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What Is the Difference Between CRM and Marketing Automation?

Do you associate customer relationship management (CRMs) with marketing automation? Well, the two are actually quite different. 

Yes, they do seem similar at face value. However, they serve very distinct purposes. 

If this throws you off, don’t panic. We are going to break down their differences and purposes.

if you invest in the wrong software, it can either slow down your sales and marketing funnel or break it entirely, severely harming the company’s bottom line. So again, don’t panic.

Today’s goal is to help you understand the difference between a CRM and marketing automation software to decide better which one you should be using in certain situations. 

What’s the difference between a CRM and marketing automation software?

Difference between CRM and marketing automation
Traditional marketing automation’s role at the of the funnel. CRM taking over at the bottom

Many businesses often confuse CRM and marketing automation solutions because both let you reach out to customers and cultivate connections with them. The distinction is in how each tool assists you in meeting specific client demands and building relationships with customers at various phases of the buying journey.

A CRM is typically completely sales-focused, and marketing automation software is typically marketing-focused. 

Think about these two tools:

Salesforce — Salesforce is one of the most popular CRMs out there right now. As a customer relationship management software, it allows you to outline a strategy for managing your current and prospective customers. As such, it is strictly sales-focused.

Pardot — Pardot is a marketing automation software that allows businesses to streamline their email marketing campaigns and automate the customer journey. It is primarily marketing-focused.

To help you get a better understanding, we’ve highlighted the main differences in each of these solutions below: 

CRMMarketing Automation 
CRM solutions focus on helping businesses with a sales pipeline, contact and opportunity automation, and management. Marketing automation solutions focus on automating marketing activities like communication management, campaign management, and customer segmentation. 
The solution primarily strives to create and grow relations with existing as well as potential customers. The solution primarily strives to generate leads and potential customers through various marketing activities. 
CRMs are focused on people in the middle or bottom of the funnel — marketing qualified leads or sales qualified leads.Marketing automation is focused on people in the top or middle of the funnel — site visitors, email subscribers, leads, trials, etc.
Multiple departments use the information derived from these tools, including the sales and customer service departments. Marketing automation tools are mostly used by one department; Marketing. 
It gives you insights into how customers are engaging with your brand, enabling you to find scope for improvement. These tools give you insights into how your marketing activities and initiatives are performing, enabling you to find scope for improvement. 

Now that we’ve reviewed the fundamental distinctions, let’s take a closer look at each solution type and see what problems they may address for your company, if they should be integrated, or if you need them at all. 

What is a CRM?

Customer relationship management software tools are a database for all your customer’s data and communication with them. Here, you can store their contact information, purchase history, sales notes about interactions and conversations with the customers, message records between your company and them, and more.

HubSpot contact interface

Simply put, a CRM solution aids in the management of customer relationships across the customer’s lifetime. For example, you may centrally store client information and split the consumer base into various lists (or stages in the sales pipeline) to give them tailored communications based on where they are in their journey with your business.

CRMs are beneficial to businesses because they allow them to make the absolute most from one-on-one interactions. It’s all a part of the sales process, helping guide the customer to the end of the funnel by giving them a personalized experience.

According to Capterra, one of the biggest review platforms for software, 56% of companies already implement CRM software of some sort. 

Does your business need a CRM?

The answer to this question would depend on your business model, customer lifetime value, acquisition costs, company processes, and more.

Here are a few signs that you might need a CRM.

You’re unable to keep up with your lead flow

One of the biggest signs that you need to invest in a CRM is if your manual approach to tracking leads data no longer works for you. 

Let’s say you’re using Google Sheets or Excel to keep track of your leads. After a while, you’ll have too much data to deal with manually. 

If you’ve been blessed with a rush of new business but are struggling to keep up, CRM may be what you’re looking for. An intelligent CRM system will filter and prioritize your leads fast, allowing your sales staff to follow up with them in a timely and effective manner.

Your leads are getting lost

If you’re losing leads who are dropping out of the funnel without a moment’s notice, then this is a huge sign that you need to invest in a CRM. 

Without a CRM, it’s next to impossible to track the customer’s journey, basically leaving you in the dark and not knowing when and why they’re dropping out. 

A CRM can give you some better insight into the situation and allow you to further look into why you’re losing customers. 

You don’t know what your sales team is doing

It’s critical to know what your sales teams are doing and how they’re doing, whether they’re in the office or on the road. A robust customer relationship management system enables team members to update facts from their mobile devices, ensuring that information is readily available for you to examine and act on if necessary.

A strong CRM solution not only allows you to track what’s going on in your organization but also shows you where you should spend extra resources and helps you estimate future sales properly.

