CRM vs. Marketing Automation: What is the Difference?


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As the market becomes more competitive and technology more advanced each day, businesses are relying more and more on technology to help them optimize their marketing and sales.

But in the sea of different tools and software, it can be difficult to tell them apart and choose which one is the best for your business.

The difference between CRM and marketing automation

In order to use both of them to their fullest potential, you first need to know the difference between CRM and marketing automation. With both CRM and marketing automation having the same goal, it’s easy to get them mixed up and forget about the subtle differences.

While they should both ultimately lead to increased sales, the main difference lays in the fact that they focus on the separate stages of the sales process. Marketing automation covers top-off-the-funnel activities that should result in raising brand awareness, sparking interest, and ultimately, generating leads.

Once you start reaching the bottom of the funnel, that’s where CRM comes into play. It allows you to collect data about your prospects and customers and figure out which parts of their buying journey you could improve in order to boost conversions.

Let’s dive deeper into details about both CRM and marketing automation and see what are the signs that you need to incorporate them into your sales strategy.

Signs you need marketing automation

If you’re noticing that things are starting to fall through the cracks, maybe it’s time to consider putting you’re marketing on autopilot.

Take a look at some of the signs that you need marketing automation:

  • You’re spending too much time sending emails and follow-ups
  • Your contact list is getting too big to handle manually
  • You have no way of keeping track of your email open and click rates, and bounce rates
  • You’re marketing campaign is not providing enough data for your sales team
  • You have great content but no way of distributing it

As you can see, it pretty much boils down to email automation. Considering that 65% of customers prefer email communication over any other channel, you have to make sure that you’re email marketing is fully optimized.

At the top of the funnel, the most important thing is to reach as many people as possible and spread awareness about your brand. Email marketing is a great way to achieve this, but keeping track of all of your messages is a tedious and time-consuming task. Luckily, marketing automation can help you handle it, especially features like email tracking and email automation.

Signs you need CRM

Maybe your marketing team is operating smoothly even without automation or you already use automation software, but remember that it’s only the first stage of your sales process.

There’s no point in generating massive amounts of leads if you don’t know how to create a landing page that converts your leads and effectively guide them down the sales funnel.

Even if you have great conversion rates, you still have to take care of your customers after their purchase if you want them to turn them into your brand ambassadors and improve customer retention.

Here are some of the reasons why you might want to consider using CRM software:

  • You have too much customer data and you can’t handle it manually
  • You have reports of bad customer service and you’re actively losing customers
  • You’re having troubles with lead qualification

According to statistics, 91% of businesses with more than 11 employees use CRM software, and in a crowded market, you can’t afford to stay behind your competitors. This comes as no surprise as the research has shown that the average ROI has increased since 2011, from $5.60 to $8.71 for every dollar spent on CRM.

Should you use both?

It’s important to notice that, when talking about differences between CRM and marketing automation, we’re not really evaluating which one will bring you more conversions.

The truth is, if you want to optimize your sales funnel process and maximize your conversions, you’ll need both.

Now, recently, there’ve been some claims that the customer journey has changed drastically since 1924 when the sales funnel concept was developed and that the traditional sales funnel model should be replaced with better fitting alternatives such as lifecycles.

The customer journey has indeed become more unpredictable and it’s becoming harder and harder to push customers down the strict and rigid sales funnel.

Customers are becoming more aware of different marketing strategies and are demeaning more devotion and personalization. And when you add the current development of the internet and the growing need for omnichannel strategies, it’s easy to see that sales and marketing activities are becoming more intertwined than ever.

That’s precisely why both of these processes need to be highly optimized in order to convert modern buyers into loyal customers and automation is essential for keeping sales and marketing collaboration easy and smooth.

Shawn Finder
Shawn Finder has always been an entrepreneur at heart. At age 24, Shawn entered the entrepreneurial world after competing as one of Canada's top-ranked tennis players. As he always loved selling and list building, he founded ExchangeLeads in 2013. This was followed by his new venture Autoklose in 2017 that combines both sales engagement and list building all-in-one platform.


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