CRM vs Marketing Automation Software: What do I really need for my business?

CRM and marketing automation software are popping up all over the blogosphere. Many eCommerce and customer service oriented sites are using these systems to improve efficiency, but many are asking: what are they, what do they do and how do they differ?


CRM stands for customer relationship management. It is a sales-focused system used to store information about customers, leads and accounts. This information is organized and analyzed to help you manage the connections formed throughout your growing business.

Accommodate Your Growing Business

For new businesses, it may be easy enough to manage customer information using traditional methods, but as the business develops and connections become more complicated, a real-time, accessible, integrated approach to information management will be far more helpful. That is where CRM steps in.

Improve Customer Service

When customers have an issue, they want it taken care of as soon as possible. CRM allows employees to pull up information about every customer including preferences, past purchases and payment information. The accessibility of customer data makes it easy to pinpoint a problem and resolve it quickly.

Automate Small Tasks

CRM takes menial tasks away from employees to free up their time for customer engagement. Online forms, push notifications, reports, emails and much more can be sent automatically. This helps form a connection with the customer without using up valuable employee time.

Marketing Automation Software

As the name would suggest, marketing automation software is a way to automate the marketing process. It is a marketing-focused system to streamline marketing tasks such as lead generation, customer retention and ROI measurement. Essentially, you can make marketing more efficient with marketing automation. Like CRM, it acts as a database of information and can be used for analytic purposes.

Lead Generation

Marketing automation software allows for easy integration of marketing and sales. The data collected can then help the sales team target specific customers to generate leads.

Marketing automation can also help with email drip campaigns, which are proven to be three times more likely to prompt a purchase than social media.

Customer Retention

Once leads are generated and sales start coming in, your company needs to retain those customers for growth to happen. It is also much more cost-effective to cater to existing customers versus trying to acquire twice as many new ones. Marketing automation can help with customer retention by providing insight into customer intent for more effective communication strategies.

ROI Measurement

Marketing automation software helps you gather data from all aspects of marketing and sales. Much of this data can be used to determine the ROI for marketing campaigns, website designs, social media activity and more. Most marketing automation systems can easily analyze the data for you to deliver the exact information you need and track it continuously.

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How CRM and Marketing Automation Differ

Simply put, CRM is sales-focused and marketing automation is marketing-focused. Marketing automation starts with raw leads and tracks their information to foster commitment. Once they have become an accepted lead, CRM steps in to make the sales experience more personal.

To determine which system would be best for your company, consider where along the lead generation process you need the most help.

If you struggle with obtaining raw leads, marketing automation might be the right choice.

If you would like to improve customer service during the sales process, CRM could help you out. Marketing automation and CRM systems can often be integrated as they share some of the same data, so choosing both might be the best solution to amp up your marketing and sales.