Marketing Automation vs. CRM

What’s The Difference and Who Wins?

The question is often asked, what’s the difference between marketing automation and a Customers Relationship Manager or CRM system? Which is superior? In this short article, we will compare and contrast marketing automation’s easy-to-learn functions with customer relationship management (CRM) software such as SalesForce or Zoho.

This no-nonsense comparison/throw-down will cover three key areas: lead generation, sales and return on investment or ROI. As you will see, the differences are quite stark.

Round I: Generating More Leads

As far as generating leads is concerned, CRM software can:

  • Import a CSV (Comma Separated Values) of leads

On the other hand, Marketing Automation functions and features include all of the following:

  • Import a CSV (Comma Separated Values) of leads
  • Visitor ID for identifying anonymous web traffic
  • Dynamic form fields for building complete leads profiles
  • Third-party and native-form integration
  • Tracking email communication with leads
  • Automatically connect on social media
  • Qualify leads based on position in sales cycle
  • Schedule an email to a lead for future delivery


That’s a whole lot of flexibility and functionality. Marketing Automation clearly wins that round, hands down.
Lead Generation Score: Marketing Automation 8, CRM 1


Round II: Driving Sales

Moving on to driving sales, CRM software can:

  • Score the leads based on engagement and sales-readiness

To compare, Marketing Automation offers the following sales-related features and benefits:

  • Score the leads based on engagement and sales-readiness
  • Valuable sales insights pertaining to a leads interests
  • Receive notifications when leads are sales ready
  • Automatically segment your leads based on their behavior
  • Targeted messages for near one-on-one communication
  • An illustrated time line of a leads activity with your website
  • Increased engagement with segmented messages

It’s clearly another blowout round for Marketing Automation.
Driving Sales Score: Marketing Automation 7, CRM 1


Round III: Proving ROI

Finally, let’s get down to brass tacks as they say. ROI is where the rubber really meets the road. Once again let’s compare. CRM software can:

  • Record deals won and deals lost

While Marketing Automation Software offers that and much more:

  • Record deals won and deals lost
  • Detailed email analytics
  • Eliminate wasteful marketing spends
  • Online and offline monitoring of leads activity
  • Automatic return on investment calculations

Once again, Marketing Automation dominates and takes the round handily.
Proving ROI Score: Marketing Automation 6, CRM 1

So our final score for this throw-down is Marketing Automation 21, CRM 3 – pretty much a blowout in favor of Marketing Automation. As mentioned earlier, the differences between the two is quite stark. CRM only offered one feature in each category. That’s not going to fly in today’s digital marketing world.


If you are interested in learning more about Marketing Automation, or have any questions about this article, call 714.637.3600 and speak with the specialists at Total Spectrum. Or email

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