What Is CRM Marketing? Definition + Software Options

Semrush Team

Dec 07, 20229 min read
Marketing CRM

Smaller businesses can possibly manage marketing efforts manually. But for a business to grow, you need to plan, deliver, and analyze many marketing campaigns.

It’s a daunting task for any team. 

It’s no secret that pretty much every aspect of marketing is online. People are working, shopping, and relaxing virtually daily. So businesses have to meet them where they are to promote products and services. 

That’s where CRM marketing comes in.

What Is CRM Marketing?

CRM marketing is the application of customer relationship management (CRM) strategies and tools to improve marketing efforts. 

Customer relationship management refers to the tracking of all interactions between a business and each of its customers. 

And the goal of CRM marketing is to improve customer relationships by increasing retention and revenue. Usually, this involves the use of a software tool. 

Using CRM marketing software can help automate many tactics. From developing targeted campaigns to monitoring users’ responses to organizing leads. 

Now let’s look at why CRM marketing is so important. 

Why Use a CRM System for Marketing?

Marketing CRM tools provide marketing teams a central location to perform all their key tasks. And they can automate manual tasks that take up more time for marketing departments as business grows. 

Automations can include:

  • Segmenting customers based on their activities
  • Generating personalized customer communications
  • Tracking customer responses and response times
  • Displaying results on user-friendly dashboards

What does that mean for you?

More customer data to analyze. So you can create effective marketing assets without guesswork.

You can use this data to craft email marketing campaigns, tailor ad copy, evaluate client service approaches, measure the most valuable marketing channels, and more.

Using a CRM for marketing provides teams with reliable data, a user-friendly dashboard, and automation for different channels

Different Types of Marketing CRM Systems

Marketing CRMs can be separated into different categories based on the type of function they perform: collaboration, operation, and analysis. 

1. Collaborative CRM

Collaborative features help connect marketing teams with other departments in the business to help share data and other information more quickly. Some of these features include: 

  • Custom reporting
  • Cross-team messaging
  • Automated status updates

2. Operational CRM

Operational CRM features provide marketers with tools that streamline the delivery of content to customers. For example: 

  • Drip email campaigns
  • Custom message templates
  • Personalized workflows

3. Analytical CRM

Analytical CRM features sort and analyze data generated by each client interaction. Key tasks include:

  • Campaign analysis
  • Data visualization
  • Custom data grouping

These types of marketing CRMs can be used across pretty much any online marketing channel to improve efficiency and results.

Best CRM Marketing Software Features

So, you know that CRM software can be used by marketing departments to collaborate on campaigns, conduct marketing operations, and analyze all customer interactions. But what about the specific features?

The top CRMs for marketing empower businesses by giving them the ability to do the following: 

Centralize Customer Data

A marketing CRM takes all customer interactions across marketing channels and stores them in one place.

Interactions can include:

  • Social media behavior
  • Email open rates
  • Customer support calls
  • And more

There’s a mountain of data behind each customer interaction with your business. A CRM helps you keep all that data in one easy-to-access place.

Customer Segmentation

Once you analyze customer data, you can organize your customers into different groups, or segments, within your CRM based on certain criteria.

Say you’re an ecommerce company. You may want to segment customers who repeatedly click on your paid social media ads so you can create specific content for them. 

Or, if you’re an agency, you might want to segment your leads based on their seniority in their company. 

Targeted Campaigns

Once you’ve segmented your customers with your marketing CRM, start sending these groups targeted marketing campaigns. 

The campaigns target a specific group. So they are more likely to influence their buying decisions. 

Our example ecommerce company may want to target that same segment of customers who interacted with paid ads. But this time with new ads that promote a limited sale on the segment’s product of interest. 

The example agency can send emails that directly address the pain points of their senior business leader segment.

Data-Driven Messaging

Many marketing CRMs allow you to display data from customer segments and marketing campaigns in reports.

As you and your team read through these reports, you will learn crucial information about which pieces of content have the greatest impact on specific audience segments. 

Adjust future messages based on this response data. 

