CRM vs CMS: What’s Their Differences [2023]

    Join our weekly digest. You’ll also receive some of our best posts today.


      CRM vs CMS: What’s Their Differences [2023]

      12' read
      12' read

      In this blog post, we will introduce to you the key features of both CMS systems and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, as well as their differences so that you can make a decision based on your needs and budget.

      Acquiring new customers is a three-step process – you generate qualified leads, nurture them to build a relationship, and finally convert them into paying customers. A CRM is software that helps you manage this journey for each of your customers.


      When most business people think of CRM software, they envision a large database full of contacts and customers. However, there is another piece to the puzzle – a Contact Management System. These two pieces are closely linked, but they serve different purposes and have different features.

      Having a contact management tool and customer relationship management software can help businesses improve their efficiency and grow by transforming their customer engagement strategies.

      A Contact Management System (CMS) is a database software that allows a business to store, manage and search its customers’ data. Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM) on the other hand, is more like a sales automation tool that helps businesses manage customer interactions by collecting relevant information needed to target them correctly based on their needs and then delivering an effective experience while ensuring they remain loyal.

      Quick note – it is common to confuse a Contact Management System with a Content Management System. While Content Management tools are critical for your business too, they serve a different function. CMS applications like WordPress, Joomla (both open-source), Drupal, or even Squarespace help with publishing website content and are critical from an SEO perspective. They help you set up the frontend landing page for your website.

      While this is necessary for generating leads, they do not serve a sales function as the Contact Management System does.

      Many small businesses (brick and mortar plus online businesses) use both CMS platforms and CRM software applications in order to build up their customer database, and collect information about their customers’ behavior patterns, gather contact details, and track past interactions with them.

      There are various advantages to both, Customer Relationship Management and Contact Management Systems. They provide different features and functionalities, but both are aimed at improving customer relationships by making it easier to communicate with them and serve them well.


      In this blog post, we will introduce to you the key features of both CMS systems and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, as well as their differences so that you can make a decision based on your needs and budget.

      What is CMS?

      A contact management system (CMS) is software used to collect, analyze, and organize contact information. The customer interactions over time are collected as data and leveraged to diversify the customer base and drive conversions.


      Ideally, this software allows you to create separate entries for each contact in your list. CMS software is meant to ensure greater and more substantial engagement with your customers.

      A typical CMS software comprises:

      • An extensive database that has all the relevant contact information — billing, deals, organizations, etc.
      • Event and meeting scheduling (and reminders) functionality.
      • Business-related data
      • Third-party integration for communication such as e-mails, phone calls, and text messaging.
      • Document management and dashboards
      • Reports and analytical data — allow you to make better and more profitable decisions.
      • Advanced features — such as lead opportunity management and internal messaging.

      Benefits of CMS

      Powerful Customer Insight


      An efficient CMS software enables you to track customer data from the funnel to the post-purchase stage; various communications with vendors, potential customers, or customers; information of associated sales reps, open quotes, orders, etc.

      Efficient Data Collection

      It allows you to store customer information highly efficiently through web tracking, transactional history, surveys, social media, marketing analytics, etc.

      Leverage Drip Campaigns

      Drip campaigns or Drip marketing strategy involves sending a series of automated emails to prospects and customers. These emails can be personalized with data such as the contact’s name or previous transactions, etc. This allows you to send pre-designed messages (provided as templates) to your customers at certain planned intervals, via different social media platforms (like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.), to drive sales.

      Consolidated Data Repository

      It is a centralized data storage unit or centralized cloud-based management system which can be accessed by all the employees across the organization from any location and at any given time. This prevents the risk of losing data due to manual errors and allows efficient collaboration among teams to increase the number of leads and revenue growth rate.

      Contact Categorization

      You can categorize your contacts under different tags such as past customers, new customers, returning customers, loyal customers, etc.


      New Epsilon research suggests that approximately 80% of e-commerce customers favor personalized experiences. An ideal CMS software tool helps in understanding the needs of your prospects. It simplifies the process of storing and managing customer data for a streamlined business operation.

      For example, Bigin by Zoho is an efficient CMS software with catchy features — pipeline management, webform connection, and workflow automation. Its pricing starts from $7/user per month.

      What is CRM?

      Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool helps in improving B2C (Business-to-customer) relationships by allowing you to access the entire progression of customer interaction and other related data. This tracked data is then stored in a centralized database which can be accessed by multiple people across the departments.


      Fragmented contact data can invariably lead to lost deals and dissatisfied customers. This isn’t a result of the team’s inefficiency, but the use of disconnected tools. A CRM tool helps you to collect and store customer data, which can be shared among employees for collaborative working. It saves your time and resources by automating a series of manual tasks. It streamlines the sales processes, optimizes marketing campaigns, enhances customer service, and makes management and accounting more efficient for a developing business.

      Companies from different spheres, such as the ones dealing with purchase and service providers, B2B companies with longer sales cycles like SaaS, etc. can largely benefit from CRM tools like HubSpot CRM.

