What is the difference between a CRM and a Automation Platform?

What do we mean by CRM?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a term which refers to an approach which is used to manage a business’s practices, interactions and conversations with current and potential customers. The technologies used allow companies to effectively manage, analyse and optimise the focus of their data relationships.

A CRM is a valued and essential tool for many businesses and sales teams around the world. It supports teams in lead generation, organisation, profiling, lead scoring and sales optimisation. Not only this but it improves and assists a customer’s experience throughout their Lifecyle journey, which in turn influences customer retention and loyalty.


So, what’s Marketing Automation?

Marketing Automation is tool which is relatively new to some but 79% of top-performing companies have been using marketing automation for more than 2 years. – Gleanster. Theses software’s allow you to automate communications through triggers, flows and customer built series, which enhances activity and engagement between businesses, prospects and customers.

Through advanced automation you can set up whole customer flows that lead the contact from prospect to retained customer, using welcome programs, loyalty messages, anniversary messages, reminders, offers and more.


The Common Misconception

Many businesses do not understand the difference between a CRM platform (the organising on information to secure leads) and an automation platform (used to build, grow and advanced communications in a tailored and receptive manner throughout a customer Lifecyle journey.)

Customer Relationship Management should be used as a database to help qualify leads and aid in closing sales. Through collected information, notes and integrations it should help you build detailed profiles for each individual customer, this then lets you build up a relationship based on the information you have collated.


How should an Automation Platform be used?

An Automation platform should be used in addition to your CRM database to automatically collect customer information, personal and product preferences and to learn contact interests through clicks, downloads, web patterns, emails and other activities in which data is captured.

Automation platforms allow you to build seamless and organic nurture cycles for your contact, whilst ensuring that they receive a personal 1:1 experience from your brand using very little human interaction. It gives you the ability to manage all online marketing activities whilst driving traffic to specific high engagement areas of your site, core content or even key products.

For example, if you send an email that contains multiple links, then dependent on where your contact clicks you can apply a tag that enables you to collect that information. This may be ‘female’, ‘male’, ‘has children’, ‘likes handbags’ etc. Through the data that is automatically collected your automation flow will then move them in a new direction, this will be specifically tailored to ‘females’ for example. Therefore, it may from then on only display women’s clothes and products, allowing you to then only send and show content relevant to that individual person.

Although you are able to send emails from a CRM and can explore the information which you have captured on your contacts manually, it is not a platform to directly capture customer and prospect data without manually doing so. Automation allows you to advance the experience of a customer and provide a journey which is personable and customised to their every interaction and activity.

Another example of this may be if a customer was to leave an item in their shopping cart without completing their purchase. In this scenario, an automation platform would automatically send a pre-built triggered email to the individual showing them the items they have left and subtly reminding them to continue.


Still unclear on their differences?  

We understand that they do go hand in hand and should be integrated together for the most effective outcome. Yet to be clear Marketing Automation is to help you target your customers and define a specific customer messaging approach using intelligent data. Allowing you to lead a prospect to purchase and a customer to retention and beyond.

A CRM on the other hand should be used to import and store the information you have gathered from your strategic automation flows, enabling your sales teams to create and close sales. When a client turns in to a qualified lead they will move from the marketing funnel into the sales and retention funnel, this is where the CRM system would then take over until you wish to build another automation cycle. This could perhaps be a loyalty flow, a re-engagement series or a new product launch.


Where does that leave us?

We have addressed the difference between a CRM and an Automation Platform, which I hope provides a clear overview of how and when each system should be used. To conclude, both are used to optimise sales and enhance a contacts experience with your brand but at different stages of both the sales and marketing funnels.

If you are currently using one without the other we highly suggest seeking further guidance on how you can grow and strengthen your practice by utilising both a CRM and an automation platform. Especially if you are looking to build engagement, drive sales and optimise data capture. If you are currently not using any of the discussed systems then it may be time to begin thinking about the benefits and positive outcomes that this united infrastructure could have on your business.


If you would like to find out how marketing automation could positively enhance your businesses why not contact us today? Alternatively if you would like to see our Drag & Drop Automation Builder in action you can Book a Demo.



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