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.
Hi Kate - I would take a look at Hatchbuck. I've been using it for a while now and I find it to be user-friendly. You can send regular emails and track your opens, you can set up HTML emails, automated campaigns and connect to your website for web tracking. Its not a free app, but I've found it to be very useful. Good luck and let me know if I can help further.
Great question Kate! We see a lot of customers that are confused by the differences and overlaps. CRM is Customer Relationship Management and generally refers to a database of customer information that your team accesses and updates. Marketing Automation is pretty loosely used but, generally means automating outbound messages to prospects and customers.
Most CRM systems have "add-on" marketing automation tools that can be plugged in and carry additional costs. An example of how this all can work is if a customer's status changes or purchase history is updated in the CRM, it can tell the marketing automation system to start sending a different set of messages to that customer. And, if a prospect receives an email from you, visits your site and makes a purchase or just signs up for your newsletter, etc., the marketing automation system can start sending them different messages AND the CRM can alert a sales rep to give them a call, etc.
The devil in the details is that setting these two systems up to do all of this can be a full time job or require a consultant. Keeping the two systems communicating consistently takes regular maintenance and the whole thing can get pretty complex, especially for a small business to manage.
SalesNexus.com is one solution that combines both CRM and Marketing Automation into one simple system.
Great explanations here, so no need to elaborate on the differences between CRM and automation. However, with Hubspot and the like starting at $200/mo, may I suggest insightly.com. It's inexpensive, feature rich and pretty easy to use, making it ideal for very small businesses. There's a free version, but the starting paid version is only $15/month. I've been using it for at least a couple of years now.
As a small business owner, I used Insightly previously for CRM, but it doesn't have marketing automation. I just started using Infusionsoft because it does CRM + marketing automation. It's pricey, but it's really changing how I do business every day. It's also a steep learning curve to get up and running. You have to be willing to devote some serious time to set up or spend more for others to help you do it. It's incredibly powerful though, and I love just using 1 system.
There are lots of possible integrations that add to the cost and functionality. I am using a TimeTrade + TimeFusion integration for scheduling all of my meetings, and it's working really well. I bought this tool instead of hiring an admin. Good luck!
I think once you collect some ideas and thoughts you will begin to get a feel of which tool fits the moment. You may also begin to define each tool marketing or customer relationship management as to how they impact the value of flow in your business.
As you stated you can see a need to improve both. The flywheel model in the work of Jim Collins book "good to great" can be edited to include a model of marketing and customer relationship that fits your needs. The nice part of the model as a diagram to share with your leadership team is forward motion can include how the future model will appear.
Kate I've used several CRMS and marketing automation tools. In my opinion the smartest tactic to help you achieve both your goals is to look into Zoho.
Zoho has come a long way since it's inception and with integrated apps you can utilize the CRM, but set up email and social media campaigns and much more.
It's very affordable and depending on your needs it could even be free. Yes free. In addition compared to it's competition like Salesforce it's easy to set up and customize.
I think if you compare ease of use, cost, functionalities, integrations and single source solution Zoho is definitely worth considering.
However, there are many things to choose from and in the end sometimes it simply comes down to what you feel comfortable with.
The two capabilities you mention have traditionally been served up separately. Integrated systems have become available only in the last couple of years. Price for what you need can vary from about $9 to $199 a month.
capabilities match up to price pretty well. Here are four to look at to show you the variation: Insightly, Active Campaign, SimplyCast and Intellisoft.
I currently work with Active Campaign and SimplyCast for clients and have worked with a client using Intellisoft with it's integrated store in the past. Insightly is the new darling of the small business IT crowd but lacks some of the capabilities of the others.
Hope this helps.
Hi Kate, If you use Act-On - yo ucan use any CRM to interconnect; others need their own CRM usually and you cna then be tied in and difficult to leave if you need to.
A CRM is a good management software for your contacts but using say Act-On it isn't 100% required and so the marketing automation software is separate or can be purchased separately.
Hope that helps?
The marketing automation is a software that may be helpful to market your business to your targeted audience. This will work according to the set parameters in this software.
However, CRM platform will give lots of more leads to follow up and you may end up in more sales rather than marketing software. As the software will take its own time.
With CRM you will see results sooner than expected.
I would trust a CRM platform than a software to work for my business.
My thoughts is similar to Nancy Seeger opinion that there is a difference between the to.