What is the difference between a marketing automation and CRM platform?
I started looking into CRM platforms and didn't realize there is a difference between CRM and marketing automation. I am a little confused on which tool is best for me, as I need to improve both my marketing and sales to existing customers. Are there tools that do both? I would think this should be rolled into one since I am sure most businesses like me need both the marketing and management pieces.
CRM software is sales-focused, while marketing automation software is marketing-focused.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems measure and analyze customer data throughout the customer lifecycle. The goal is to improve the business relationships with your customers.
- Think analytics, upsells, service levels and support.
All activities of a CRM are based around keeping customers longer and happier. There are larger software systems, usually with an emphasis of keeping all of the data in one system.
Marketing automation refers to the automation of repetitive marketing tasks by software technologies. Such as email marketing, social media, and the effective integration of those platforms. These systems are can be purchased individually and integrated into one software package. So they can be robust or simple depending on your needs.
Most CRM systems have some aspects of marketing automation, and most marketing automation platforms will help with customer retention.
There are several factors to consider when looking for the perfect solution.
1) Price. CRM's usually have a higher price tag, but are complete systems that work extremely well. So if you are selling high end products this will return the value quickly.
2) Learning curve. Depending on how technical you are the CRM systems can be complicated. Because everything is tied together, changes often have to be well thought out in advance. Anyone can throw out an email drip campaign in either system. That is easy, but to properly map out your customer lifecycle to take full advantage of a CRM – you need to know
a. the customer lifecycle,
b. the retention rate,
c. the points where they may fall out of your product or service levels
d. as well as all of these point in moving a prospect to the customer stage.
3) Marketing. Do you have a strategy and regular plan, or do you wing it? If you like to change things up every week and work without a detailed strategy then go with marketing automation and keep it simple. If you like to plan out and optimize, analyze and test – then go with a CRM and max it out to get the best value.
4) Maturity of the business. Are you just starting out, or do you know what you need to grow to the next level? Both systems can be purchased in a variety of formats and complications. So knowing where you are at and where you want will go will help you pick the correct tools to grow your business. Any system that is easy to set up and add onto will be easier than one that you have to commit everything to, and then are stuck when your company grows. Infusionsoft is a prime example. They have a wonderful CRM system that they themselves outgrew. When they started out they built a system for small businesses. It works great, but now that they have 50k of clients, they grew out of their own software. So know the upper limits of software before you commit to a long term strategy with any one.
Kate, Good morning. The difference between a CRM and marketing automation platform is that the CRM is mainly for keeping track of everything that is going on (i.e. notes on conversations, to-do's etc...) and the marketing automation part is to help with tracking who comes to your website as well as automating messages. There is a cost-effective tool that can accomplish both though:
Hope this helps.
A CRM is a database or repository of your client records and is generally used for sales follow on the phone or face to face or by email. Marketing automation is more typically systemising, sequencing and scheduling your follow up to prospects and clients, by email and phone and face to face and tracking their behaviour. So you can have a crm that does not automate your marketing or marketing automation that does not fulfil the functions of a crm. I am offering a free one hour marketing assessment and am happy to help you decide what is the right solution for you. I help many of my clients with Infusionsoft which is a combined CRM and marketing automation and Ecommerce solution. www.digitalfreelance.co.uk
As Larry said, it depends on your market and and marketing efforts. CRM systems, at their core, are fantastic for extending and deepening relationships with customers at all levels, new and old. But CRM is not great for more top of the funnel efforts - lead gen, nurturing, etc. That's where marketing automation software really comes in handy. In fact, you could say that a lot of the customer learning and efforts done on the CRM side can be applied to marketing efforts. (e.g., the stuff about your product or service that your current customers love can serve as a basis for a marketing campaign to close new customers!)
I would recommend looking at HubSpot. It's marketing automation software that comes bundled with a free CRM. This way, you get to see how both can work alone and in tandem. I'm pretty sure they do 30 day free trials with almost all the bells and whistles. It might give you time to kick the tires and see which, if either, is right for your needs. Not sure what your budget is, but depending on the size of your company, I believe the smallest plan starts at $200/month. Hope this helps!