      An equipped CRM system can solve the following challenges:

      • It allows you to create a single well-versed data in a consolidated system which makes customer information accessible for multiple divisions of your organization.
      • It helps organize customer interaction by letting different reps track historical interactions.For example, if a customer has service-related issues, it will be dealt with by the support executive without any hassles of looking for customer-specific data. Instead, the support rep can easily access all the previous interactions from the comprehensive data source and resolve the customer’s issue(s) with an agile and personalized approach.
      • You can track your sales and marketing teams’ performance. Also, it automates several tasks like email marketing and accelerates the sales cycle.
      • It stores extensive information about your customers. In addition to contact’s email and phone numbers, a CRM tool also helps you track the number of times your customers have visited your website, which emails they opened, and how they interacted with your organization.

      Types Of CRM

      Operational CRM

      It focuses on providing you with tools to visualize and efficiently handle customer journeys despite a higher number of touchpoints in some cases. It stores the entire customer behavior, i.e. prospect’s initial interaction on your website → entry in the sales pipeline (marking the beginning of the lead management process) → becoming a customer.


      Operational CRM automates the marketing, sales, and service tasks, allowing your team members to focus on more crucial matters, and providing a platform for scalability. For example, Salesforce Essentials offers customizable detailed reports and a user-friendly dashboard. It helps with automated sales and marketing and excels in advanced records and analytics.

      Analytical CRM

      Its primary aim is to help you analyze customer data and gain important insights (customer behavior trends) and other key metrics. This helps you understand what leads to better sales and more customer retention.


      For example, Insightly CRM is an ideal project management CRM tool that comes with pre-built dashboards and shows real-time analytics. It offers a strong mobile app, pipelines for leads and projects, and offers digital note-taking.

      Collaborative CRM

      This tool allows multiple departments in your organization to collaboratively organize, and share leads and customer data via specialized communication. It focuses primarily on breaking down the silos.

      This collaborative method allows an uninterrupted workflow despite teams working from different geographical locations, different channels, or bearing different skills. Everyone from the marketing and sales team to the customer support agents has access to the entire customer database. It helps in treating every interaction as a unified conversation between the brand and the customers.


      For Example, the Pipeline CRM tool specializes in sales pipeline filters and notifications. It offers kanban style unlimited pipelines with features like tagging, comments, mentions, email and calendar sync, etc. It has affordable paid tiers, deal-based workflows, and plugins for improved functionality.

      CMS vs CRM

      Area of Functionality

      Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a software solution that helps in managing all the activities from the sales funnel → buyer’s journey → sales cycle → relationships with prospects and customers. It allows tracking of data related to customers, vendors, and interactions.


      The core function of a CMS tool is to manage and maintain customer data that involves names, numbers, and email addresses. It does not offer any assistance in business operations and is limited to contact management only.


      A Customer Relationship Management system is ideal for large-scale organizations, and it allows employees in different divisions to share data like the frequency of your customers visiting your online store, documents, notes, reports, and insights spontaneously. Customer queries and issues can therefore be resolved in lesser time due to the readily available data.


      Because CMS doesn’t provide any documentation like CRM, it provides you with limited contact data. This is insufficient for streamlining the marketing journey of customers who want a more customized experience.


      CRM tools automate the major tasks of sales, service, and marketing departments such as sending emails, promos, etc. based on your customers’ history. Also, CRM software mostly has integration facilities that allow you to easily set up drip campaigns. This drip system is automatically activated based on your preset parameters.

      Contact management systems are not adept with high-level automation. Emails can be sent to a contact or a group of contacts, but these can’t be automated in any meaningful way. For example, an email could be sent to everyone in a specific department, but it won’t be able to automatically set up a workflow on behalf of each user so they can see their inboxes as they work through tasks assigned by their managers.

      Report Generation

      CRM tools are designed to collect and organize interactions into reports and analytics to present you with clarity of the sales performance and customer insight. Reports are crucial to every business as they provide insight into a department’s as well as an organization’s overall performance, and suggest possible growth areas. These reports can be analytical, operational, informational, etc.

      A CMS tool provides customer information alone. It does not help in consolidating the data or providing you with analytics or readable data.

      Segmentation Or Analysis

      The segmentation process in CRM tools is defined by classifying leads based on their interest, business value, and the probability of the prospects turning into customers. This tool lends a more holistic view of customer relationships.

      CMS can segregate the contacts depending upon their groups to simplify its use. This tool is often used with online calendars and helps you with event scheduling, email integrations (like Gmail), and in activity management.

      Wrapping Up

      CMS or CRM software — which one is ideal for you?

      The question of which is better for your business is a complex one. It depends on the type of business you have, the size of your team, your business needs, and what you hope to achieve with your system.

      If you’re just starting out or are a small business owner, it might be better to start with a Contact Management System (CMS) instead of a full-blown CRM software package.

      A CMS solution will allow you to build out your team and make use of features like phonebooks, call recording, and SMS/text messaging without spending too much money upfront. CMS tools are mostly required by businesses that do not need follow-ups or marketing. Designed ideally for SMEs, CMS tools make it easier for the teams to access the organized data and keep abreast with customer and sales team interactions.


      If you want more advanced features such as account management, customer relationship management, and marketing automation then we’d recommend looking at a CRM solution that can handle these requirements — ideally one that has integrations with other platforms such as Slack or Salesforce.

      CRM tools are one of the most important aspects of the sales and marketing segment of a large-scale organization. It tracks the leads and all the relevant data (at a detailed level) for follow-up and provides a detailed analysis of past sales and predicts future purchases.