Taking an in-depth look at your sales process will help you decide whether or not the company needs a CRM or a marketing automation software, or maybe even both
Since the days when CRM was a customer-oriented company philosophy which involved fundamental changes in commercial policies, to the current era of big data analytics and machine learning, to say that water has flowed under the bridge would be an understatement.
The green screens of those ATMs—and their underlying systems—were not enough for the personalized marketing that CRM advocated. In addition, either because of a lack of"evangelizers", due to the difficulties involved in changing trade policies, or simply because companies hadn’t realized yet the scope of technology, there were many who believed that CRM was just a package that was bought, installed and left to do its thing.
Perhaps this is why, among other things, CRM was abandoned for several years and only survived as complementary software for call centers. Marketing automation platforms, on the contrary, arose from the technological evolution. Not only they didn’t go through the stage of "contempt" suffered by the CRM industrys, instead they became a booming business that does not show signs of slowing down.
According to Marketsandmarkets.com, in 2014, the market value of marketing automation platforms was around 3.65 trillion dollars and it is estimated that it will reach 5.5 trillion in 2019, which would mean more than a 50% growth in five years. What they argue is that there is a clear reason behind the growth. As the price of marketing automation platforms decreases, more and more small businesses adopt it. These are low-cost solutions that can exhibit leverage, ROI and brand dependence.
A CRM - a good CRM - usually collects customers data that would later be used in a marketing platform. Although, as often happens with other platforms that add benefits, marketing platforms today are capable of collecting most of the information needed to work on their own.
Experts say that both CRM and marketing platforms, although similar in many ways, are different in target. While CRM is dedicated to selling, marketing automation platforms are dedicated... well, to marketing. Another way to differentiate them is that while CRM is a tool for managing sales opportunities (business), marketing automation is a tool for generating leads and new opportunities.
So, can CRM and marketing automation tools coexist?
While automation and CRM platforms may look very similar on the surface, they serve different roles in an organization. However, these differences are what make them more valuable for the objectives of each team.
The main objective of marketing is to feed the business pipeline, meaning that the sales team is the number one marketing customer. The role of marketing in the process of creating leads, has grown in the last decade aligning with a process of prospection that continues to extend. If one reviews the different options of marketing automations, you will see that there are some characteristics common to the best platforms:
- Lead Management
- Email Campaigns
- Social Marketing
- Metrics and Analytics
- Integration with CRM
On the other hand, innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning improve and perfect some of the most notable features of automation systems, especially analytical capabilities, detection of browsing patterns and purchase and recognition of emotions, among other qualities.
Surely, if we took a closer look, we would continue to find more features that a good marketing platform should offer, but we will stop here for another question: is it necessary, then, to have both a CRM and a platform for marketing automation? According to the last item of the list, the answer is most likely affirmative.
Taking an in-depth look at your sales process will help you decide whether or not the company needs a CRM or a marketing automation software, or even both. In a small business or one that is just starting, you’ll probably don’t need both systems. If you are dedicated to the sale of manufactured products or very specific services, a CRM, even a simple and free one, could be all you need.
But if your business is based on technology and/or its processes occur mostly online, perhaps a marketing automation platform is more appropriate. Of course, it is needless to say that what is discussed in this paragraph is not written on stone.
In a medium or large company that invests in marketing, combining the CRM with a good software for marketing automation becomes a necessity. Whether you buy a CRM sooner or later, harmonizing both systems allows you to have an all-in-one solution that allows you to solve, simultaneously, the marketing strategy and the needs of good relationships with customers.
Coexistence, then, is not only possible but in many cases is indispensable.