CRM vs Marketing Automation: How To Use Both

8 minute read | 06 Mar 2024

By Boomi

There are enterprise software solutions designed to improve almost every business process. Navigating the full range of options can sometimes be confusing and challenging. Two of the most important categories are Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and marketing automation platforms (MAPs). While some features of these types of software can overlap, it’s not a case of CRM vs. Marketing Automation software because they serve two different purposes. Read on to discover how understanding the strengths of both can help you improve your marketing techniques and boost your sales.

What Is a CRM?

A CRM (customer relationship management) system is designed to store critical information such as customer contact information, sales processes, communication capabilities, and more.

Research repeatedly shows the importance of building emotional connections in retaining customers and fostering long-term brand loyalty. The more information your team has at their fingertips, the better they can nurture leads and satisfy your customers. But information silos, manual processes, and dark data can mean your employees are operating with one hand tied behind their backs. So, how do you ensure sales and marketing have fast and easy access to critical data about customers and prospects?

That’s where CRMs enter the picture. When paired with marketing automation, CRM platforms give your teams the tools they need to stay on top of sales and marketing tasks – so both teams can work together to meet their shared goals.

CRM platforms use data analysis to provide insights about customer preferences and behaviors. This information helps you make better-informed sales and marketing decisions, offer a more personalized service, and foster stronger relationships.

What Is Marketing Automation?

A marketing automation platform is a tool that streamlines marketing processes across multiple channels. Marketing automation takes care of more routine, mundane tasks around engagement so your teams can focus on tasks that benefit from the human touch, such as planning and designing persuasive campaigns.

Key Differences of CRM vs. Marketing Automation

CRMs and marketing automation are two essential tools in the lead-to-sales funnel. Marketing automation keeps a prospect in touch with your company, announcing new campaigns and relevant content while providing data on prospect activity. Once that prospect becomes a more qualified lead, CRMs enable the sales and account teams to help companies engage more effectively with them and maintain tight relationships once they become customers.

Let’s take a closer look at their use cases.


By acting as a central repository for customer details like contact information, preferences, and purchase history, CRMs allow your organization to eliminate data silos and ensure your team has access to all the information they need to improve the customer experience effectively and drive conversions, enhance retention, and boost profitability. Think of it as complete visibility to your customers.

They can also store intent data — predictions of buying intentions based on past behaviors, giving you a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs and pain points.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation tools are designed to help you capture the right audience and guide them through the sales funnel. They can handle activities such as:

  • Lead generation, tracking, scoring, and nurturing
  • Email campaigns
  • Social media posting
  • Landing pages

By automating the distribution of valuable content and personalized follow-ups, you can attract and engage potential customers, boost operational efficiency, and grow revenue faster. Marketing automation also plays a vital role in keeping your marketing and sales teams on the same page.

When To Use a CRM and When To Use Marketing Automation

A CRM is most useful during the prospecting and post-lead stage. It automatically collects, combines, and categorizes prospect data and can also aggregate intent information that can be used for fine-tuning messaging and ad targeting. It’s one-stop shopping for everything in a sales cycle about a prospect.

Some CRMs have marketing and lead automation tools built in, but you usually need a separate solution for effective marketing automation. In some cases, users migrate from a marketing automation platform to a full-fledged CRM as their sales and marketing needs grow.

Marketing automation is used during the pre-lead and lead stages for engaging large groups of prospects at scale. It’s especially helpful for lead routing and can send incoming leads to the most appropriate team or department within your organization.

What Teams Benefit From CRM vs. Marketing Automation?

CRM is best suited for customer support and sales teams to maintain ongoing contact with customers. With CRM tools, support agents and salespeople can quickly access relevant customer information and use these insights to tailor their interactions appropriately.

As the name suggests, marketing automation primarily serves marketing teams. It allows them to carry out routine functions more efficiently and focus more time and energy on value-added tasks. With a good marketing automation tool at their fingertips, teams can transform the efficiency of their marketing strategies.

How CRM and Marketing Automation Can Work Together

CRM and marketing automation tools are advantageous on their own, but they offer even more benefits when combined. By bringing sales and marketing teams together, CRM and marketing automation help you achieve a 360-degree customer view and gain a profound understanding of your customers’ behaviors, needs, and intent.

Here’s how you can use these platforms together to drive revenue:

  1. Integrate your platforms using iPaaS to ensure seamless data flow between your CRM and MAP. Connecting the dots between marketing and sales breaks down data silos, uncovers dark data, and improves overall cohesion and efficiency.
  2. Once you synchronize customer and lead data, a unified view allows you to understand their motivations and requirements better.
  3. You can define your conditions for lead qualification and scoring and then automate lead nurturing campaigns based on these criteria.
  4. By automating workflows, you can reduce time wasted across teams. With Boomi, you can integrate and automate Salesforce with nearly anything, and make the most of all your platforms.
  5. Finally, you can use data from both solutions to refine targeting and personalize the overall customer journey.

Improve Sales and Marketing With Boomi

In an increasingly competitive marketing ecosystem, the tools and techniques that yielded positive results in the past are no longer up to the job. That’s why a growing number of organizations are turning to advanced CRM and marketing automation platforms and looking for ways to keep them up-to-date and in sync.

If you’re researching better marketing solutions, you should consider Boomi.

With pre-built connectors and recipes to connect your marketing, sales, and analytics software, Boomi lets you enhance your customer visibility and refine marketing data to formulate more successful marketing strategies.

Among other benefits, Boomi offers:

  • A way to connect all systems and teams in a single platform
  • A 360-degree view of all your data sources provides full customer visibility
  • Faster lead-to-opportunity timelines with intelligent integration and automation
  • A single source of truth for each customer
  • Easy access to deep data sources

Ready to get started? Learn more about ensuring your marketing efforts pay off: Boomi for Marketing.