CRM vs. Email Marketing (+ Best CRMs with Email Marketing Functionality)

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Alex Birkett

As marketers, sometimes we need to invest in CRM software without worrying about email marketing and marketing automation tools right off the bat. Some other times we need to combine CRM and email marketing to manage to capture email leads, nurture them, and lead them down the sales funnel in an intuitive manner.

CRM software combined with email marketing software and marketing automation tools can give excellent results, as it increases sales and boosts customer relationships, as the statistic below shows:


An increase in sales by 65% is not something marketers see every day. Now, combine this with email marketing’s ROI of $42 for every $1 spent; those numbers show that investing in a CRM email marketing tool is a no-brainer.

First Up: What Does Each Tool Do?

When we talk about email marketing, CRM marketing, and marketing automation, we’re essentially talking about three different things that marketers combine to get maximum results.

A CRM system (or Customer Relationship Management system) is a system or a strategy, first and foremost. Brands and companies use CRM to streamline interactions, build rapport, create meaningful customer relationships, and, in the end, increase sales, leads and revenue. A CRM platform can either be combined with or contain email marketing or marketing automation tools.

With email marketing, brands reach their prospects or customers quickly and easily. Investing in email marketing software can help you create email campaigns that will be based on data-driven decisions to achieve perfect segmentation and personalization. With email marketing, brands can spread their marketing message without dealing with pricing that goes way over their marketing budget.

On the other hand, marketing automation tools allow for a better customer experience. They can help you generate and nurture leads and automate tasks in a way that saves time and minimizes the possibility of human error. More importantly, using marketing automation can help you reach the goals of your marketing strategy more efficiently.

Why Use a CRM System?

So, a CRM platform can convert fresh and qualified prospects into customers while nurturing already existing customers and gently leading them further down the sales funnel.

Using a CRM platform in tandem with an email marketing tool and marketing automation software can help marketers create complete profiles by evaluating the leads’ and customers’ data and actions.

However, a CRM system can also help with evaluating your sales team and the procedures and interaction with your customers. What questions can CRM tools answer, especially when coupled with customer data? Let’s see:

  • When did the sales team last communicate with the customer? Why? What were the topics of discussion and the outcome?
  • What channel did the customer use to reach out? Was it an inbound call or social media? This will help you figure out what the best channel for content distribution could be.
  • When would it be better to contact the customer again? Is a follow-up call or email needed?

Answering the above questions will give you insight into several things. For example, knowing that social media was the channel that brought the customer to you could help you figure out the content, hashtag, or marketing action that triggered that response.

This knowledge will help you figure out the content your customers love interacting with and the social media platforms they frequent. What is more, it will allow you to create the perfect social media report down the line.

But this is only an example. What about combining CRM software with email marketing and marketing automation? What happens then?

Why Combine a CRM System With Marketing Automation?

According to Wikipedia, “Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.”

Using marketing automation means that you can create procedures specifically aimed at repeated tasks. These tasks can be anything, from an automated email that will welcome prospects to your email list to using call-back software so that you’ll never miss an over-the-phone follow-up.

You can’t possibly use customer data and lead users further down the funnel without combining CRM software and marketing automation. Check this automation recipe, for example:


Imagine being a small business owner and having limited time, budget, and a small team. It would take forever to track who has seen the special offer – as mentioned in the example above. Creating an email that would resonate with the offer would be next to impossible. Not to mention tracking pre-existing customers that have seen the offer.

This is where marketing automation comes to save the day. A CRM platform has all the information needed to create and send an email sequence to those who have accessed a specific page of your website.

Once you send out your automated email campaign, marketing automation can help you access your analytics, enhance your a/b testing procedures with data, and in the end, help you understand the customer journey.

Your sales team will use CRM’s data to create the perfect automation recipe based on the user’s interaction with your brand. This will help intuitively nudge the users down the sales funnel and not in a manner that will seem pushy or make the team member look like they’re up for a quick buck.

Why Combine a CRM System With Email Marketing Software?

As stated above, email marketing campaigns are perhaps amongst the most surefire ways to communicate with customers – provided you pick out the suitable email template, keep a clean list, and follow all email marketing best practices.

As stated above, email marketing campaigns are perhaps amongst the most surefire ways to communicate with customers – provided you pick out a robust email builder, find a suitable email template, keep a clean list, and follow all email marketing best practices.

