CRM or marketing software: what’s the difference?

shopping_cart_CRM_email_marketing_software

Contrary to popular belief, CRM and marketing software are not two words for the same thing.

It is important to know the differences and overlaps between both. How should a smart marketer use CRM and Marketing software to combine the strengths of both?

In a nutshell, a Customer Relationship Management system, or CRM system is mainly designed for saving information like names and addresses, contact moments or purchases someone did in the past.

CRM versus Marketing (automation) software

Marketing software, on the other hand, will facilitate the actual communication with a client. It is designed to help meet marketing goals like generating more traffic to a website for example, or in order to boost a webshop’s conversion.

Of course this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any overlap in the functionalities of both type of tools. Most email marketing software packages offer the possibility to store (basic) profile information in their databases, and most CRM systems offer the option to send certain emails although often a lot more basic.

A golden combination

To be able to perform more advanced email marketing however, it is advised to combine the strengths of a CRM system in combination with an (email) marketing software solution.

By combining the information in your CRM with the possibilities of your marketing software, you can send conversion boosting and relevant emails. The marketing  software should be able to access and use the information in your CRM system. That way  you’ll unlock the power of more relevant and even event driven emails.

Event driven emails

Event driven emails are, like the name suggests, sent whenever a certain event takes place. When you send client a birthday email for example. Or when you send someone an email reminding them of products they filled their online shopping cart with, but left behind.

Some examples of event driven emails you can send by combining the data in your CRM system with the possibilities of your marketing software:

Abandoned shopping carts

Let’s say you’re a webshop owner a visitor puts some products in their shopping cart, but fails to actually purchase his order. By using your CRM and marketing software wisely, you can now:

  • Send this (potential) customer an email half a day later, reminding them of the contents of the cart
  • S-mail him when the items in his shopping cart are about to run out of stock
  • Send him an email, offering discount on certain products in their cart
  • Etcetera

Inactive customers

Set up your marketing software to check your CRM software for how long someone hasn’t logged in to your website (or made a purchase in your webshop, or you didn’t have any email contact with, etcetera). Scoring your clients on their activity or potential value can have a great positive impact on the returns your email marketing software is producing.

Next, configure your marketing software to send someone an email to remind him or her of your business. When doing so, make sure to personalize the email. Use the information in your CRM system to make the email as relevant as possible. Did someone use to go to your website to read articles on a certain topic for instance? Make sure that you include hyperlinks in your email to articles that focus on that subject!

What to look  for: Integration

So what do you look  for when it seems time to start choosing an email marketing software solution?

If you want to be able to use the information in your CRM system, your marketing automation software should have the option to connect to the database in your CRM system. There are various ways to do so:

  • By using an integration that connects your marketing to your CRM system. This is probably the most easy way to automatically use the data in your CRM system to send automatic emails. Look out for marketing software that has integrations available for your CRM software (or offers the option to create your own).
  • By setting your CRM system to automatically export its database on certain set intervals. Upload the information to an SFTP server for example, or to a local hard drive. Then configure your marketing software to automatically import this data.
Michael Linthorst

About Michael Linthorst


Michael Linthorst (1976) is an internet entrepreneur and CEO of Copernica Marketing Software. 10 years ago Michael set up Copernica together with his business partner. Copernica provides marketing software which enables its users to single-handedly set up (automated) campaigns using email, mobile, web pages, social media or print. Next to full-time entrepreneur, Michael is also an avid blogger on subjects such as email marketing, database marketing and eCommerce.

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