In the online business landscape, there is a lot of confusion about the difference between customer relationship managers, or CRMs, and marketing automation software. Both types of software have some overlapping functionality and, due to this, interested parties tend not to know what the key differences are, toeing the nebulous line in the sand that divides the two product categories. Luckily, there are enough differences between the two types of software to illustrate that they both have different intended uses and are not as interchangeable as one may think.
CRM and marketing automation software both have the same goal, which is the collection and synthesis of customer data, with the ultimate goal of creating actionable sales and marketing items.
Before breaking down the differences between CRM and marketing automation software, let's look at what they have in common: they both can be used to store similar information, including various types of contact details, and they both have at least a limited amount of autonomy in how that data is managed.
There are far more differences between the two types of software, not only in terms of application but also how they work. The amount and type of human interaction necessary to maintain the software is also different.
CRM software is primarily focused on ensuring that your sales team can develop better relationships with your customers, aiming to make your interactions with them more personal, leading to an increase in sales. It will also allow you to track customer interactions, which can be beneficial if you're working with a large sales team and it is likely no customer will connect with the same representative twice. Overall, it is meant to make your sales team more effective by freeing them from repetitive data entry tasks, so that they can take care of what matters – making sales.
Marketing automation, as you may have gleaned from the name, is focused on marketing through "mass one-on-one" communications – personalized interactions with leads at the top of your sales funnel. As opposed to the database-style platform of the CRM, marketing automation software is an execution platform. Through workflows, it can identify and differentiate potential leads, interact with them, and customize parts of communications with them, whether that means generating a newsletter based on their interests or simply including their name in a welcome email.
A key problem facing the reluctance of adopting marketing automation software is that established companies often use legacy CRMs and they are weary of the possibility that their old database, full of information painstakingly collected over the years, would not play nice with a new system. Fortunately, more and more marketing automation softwares are offering integrations with different brands of CRM, allowing them to interact with some of these systems without issue. For example, SimplyCast, which has its own built-in CRM, currently offers 21 different integrations with various outside softwares and CRMs, with more on the horizon. SimplyCast also provides an API so you can synchronize your CRM even if it is not one of the existing integrations.
You should never rush your decision as to whether a CRM, marketing automation software, or both would be of the most benefit to your company since each have targeted benefits to a certain part of the sales funnel. CRMs are uniquely suited to customers near the bottom of your sales funnel: qualified leads that have the greatest potential to be customers. Small businesses adopt CRMs to make sales and then integrate with marketing automation software once they become larger in order to cast a wider net and generate more leads.
No matter what your needs, SimplyCast has you covered. In addition to the integrations mentioned above, we also offer our own CRM as part of our marketing automation platform. Take the plunge into making more sales and gathering more leads by signing up for a free 14-day trial today!