A CRM platform manages interactions and relationships portrayed by customer data. On the other hand, email marketing creates meaningful content that customers can interact with and communicate through using that data. Combining the two could boost your ROI and conversion rate by streamlining your email marketing campaigns like so:

  • Use CRM when you need to send a specific email marketing campaign or a follow-up.
  • A CRM platform will help you create a segment that will pinpoint the customers who respond better to a call or a text message rather than email communication.
  • Create alerts with your CRM in a functional and logical order that corresponds with your customer data and segments you want to target for your email marketing campaign.

Since CRM systems allow you to keep close tabs on your customers, you can create a communication process that will correspond with their needs, almost on a one-on-one basis, both in terms of actions and content.

CRM and Email Marketing: The Benefits

An email marketing campaign needs to be data-driven and have content that is tailor-made and valuable. Content that stems from real-time data is an essential element for your email marketing strategy and can be easily accomplished by combining an email marketing platform with CRM tools.

Nowadays, potential customers, especially eCommerce customers, can – and will – avoid email marketing messages that seem salesy. Therefore, brands invest in CRM tools to build their email marketing messages.

That way, their lead nurturing efforts can give back results, as the brands’ email marketing efforts will contain intuitive and tailor-made messages.

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of combining the two.

A Safe Place for All Customer Data

Every team in your organization, from sales and marketing, to customer support teams, needs data. An email marketing platform that is combined with CRM software can make sure you keep your customer data safe in one place.

Let’s assume that a customer contacts the company’s call center to change their contact information or double-check about a credit card charge. Textbook number one rule of a call center’s best practices is providing a memorable customer experience.

Having all data right there where everyone can find them will ensure that your call center agents can quickly and efficiently resolve any serious issues. The menial work should be resolved using automated workflows, but more on that later. It will also allow your marketing and sales teams to figure out how to create content that sells like a charm, using information that has been stored in your CRM platform, such as a “special discount for customers who use AMEX”.

On-Point Automation

The benefits of automation are widely known, especially automating your workflow in email marketing by utilizing specific triggers.

Let’s assume you want to create an email autoresponder, a follow-up, or a transactional email. The steps would probably be the following:

  • Segmenting your list using demographics
  • Pinpointing the best time to send your email based on your data
  • Creating content that will look and feel relevant and will cover a specific need
  • Being alert and sending the email at the perfect time

Marketers use automated workflows to streamline the steps above and CRM tools to pinpoint the data they need.

If, for example, most of your subscribers are Australia-based and you’re a company located in the States, your CRM tool will show you the best time to send an email by closely monitoring your customers’ behavior on-site.

Combining the data in your CRM software with automated actions is a fantastic way to fulfill your business needs by working with the customer. Using sales automation will give them an offer that will cover exactly what they need.

Here’s why you need automation triggers:

(Source: Epsilon)

If a triggered email has such potential when it comes to your open and click-through rate, imagine how on-point your trigger will be after using the data provided by your CRM software.

Personalization and Segmentation=Tailored Messaging

Trying to sell without segmenting your audience is like leaving money on the table. Here’s how:


The number of clicks generated by a simple segmented campaign is too high to ignore. This is why you need a CRM email marketing campaign that will be segmented down to a tee to bring you the best results.

Think about it: As a customer, what kind of messaging are you most receptive to, if not the type you expect (like welcome or transactional emails), or the one that seems to be “speaking” to you?

Campaigns that use CRM data to extract information and create segments have a better open rate, as evident by the stat above, as well as a fantastic click-through rate.

You see, since demographic and psychographic data are essential CRM features, marketers can build their customers’ trust by using segments that dive into a prospect’s previous purchases or even personal interests and aspirations.

After pinpointing your segments and targeting the audience that is bound to receive your next email marketing message, it’s time to create your content.

Now, email personalization is one of the prerequisites of email marketing campaigns today. In fact, most email marketing platforms offer this and segmentation as core marketing features.

However, personalization nowadays needs to go way beyond a simple “Hello John Smith” on your email’s subject line. The stat below says it all:


A CRM software solution will help you beyond that and actually offer a more sophisticated personalization method. The information in your database will help create tailor-made messages. And with a little help from AI and machine learning, you can unearth patterns that could be invisible to the human eye.

That way, your CRM platform could help you figure out an interest that not even your audience was aware of but fits them like a glove.

We all know the case where Target’s segmentation and personalization game was so spot-on, they figured out a teen was pregnant before her father did. And while this personalization may seem a little “Too Much”, the marketers behind it detected a pattern you could detect thanks to your CRM platform.

Especially if you decide to utilize little-known tidbits that your customer service team or your sales team may have gathered through phone calls or personal correspondence and entered your CRM system’s database.