Reporting sales takes more time than making sales

When your salespeople manually enter data to generate reports, they spend less time doing what they should be doing: selling. CRM systems can consolidate all of your data into one, easy-to-access location, making timely reporting and accurate analysis a breeze.

Some solutions may even automatically feed account and contact information into your CRM and even “clean” your customer data regularly, filling in missing information left out by salespeople and intelligently eliminating duplicates.

This is a shortlist. There are tons of reasons you might need a CRM, but it’s up to you and your team to decide why. So take the information above, do your research, and then decide whether or not you need to implement a CRM.

Benefits of using a CRM

A CRM can bring some real, measurable value to your team if you implement it correctly. If you’re looking for a reason to start using a CRM, here are a few benefits that might help make your decision-making process a little easier.

  1. Sales and marketing alignment. A CRM could help with the sales and marketing alignment. As a result, both departments will have a better overview of the customer’s sales funnel, helping them close deals more efficiently.
  2. Improved collaboration. Team collaboration is made easier since your CRM keeps track of discussions, interactions, needs, notes, and contact information. And, if it’s cloud-based, it’ll always be up to date, and your coworkers will be able to readily access its data to make choices.
  3. Targeted messages for the right stage of the customer journey. Based on where the customer is in the sales funnel, you can send them targeted and messages to help them convert.
  4. Personalized communications. You can store detailed information on your customers, allowing their interactions to be much more personalized. As you continue to collect data and insights about your audience, market, and industry, you will be able to produce more relevant, personalized messages and outreach — in both human and automated campaigns.
  5. Proactive outreach. CRMs can alert the user when certain actions need to be taken. For example, you can get alerts when a customer’s account is about to expire, when a call has been scheduled with a client, when a birthday is coming up, and much more. When sales and customer service are proactive and educated, it saves everyone time and makes your potential and present customers feel valued.

It’s important to highlight here that while a CRM is incredibly helpful, it is not automated. 

All of these benefits still require action from a sales representative. 

Best CRM examples for 2022

Below is a brief list of some of the best CRM tool examples of 2022 in no particular order. Take a look.

1. HubSpot 

Almost unavoidably, your business will grow, which means your customer base will, too. HubSpot has been around for a while and is thought of as one of the best CRMs in the industry. It’s easy to scale, integrate, and navigate with a little practice. 

HubSpot gives the user an always-updated overview of the sales funnel in a fairly intuitive dashboard. With the ability to schedule appointments, integrate with social media platforms, and track performance against quotas, HubSpot arms users with everything they need to better serve their customers, including a log that is always updated with the user’s interactions.

The best part is that HubSpot CRM is completely free for up to 1 million contacts and unlimited team members. That makes HubSpot a perfect choice for small companies, bootstrappers, and startups.

2. Salesforce

Salesforce interface

We mentioned Salesforce briefly. This comprehensive CRM provides everything you need to properly nurture your leads to the finish line and close more deals.

Salesforce offers a few different packages with plenty of helpful features across the board. Those features include unlimited custom applications, rules-based lead scoring, thorough campaign management, and more. 

Salesforce is a robust and complex CRM. The drawback is that it’s expensive and hard to use if you are just starting out with sales. That’s why we recommend it only for bigger teams and enterprises.

3. Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM screenshot
Zoho CRM

Zoho CRM is a great option for many people, but especially small businesses. Being around since 2005, Zoho CRM is potentially one of the most recognizable CRM names out there.

This CRM packs a punch with a massive set of features, but some of the more important and useful features include advanced CRM analytics, AI sales assistant, process management, performance management, and more.

4. Pipedrive

Pipedrive CRM interface
Pipedrive CRM

Pipedrive is an intuitive and easy-to-use CRM for small and medium businesses. Pipedrive introduced the sales world to the kanban interface of managing sales deals.

It starts at $17 per month per user, making it a suitable choice for startups and small companies.

What is marketing automation software?

Marketing automation software is designed to help you effectively and automatically market on multiple channels online, such as email, SMS, and social media.

It aids marketers with segmentation, data management, and campaign management. It enables marketers to deliver real-time, tailored, data-driven campaigns, as well as increased efficiency and productivity. 

Apart from customer messaging, marketing automation tools also allow you to automate and expedite marketing processes across your whole organization.

Marketing automation usually works with workflows (or automations) built as a series of steps using triggers and actions. E.g., when this happens, do this.

Difference between CRM and marketing automation

The goal of any marketing automation software is to automate repetitive marketing tasks and remove as much human work as possible. 

