If you’re reading this guide, it probably means you’re confused on what CRM software even is. That’s completely understandable, most people are confused, and rightfully so. CRMs seem complicated because they are complicated. The same goes for CDPs and marketing automation software which we’ll get into.

We want to clear things up for you, especially if you’re a business owner who wants to implement some of this software. We’re here to help you navigate the trickiness that is Customer Relationship Management Software.

Customer Relationship Management

How many times has a new opportunity for your business fallen through the cracks?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is software used to manage all of your interactions with current and potential customers. If you’re in over your head managing customer accounts, a CRM is a godsend.

CRM software helps you manage client information, generate new leads, and enhance team communication.

So what does customer relationship management software do in order to achieve all of these things?

Managing Contacts

Writing customer information on a sticky note is fine and dandy if you’re a small business with a slow flow of customers, but as your business speeds up, you’re going to be losing out on opportunities.

With a Customer Relationship Management tool, you’ll have all your customer’s information in one place. This is essential in businesses with multiple people on customer accounts.

The more people talking to customers, the more entropy you’ll introduce to your business. Files might be getting lost, salespeople could be bumping heads, or customer service is coming up short.

You are leaving money on the table if your business is not using a customer relations management platform. Keeping customer information organized and accessible to your sales team from anywhere is why your business needs a CRM.

Managing Leads

Companies that use CRM software are able to take prospects and potential leads and turn them into customers, this is exactly what CRM’s are meant for. This is done by creating a customer profile for each one of your interested/current customers and storing important information within those profiles.

Compiled data of individual customers can be extremely useful in the late stages of the marketing funnel when trying to generate sales from your qualified leads.

Tracking Emails

Some CRM tools have software that keeps track of your email campaigns, but there are also many CRM tools that integrate with other email campaign tools such as Mailchimp or RedEye, and Gmail.

This is why using CRM software can be highly beneficial to you whether you want an entire system of managing contacts or want to integrate with the data collection software that you already have.

Much More

While managing your contacts, leads, and emails are at the backbone of CRM software out there, there is so much more that CRM software can do to integrate different aspects of your business.

As an example, CRM doesn’t only work for marketing purposes. As a matter of fact, CRM software can make Supply Chain Management much more efficient.

CRM’s do a great job of segmenting supply chains into streams (or segments) and making the whole process much more efficient.

Marketing Automation

This is all of the software and strategies relating to automated marketing activities. Marketing Automation is typically one of the selling points of most major Customer Relationship Management softwares. One of the main examples people use is repetitive or spammy emails.

Contrary to popular belief, marketing automation actually stems much further than this, even though email automation is a big part of marketing automation.

Still in today’s world, some people may believe that email spamming is at the core of generating leads or sales, but in actuality, good marketing automation creates personalized and relevant messages for leads, potential customers, and even current customers that provide lifetime value.

The specific features of marketing automation vary from vendor to vendor, but regardless of which automation software you go with, your control over your email marketing campaign will greatly increase.

Examples of common Marketing Automation platforms that include a CRM are:

Lead Scoring/Nurturing

One of the most important aspects of the lead generation process is lead scoring. This involves scoring each lead (or customer) based on the value they have towards the company. By doing this, it allows your sales force or whoever engages with your leads, to take action on highest valued leads first.

Most marketing automation software have this feature and it is highly recommended you utilize it. On top of scoring leads, nurturing them is just as important.

Automation software such as SalesForce have a multitude of tools to achieve this, including automated messaging, linking your marketing automation to your CRM organization, and much more.

Email Marketing

Another crucial feature of marketing automation software is email marketing, specifically automated email marketing.

While this is probably the most popular feature of marketing automation, it has to be used properly. Oftentimes companies over-do their email marketing automation and end up spamming emails to people, turning them off in the process.

If you can avoid that crucial error and focus email automation to truly qualified leads, you’ll find much more success in utilizing marketing automation software.

