Marketing automation is by no means a new concept or practice. Indeed, it has demonstrable merits for businesses of all sizes and industries. Furthermore, as with most marketing technologies, it has much to gain from other innovative technologies and business solutions. From Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Big Data, many such technologies can cooperate to inform business decisions. Here at MoversTech, we swear by the efficiency of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, which is another notable example. Thus, if you’re wondering about the role of CRM in marketing automation, this article should offer some insights.

Marketing automation software: specialized tools for marketing automation

As the name implies, marketing automation is a specific subset of automation that focuses on marketing efforts. Thus, marketing automation software has specific goals to achieve its purpose:

  • Automate marketing campaigns such as outgoing emails
  • Nurture and re-engage leads
  • Prioritize and segment leads through lead scoring
  • Streamline marketing activities through data syncing

While this list may slightly simplify such software’s purpose, those should be the main focal point. Marketing automation software bypasses the limitations of human analyses and susceptibility to error, handling, and automating massive troves of data. It thus goes without question that it can improve productivity, streamline marketing departments’ workflow, and enhance one’s sales funnel.

CRM: a holistic approach to customer management

CRM software, on the other hand, intends to streamline and optimize every stage of a customer’s interactions with a company. It’s an invaluable asset toward building a customer-centric strategy, and it provides specific assets to serve this purpose:

  • A consolidated customer database
  • Customer segmentation tools
  • Automation tools
  • Customization and third-party integration capabilities

Core features aside, CRM software is also divided into 3 main types, each of which focuses on specific functionalities. These are the following.

1. Operational CRM

Arguably the most common specialized CRM type, operational CRM seeks to streamline business operations. To do so, it commonly provides service, sales, and marketing automation tools. This is likely the clearest example of the increasingly prominent role of CRM in marketing automation.

2. Analytical CRM

More closely aligned with data analysis technologies, analytical CRM focuses on data analysis, as the name suggests. To do so, it provides deeper customer segmentation tools, as well as predictive modeling and profitability analysis tools. Finally, it closely monitors historical customer interaction and purchase histories, as well as interaction touchpoints, to inform such predictive models.

3. Collaborative CRM

Finally, collaborative CRM focuses on enhancing internal collaboration within departments and between different ones. To do so, it consolidates communication channels and provides more interaction management tools. As such, collaborative CRM can be a very valuable asset toward managing social media campaigns and strategies more effectively.

The role of CRM in marketing automation

With the above in mind, it should already be clear that CRM can play a prominent role in marketing automation. It being an asset toward growth aside, the two already overlap somewhat – as evidenced by operational CRM. As such, using the two in tandem can present massive opportunities for fine-tuning your sales funnel and ultimately driving sales.

People around a table looking at papers with infographs and pie charts.
Through deep customer interaction insights, the role of CRM in marketing automation is to optimize all customer interactions.

#1: Improved lead nurturing capabilities

While both marketing automation and CRM software can offer such functions, combining the two can help nurture more qualified leads. To support this specific combination of the two, consider the following statistics:

  • 57% of a purchase decision is complete before customers contact suppliers (according to Forrester)
  • 67% of a buyer’s journey is completed digitally
  • 75% of all buyers don’t reveal their interest in the first stages of the purchase process

While none of those statistics are without misinterpretations, they’re all valuable – and point out the need for proper lead nurturing. CRM of all types can assist marketing automation software in this regard, by analyzing all customer touchpoints efficiently. Specialized CRM arguably offers even more possibilities, at that. Consider, for example, how an analytical CRM can inform marketing automation software in real-time. With powerful customer segmentation and lead scoring tools from both, you can ensure immense insights into potential leads.

#2 Larger purchases and better lead cost-efficiency

In turn, better lead nurturing can lead to better lead cost efficiency; customer behavioral insights can optimize outreach. This arguably pronounces the exact role of CRM in marketing automation, as CRM can inform lead nurturing strategies. With the cost of new leads being notably high across all industries, this is undoubtedly a boon.

A person holding two sale tags between their fingers.
With CRM’s help, marketing automation software can yield higher individual sales.

In turn, cost per lead aside, nurtured leads have been found to make larger individual purchases. Indeed, properly nurtured customers voice their satisfaction through purchases as much as almost 50% higher than non-nurtured leads.

#3: Improved retargeting campaigns and increased customer retention

That is not to say, however, that higher purchases equate to customer retention. However, CRM can enhance marketing automation in this regard as well, by both increasing customer retention and informing retargeting campaigns.

By personalizing a customer’s entire journey across the sales funnel, CRM has proven itself as a potent retention tool. But even if leads become inactive over time, a wealth of interaction history can optimize retargeting campaigns to regain them.

#4: A shorter sales cycle

By extension, an even more vital role of CRM in marketing automation lies in shortening the sales cycle. Sales cycles have increased in recent years, a fact which in turn lengthens the sales process and jeopardizes final sales.

By enhancing internal communications and providing ample historical and personalized information, CRM can help marketing automation software shorten sales cycles. As customer attention spans decrease over time, this asset cannot be overstressed.

#5: Enhanced collaboration between sales and marketing teams

Finally, while collaborative CRM can enhance internal collaboration, all CRM types can let sales and marketing departments better allocate workloads. This common grievance often doesn’t stem from poor communication but from poor lead management.

A man in a suit presenting his hand.
Lead nurturing can help inform sales teams on optimal contact times.

They can do so by simply tackling premature lead outreach; unqualified leads may needlessly burden sales teams. Through proper criteria, marketing departments can better qualify leads and reduce the room for error.


In conclusion, both current shortcomings and future trends help highlight the role of CRM in marketing automation. Both such tools overlap, and both can enhance a business’s sales funnel through proper integration and implementation.

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