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Marketing Database Vs. CRM

November 10, 2021 Stephanie Fisher

Marketing Database Vs. CRM

If you’re in marketing, crunching data and tracking leads is a core responsibility. If you’ve ever tried to run the numbers without the right systems in place, you know how impossible it can feel.

As you started researching solutions you could implement, you came across customer relationship management software and marketing database software. They both seem to manage contact information.

So what's the difference?

A simple way to look at it is that your marketing database is designed for your marketing team while your CRM is for your sales and customer service team. However, it does go a little deeper.

What Is A Marketing Database?

A marketing database tracks prospect activity at the beginning of the relationship. Your marketing database should be set up to collect leads, gather contact information, and track lead activity. It's also designed to send communications and marketing campaigns to the contacts in your database. Your marketing database exists to nurture your leads through marketing automation toward a conversion point, at which point they enter your sales process.

A good marketing database will give you detailed intelligence on what your leads are doing and their kind of research on your organization. It helps you follow the life cycle, from the initial point of contact (search engine, social media, referral, etc.) to when they make contact.


What Is Customer Relationship Management Software?

So how does this differ from your CRM? While there is some overlap, your CRM takes over when a lead enters the sales cycle.

Your CRM is designed for tracking communications with the prospect, opportunities/deals, and customer history after the sale. Your CRM might contain many more data fields beyond the basic contact information for a person. It might contain historical information on products and services purchased by the customer and specific account and billing information.

When companies separate their marketing database from their CRM, the CRM picks up the data from the moment the prospect starts speaking with sales.


Should Most Companies Separate Your Marketing Database From Your CRM?

Now that you know the differences between a marketing database and a CRM, should you separate your information into two separate databases?

For most companies, the answer is no. When you unify customer data in one place, you can more easily align sales, marketing, and customer service around better serving the customers. When everyone has the same view of the customers, it’s easier to discuss how to help the customer. When marketing has different customer data than sales and customer service, tracking what leads turn into the best customers becomes more difficult.


When Should You Separate Your Marketing Database From Your CRM?

There still is a use case for having a separate marketing database. Some industries have heavy regulations when it comes to customer information. As a result, a CRM may need to be separate from a marketing database to ensure that you maintain a higher level of security for your customer’s data. 

For example, hospitals often have one database for marketing purposes and a customer database to manage patient information to ensure the hospital maintains HIPAA compliance.

So if your company operates in a highly regulated industry, you may need to consider having two separate databases. Separating your databases may cause you to lose some potentially valuable data looking at the entire customer journey, but the possible insight you’d gain isn’t worth the potential downside of violating the regulatory requirements of your industry. 


What Should You Do?

So each database serves a different purpose, but as you can see, they work together to provide intelligence to your business development team. While your marketing team is busy running campaigns, testing, optimizing, and generating leads, your sales team is busy taking those leads and guiding them through the sales process with the intent to earn new customers. Following the sale, your customer service team continues to use your CRM to gather intelligence about customers.

As you can see, it's essential to use both a marketing database and a CRM to cover the entire process of lead generation and sales. Many organizations use a CRM but lack marketing intelligence and lead generation, while others might have a marketing database but lack a sales process supported by a CRM. 

The best way to optimize your business development process is to use a tool as both your CRM and marketing database. With a tool that marketing, sales, and customer service can all operate from, you’ll give your teams a true and accurate view of the customer.

When all of your teams are operating in the same system, you can more easily look at metrics that matter, like Customer Lifetime Value, Lead Sources that generate highly profitable customers, and Opportunities for Upsells based on current customer engagement.

If you currently lack the tools you need to measure your marketing activities and track your sales and customer service, you should look into implementing a tool like HubSpot. With HubSpot, you can easily organize all of your data in one place. Check out the video below.


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Stephanie Fisher

Stephanie Fisher

Steph leads our client delivery team and is obsessed with delivering quality work, creating an efficiency machine, and mastering the tools and disciplines to achieve success for our heroes. At home, she loves listening to true crime podcasts, playing with her daughters and two pugs, and singing in a local rock band with her husband.

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