Much More

There are so many things you can do with marketing automation software, and each company has their own specific tools to use, so don’t be afraid to dive in and start automating.

Some marketing automation companies focus more on personalization and making sure you’re getting the right email to the right customer, whereas others may focus on getting as many emails out as possible (most likely not the right approach).

Picking the right strategy and the right marketing automation software for your business is crucial and it must jive with your internal processes.

Just know that if you have a specific goal in mind in terms of communicating with the customer, there is most likely a marketing automation software out there that can help you.

Here’s The Difference

Many times CRM’s dont have the functions that marketing automations systems do. For one, CRM’s typically don’t do email blasting (which you shouldn’t do anyways).

Another key difference is that marketing automation systems typically leverage social media platforms into their lead generation campaigns. CRM involves handling leads and qualifying them, more hands on style of customer interaction, whereas marketing automation focuses on getting as many relevant leads as possible that can lead to a possible conversion.

What About Customer Data Platforms?

At this point you may be thinking, “how many data platforms do I really need?”

The best way to figure out if you need a CDP is by figuring out if you need to drastically simplify the data surrounding your customer. Because that's exactly what a CDP does; it can take a massive amount of data (known amongst the industry as a 360 degree view), cleans that data, and delivers it in any way you need it to be, whether that be integrating it with your already existent Customer Relationship Management software or using it on its own.

CDP’s also take data from a large number of external sources that a customer uses and personalizes the data for each specific customer. This gives marketers a much easier time when dealing with a sea of data.

Whether or not you want to use a CDP is entirely up to your current situation. If you already have a working CRM system in place, replacing it and using a CDP isn’t the right call.

Instead, you can use both a CDP tool and a CRM tool together. While there is a lot of overlap in what both of these systems do for you, there are enough differences in the software that makes having both quite useful.

Examples of Common CDPs are:

There’s dozens of great CDPs out there waiting to be utilized. Each one has their own benefits, and some might work better than others for your specific niche.

Why These Systems Matter

Having systems that can manage your customer relationships, customize email marketing, and employ customer data is essential to an efficiently running business. Just because your business is on the right track in terms of delivering great products and services doesn’t mean you’re optimizing your relationships with those customers. Every day you spend manually working with each customer is another day of lost opportunity in terms of maximizing leads that are conducive to your business.

You’re also probably spending more time than you need to in order to generate those leads. CRMs, marketing automation systems, and CDP’s are much faster and more efficient at helping you manage all of your customers and potential customers.

Lastly, without any of these systems, you are stuck managing all your customer information by yourself. If you’re a very small business with a handful of customers, spending money on a marketing automation system/CRM may not be in your best interest.

If you have a small to medium size business, HubSpot might be the right choice for you. But if you’re finding yourself losing sleep about the number of customers you’re not reaching, it may be time to seriously consider some real marketing software before it’s too late.

How Employing These Systems Directly Helps Your Business

Let’s start off with a mind boggling statistic about Customer Relationship Management generating ROI.

Research has shown that for companies that use CRM, every dollar spent on CRM software, you can expect around $8.71 back in revenue.

While revenues from business to business are going to vary when using CRM’s, you can, with confidence, assume that your conversion rates will increase. While seeing an increase in revenue and conversion rates can be great, putting your customer data in a place where it is easily attainable and stress free will save you plenty of time and frustration.

As explained before, it’s important to decide which type of marketing data software you want to employ. For smaller businesses without a big supply chain or massive audience, a tool like HubSpot may be ideal.

In terms of the bigger picture, you may want to consider a CRM service like SalesForce. That being said, the market for CRMs, Marketing Automation, and CDP’s is large and constantly growing. Determining which specific software you want to use depends entirely on your company’s needs, but know that the perfect software for you is definitely out there!


We hope this article brought clarity to you and your business regarding the world of CRM. If you have questions about integrating a CRM or marketing automation system such as Hubspot for your business, feel free to reach out to our digital strategists here!

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