CRM vs CMS: The Definitive Guide

Christopher Sirk
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Introduction

What is a CRM? What is a CMS? What’s the difference?

The acronyms are similar. Both types of software are used for business. But they have very different business purposes.

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. A CRM tracks customer interactions as well as potential customer interactions so you can serve them better. Whereas CMS stands for Content Management System. A CMS helps you manage your website content through a clear and easy to use interface, without the need for deep technical know-how. 

Now we have the basic idea of both. Let’s go deeper into the differences.

In this article, we evaluate CRM and CMS head to head. 

We show who the two types of software are ideal for. We examine features and benefits. And we look at providers and pricing. 

 

 

CRM

CRM is designed as an all-in-one platform for business processes. A “single source of truth” for business data. A single streamlined tool to organize your workflows and business processes.

At heart, CRM is designed to improve customer interactions and build long-term relationships. It’s there to help you get more customers and keep the ones you have. 

Of course, it’s not all altruism. CRM is there to build your bottom line.

CRM solutions provide marketing and sales force automation, and contact and project management. With good use of CRM, your team can collaborate better, close more deals, and get more done.

CRM software pulls in information from social media, your website, email, voice calls, and other channels. It creates a record of contacts and deals. Then it lets you analyze the data and create reports and forecasts.

A few major CRM vendors are HubSpot, Insightly, Salesforce, Keap, and Pipedrive.

CMS

CMS manages the creation, editing, and publishing of content on your website. It takes care of JavaScript, HTML, CSS in one place. Also, the complex interactive elements of websites, where actions need to be validated and submitted.

This type of software provides a user interface from which to oversee your website. Without a CMS, you’d need to interact with your web server directly. For example, you’d need to upload a new HTML file to your server every time you made changes to your website.

So CMS manages the backend of your website. This part of the software is called a content delivery application (CDA). 

But CMS also manages the frontend of your website. It ensures you can upload, manage, and display content as you intended. This other part of CMS is the content management application (CMA).

A few CMS vendors you may have heard of: Squarespace, WordPress, Weebly. 

 

CRM Vs CMS: What is the Difference?

Let’s sort out the differences between CRM and CMS. 

We’ve done that below feature by feature. Looking through all the key criteria. 

We show which type of business they are ideal for. Their price points and the features they have. Who the main software providers are, and what the main benefits are.

Ideal For...

CRM

CRM is ideal for any company that is looking to find more sales opportunities and capitalize on them. Any organization looking to improve lead management and customer management. 

Sales teams can benefit massively. Sales Managers or Sales Representatives can close more deals. Anyone working in Sales Planning can get insights to improve strategy.

Customer support and service staff can use it too. Customer Service Representatives will gain access to contact information and support ticket systems.

A marketing team can use CRM to plot marketing strategy. It can also run campaigns with email marketing automation. If you’re a Marketing Specialist, you will definitely find CRM invaluable.

CMS

CMS is ideal for anyone who needs to manage website content. This includes everything from blog posts and articles to e-commerce stores. From graphics to audio and video assets. 

This means a very wide range of potential users.

This includes website designers and marketing content creators. Editors and SEO and digital marketing specialists. Small business owners and freelancers too.

Essentially anyone who runs a website. 

CMS is also extremely useful for collaborating on website content creation. So it’s a must-have for all teams with web operations. A CMS helps teams to collaborate and coordinate all sales, service, support, and marketing activities.

Pricing

CRM

CRMs usually have a three or four-tiered pricing plan. Many of them have a free trial.

The pricing of CRM is generally divided like so.

  • Basic plan - $25 per user/per month, billed annually.

  • Average plan - $45 per user/per month, billed annually.

  • Advanced plan - $79 per user/per month, billed annually.

CMS

CMS pricing varies considerably. Open source platforms are free, but many add-ons are paid. Most vendors with paid plans offer a free trial.

The pricing of CMS is generally divided like so.

  • Basic - $25 per website/per month, billed annually.

