CRM vs. Marketing Automation: What’s the Difference and Which Do You Need?

on January 2, 2018

All these years I lived under the impression that Nordic countries and Scandinavian countries were the same.

Turns out, they’re not. Surprising, I know.

That’s almost the same kind of reaction people get when they’re told that Marketing Automation and CRM are not synonymous. They may sound like they are, but they aren’t.

With that said, I intend to unveil the major differences that set these two systems apart.

Let’s divvy-up –

The difference of focus

The prime difference stems from who these systems target. A CRM is focused around sales whereas marketing automation systems are focused around marketing. A customer relationship management tool saves crucial customer information such as their phone number, address, name, and the nature of interaction with the company.

Marketing automation systems also share the same details, but that’s the only similarly between the two.

The latter allows you to chase/track top-funnel marketing activities such as –

  • when the customer visited the website,

  • when he opened an email

  • read the blog,

  • or filled out the form on the website

  • and so on.

The idea is to track and schedule marketing campaigns (particularly email campaign).

Difference of functionality


  • Sales team can keep track of the sales process and see in which phase the customer is currently in.

  • Paints a clear picture of who the customer is by showing their buying history; thus creating room for a more personalized conversation for sales rep.

  • Allows sending promotional materials targeted to the customers which amplifies the chances of the lead getting matured.

  • Several CRMs can be synced with social media thus showing you the channel with the maximum traffic.

  • Sends automated internal alerts at events like during the setting up of a new account, a scheduled call, or when it’s the birthday of a customer for more personalized greeting.

Marketing Automation Software

Digital marketing campaigners use these software to track and schedule marketing related campaigns; particularly B2C and mass business communications.

Here are some of its functionalities explained:

  • Allows segmenting various prospects into relevant mailing lists based on their personal preferences, interests, and the nature of interaction they’ve had with the company.

  • Allows sending of automatically emails which are triggered when a user shows interest in the product/service. The software also allows scheduling of drip campaign which sends a ‘series’ of emails to stay in the eyes of the prospects.

  • Marketing automation software generates ‘analytics’ report after the campaign ends to show just how successful it was.

Now that you know the basic differences between the two, you must wonder why a company would track half the prospects in one system (CRM) and the other half in another (marketing automation).

The thing is – with most automation systems, you can sync the data of CRM in order to make the prospect information accessible through a common