Marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) systems have been around for some time, but the difference between the two is still cloudy in the minds of many.

While CRM and marketing automation may seem similar, the two types of software have different key functions and serve separate purposes.

What's the difference?

Marketing automation software supports marketers in producing and promoting content by automating some of their processes, such as sending out email campaigns or publishing social media posts. In addition, this type of software offers insight on user activities like opening emails, visiting a particular webpage, filling out a form or reading a blog.

The end goal is all about personalization and streamlining the process of lead generation – bringing in marketing-qualified leads who have shown interest in your brand and offering, nurturing them through additional touchpoints with your organization, and eventually transitioning them into sales-qualified leads who are ready to talk to your sales team.

Once the baton – your sales-qualified lead – has been passed to the sales team, that’s when CRM software comes into play. Your CRM system supports your sales team in tracking and managing their pipeline and their engagement with leads.

CRM software assists with tracking email communication and notes about phone conversations with customers, as well as with managing proposals or quotes, tracking documents in a centralized location and setting follow-up reminders.

The software essentially gives a salesperson an overview of each prospect and their history with the brand, as well as the full picture of the entire sales pipeline.

Ultimately, CRM software helps convert your sales-qualified leads into customers.

Why you need both

A CRM system without marketing automation (or vice versa) is like a warm toasted bagel without cream cheese. The two are just so much better together.

When marketing automation and a CRM system are integrated, the pair not only provides a seamless journey for a prospect through the funnel but also enables the marketing and sales teams to work in tandem toward achieving their goals.

For example, let’s consider a new lead that came in through the website after they filled out a form to access a piece of content. Once this happens, the marketing team makes additional contact through an email campaign and begins nurturing the lead. After sufficient engagement with the email campaign, let’s say the lead requests a consultation or a demo. This is when the salesperson responsible for the consultation or demo logs into the marketing automation and CRM software to gather information about the prospect, including the content they downloaded, blogs they’ve read, their company information, their email engagement and more. This information helps effectively prepare the salesperson and guides his or her conversation with the prospect to convert them into a customer.

What to do with this information today

Start by understanding your business goals and whether marketing automation and CRM software will align with those goals. Then, review what you have and compare it with what you need – invest time in educating yourself about the options available and ask questions along the way. Finally, put together a plan for implementation and make yourself and/or your team accountable for following through.

Marketing automation and CRM systems are two distinct concepts with different but complementary purposes – integrating both into your organization will streamline the marketing and sales process and make your customers happier!

About Maithili Khansaheb

Halmyre Marketing Automation Manager Maithili Khansaheb leverages her creativity and passion for technology to support organizational growth through expansion and enhancement of digital strategy. Her previous experience includes working with organizations across the United States, Canada and India on all things marketing – from digital acquisition to advertising, content/creative direction and brand development. Maithili is an avid foodie and loves to travel.


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