There are many marketers out there that try to differentiate between marketing automation and customer relationship management software (aka CRMs) but it often becomes confusing and hard to understand. If you find yourself in the same sea of confusion, don’t feel bad because you’re not alone. The reason it’s so hard to differentiate is simply based off the fact that CRMs and marketing automation have evolved together. While both platforms manage customer relationships, they have become so intertwined that many marketing automation systems now include an integrated CRM. To understand why CRMs have evolved in such a way, let’s look at where they started.
In 1986, ACT, the first CRM was born, as no more than a digitized Rolodex. Most CRMs at the time existed offline but since then, have grown, adapted, and evolved into something almost unrecognizable. CRMs started to burst into life just as we started to gain the ability to collect and sort large amounts of customer data and apply it to managing existing customer relationships. This data warehouse provided businesses with a variety of CRM functions, such as:
- Data storage
- Database queries
- Value analysis
- Predictive analysis
As trends shifted toward CRMs using the data warehouse, companies started to understand that just doing business intelligence (BI) and online analytical processing (OLAP) reporting wasn’t going to be enough to facilitate strong dialogue between businesses and customers. Businesses needed a framework that could establish a strong customer relationship on the premise that not all customers are created equal. This is where the idea of marketing automation started to blend into the CRM’s evolution. Marketing automation emerged from the advantages online data collection offered with a framework to generate and nurture new customers through interaction. Businesses using a CRM understood this and knew that in order to use the data acquired they needed that framework to provide the automation and analytic insight to convert more prospects into customers and customers into repeat customers.
Content Relationship Management turns to Automated Marketing
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