Marketing Automation vs CRM
Written by: Ryan Flannagan

Chapter 22: Marketing Automation vs. CRM


The first rule of leveraging technology to increase sales is that you do not talk about leveraging technology to increase sales.

No…wait. That’s the first rule of Fight Club.

The first rule of leveraging technology to increase sales is knowing which technologies will work for your business. The field is broad and deep, with myriad apps, software packages, and SaaS platforms available. That said, most fall into one of two broad categories:

  • Marketing Automation, which organizes your leads and automates repetitive marketing and sales tasks in order to streamline your marketing efforts. It’s the core of inbound strategy, giving value-added information to interested consumers and decision makers.
  • Customer Relationship Management Software, which organizes your leads and automates repetitive marketing and sales tasks in order to streamline your marketing efforts. It’s helpful to think of it as the outbound side of automated sales and marketing: taking initiative and knowing when to take initiative with people in your pipeline.

Clear enough?

Both kinds of systems address the same tasks: collecting and managing lead information in ways that trigger sales and marketing moves. The difference is in the emphasis.

Marketing Automation focuses on the online marketing side of this equation. It’s all about nurturing a lead until it’s ready for contact by the sales team. When that happens, the CRM software takes over and helps manage the customer journey from qualified lead status to delighted customer.

You need both kinds of systems to fully leverage technology to maximize your sales.

Trouble is, we’ve found nothing that does both well. There’s plenty out there that does Marketing Automation (for example Hubspot and Infusionsoft) and there are plenty that do CRM well (we recommend Salesforce and Pipedriver). But nothing bridges the gap.

So you need to have one of each, and some kind of internal system (or marketing service company) that acts to bridge the two. In both cases, you’ll use a similar process when deciding what you need.

  • Ensure your strategy is in place so you know exactly what you want your CRM and Marketing Automation to accomplish. Otherwise, you risk buying a high-quality, expensive tool built to do the wrong job.
  • Assess your company’s specific requirements in both areas, department by department. The more you know about what needs to happen to fulfill your strategic goals, the more you can be sure your software has the functionality you need.
  • Either get to know exactly what operating platform your company’s computers are running, or choose a platform to go with with the software you buy. Either way, the goal is to make sure the platform won’t cause problems with the software.
  • List any existing systems, software or other programs that will have to link with the CRM or Marketing Automation. Confirm that it’s possible, to as deep a degree of detail as you can.

Once you’ve run through this, it’s a matter of making decisions the way you’ve known how since much earlier in your career. You compare your needs to your options, choose a price point that doesn’t break the bank while avoiding the bottom-tier quality problems, then execute your plan.

As we move on through the next several chapters, we’ll look in depth at what makes the most excellent example of each of these systems. We’ll examine what they’re for, what they’re not for, and how to leverage the features of each. For now, just know the difference and where each fits in the chain of your business development system.

Ryan Flannagan
Ryan Flannagan

Ryan Flannagan is the Founder & CEO of Nuanced Media, an international eCommerce marketing agency specializing in Amazon. Nuanced has sold $100s of Millions online and Ryan has built a client base representing a total revenue of over 1.5 billion dollars. Ryan is a published author and has been quoted by a number of media sources such as BuzzFeed, CNBC, and Modern Retail.

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