These days you could almost pick three random letters and discover a new software system to support your business. CRM is common enough, but have you heard of CMS?
Some software systems have overlapping functions (CRM and ERP, we’re looking at you!), but customer relationship management (CRM) tools and content management systems (CMS) share little beyond that first letter.
This guide details the differences between the two and how they complement each other to help you decide whether to choose one or the other, or both, to boost your business.
What is CRM?
A CRM system is a software tool that creates a vast database of customer information, tracking and recording all customer interactions with the company in an effort to strengthen relationships.
CRM software supports sales reps by presenting customer data in one easily-accessible place, enabling them to view customer profiles and tailor their sales approach to the specific customer. CRM platforms also typically include functions like database management, sales automation, lead generation and nurturing, and customer analytics.
With these features, a CRM system aims to improve customer retention, increase sales, and ultimately drive business growth by better understanding customers and their needs.
What is CMS?
Content management systems (CMS) host content and documents and lets users create and manage a website without coding skills. CMS software supports business owners who lack the funds to buy a domain and hire a web developer but want a professional website full of enticing content.
CMS platforms have two main components: a content management app that lets you add and manage content; and a content delivery app that stores and displays content. Once you upload content to your site, you won’t have to worry about storing it on your computer or how it might render on your website.
CMS software offers hundreds of website templates and customization options so business owners can make anything from static websites and blogs to e-commerce stores and online courses.
Similarities Between CRM and CMS
With such distinct uses, the similarities between CRM and CMS are few. Still, a good CRM system can leverage the benefits of a CMS platform as part of the sales and marketing process.
First, a CMS employs a company’s digital assets to create a website or landing page that aims to attract customers. Whenever it succeeds in doing so, the CRM system steps in to record every customer interaction in a way that encourages a sale, aided by the pleasant digital experience of the CMS.
A good CRM is able to track website data, such as page visits and what a customer put in their basket, then analyze it and use the insights to shape sales strategy. So the quality of your CMS will drive the findings and impact of your CRM.
Similarly, CRM-managed customer service could include a chatbot or phone link built directly into your CMS-built website. It’s all about building one off the other to increase your understanding of your customers and optimize sales strategy around that knowledge.
CMS and CRM tools both aim to attract paying customers and provide a superb customer experience, so why not have them work in concert?
Differences Between CRM vs CMS
At the same time, CRM and CMS systems differ considerably in functionality, data management, and users.
The main function of a CRM solution is breaking down information silos between marketing, sales, and customer service by tracking and sharing customer information. With a comprehensive picture of each customer, sales reps are able to tailor their approach, hopefully increasing sales and customer satisfaction.
With a good CRM, sales managers gain a clear understanding of how many leads are in each stage of the sales funnel, where prospective customers tend to drop out, and what often drives purchases. With this knowledge, the manager can tweak and improve sales strategy.
The main function of a CMS solution, on the other hand, is to help design and manage the company’s website. Through a CMS hub, businesses are able to launch anything from an e-commerce store to online classes and more.
Broadly speaking, CRM tools tend to work best for B2B, while CMS is often a better fit for B2C businesses. But either type of business could leverage both of these tools.
CRM platforms store and manage customer data, such as contact information, personal info, and every interaction with your business, from first contact to post-sales support. CRMs also archive information on past clients, so the amount of data in your CRM – and the insights it can provide – will only grow over time.
CMS tools, meanwhile, store and manage content rather than raw data. A CMS will host text, images, and videos, enabling your company to leverage that content into a brilliant website.
But a CMS only hosts and displays the website’s current content. Once you remove something from your website, it’s quite difficult to retrieve it via the CMS.
Luckily, most CMS tools are able to create back-up storage spaces that can hold your content and restore your website in the event of an error. But depending on the system, you may have to revert the entire website to an old version even when you want to restore one piece of content. For this, a CMS is a double-edged sword: updating your website is easy, but the removed content will likely be inaccessible.
How often you update your website depends on your business – an e-commerce firm might update every few days for new product listings, while a law firm whose product offerings rarely change could probably wait a year.
Finally, CRMs tend to have drastically more users than CMSs. Every employee in marketing, sales, and customer service will probably use your CRM, which tends to be expensive in large part because CRM providers often charge per user.
