What is the Difference Between Marketing Automation and CRM?

I speak to clients all of the time about the marketing automation process and how this technology is a key component to building the value relationship in the B2B marketing process.  Quite frankly, most tell me, “We already do that with our CRM.” After further discussion, they inevitably ask this question:

“Can you explain the difference between marketing automation and CRM?”

I agree that this is a very good question.  There is significant interest in this topic because the perception is that the CRM (customer relationship management) provides the relationship marketing tools, so why invest in a marketing automation solution?

First off, I think you need both: marketing automation and a CRM.  So, hopefully I can help explain the differences between the two so you can apply this to your lead generation system and strategy.

Goals of CRM

The CRM was developed to provide a sales person with the tools to help manage a sales opportunity.  The bottom line here is that the CRM saves the sales person time by:

1. Providing the sales team with a software tool were they can input, track, and mange sales leads generated by marketing

2.  Offering a key application for tracking, analyzing, and managing opportunities “won” and “lost” and “time to close rate”

3.  Offering some light nurturing e-mail capabilities

Goals of Marketing Automation

While a CRM gathers critical business intelligence, it virtually has no way to take this information and design a nurturing strategy that grows the B2B relationship.  CRM is clearly not a marketing platform that can build the communication between prospect and company over time.  Marketing automation, on the other hand, is a technology that provides scalable infrastructure that can build a one-on-one relationship between prospect and business. Marketing automation works to educate the prospect and takes its cues from relationship building based on lead scores.  Lead scores are driven both from demographic modeling, behavior (i.e. downloading content, an e-book, attending a webinar, or taking a tour, website routing, and nurturing campaigns).  Lead scoring helps create “sales-ready leads” by gathering intelligence about the prospect and responding quickly through an automated  conversion architecture based on what has been learned.

More specifically, marketing automation provides the following tools:

1.  Lead Nurturing:  Educate prospects through a well-planned and staged marketing campaign, offering content linked to landing pages that work to increase the prospect score.

2.  Lead Scoring:  Lead scoring measures prospect interest.  Demographic, behavioral data vary the score to help sales focus on the best opportunities.

3.  Website Tracking:  Web route tracking can be integrated into the prospect scoring model.

4.  E-mail Marketing:  Uploading the e-mail prospect database into a marketing automation system provides multiple segmentation, targeting, and nurturing program opportunities.

5.  Content and Landing Page Conversion Architecture: A/B testing of various content and landing pages will drive up lead scores indicating what prospects are sales ready.

6.  Measure Results:  Integrate sales leads into CRM and track won opportunities, deal flow timing, and ROI.



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