CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software enables 1:1 customer service and sales.

This service interaction data has the potential to provide insight to other software, however, it’s often not the case.

If done right, a CRM has the potential to provide data that delivers personalization on other channels, and insight to inform strategy.


This article is Part 1 of Navigating Martech: The Complete Guide and the reality is, there are thousands of new niche technologies that solve every problem in a different way, and it’s complex.

This series and downloadable full report unpacks key aspects of the Martech ecosystem and in this article, we will seek to explain the role and capability of a typical CRM.

Want the full report? Download it now.

So what is a CRM?

A CRM system manages the full contact history with every known customer.

Originating from 1:1 sales workflows, most CRM systems now provide cross-channel contact history and servicing tools.

Originally designed to help companies with lead management and sales prospect pipelines – as well as managing customer loyalty and relations, a CRM’s focus was sales and retention – and to diligently manage the customer lifecycle.

They’ve been used for many years as a platform for sales, marketing and service teams to engage at a 1:1 level, providing the data and tools to communicate with one person.

CRMs are commonly used by sales teams, call centers and to a limited level in email marketing campaigns.

With a CRM solution, the data you have captured from your known customers is stored along with any other interactions you choose to log and track.

CRMs provide large amounts of detailed historical data, however, the data is often utilized at scale to identify insights, so may lack data from various sources (like online, retail or partners).

With the emergence of real-time 1:1 marketing tools, CRMs now provide this data to inform those systems, typically through a CDP which cleanses and simplifies the data into a format suitable for Martech to utilize.

Enterprise CRM providers include Salesforce, Oracle, SAP and Adobe Systems. For smaller sized business, CRM providers that would be suitable include Hubspot, Pipedrive and Insightly.

The 5 factors that matter

There are 5 key things you need to know when considering a new piece of tech. Read a full breakdown of these factors over here.

1. Human data

CRMs capture human data, that is Personally Identifiable Information (PII). It’s human, customer records.

2. Data lifetime

Data is typically stored in a CRM permanently, as long as the system is operational.

3. Analytical capability

CRMs primarily provide information on customers and their history. They have limited insight and analytics capabilities.

4. Speed to activate

CRMs are designed for sales or service agents to analyse and action one customer at a time. Some CRMs integrate with other software, powering their capability with the customer data, but it’s generally limited in scope and functionality.

5. Orchestration

Following analysis of the CRM data, customers can be directly engaged, typically one at a time, and can integrate with other bulk/mass communications tools.

One common misconception is that CRMs do bulk email delivery.

This isn’t quite right, bulk email delivery is a specialized piece of software, like Mailchimp.

What seems like a simple capability (sending emails) is complex and can be damaging if not done well.

Watch out: CRMs don’t always play nicely with others

The key watch out with CRMs is recognizing the accessibility and availability of their data to other systems.

Ensure integrations meet your requirements.

CRM providers generally integrate to a basic level with many systems, but not always in real-time, easily managed, or flexible – and not with competitors – or they’ll offer it at huge additional expense.

CDPs let you take your CRM data on tour and rock your customers’ world

CRMs focus mainly on sales and service transactions mostly via email and call centers.

They’re not designed to handle multiple data types like purchase history and web/app behavior.

The data is often historical, like a log of activities, and not rolled up into a neat summary for each customer.

A CDP consumes and analyses all of your CRM data and combines it with other sources, like eCommerce, social, web/app, retail and more, and creates a simplified, rolled up view of each customer.

The CDP enables segmentation, clustering, comparison on any attribute across all systems and channels.

Where a CDP really helps a CRM is in integrations.

CDPs are built to integrate with any activation channel, from advertising to your website for marketing and customer care.

Using a CDP and a CRM together can create an incredible customer experience, reaching high customer satisfaction – using them side-by-side allows integrated tracking and engagement with customers.

You can read more about Customer Data Platforms here.


What now?

When it comes to Marketing Technology, there’s a lot to consider to ensure you are truly making the most of the Martech options available.

Each Martech platform plays a key role, integrates with other systems and has limitations.

The Lexer Customer Data Platform integrates with many aspects of the ecosystem – so we’ve unpacked the role, integrations and limitations of the 7 key platforms to help you navigate the space.

This is Part 1 of Navigating Martech: The Complete Guide, continue reading Part 2: Customer Data Platform (CDP).

If you’re hungry for more or want to share this information with people across your organization, download the full guide.