  • Average - $45 per website/per month, billed annually.

  • Advanced - $79 per website/per month, billed annually.

Features

CRM

The classic form of CRM is sales CRM

The platform finds potential customers with a lead management system. It provides sales pipeline management. It stores customer data with a contact management system.

This is the starting point for CRM. But this type of software now does many other things too. 

Other features include email management, reporting & analytics, and workflow automation. Many CRM have project management and collaborative tools.

Often your CRM can be integrated with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Sometimes a vendor provides both types of software within one business suite. Such is the case with Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce. 

CMS

A CMS provides templates and stylesheets to simplify the setup of your website. Once you’re up and running, they have a content editor that is WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). You don’t need to know code to update your website, post content, or schedule content.

Security features allow you to monitor site activity and admin logins. CMS also has huge benefits in terms of web hosting. You own all your content, so you can migrate hosts with minimal headaches.

With CMS, it’s easy to set up and run an e-commerce website. Some CMS providers are tailor-made for online retail. 

Your CMS site can be improved by a range of add-ons in the form of plug-ins and widgets. You can use these to increase features and capture more information.

You can set up custom domains and subdomains easily too. And you can easily create and manage meta tags, article titles, and headings for your webpages.

Providers

CRM

There are hundreds of CRM providers out there. From open source to proprietary. From simple to sprawling. 

CRM tools address the full spectrum of business needs. Below are but a few of the most popular vendors.

HubSpot

HubSpot is a major name in the world of CRM and marketing automation. HubSpot CRM is free and has basic features. 

The platform handles the whole sales process. There are lead management tools and cross-channel tracking of customer interactions. It has features for managing workflows and improving your project management. 

HubSpot is designed to work with both G Suite and Microsoft Office, so it’ll work for you regardless of your developer's allegiance. Zapier integration allows you to share information across apps like Slack and Google Sheets. 

The Sales Hub add-on for the CRM ups the ante considerably, with AI assistance, deeper prospect insights, and high-end automation. There’s Marketing Hub and Service Hub packages too.

Salesforce

Salesforce is by far the largest CRM out thereby market share. 

The vendor offers a deep, customizable CRM. It has well-developed tools for sales processes, analytics, and team collaboration. This is a robust system, allowing sales managers and sales teams to build up very complex task management systems. 

Salesforce automates many tedious tasks and decision-making processes out of the workday. And if you need more features, there are an incredible number of integrations and add-ons available.

Insightly

Insightly is available on the web and mobile versions for both Android and iOS. It also integrates with G Suite and Microsoft Office 365.

Seamless pipeline integration feeds into features like managing contacts and customer data. You can track opportunities (aka sales leads), and assign tasks to team members with handy to-do lists.

The handy Insightly Sidebar sits in your browser as a Chrome extension. It allows you to save Gmail messages directly to your CRM and cross-reference contact information.

Keap (formerly Infusionsoft)

Keap organizes client information in one locale to personalize marketing and boost workflow. It’s targeted at small businesses. 

The platform has robust automation tools. You can run campaigns with advanced marketing automation. You can use triggers to automate tasks when specific criteria are met. 

Data from campaigns, workflows, and tracking are made extra intelligible. All through real-time monitoring, visualized statistics, and in-depth analytics.

Pipedrive

Pipedrive is a sales pipeline-focused CRM. It has contact management, lead tracking, and sales activity monitoring. It also accommodates information sync across channels. 

It also has one of the better contact management tools around. Smart contact data finds web data through Google+, LinkedIn, and more. This saves you time and prevents you from missing out on key details.

CMS

There are many, many CMS providers out there. However, in practice, a small number of vendors dominate the market.

Some platforms are free and open-source, while others are paid and proprietary. 

Some are designed for flexibility, with a broad range of practical applications. Others target specific types of websites. Blogs, e-commerce, business websites, and others.

WordPress

WordPress is a very popular free and open-source CMS. 

In fact, something like 36% of all websites use WordPress. One of the reasons, apart from cost, is ease of use. 

