The main differences are on type of users, core function, goal and role in the buyer’s journey. CRM and marketing automation are different processes with different purposes and utilize distinct tools. The confusion usually arises because both CRM and marketing automation typically deal with the same information (contacts, lists, profiles, etc.) and similarly work with leads. How each of the system manage and utilize those leads and information are entirely separate matters. To get a clearer picture, let’s go over what CRM and marketing automation do.
If you're running a brick-and-mortar business—say, a hotel, restaurant, or store, or even an in-person service company like a law firm or repair team—website visitors might not be your most important lead source. You'll likely have far more people calling your business to check about your opening hours, current prices, and more. CallTrackingMetrics is designed exactly for that.

The consequence is that marketers begin buying lists of email addresses to nurture instead of generating inbound leads. While it seems like a quick fix, it's not a long-term solution, nor does it create the fertile ground for a healthier, longer relationship with your future customers. In our plant analogy, it's sort of like using artificial chemicals or enhancers to make your plant grow faster. Sure, it seems like a good, quick fix--but it doesn't set you up for future, long-term success.  


The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier to manage and execute. One primary difference with CRM is that Marketing Automation systems can track behavioral and demographic data for marketing engaged prospects to automate nurture programs that encourage certain buyer actions. Marketing automation is best utilized for nurturing leads and prospects with content to advance their stage in the buyer journey.
For home security company Blink, success began with a 2014 Kickstarter campaign. More than 7,000 backers provided them with funding, and these backers became an engaged audience. After that, Blink used Mailchimp's powerful testing and reporting tools in combination with surveys to determine what these customers liked best. They learned that design matters just as much as content and that it's as valuable to send relationship-building emails as it is to send emails that convert. In this article, Blink tells us how optimizing their email automations has helped them sell more than 400,000 of their security products.
Established Enterprise software providers at the big end of town including IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe and Teradata started building their own platforms. But to accelerate their evolution they started acquiring technology start-ups that added features and market share.  Salesforce bought Exact Target, IBM purchased SilverPop and Oracle bought Eloqua.
This becomes important when a company's marketing operations rely on a survey, email, social media or chatbot app for inbound lead-generation efforts that plug into Marketo or Eloqua, which, in turn, allows those marketing processes to continue regardless of which CRM the company uses. In effect, they act as middleware connecting the thousands of niche marketing automation tools and large CRM systems, where a company's customer data resides.

AI powered Business Growth Platform that offers a unique and in-depth integration with Salesforce, SugarCRM and SuiteCRM. INBOX25 unleashes and connects every digital engagement channel to build a truly data-driven marketing and sales program. The platform enables the deployment of a wide range of digital tools to Attract, Capture, Nurture & Analyze a firm's marketing database throughout the entire lifecycle; from prospect to brand loyalist. Delivering personalized customer experiences through complex and robust automated journeys has never been easier.

There's also the marketing broadcast tools you'd expect to email all of your contacts, but there's also ways to send voice messages, faxes, or even print out paper letters with your contacts' personalized info to send out by mail. And if you're not already selling products directly from your site, you can use Infusionsoft's eCommerce tools to build your own store and track the purchases and pages viewed right in your CRM. It's everything you'd need to identify your customers' needs, customize marketing to them, actually sell your real products, and make sure you're staying on top of everything you need to do at the same time.
VBOUT is a powerful, affordable and simple to use, all-in-one marketing automation solution. The platform has an easy drag-and-drop landing pages and forms, visual customer journey builder, social media management and email marketing tools. In-depth native analytics and user tracking are provided, giving marketers full view of their contact's engagement and campaign performance. VBOUT provides agencies and partners with powerful tools to whitelabel the solution, build their own plans with their own marke-up, manage their accounts and shared assets from one account.

There's also the marketing broadcast tools you'd expect to email all of your contacts, but there's also ways to send voice messages, faxes, or even print out paper letters with your contacts' personalized info to send out by mail. And if you're not already selling products directly from your site, you can use Infusionsoft's eCommerce tools to build your own store and track the purchases and pages viewed right in your CRM. It's everything you'd need to identify your customers' needs, customize marketing to them, actually sell your real products, and make sure you're staying on top of everything you need to do at the same time.
ONTRAPORT’s mission is to “support entrepreneurs in delivering their value to the world by removing the burden of technology.” It aims to do this by allowing companies to get a complete visualization of the customer journey. Knowing that many small businesses struggle to gain a clear understanding of how their marketing efforts are paying off, ONTRAPORT is built to help them see how customers respond to messages — via SMS, email, postcards, and landing pages — through data. This information, in turn, can be used to build compelling campaigns within the platform.
“Set it and forget it” solution. Marketing automation is a remarkable tool that helps marketers achieve results. But those results don’t happen without a the right processes, strategy and effort set in place. Marketing automation is meant to enhance and support marketing and sales, NOT become a one-size-fits-all substitute. So don’t sit back and expect marketing automation to magically achieve goals without you.
That doesn’t sound much like a CRM system, does it?  If the core of marketing automation is email blasting, the foundation of CRM is sales force automation (SFA). While both systems operate on leads, contacts and companies, they work in very different contexts.  The marketing automation user is almost entirely focused on leads.  In contrast, the SFA user sees leads as important only in the short term, as the successful sales rep will be working on deals (opportunities) and talking with contacts (leads that have been fully qualified and promoted or converted).  The SFA user is a very different animal than the typical marketing person, and too often there is actual animosity between the two teams.
We’re fond of saying that Net-Results is the 1st choice of people buying marketing automation for the 2nd time. This wasn’t devised in a marketing meeting, it's something we discovered talking to customers who love us. Marketers who've spent time using our competitors' software - those who've experienced what it's like to work with those vendors and their products - are consistently the ones who love us the most. Let's talk. You may love us too :)
Tirena is a Managing Senior Analyst for Gartner Digital Markets. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Writing Intensive BS in Biology with a focus in genetics, obtained a Masters in Public Health from George Mason University, a Writing Certificate from the University of Cambridge and a Marketing Certificate from Georgetown University. Follow her on @TJDingeldein for insights on marketing, data science, and startups.
There are plenty of businesses that rely on close personal relationships, where that have a hand-picked set of leads that their sales team works to turn into deals. They need to track what's said, note personal details about the contact, and make sure they know when they need to follow up. That's where the dozens of great traditional CRM apps come in, as we looked at in chapter 2. They're tools that can help your business track all of the info about your customers, your conversations with them, and convert them from leads into deals.

Marketing automation platforms allow companies to deliver promotions on, say, flash sales, to small segments of the customer universe based on targeted campaign objectives, or revenue goals for a particular territory or population. AI and analytics tools either can or soon will be able to create predictive models that can drive even more revenue with fewer customers contacted per campaign, depending on the tool and to which CRM platform it connects.
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