Lead Nurturing for a Results-Oriented Sales Process

Lead generation comes way before lead nurturing, and building the email list for that needs to be your primary concern.

But let’s assume you’ve already gone through building your email list, and now you’re all about nurturing leads, creating a sales process that will seem intuitive and logical, and understanding the customer’s journey.

Lead generation and nurturing can always be a struggle without the tools and functionalities of CRM software. More information means more data, and more data leads to a better understanding of your leads, down to things such as their spending budget according to previous purchases or even how the design of an eCommerce store influences their behavior as a buyer.

Remember, your audience consists of different leads that are in different stages of the marketing funnel. This gives you a diverse spectrum of pain points and problems your product or service can solve. Combining your CRM and email marketing platforms will provide you with all the data you need to remedy that and create lead management and nurturing frameworks that will make sense.

Not to mention the engaging, tailor-made marketing messages that will almost seem like the prospects came up with them themselves and will keep your email marketing campaign well away from the unsubscribe button.

Fewer Unsubscribes and Better Deliverability

Prospects hitting the unsubscribe button is never a good look. Now, not engaging with your content and actually flagging it as spam because it wasn’t relevant is even worse.

Even if you’re using the best CRM system and the most robust email marketing software, there’s still a high chance you’ll end up with more unsubscribes than you’d like. This is because you didn’t engage your prospects with your marketing message.

In fact, check this out:


Irrelevant content – or a bad content marketing strategy altogether – can cost you a staggering 25% of unsubscribers.

Not combining your Customer Management System with your email marketing platform could not only get prospects to unsubscribe and keep you away from your ideal metrics. It could also lead your email straight to the spam folder. Let me tell you how.

Using power words on your subject line and email body is one thing. Using words that just don’t do it for your prospects will look like spam, even if your content doesn’t look like this:

Subscribers that haven’t been properly nurtured will identify an irrelevant email marketing campaign as spam, at worst. And sending an email marketing campaign that could look like an email blast, with no personalization or irrelevant offers, couldn’t be beneficial for your conversion and reaching your metrics.

CRM Software and Functionality: The Features to Look For

The idea of storing data and having them at the ready for your next email marketing campaign may sound lucrative.

However, when picking out a tool that’ll help you use that data for your content marketing strategy, you need to know what you’re looking for.

Lead Management Options

One of the first things marketers think of when they hear the words “CRM platform” is lead scoring and nurturing. This is only logical, as a CRM system allows marketers to understand the sales pipeline and move leads accordingly.

Most businesses have different needs, though. For example, a Fortune-500’s sales pipeline is vastly different from a small business’s or an eCommerce store’s. This is why you need to pick a tool with lead management options that meet your business’s needs.

Contact Information Options

You can’t have a CRM tool that won’t store basic data. The issue here is what exactly constitutes basic data for your business.

Don’t go for options that can store social media accounts when you need a secure tool that will store online payment details in your database, for example.

Sales Pipeline Management Options

Your sales funnel is probably the most crucial part of your business and the one you need to understand the best. A CRM software with a sales pipeline management feature will give you a bird’s eye view of the users’ behavior when purchasing.

Understanding that and making data-backed decisions will help you create your content, plan your a/b testing, and pick out your offers in a manner so specific that no prospect will fall through the cracks.

Tracking Prospect Interactions

Keeping tabs on your prospects and making notes of their specific marketing actions will help you create personalized campaigns. Just make sure that all interactions are documented, as there are plenty of things that can fall through the cracks during the lead nurturing process.

Automated Wokflow Options

Streamlining your workflow and creating drip campaigns by using triggers to your advantage is nothing new. However, it’s something that is not always necessary.

Email marketing platforms have built-in automation options most of the time, while CRM platforms offer this option as an upgrade. So, make sure to invest in something that will benefit you.

Summing Up

Customer Relationship Management software is among the most sought-after tools for all kinds of businesses. The same goes for email marketing and marketing automation platforms.

That is because CRM tools can give all of the information and allow all teams involved in the sales process to understand their brand’s sales funnel.

This type of understanding allows for marketing automation procedures and workflows that make sense; email marketing campaigns that hit the mark and are never ill-timed; hyper-personalized, relevant content that nurtures leads and makes sure that nobody will remain stuck in a part of the sales funnel.

In the end, integrating email marketing and CRM software can – and will – increase your brand’s reach, authority, and conversion rates.

Author Bio:

Téa Liarokapi is the Senior Content Writer for Moosend, an email marketing and marketing automation platform, and an obsessive writer in general. In her free time, she tries to find new ways to stuff more books in her bookcase and content ideas – and cats – to play with.