It is a broad definition, but that’s only because it is a broad subject. Technically speaking, any software or tool that takes any amount of the human element out of a marketing process is considered marketing automation software. 

Signs that you need marketing automation tools

Here are some major signs that you need one or more marketing automation tools.

Your contact list is getting too big to deal with manually

Eliminating unnecessary manual work is exactly the goal of every marketing automation tool out there. And, just like a CRM, if you’re managing your customer list manually in Google Sheets, Excel, or anywhere else, it is inevitably going to get too big to justify managing manually. 

You are not converting enough leads to customers

On the opposite end of the scale, you might want to invest in some marketing automation tools if your customer base is too small. Customers are the lifeboat that every business floats on. If you don’t have customers, then you don’t have a business. 

Marketing automation software is designed to help you better reach out to new leads as well as guide them through the funnel and become paying customers.

You need to streamline your processes

Small companies generally have a small team of people who are overworked and spread too thin across several areas of responsibility. While sales, support, and business growth are essential, marketing is commonly viewed as a shared responsibility. Marketing initiatives frequently fall short or are completely abandoned because of this.

On the other hand, larger companies often face multiple issues with communication and coordination as multiple stakeholders are involved.

To ensure your workforce can concentrate on other pressing business matters and communicate effectively, you can use a marketing automation tool like Encharge to get more customers, by automating processes, tasks, and messages.

You’re using too many tools 

While tools are meant to help enhance various business processes, using too many often leads to delays and confusion. Here are some of the challenges most businesses face by using multiple tools at the same time: 

  • They don’t integrate with each other 
  • The total amount is too costly 
  • Requires expertise in multiple fields 
  • Very difficult to manage and maintain 

A marketing automation solution will have most of the functionality you require across all of these platforms, or provide integrations with the best-in-class tools, allowing you to save money and time maintaining and extracting reports from each system individually.

You’re unable to reach your ideal target audience  

While it has always been important for your company to stand out, in 2022 it is more critical than ever to know who your greatest consumers are and where they are online. 

If you try to appeal to everyone all of the time, prospective consumers will likely ignore your company in favor of one that acknowledges their unique demands.

“You cannot be everything to everyone. If you decide to go north, you cannot go south at the same time.”

Jeroen de Flander

With marketing automation, you can segment prospects and customers more effectively. Monitor their behavior, website visits, email responses, and customer transactions, and create targeted messages to the right audience. 

You have a hard time distributing content

We all like to think that our content is top-notch. But, the issue with content marketing is that it’s not always easy to get the content itself to the people. Sure, you can optimize SEO and take advantage of organic traffic, but that could take months to see any actionable results in most cases. 

With marketing automation tools, you can streamline this process and give your content a much needed boost right from the start by sending it to all your subscribers and everyone on your customer list. 

As you can see there are many reasons you might want to invest in a marketing automation tool or two. Even if you aren’t desperately in need of automating things at the moment, keep it in mind once you start growing your audience.

Benefits of using a marketing automation tool

In order to understand the benefits of using a marketing automation tool, we have to understand the benefits of using anything automated. Think about what automation does. It takes a task that’s typically tedious and time-consuming, and it sets it on autopilot so that you can focus on bigger and better things. 

We’ve seen many industries revolutionized with automation tools. Car manufacturing, for example, has evolved in such a way that by using automated machines, they can assemble an entire car from scratch in a matter of hours. 

Now think about this from a marketing perspective. Think about how many tasks you do on a day-to-day basis that are boring, time-consuming, and would be so much better if automated. 

Some of the marketing automation benefits include:

User segmentation

User segmentation is an essential aspect of any marketing campaign. No matter who you are or what you do, you will have a variety of customers that behave in certain ways. Using segmentation, you can separate your leads and customers into categories and create campaigns based on their behaviors, making them easier to reach and convert.

User segmentation in Encharge

Better leads for sales

Improve the quality of leads for your sales staff: Leads of poor quality are a waste of time and money. Marketing automation will assist in the generation of high-quality leads, giving your sales staff a far greater opportunity of improving your company’s bottom-line earnings.

More relevant customer communication

Improved interaction with your consumers: Marketing automation enables you to centrally store essential information about your clients, making it conveniently available to your sales staff. This enables your sales staff to interact with potential clients in the most effective ways.

Automated emails based on customer behavior

Triggered emails are impossible to accomplish without marketing automation. Based on certain behaviors and actions that leads are taking, you can send them emails explicitly designed for them and based on their current position in the funnel.

Improved efficiency

Possibly the biggest benefit of marketing automation software is that it will make you more efficient, take your attention away from the tedious tasks, and focus on the bigger picture.