Real-Time Campaign Optimization 

You may need to adjust your marketing content in the middle of a campaign based on ad spend or online reputation management strategy.

Marketing CRMs can help you automate this task. 

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation takes over the administrative, repetitive, and time-intensive parts of marketing operations. This way, teams can focus on their core tasks. 

Developing truly impactful marketing content takes time, and marketing automation helps free that up for creative teams.

Some of the main marketing automation that CRMs provide include: 

  • Developing, ranking, and managing your leads
  • Integrating the platform with other important marketing tools
  • Delivering email, social, and SMS content
  • Tracking visitors as they navigate your website
  • Managing marketing campaigns
CRM marketing automation helps businesses deliver content, manage campaigns, score leads, and track visitors

Which Channels Can Use a Marketing CRM?

Businesses are using more marketing channels to stay relevant online, and marketing CRMs can help you organize your efforts for practically any channel you use. 

The collaborative, operational, and analytical features of a CRM tool can be used for many marketing channels, including:


Most CRMs have features that help improve the impact of email marketing. 

Many CRMS allow marketers to send out drip marketing campaigns where a specific sequence of emails is sent depending on whether or not the customer opens and responds to the initial email. 

So if a potential customer doesn’t respond to an initial email about a product, a CRM allows businesses to send personalized follow-up messages. Or even offer a sale to entice the customer. 

Social Media 

Marketing CRM software not only helps social media marketers track how effective their social content is at converting customers. But it also gives them a way to respond to their followers at scale. 

Semrush’s Social Media Dashboard, for example, helps businesses:

Semrush social media scheduler
  • Monitor how leads and customers behave on different social channels
  • Understand the groups, hashtags, topics, and pages that customers and leads follow
  • Craft social campaigns that are more likely to engage their followers

Social media is about more than just producing and posting content. It’s a community where people can engage in a back-and-forth. That doesn’t change just because it’s a business posting the content.

Using a CRM for marketing allows you to collect user-specific data and turn it into PPC (pay-per-click) ads. These ads will be more relevant to the different consumer segments that make up your entire audience. 

Your business has an overarching brand identity built from data about all your users, but effective ad campaigns need to target a more narrow section of your audience. 

People see dozens, even hundreds, of digital ads daily—to cut through the noise, your ads need to be highly personal and relevant. 

SMS Marketing

SMS marketing is an effective way for businesses to market to customers they’ve already sold to or are close to converting. And a marketing CRM can make these campaigns even more effective. 

By using a CRM for marketing, you can make sure your SMS and text campaigns are:

  • Delivered consistently and promptly to all customers
  • Targeted towards customers who have performed a specific action
  • Collecting user responses to inform future campaigns

Call Centers

Some industries still use call centers as a large part of their marketing efforts, with teams of telemarketers calling lists of potential customers directly. Marketing CRMs can increase the value of this practice by:

  • Increasing the efficiency of call agents with automated dialing
  • Creating an interactive voice response system for reduced waiting time 
  • Connecting agents with customer data from other campaigns for targeted messaging

You can even use a CRM for marketing campaigns that aren’t digital. Like print advertising or direct mail. 

Whether you post physical content in public areas (like a billboard) or mail them directly to potential customers, a CRM can help improve results by: 

  • Tracking customers who respond to promotional or QR codes
  • Segmenting customers according to the content that prompts their response

Best Marketing CRM Platforms

CRMs were initially created as a tool for sales teams, with features for marketing and other departments developed later on. With this in mind, you want to make sure you choose a CRM platform with the marketing features you need to succeed. 

Below is a list of some of the top marketing CRM tools for small and medium businesses: 

1. Semrush CRM

The Semrush CRM is designed with a specific small-medium business segment in mind: digital agencies, consultants, and freelancers.

Semrush CRM

And best of all, it’s completely free to get started. 

These businesses usually work with multiple clients and need features that help keep their marketers efficient and effective. 

Semrush CRM benefits include: 

  • Collecting, organizing, and updating all information about client accounts
  • Generating reports and pitches to engage potential and existing clients
  • Creating client-specific tasks to keep workflows moving smoothly
  • A Client Portal that gives clients access to reports and tools
The Semrush CRM displays information about client companies in one central location, from contact data to current status

Add up to 10 clients on a free account. And add unlimited clients when you sign up for Agency Growth Kit.

