in all, there are certain differences in CRM and marketing automation. Each has its distinct functionalities and should be used accordingly. However, the two software tools can often be integrated and used in helping both sales and marketing teams to meet their goals while working together.


Have any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments section below:

To know how marketing automation is different from CRM, read the following article:

Learn more about CRM and Marketing

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