CMS vs. CRM: What’s the Difference and How to Use Both to Improve Your Store's Performance

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    A content management system (CMS) and customer relationship management (CRM) software are important tools that can power your eCommerce store separately. But to unlock their full potential for growing your eCommerce store, they need to work together. Using a content management system and customer relationship management software in tandem is the best way to boost your store’s performance and drive more sales. This article will show you how to achieve this.

    Understand the Difference Between CMS vs. CRM

    A content management system and customer relationship management software have similar abbreviations, so it's common to mistake one for the other. But these tools couldn't be more different — from their features to their use cases. The primary difference between your CMS and CRM is that your CMS streamlines digital content management while your CRM software centralizes customer management.

    Your CMS Streamlines Digital Content Management

    A content management system is a central hub for creating, optimizing, and managing digital content. Anyone who has access to your CMS can add, edit, reorganize, and delete your site's content all from one place, depending on the permissions you've set. And all the changes made in the content management system automatically reflect on your website and any other linked digital channels, like mobile apps.

    Streamlining content management makes your content creation process more efficient, accelerating your speed-to-market. For example, your marketing team can create and deploy landing pages for campaigns independently without waiting for a developer's technical input.

    A content management system can be monolithic, headless, or hybrid. A monolithic CMS like WordPress houses both frontend and backend functions in a single web-first application and runs on a single codebase. A headless CMS is API-first, which means it houses your backend repository and delivers content to different frontends via APIs. A hybrid CMS like Shopify CMS is a monolithic content management system that is powered by an API.

    Headless CMS graphic

    A graphic showing how a Headless CMS works.

    Features of a content management system

    Every content management system — whether monolithic, hybrid, or headless — has the following features.

    1. Content editor

    A content editor is where you create new content entries and edit existing entries in your CMS, and it use a form-based or visual approach. A content entry is a piece of content like a blog post or landing page that will go live on your website or some other channel.

    In a content editor, you can:

    1. Choose the layout of the content entry based on the existing configurations in your CMS

    2. Format the content entry — italicize text, add internal links and headings, and embed images

    3. Add metadata, including slugs, tags, and titles

    A content editor improves your store's performance by allowing you to make storefront updates easily and on time. For example, anyone on your team with the right permissions can update different store categories with new arrivals, edit product placements to be more user-friendly, and replace broken links.

    2. Security

    McKinsey’s 2020 consumer-data report shows that 87% of consumers “will not do business with a company if they had concerns about its security practices.” When customers trust that they're safe from common online shopping risks, like malware attacks, phishing, and credit card fraud, they're more confident shopping on your eCommerce website, and this will boost your store's performance. Your eCommerce business might even earn a decent number of direct referrals, too!

    Data encryption and SSL configurations are some of the security features of a CMS. Data encryption means that all of the information stored in your CMS is encoded and cannot be easily accessed or breached. On the other hand, SSL configurations ensure that data transits from your digital channels’ servers to users’ browsers securely.


    When choosing a CMS, be sure to investigate what measures your system takes to keep your content safe!

    3. Collaboration

    A content management system supports collaboration with two main features — content workflow automation and multiple user access.

    In a content management system, you can define content authoring workflows and control how many changes users can make to your content. For example, you can restrict some users to specific content blocks or content repositories. And you can also set permissions for certain activities, like publishing and deleting content assets and content entries. With these workflows and permissions in place, it's easier for multiple users to access and work in your content management system simultaneously without breaking anything.

    Collaboration minimizes content approval loops, especially for large-sized eCommerce companies. This improves your store's performance because updates can be implemented quickly. For example, your SEO team can implement content optimization updates directly instead of waiting on your developers to handle these implementations.

    4. Asset manager

    An asset manager helps you achieve a consistent brand presentation. Consistent brand representation can increase your eCommerce store's revenue by 10 to 20%.

    An asset manager is a library of your brand’s rich media files, including:

    • Images

    • Videos and audios

    • Logotypes

    • Illustrations

    These assets are typically organized by metadata, making them easily findable. For instance, this means that authorized members of your marketing team can go into the asset manager, find the necessary media files, and put together a landing page that's 100% in line with your brand identity — independently and in record time.

    5. Content personalization

    A report by Accenture shows that “91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.” To create unique and hyper-targeted experiences for your customers, you need content personalization.

    In a monolithic CMS, you can add a personalization plugin to help you pick up data, including search history and a Google Maps location, and use these pieces of information to configure the type of content the user interacts with on your website. On the other hand, you don’t need a personalization plugin for a headless CMS like Storyblok because Storyblok automatically integrates customer data repositories into systems that deliver content.

    Storytelling and Building a Personal Connection

    Personalization is key to brand storytelling. Learn more about this strategy in our dedicated whitepaper.

    Your CRM Centralizes Customer Management

    On average, organizations generate over 1,800 leads and 300 new customers per month — but how do they manage the large volumes of data from these leads and customers? With customer relationship management software (CRM). CRM software allows you to track all of the interactions customers have made with your business in a single place — from their first point of contact to when they become paying customers.

