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The Difference Between CRM and Marketing Automation

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The Difference Between CRM and Marketing Automation


At the core of both CRM and Marketing Automation Software, you will find the ability to sort and manage your customer data. This information will let you know your clients better, curate brand loyalty and develop better customer relationships.

However, we see that plenty of organisations scramble the definitions of CRM and marketing automation. What is the actual difference between the two? And which one will be right for your business? It’s time to lift the fog once and for all.


What Is Marketing Automation?


Digital marketing is big business these days.

In today’s fast-paced world, customer data flows in via beautifully designed landing pages, clever social media posts and well-written emails. Organisations need to sort and analyze this data in order to trigger responses, such as personalised email and web content, that will eventually lead to sales.

In a nutshell, marketing automation software enables digital communication. Its core system have email blasting that can handle email sequences on an industrial scale. Additionally, you can effortlessly trace the customer through the various stages of the sales funnel, from the point of initial interest to desire to action. Most organisations will deem it challenging to predict the behaviour of a prospect in advance, and that’s why most marketing automation software will offer workflow features that can facilitate A/B split testing, as this can help you pinpoint what will lead to optimal results.

In short, a marketing automation software is all about triggering effective communication with the right people via the appropriate channels.



What is a CRM Solution?


In the broadest sense possible, one can say that a CRM solution is a set of processes that enable us to manage and curate our customer relationships.

Your CRM is a powerful tool that can store large amounts of data collected from your customers, and once the data is processed it can trigger follow-up actions such as phone calls and scheduling. In essence, a good CRM system should focus on managing your workflow throughout the sales funnel. Typically, a CRM will sport features such as


  • Account Management
  • Contact Management
  • Pipeline Management
  • Forecasting
  • Opportunity and Lead Tracking
  • Task Management
  • Event Tracking
  • Reporting
  • Quotes and Estimates
  • Contact Histories


In addition, a CRM solution can extend into areas of ecommerce, customer service, call centre and customer relationships. Popular CRM solutions include Capsule, GreenRope and FunnelCRM. HubSpot, on the other hand, is a powerful cross between CRM and a marketing automation tool. 

Does it still seem like the two overlap? Well, as a conclusion we can say that CRM is all about containing and cultivating data, while a marketing automation software offers more sophisticated ways of communicating to that data. Click here to read more about the 6 best HubSpot alternatives on the market. 



Do You Need CRM or Marketing Automation?


We get a lot of requests from companies wondering which software to choose. However, the answer might be that you need both.

You see, most industry experts will argue that a CRM solution and marketing automation software do two completely different things. At their core, both aim to collect and manage consumer data which is then used to trigger sales and marketing actions. But while CRM focuses on sales, the other will focus on digital marketing and outreach.

If you have had a look at the software market, you will probably have noticed that quite a few of the CRM vendors offer basic marketing automation functionality within their systems. But while these CRMs will give you a “one stop shop”, we often find that their level of communication is still considered relatively basic. It will undoubtedly be enough for some companies, but if you’re running a business with a strong digital marketing department, then the marketing tools in a CRM might not be sophisticated enough for you.

However, the two together can be a powerful driving force within a business. A marketing automation tool allows you to set up pre-built campaigns that are automatically sent to individual leads when they complete certain actions. In addition to split testing, you can also combine multiple marketing channels - ultimately leading to a more scalable and efficient sales process.

Do you want to learn more about marketing automation tools? Here's our HubSpot vs Marketo review


In conclusion, you need marketing automation tools to manage your digital campaigns, but you will need CRM to help your sales department manage and nurture these leads. Combined, these two can help you generate more leads and convert those leads into paying customers.

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