how to get the most out of it

In a simple Google search for the leading customer relationship management business software, two names come up repeatedly: CRM and Marketing Automation. Despite some obvious similarities, these software programs are actually designed to perform two different but complementary activities.

With this article, we will take an in-depth look at these software, explaining what they are, the functions they perform, and the (non-trivial) differences between the two. Finally, we’ll discuss the touchpoints between the two apps and how they can be used together.





Marketing Automation: software for marketing teams

Marketing automation was created to help enjoy all the unique benefits marketing opportunities what does the internet offer.

Although we have talked in depth about what marketing automation is in another article, marketing automation software is basically software that interfaces with an email server, website, social media and advertisements for two purposes:

  • encourage visitors, readers, etc. to leave their details (by becoming authenticated users – this is called lead generation)
  • record useful information about their interests and behaviours. If properly integrated, the marketing automation tool will track which pages a user has visited, which emails they have opened or not, etc., depending on the digital touchpoints the software is integrated with.

The goal of Marketing Automation is to create a database with a large history of user data (all actions they have taken), in order to record their interests and degree of interest, and push them, with the right levers, towards buying (retention of prospects).

Indeed, a Marketing Automation suite allows you to assign a positive (or negative) score to contacts based on actions to measure the “temperature” of each contact, a particularly useful feature for B2B. For example, the software might award 10 points if a user opens an email, 20 if they go to a certain page on the site, 40 if they download an e-book or white paper on a certain topic. The higher the score, the more likely the potential customer is to be interested in your products and services.

In the same way – based on actions performed, emails opened, resources downloaded etc. – Key words can also be assigned to usersin order to register the topic, product or service in which they have expressed interest.

Based on the information collected, it then becomes possible for segment the database in user groups with interests and “temperatures,” then get ready tailor-made campaigns for each set of users using a combination of tools such as forms, pop-ups, emails, landing pages and downloadable resources.

the campaigns are completely automated by the software according to the if-then-else approach, which allows to prepare certain emails or to use certain pop-ups only when certain conditions arise in order to create different paths towards the ultimate goal, the purchase (or the contact request ) . Hence the name “marketing automation”.




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CRM: commercial negotiations and support

If the name Marketing Automation derives from a product feature – automation – CRM take their name from the business philosophy behind them: customer relationship management.

Originating in the 1980s in America, customer relationship management evolved from database marketing where businesses could begin to keep a record of customer information in a shared digital format, known as lead management. From there, the term eventually became synonymous with the first software that made this kind of management possible.

A RCMP is a software dedicated to sales and after-sales service. Contacts of all customers (active and inactive) are stored in the software and users can access this information to update records and register the offers issued, deadlines, products of interest, customer needs, or even put an appointment on the calendar and set a reminder.

Some CRMs also allow customers to directly open technical and sales support request tickets, functioning in all respects as customer support and tracking software.

In the past, CRMs had to be installed directly on-site on company servers, which naturally increased their price considerably and made them a solution that only a few (large) companies could afford.

Today, CRMs are relatively widespread, even in small and medium-sized businesses, thanks to the emergence of the SaaS model (Software as a Service accessible via the internet), which allows access to your CRM from any device. with an internet connection and replace the high costs of on-site with an annual license at a much lower price.

Touchpoints and Differences

In short, then:

  • Marketing Automation is software that allows you to perform lead generation activities on the website and other touchpoints (social networks, webinars) and cultivate the love relationship with the potential customer by registering their interests and sending personalized and automated communications, and it operates on large numbers and broad audiences.
  • RCMP is an application designed for accounts and sales people to manage contacts with very hot customers and prospects, which tends to be a small group of people. When properly configured, it can also be used as a ticketing system for managing customer support.

Both are contact management software, one for sales and accounts, the other for the marketing team.

In this sense, it can happen (moreover it is the practice) that the same customer is present in both, both as a commercial contact or customer in the CRM, and as a marketing target in the marketing automation software. Customers and potential customers are therefore the closest point of contact between the two softwares, which, if it opens the door to synergy between the two (we’ll talk about that in a moment), it can also be potentially risky if there is no communication between the two services that use them.

An example of what could happen is that the interests and products desired by a certain prospect have been noted by the salesperson in the CRM, but Marketing has not been informed and therefore continues to send generic communications.

On the other hand, it may happen that the company’s historical customer in the CRM is treated as one of the many in the marketing automation software (when he should be treated as a gold customer).

You want to avoid both of these scenarios, and the way to do that is to the integration of the two software.

CRM and Marketing Automation: Use Both to Get the Most Out of It

To understand why, we must start with the classic sales funnel model.

In this classic scheme, potential customers become actual customers by going through a series of stages (four or more depending on the scheme). Let’s look at the most well-known structure:

  • Sensitization: they are intrigued and discover the product/service
  • Consideration: they compare what they know about the product with their needs and their competitors
  • Decision: they decide to give the product/service a chance (free trial or contact request)
  • action: they buy the product/service

With each of these steps or stages, the audience of potential customers tends to contract, hence the funnel shape.

We can see how the first two steps are the responsibility of marketing: make the product known, inform and encourage the anonymous visitor to become a lead (lead generation) to be cultivated with emails and appropriate messages.

The last two stages of the funnel are the responsibility of Sales: it is the sales people who then close the deal, who consolidate the decision made by the lead, and transform him into a real customer.

Integrating Marketing automation with CRMat the IT level (via API, but that would require your own position) and at the functional level, getting the teams used to using the software in synergy, we can rcreate and follow the customer journey in detail.

  • Customer arrives on site (via organic search, ads, etc.) and leaves their data (e.g. in exchange for a free e-book)
  • Contact information is generated in the marketing automation software and tagged according to registered interests
  • The contact is approached with communications that are relevant to their interests
  • For each action taken that reveals an interest receives a score

When this score is high enough, i.e. the contact has shown sufficient interest, or the contact opts for a free trial, the potential customer is passed to the sales department on the CRM to be followed up and finally contacted .

  • The lead is contacted by the sales team
  • Once interest is confirmed, negotiations are initiated and a quote is presented
  • The customer accepts the offer (action) and becomes a customer

The funnel and all of these stages can naturally vary depending on the audience and your business. What remains is the advantage of having two software that work in synergy on the same users even though they have different functions, and in this way they allow you to monitor the entire funnel.