Chandresh Shah

Classic differences between CRM and Marketing Automation (MA) software

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In the world of EHR, most systems consist of following elements:

  • EMR
  • Billing Software
  • Practice Management – scheduler, workflow, check-in, check-out etc., document management
  • Patient Portal

For Marketing, very few systems are a combination of CRM and MA – or ‘all-in-one’. I tend to view CRM as a ‘database’ and Marketing Automation as a ‘Business workflow’.

Traditional CRM

It is a platform to assist a company’s sales team and relationship managers by tracking opportunities to sell or extend the company’s existing customer relationships. CRM is supposed to free up some of sales people’s time by making them more effective and provide a complete view of an opportunity or customer.

Flip side of the benefit was that sales people had to ‘log’ every detail of their interactions with the potential; every activity such as phone call and email, so that when the touch the potential again, they know the history of their interactions.

Marketing Automation

Platform to help marketers better target and execute one-one communication with key leads/prospects before they become opportunities to generate interest and demand.

CRM platforms consolidate quite a bit of information about prospects, but don’t have the necessary framework or tools for true nurturing of earlier stage prospects. A very large percentage of prospects (by some accounts, up to 74%) are not ready to buy in the short term.

Plus, CRM is not designed to be a communications platform. The sales person does the communication, history of which is logged.

Marketing Automation leverages CRM where necessary to fill gaps. MA has more capabilities (lacking in CRM) that enable marketers take demand generation to the next level.

Marketing Automation empowers buyers to generate demand in their own minds of your products/services.

This is important from a ‘scaling’ perspective to manage a very dynamic campaign dependent on multiple buyer profiles and behavior to engage them on a mass one-to-one level.

According to Marketo, an industry leading Marketing Automation Company, following are the main differences.

CRM Software like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are very good at Sales.

Marketing Automation is excellent at helping Marketers Bridge the gap between Sales and Marketing departments so that sales reps are more likely to have successful closes due to more insightful information about buyers and also where they are in the sales funnel.

Here are some more differences:

  • From an overall business perspective, CRM is more focused on aggregating knowledge about new-customer pipelines; whereas, marketing automation is more focused on orchestrating one-to-one communication with early-stage prospects and on scoring/routing new prospects to manage subsequent marketing and sales actions.
  • From the perspective of sales/marketing roles, CRM is focused more on new sales, account management and service, and it is the system your sales team is most likely to spend their time in; meanwhile, marketing automation is focused almost exclusively on the marketing team and on the front end of demand generation.
  • From a technical perspective, CRM is more of a database, but it does enable some minor execution of communication activities and certainly has basic rules processing to automate account management functions; meanwhile, marketing automation is much more of an execution platform — with robust rules processing and enterprise-grade email/digital-communication sending capabilities — yet it also does help store and track critical marketing data, particularly prospects’ organic Web behaviors, as well as actions with content offers and downloads in response to nurturing emails.