CMS platforms, on the other hand, are commonly only used by the business owner and a few content managers. The good thing about a CMS is that anyone can use the login details to update your website, so it’s easy to delegate this task.
Should I Buy a CMS?
A sharp, professional-looking website is a must-have in the digital age. Regardless of industry, your reputability plummets if potential customers are unable to check out your online presence.
A CMS is more cost-effective than hiring a web developer, especially for websites that need regular updating or have many pages. If you’re selling to consumers, an even more cost-effective route is using an online marketplace like Amazon or Etsy to serve as your e-commerce website.
Some online business formation services include a free website builder or a year of a free domain when you purchase a business formation package. So if you have yet to officially register your business, you could shop around online and go that route.
Another option is to play around with Google Sites, the free CMS tool on Google Workspace. It might be all you need to build a great website, or you might learn that your business absolutely needs a professional CMS.
Should I Buy a CRM?
CRM software manages something every business needs – customers. Whether B2B or B2C, a CRM could boost your sales and customer loyalty by delivering a smoother and more satisfying customer experience.
In today’s experience-based economy, customers automatically rate companies on service and ease of purchase. By breaking down information silos and tracking customer data, CRMs streamline the sales process and enable sales reps to personalize their approach, helping businesses stay relevant.
Still, CRMs aren’t for everyone. If your business has only a handful of key customers or your industry prioritizes product quality over service, you may have no use for CRM. But for growing businesses looking to craft a high-quality sales experience, a CRM is probably your best bet.
Should I choose CRM or CMS?
CMS and CRM tools both have their merits, but which is best for your business depends on your needs.
In general, a CMS platform and website are more useful for inbound marketing, while a CRM is best suited to outbound marketing. If you’re a B2C business and expect customers to find and browse your site on their own, you might want to explore free options, such as Google Sites, before spending on a serious CMS.
But if your business is more B2B and your sales reps work their tails off to find and nurture leads, a CRM may well be worth the expense.
In the digital age, companies need robust and appealing website to establish their trustworthiness and professionalism. CMS software can get you there without learning to code or hiring a pricey developer.
Once potential clients have their foot in the door, just hand them over to your CRM to provide a pleasant, tailor-made customer experience that hopefully ends in a sale.
They serve different functions and are often used by different business types, but these platforms can work brilliantly together and serve as invaluable tools in boosting sales and growing your business.
CRM vs CMS FAQs
Wait! I thought CMS stood for…
Contact management system? Client management system? These are both valid definitions of the acronym, but for us it stands for content management system.
Contact and client management systems manage customer and lead names and contact data and are often integrated into CRMs, so these definitions of CMS fell out of use. Meanwhile, content management systems are a more contemporary class of software and will likely grow in use as businesses move beyond the digital frontier.
What are some examples of CRM and CMS software?
Some examples of CRM software are HubSpot CRM, Zoho CRM, Salesforce CRM, and Pipedrive. Some examples of CMS are WordPress, Squarespace, Joomla, and Adobe Commerce. Some SaaS companies such as HubSpot and monday.com provide both.
Do I Need to Buy a CRM?
A CRM helps you keep track of customers and allows your sales reps to personalize their sales pitches. If you differentiate yourself as a business through quality service or personalized sales, a CRM optimizes your data management and sales reps’ activities.
But if you only have a small number of clients who care more about the product than the service, a CRM might not be a worthwhile investment for your business. You could manage just fine with a single live datasheet of client info and designated account managers for each customer.
And if you’re looking to optimize your entire business including the supply chain and financials, some ERP software will do that and include all the functions of a CRM solution.
Do I Need to Buy a CMS?
Establishing an online presence is critical for any 21st-century business, and a CMS helps you achieve that by enabling non-coders to build and maintain a website.
But depending on your business, you may not need to spend money to attain the same results. If you run an e-commerce business, a platform like Amazon could be your digital storefront. There are also ways to obtain and build websites for free, such as through Google Sites.
Which one costs more: CRM or CMS?
A CMS hub is much cheaper than a CRM system. The average CMS runs $16 to $50 per month, while a CRM system charges $12 to $50 a month per user.
Additionally, some business formation service providers offer a free website for a year as part of their packages. If you haven’t officially filed to form your business with the state, it’s worth shopping around to find a formation service that includes this.