Marketing automation and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services help marketing agencies organize data, nurture leads and ultimately drive sales.

CRM and marketing automation software provide essential functions for a marketing agency. Choosing between or the other is essentially like saying, “Would you rather obtain new customers or keep your existing ones?” Of course, the answer is both. In order to survive in today’s competitive landscape, agencies need to use the CRM to maximize the deals in the pipeline and marketing automation to drive the lead generation engine – without leads, your sales team will starve.

Here is a bit more on how marketing automation and CRM software are different and how these services can work together to generate revenue.

CRM vs. Marketing Automation

At the most basic level, CRM is mainly about managing existing customers, while marketing automation is about generating and nurturing leads. CRM is a database for storing the information you need regarding a lead. Marketing automation is more action oriented, with a focus on achieving a specific goal (i.e., making a sale) by executing specific tasks based on the information provided by a lead.

The Overlap

The CRM can do more than just store data, the software can also send reminders and important announcements regarding the company to an existing customer.

Likewise, marketing automation has a database that stores, categorizes, and analyzes the lead’s information. The purpose of storing this information is to suggest a particular course of action. Based on the lead’s information, the marketing automation software automatically communicates with a lead, based on the lead’s behavior and interests. When used properly, marketing automation is capable of sending each lead the exact right message, at the exact right time – thus ensuring the maximum possible conversion for an agency’s marketing dollars.

Integrating Systems

Combining both services is usually the best option. Using marketing automation and CRM in tandem is the best way to play to the strengths of each service. The CRM can be used for data storage and sales management, which gives the sales team easy access to the lead’s pertinent information, as well as to the existing customers’ history.

The marketing automation platform can be used to identify specific behaviors and execute predefined tasks, which will drive leads to the sales team. Identifying these behaviors will make lead nurturing more effective and can help the marketing department generate content that personally appeals to a specific lead. Just like the CRM, marketing automation can be used to send reminders and updates to existing customers. With an automated platform, an email can be sent regarding new product suggestions based on a customer’s purchase history.

The best strategy is to implement both CRM and marketing automation – either by integrating the agency’s two favorite systems or choosing a solution like SharpSpring that features both a CRM and a marketing automation system.

When used properly, CRM and marketing automation services work in tandem to help companies generate more leads, nurture those leads until they are sales ready, maximize close ratios, and prove marketing ROI.


Isabel Hasty
Isabel Hasty writes and edits case studies to share client success stories and industry trends. She produces a variety of lead-generation content, including white papers, blogs, infographics, and thought leadership articles.