Lyris Connections Blog

Email or CRM Platform: The Million Dollar Question?

Dec 13, 2013 by

Whatever your line of business, your customers are the most important component of it. While managing and communicating with your customers effectively is vital, things can get a little confusing when it comes to the use of email marketing platforms versus Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms.

Customer focus

In my experience working with digital marketing managers and directors across Asia Pacific, there are two underlying questions feeding the confusion: What is the difference between CRM and email platforms, and do you need one, or the other…or BOTH?

So here is a breakdown that might be useful.

What is a CRM platform?

A CRM is a type of database that is used to collect customer information like names and email addresses, and that manages customer data. A good CRM should be able to provide you with a 360-degree view of your customer base.

CRMs can also help you manage your customer and sales pipelines and can track other customer information like purchasing history, discounts used, complaints/refunds, account logins, events attended, and so on. With a CRM, you can often see who your most loyal customers are and even which of your products are most popular. 

What is an email marketing platform?

An email marketing platform is an execution platform that facilitates one-to-one communications with your customers. It’s not a database (like a CRM), but rather a tool that allows you to target and communicate with your customers by sending them various automated emails, like newsletters or seasonal sales offers, for example.

An email marketing platform should be able to track your customer behaviour (such as clicks and downloads), which can be instrumental in informing your future communication strategies and measuring the success of your email campaigns. 

What are the key differences between CRM and email marketing platforms?

The main difference between CRMs and email platforms is timing and automation. 

The capabilities of email marketing platforms allow you to automate and time your messages so that they reach your segments of customers at the right time and best target each segment’s specific buying behaviours. This is the secret behind any great email marketing strategy: the right messages, to the right people, at the right time. 

CRMs, for the most part, are not automated; they behave like a database and must be managed by you. Some CRMs can include marketing and email sending functionality; however, this is nowhere near as comprehensive as a dedicated email marketing platform.

And while some email marketing platforms can store customer information, this will usually only be primitive at best and often won’t allow you to drill down into the information in order to view important customer metrics and activity reports. 

Which platform is best for your business?

To truly succeed in the online world, you need both a reliable CRM and a reputable email marketing service that can be fully integrated with one another, as well as with your other platforms, such as e-commerce and social media.

An email marketing platform is extremely powerful in driving customer engagement, but what also gives any email strategy its power is the quality and detail of information contained in the CRM.

Using both systems means you can carry out more advanced and refined email marketing activities that result in more traffic and engagement, more subscribers, higher sales, and a more successful business overall.  

For more information on creating winning email marketing campaigns, contact Lyris today, download our free Email Deliverability Fundamentals and Refinements guide, or watch our Webcast: Riding the eCommerce Wave.

Webinar reminder for Asia Pacific marketers. Join us next Tuesday, 17 December, for Fast-Acting, Long-Lasting Marketing: Navigating Digital Trends for 2014. Register here.


Ramak Capodicasa

About the Author: Ramak Capodicasa

Ramak is Regional Director for Lyris APAC, and has responsibility for nurturing and growing Lyris’ business in Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia Pacific region. Her experience is working with leading retailers with traditional marketing focus and helping them transition and develop digital strategies to ultimately increase engagement and online conversions from automated marketing initiatives. Ramak has over 15 years of experience in marketing, having gained insight from working with leading Global IT software and hardware vendors, and in marketing and sales disciplines for both direct B2B, B2C, and channel organisations.

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