Best marketing automation tool examples for 2022

Since the term “marketing automation tool” is much broader than CRM, you are going to find all kinds of tools out there to help you streamline your marketing processes. But, to be honest, it can be difficult and overwhelming.

So, to make this a little easier for you, we’ve compiled a short list of tools that you might find useful.

1. Encharge

Our tool is a fully-featured email and marketing automation platform that takes the headache out the equation by setting your email marketing campaigns on autopilot. 

We have advanced marketing automation features like A/B testing functionality, user segmentation, behavior emails, and much more. But, don’t just take our word for it. Check out the 296 reviews on G2.

2. Pardot

Pardot interface
Pardot interface

Being a part of Salesforce, Pardot is a marketing automation tool that’s tailored towards B2B marketers specifically. With support for things like B2B analytics and account-based solutions for marketing, the partnership between Salesforce and Pardot is a powerful one, but it definitely comes at a cost. 

The pricing for Pardot starts at around $1,250/month and can reach as high as $4,000+/month. With these prices, it’s safe to say that Pardot definitely isn’t for everyone.

3. Hootsuite

Hootsuite interface

Odds are that you’ve probably heard of Hootsuite, and it’s for good reason. Hootsuite is a powerful, fully-featured, and comprehensive social media automation tool. It allows marketers to schedule content, curate content from a pre-approved library, and even monitor conversations about your brand and industry.

Hootsuite takes the repetition out of manually curating and uploading social media content, plus provides you with a way to step even further into the social media spotlight. This tool is perfect for anyone looking to make their presence known online.

How to make your CRM and your marketing automation tool work together

If, after all of this, you’re wondering whether or not you need both a CRM and a marketing automation tool, the short answer is yes. I. 

So with that said, is there a way to make your CRM and marketing automation tool play nicely together? The answer to that question is also yes, there are ways to make this happen.

Let’s take two of the tools we mentioned above, for example — Encharge and HubSpot. Using Encharge, you can supercharge your HubSpot CRM by:

  • Automatically sending your HubSpot contacts to Encharge
  • Easily create new deals in HubSpot when your contact is updated or created in Encharge
  • Update the deal stage in HubSpot based on the activity in Encharge or many other tools in your marketing stack.
Encharge automation flow
Encharge automation flow

Integrating CRM and marketing automation solutions improves the customer experience and increases business productivity, resulting in higher ROI. 

Most significantly, it helps to optimize both of their advantages by combining their capabilities. By combining them, you can:

  • Assign lead scores
  • Develop better prospect relationships
  • Gather analytical reports and keep track of sales developments.
  • Allow sales professionals to see lead journeys.
  • Consistently and effortlessly communicate with leads.
  • Seamless integration process

Benefits of integrating a CRM and a marketing automation tool together

Tailored messaging — When utilizing a CRM and an MA system together, you can better interact with your target audience and enhance the likelihood of lead conversions by sending personalized messages. While the CRM assists in transferring demographic information to the MA tool, therefore minimizing manual duties, marketing representatives may utilize that information to execute targeted sponsored advertising and campaigns.

Faster response time — Quick answers assist to ensure greater lead conversions. By assigning leads ratings, you can speed up the process while making it more efficient. Using both platforms, you will be able to more easily identify the essential people who are most likely to convert — knowledge that you can use to offer them more effective tailored marketing materials.

Eliminate duplicates — Using the platforms concurrently allows for quick access to centralized data, leading to overlaps and inadvertent duplicate work. Since a result, keep a careful eye on the systems to ensure there is no duplicate data, as this might mislead customers and lead to compliance concerns.

Integrating the two systems may necessitate certain strategic adjustments. Make a plan for identifying, implementing, and addressing improvements to your marketing and sales activities to make them more cost-effective and efficient. 

CRM vs. Marketing Automation — the final takeaway

Marketing automation software and CRMs are in the same realm but are two completely different things. While CRMs are almost strictly focused on the sales aspect of the business, marketing automation tools are primarily focused on top of the funnel marketing-related initiatives.

That being said, both are useful in their own ways, and they are incredibly beneficial for businesses of all shapes and sizes, whether they work together or separately.
Keep in mind that Encharge is always here to help you with your email marketing automation needs. With a full set of features, easy onboarding, and a 14-day free trial, Encharge is perfect for anyone of any skill set, no matter the size of the job. Sign up today, and see what you’ve been missing.

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Meet your new marketing automation platform

Customer messaging tools don’t automate workflows outside your product and marketing automation tools are bad at behavior emails. Encharge is the best of both worlds — a marketing automation platform built specifically for B2B SaaS businesses

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Founder Payfacile
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