    Once a new lead is captured via your lead generation tool — for example, through cold calling or forms — and added to the CRM software, you can qualify them. If they fit your ideal customer profile, you can target them with automated lead nurturing campaigns, like email drips, and observe their progress through the buyer journey stages in real-time. And when these prospects become paying customers, you can monitor their accounts’ health easily, allowing you to:

    • Identify and leverage upselling opportunities

    • Gather and organize customer feedback

    • Retarget inactive accounts

    Centralizing customer management helps you to track your organization's sales cycle efficiently, making it easier for you to forecast your store's revenue. Based on the revenue forecast, you'll know when to double down on sales to improve your bottom line or when to slow down, so your store doesn't run out of capacity to fulfill customers' orders.

    CRM features

    Customer relationship management software has the following features:

    1. Contact management system

    A contact management system is a central searchable database of customers’ information, including their names, phone numbers, email addresses, purchases, interaction histories, and native language information. You can import and export customer data, record notes from customer interactions, and set follow-up reminders in a content management system.

    A contact management system improves your store's performance through data-driven personalization. This means you can leverage customer data to create hyper-specific experiences for shoppers across multiple channels of interaction — like sending a promotional email for new wig arrivals to a customer who frequently buys wigs from your eCommerce store.

    An image of a storefront with several marketing channels.

    Reaching customers across multiple channels - also known as omnichannel marketing - is a key way to help you boost sales.

    2. Email integration

    Email is one of the best lead generation tools for eCommerce businesses. For every £1 invested in email marketing, you can expect an average return of £42. Email integration makes email marketing more effective.

    Email integration means that your sales inbox is fully synchronized with your CRM. This has several benefits like:

    • Seamless email scheduling and tracking

    • Access to customizable email templates

    • Email campaigns automation

    • Real time performance tracking

    3. File manager

    A file manager houses all of your sales and marketing materials — including brochures and sales decks — on a central platform. It helps you achieve consistency and efficiency, which are important for boosting your store's performance.

    A file manager makes you more efficient by supporting sales and marketing automation. For example, you can attach relevant sales and marketing materials to different stages of your lead nurturing email sequence.

    Consistent messaging helps you earn top-of-mind awareness with your existing and potential customers. Top-of-mind awareness means that your business is the first thing that comes to mind when customers think about your industry. For instance, what comes to your mind when you think of luxury smartphones? iPhones, right? Earning top-of-mind awareness will drive repeat purchases to your eCommerce store and help you build brand loyalty.

    4. Reporting and analytics

    CRM software has three basic reporting and analytics tools for tracking performance and measuring ROI:

    • Sales dashboard for forecasting, tracking revenue, managing leads, and monitoring pipeline growth

    • Campaign reporting for tracking lead conversion rates, lead generation channels, and the ROI of marketing campaigns

    • Customer analytics for tracking the distribution of customer segments, demographics, and buying patterns

    All of these tools provide relevant insights into your store's overall performance and help you make data-driven decisions.

    5. Workflow management

    Customer relationship management software streamlines your sales, marketing, and customer support workflows, freeing up time for more high-level tasks, like website optimization and driving partnerships. You can set up automated workflows for routine tasks, like lead scoring, drip marketing, email segmentation, and call logging, in your CRM software.

    Combine the Strengths of Your CMS and CRM to Drive Greater Results for Your eCommerce store

    There are three ways to integrate your CMS and CRM for improved store performance.

    1. Capture Customer Purchase Data History in Your CRM

    60% of consumers say they will become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience." Capturing purchase history data in your CRM will help you personalize your marketing content. For example, if a customer's shopping history shows that they're interested in shoes, you can send emails informing them about the new shoe collections in your store, plus discounts on their prices.

    You can export customer purchase data history in CSV format — transactions, dates, and items — from your CMS into your CRM. This process typically differs from one content management system to the other. For instance, here's how to export data in CSV form from Storyblok.

    2. Launch Marketing Campaigns Informed by Customer Insights

    Targeted marketing campaigns drive more conversions. A report by SmarterHQ shows that 72% of customers will only engage with personalized ads and marketing campaigns.

    Your CMS and CRM can work together to help you launch targeted marketing campaigns on time. Use the customer insights in your CRM to map out key aspects of your marketing campaigns, including channels, messaging, and offerings. For example, if your CRM shows that Instagram is your strongest lead generation channel, then you’d know to target more Instagram users in your marketing campaigns instead of Facebook or LinkedIn. Then you can create a landing page for the marketing campaign in your CMS.

    3. Capture New Leads in Your Sales Pipeline Automatically

    On average, salespeople spend about 41% of their workday on non-revenue generating activities, like manual CRM data entry. Manual data entry is prone to errors and can distort your sales and revenue forecast.

    Integrating your CMS and CRM allows you to automate data entry and boost your sales team's efficiency. Once you've connected your CMS and CRM via an API or plugin, you can create lead generation forms in your CRM and embed them into your CMS automatically to go live on your website. As customers fill out these forms on your eCommerce website, their data is automatically updated in your CRM, with each piece of information placed into the right categories.

    Ready to Take Your Store's Performance Even Higher? Integrate a Headless CMS with Your CRM

    Integrating a headless CMS like Storyblok into your CRM software is instant and easy and happens via an API. Unlike other types of content management systems, you can connect a headless CMS to your CRM software without plugins. This means you don’t have to deal with the burden of extra code that can tank your eCommerce website performance metrics scores. A headless CMS also gives you more control over your site's content — providing the needed flexibility to help you deliver personalized experiences to your customers.