The platform’s user-friendly interface allows you to quickly build custom themes for your website. You can also buy professional templates. Once a template is installed, adding and editing content is a snap.

WordPress is flexible too. There are plug-ins for SEO, security encryption, statistics, cloud backup, and more. G Suite integration allows easy information sharing with Google Analytics, Gmail, and more.

Squarespace

Squarespace is one of the top CMS platforms on the market. It’s well-liked for its drag-and-drop editor and slick templates.

The CMS is broadly targeted at anyone wanting to build an online store, website, or professional portfolio. They provide templates, analytics, and point of sale services. They also make it easy for bloggers to categorize, share, and schedule posts.

There are free Typekit fonts and easy access to Google fonts. A custom layout editor too. Both are super helpful for helping you tweak your brand identity.

Weebly

Weebly is a business-oriented CMS. It has a drag-and-drop editor and is very user-friendly. This makes it a good choice for first-time website owners.

The CMS offers a range of designer templates and 40+ layout types. This provides for easy and detailed website customization. It supports video backgrounds and comes with advanced animation effects.

Integrated analytics give you easy access to website data. The Weebly mobile app lets you update your website or interact with customers on-the-go.

Drupal

Drupal is open source, free, and very popular. It’s the third most used CMS overall.

The integrated, modular CMS is used across all sectors. Everything from retail and e-commerce to healthcare and high tech. One high-profile example: the Tesla website was built with Drupal.

It’s a very powerful platform, with API integrations, well-designed code, and a devoted community of users. With that in mind, its complexity does come with a learning curve.

Joomla

Joomla is a free and open-source CMS. Around 9% of all business websites use it. 

It’s designed to scale with your organization. So as you grow, you can add features and users. Change access rights too. 

There are thousands of vendor-verified extensions available. There are also many customizable templates that can be tweaked in terms of languages, layouts, and colors.

Shopify

Shopify is a CMS built specifically for e-commerce. It makes it easy to create an online store or marketplace and get payments from customers. You can quickly brand and customizable your store with 70+ well-designed themes. 

It automatically handles taxes based on location and provides flexible shipping rates. It handles web hosting and SSL certification as well.

Shopify integrates with Wordpress. This can help you lower costs. And it opens up more possibilities for website customization.

Benefits

CRM

  • Boost lead acquisition and get better leads with lead qualification

  • Manage sales activity and keep track of the sales process

  • Run better marketing campaigns with email marketing tools

  • Store and analyze data

  • Improve team collaboration and task coordination

  • Keep track of contacts related to your business. This includes past interactions, purchase history, location, and phone number

  • Automate follow-up notifications 

CMS

  • Build and manage your website without hiring a web developer

  • Easy to use, with a low learning curve

  • Website automatically gains built-in search functionality 

  • Assign user responsibilities with role-based user access

  • Easily change your website’s look with templates

  • Understand visitor intent and tailor content and marketing accordingly

  • Easier implementation of SEO

  • Plug-ins and widgets can be added to boost website functionality

Conclusion

CRM and CMS are worlds apart in terms of intended purpose. That much is clear.

At the same time, they can be very complimentary. CRM systems can be put to work with CMS. Together, they can help drive more traffic to your website and capture more information.

For example, many CRMs have web form builders that can be embedded on CMS-built websites. These capture information on users that can help run email marketing campaigns.

CRM marketing segmentation can help you personalize your website for users. You may find yourself building new landing pages based on customer data from your CRM. Or tailoring your e-commerce website to customer feedback received via your service CRM. 

Sometimes the same vendor provides both software solutions. That’s the case with HubSpot, for example. In 2019, CRM heavyweight Salesforce also announced their own proprietary CMS.

Do you need a CRM, a CMS, or both? Deciding on the right tools is an involved process. 

Free trials and free software help a lot. 

And so we strongly encourage you to go with the freebies first. Figure out your needs at your own pace. When you’re ready, invest in the software that suits.

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