2. HubSpot Marketing Hub

HubSpot’s Marketing Hub is one of the top CRMs for marketing teams in the industry. It provides tools and automations to improve the effectiveness of promotional content. 

Some of the key features of this platform include: 

  • Creating inbound marketing campaigns at scale
  • Publishing optimized blog content directly on the platform
  • Creating, publishing, and monitoring social media content
  • Developing customized reports for sharing and analyzing data
HubSpot Marketing Hub CRM displays performance data about landing pages including, views, sessions, and new contacts

3. Marketo

Marketo is a great tool for B2B businesses looking to grow rapidly. Some of the most important features of this marketing CRM platform include: 

  • Automated nurturing, scoring, and management of your leads
  • AI tools that assist with the creation of personalized content
  • A revenue attribution feature to help you identify which channels bring in the most money
  • Tools to assist in the collection and reporting of data on customer segments
The Marketo CRM dashboard displays different features like marketing activities, design studio, revenue explorer, and SEO

4. Salesforce

Salesforce is a popular CRM software that can accommodate businesses of all sizes.

It’s known for its robust task automation options and customizable reports and dashboards.

Notable features include:

  • “Customer 360” integration that shows every team a shared view of every customer
  • Salesforce Genie, the “first real-time CRM” that provides in-the-moment data
  • Pipeline and forecast management to give you real-time insights on your business health
  • Ability to gain insights on customers from social media sights right from Salesforce
Salesforce CRM

5. Bigin

Bigin, a marketing CRM created by Zoho, is designed specifically for small businesses looking to scale. 

It helps smaller teams replace spreadsheets and other manual processes they use to organize and manage their marketing campaigns. 

Some of the main features of Bigin’s marketing CRM include:

  • Automated interaction and analysis with your contacts via Twitter
  • Ability to send mass emails and analyze the effectiveness of campaigns
  • Custom forms to quickly convert visitors on your site
  • Pre-built and custom dashboards to analyze performance
Zoho’s Bigin CRM helps businesses organize their pipeline by qualifications, needs, and value propositions

6. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign offers a suite of tools to help businesses grow and meet their goals. 

In addition to traditional sales automation, the platform also has automation features that assist marketing departments.

These marketing automation features are designed to save time for marketers by offloading many of the manual tasks they’d have to perform otherwise. Things like:

  • Designing visually-appealing emails to improve user experience
  • Following up on email queries and responses
  • Identifying and tracking the people who respond most to your marketing
  • Moving information between ActiveCampaign and your other marketing platforms
ActiveCampaigns CRM helps marketers develop custom workflows for potential and existing customers to improve conversion rate

How to Choose the Best Marketing CRM for Your Business

Customers behave differently depending on the industry you’re in. Ditto for the size of your business. 

That’s why selecting the right marketing CRM software is a crucial part of success for any online business.

Here are the steps you can take to make sure you select the best Marketing CRM for your business:

  1. Determine your budget first
  2. Interview team members to find out what features they need
  3. Identify needs vs. nice-to-haves
  4. Research different CRM tools

Using verified ranking sites like G2, Capterra, and TechRadar, you can comb through dozens of top CRM tools to identify which are particularly well-suited for marketers. 

These sites provide tons of useful information to help inform your marketing CRM decision, including: 

  • Pricing based on the size of the company
  • Top product features as voted by users
  • Customer reviews and scoring on a five-point scale
  • A grid ranking system based on user satisfaction and market performance
G2 lists nearly 100 CRM tools in a grid system based on customer satisfaction and market performance

Get Started with Semrush CRM

If you work for a small, growing business, choosing the right marketing CRM is key to your long term success. 

The right tool will provide value to all your team members without breaking the bank. 

The Semrush agency CRM is the perfect free tool if your marketing department focuses on bringing in new clients and working closely with them to ensure ongoing success. 

Get started with Semrush CRM today!

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