I tackled this important topic last Wednesday in a new post on the Silverpop Demand Generation (DG) blog – a post that also was highlighted on the Savvy B2B Marketing blog in their weekly roundup.
I’ve noticed a resurgence of this question in recent months — or at least I personally find I’m getting asked this question more than ever by B2B marketers. I think the trend is linked to a new generation of B2B marketers that are adopting marketing automation and that are trying to wrap their heads around the demand generation technology ecosystem.
“CRM and marketing automation have purposes and capabilities that are related and complementary but very different, and these differences are salient to what we’re trying to accomplish with B2B demand generation,” I note in the post. “The two are integral. You need both, but you need to understand what each one does for you, and what it doesn’t do.”
So clearly it’s great timing both to be talking about the two types of platforms and for a blog post that digs into the details, comparing them.
The DG post breaks down the two platforms at three levels:
- A first take: What are some top level similarities and differences, and where do these platforms sit in the larger marketing technology ecosystem? This section includes a great contributed chart from David Raab.
- An analysis of the goals of each platform: What is the intended strategic purpose of each platform?
- A deep dive into features and capabilities: What are the specific things each platform does and doesn’t do? This section includes some great contributed charts from Malcolm Friedberg with Left Brain Marketing and Jep Castelein, a.k.a. “The Lead Sloth.”
I think the most interesting aspect of the dialogue in this post is around the strategic role of marketing automation – a topic I also covered in a past post on MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog. I note in the DG post:
Marketing automation — at it’s most fundamental level — was developed to help marketers better target and execute one-to-one communication with key prospects within the context of demand generation efforts, simultaneously orchestrating and tracking marketing resources against this activity. CRM consolidates a great deal of information about prospects and customers; however, it provides virtually no framework or tools for true nurturing of earlier-stage prospects, and it definitely is not a communication platform. Marketing automation leverages CRM and addresses these gaps, but it then presents new capabilities for B2B marketers that enable them to take their demand generation programs to the next level.
I think of marketing automation as the technology infrastructure you need to power buyer-centric demand generation. It is a critical element in scaling and managing a pattern of dynamic campaigning that is buyer led and that engages buyers on a ‘mass one-to-one’ basis.
Honestly, this is a worthwhile post to check out – with great insights from a number of industry luminaries – so I won’t steal any more of its thunder here.