David provided a great explanation of the differences. Which is best for you depends on what you are looking to do. If you want to do direct mail, then ACT! is still the market leader in that category, plus it can also do email marketing.
If you are looking at primarily email marketing, sending marketing messages, automated email sequences, etc, there are several choices. On the low end, mailchimp is free but doesn't have all the features you might need. Mastic is a step above, is open source and also free, although it is a bit more complicated to set up and use, but has many more features. A step above is Aweber and GetResponse. I use GetResponse for my email newsletter. Mid tier products are Hatchbuck that was mentioned by another responder (I use it as well), ActiveCampaign, and several others. At the top end and much more than you will need just starting out is Infusionsoft and Ontraport. You can use Google to get much more information and free trials.
Kate, I agree this can be a little confusing since most CRM companies can do about 20% of what most marketing automation companies can do, and vice verse. The real question is if your planning on tracking multiple sales opportunities or multiple sales campaigns to attract, convert and retain clients over time. Understanding this upfront can save you $100's of dollars signing those 2 year contracts
Yes, marketing automation and crm systems are and do different things. While there are tools available to do both (Infusionsoft comes to mind) it's not necessary that you find one system to do it all. Here's why.
CRMs are good for client info and activity management. SalesForce and ACT are both examples of CRMs that coral data so you can coordinate relationship building activity.
Automation systems typically handle all of the communication outreach for you. Drip campaigns, newsletters and contact forms on your website are all examples of systems that handle tasks automatically for you. The real goal is the find an automated marketing system that will capture, collect and communicate while interfacing with your CRM to segment prospects and clients for further contact.
Before you invest in either of these systems, think about your overall marketing and sales process. Even with these systems in place, there will need to be a certain level of involvement from you to make them work effectively.
Decide who you are trying to attack as customers or clients and what kind of information they are likely to respond to. Then, setting up a repeatable system to get your information in front of them so they are interested in engaging with you is where these 2 systems play a role.
Finally, when choosing a CRM and automation system to use, go for simple first. Some systems like Infusionsoft are very robust but can be overwhelming to learn and implement. Until you get comfortable using these systems and can keep them running regularly, it make no sense to invest heavily in either.
Marketing automation is about automating your touch points (email, text, postcards...) with prospective and current customers and the CRM is about how your company interacts ( sales calls, support tickets, salesperson sent an email...) with prospective and current customers. I am sure that is as clear as mud. LOL Most of the time they work together, but it depends on your company.
The real question is, what is your business model, if you are an online business or a retail store, you may just want marketing automation to sell services, create engagement, segment users, generate foot traffic...
A CRM is really for account based companies and if you have a sales team, you would want a CRM and you may want both. The CRM to track the point to point human contact (calls, emails...) with an account across departments and also track: quotes, pipeline, forecasts, service tickets... And you may want the marketing automation to nurture or develop leads and generate repeated sales opportunities.
Hi Kate, you have some good points in your comments.
Anything to do with CRM and Automation will always open a can or worms.
A lot of this will depend on what it is you are looking to do, and what type of data you want to store and use. To which end you will be using the information in terms of efficiencies and action / responses.
Most CRM packages will allow you to send out to target markets i.e. by industry, zip code, by product interest, and so on. Some will allow you to send out surveys and capture the responses, most CRM's can be set up for telemarketing. while others will only ack as a diary and a contact registry.
capture, sales and other related activities.
Not all marketing automations will as flexible as some CRM packages.
for instance we at ACE-CRM have just integrated "Skype" contact which will allow and capture contacts via skype.
You can always check us out at : goace.com
The thing is you do need to think about what is best for you, how much automation and data related intelligence you require both now and in say 3-5 years. Depending on your industry, there is a very good chance that there may already be a workable template.
Don't settle for a package that you need to adapt to, look for a package which will make your job easier by allowing you to set it up the way you want it to be and look.
Essentially CRM is a customer database at its simplest. Then depending on which you choose it may have a little or a lot more functionality including tracking the interactions you have with customers and lead scoring. Marketing automation is a process engine that sends different communications to selected customers depending upon a set of rules that you define.
There is not (that I know of a single solution that does both well if you want a sophisticated capability. To advise further I would need to understand what you have and are trying to achieve.