CRM vs. CMS: Which Does Your Business Need?

May 26, 2021

CRM and CMS software have similar names but are very different, so knowing which is more relevant or your business could save you time, money, and headaches.

Collin CoueySenior Content Writer
CRM vs. CMS: Which Does Your Business Need?

CRM or CMS? With those shared Cs and Ms, you’d think CRM and CMS would be more similar. In reality, the similarities between the two end with those two letters.

As a business owner, it’s crucial to spend time researching and implementing the right kind of software system at the right time. If you don’t, you risk spending time and money on a system that isn’t suited for your business and will cost you even more in training and implementation fees when you inevitably have to switch systems.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Content Management Systems (CMS) serve two different purposes in the business software landscape: CRM is all about managing customers and clients, and CMS is about managing your website.

Most businesses start with a CMS, especially those that need an online portal to showcase or sell their product or service. If your business has a website, you’re already using a CMS (think WordPress).

A CRM will come later in the process, as you build your client base and need to keep better track of your sales pipeline and your customer interactions (think Salesforce). A CRM is especially useful for B2B businesses that need to record lots of client interactions and follow up on leads.

If you’re wondering whether your small business needs a CRM or a CMS, the answer is it probably needs both, but when you need to adopt each may vary. You’ll need a CMS from the outset to build your website and get your business up and running, but you won’t need a CRM until you’re ready to start building up your client base.



We’ll start with CMS since it’s likely the first thing you’ll need when you’re ready to start setting up your business. A CMS, or content management system, is the central hub from where you manage all the content you publish on your website.

In theory, if you’re starting an online business, your CMS will be its central hub. Think of it as if you were renting a physical space to set up shop. You want to make sure it’s easily accessible, looks good, and has space for everything you want to sell.


Example of a CMS file library (Source)

If you’re not starting an online business but want an online presence to showcase your product, promote your services, or start a blog, you’ll need a CMS too.

A CMS will either have predesigned web templates or “themes” that you can choose from, or it will give you the option to create your own design if you’re a bit more tech-savvy and want a more complex or customized website.

The key features of a CMS include:

  • Custom domain names: Create a custom domain in line with your company name

  • Web hosting: Store your website and all of its data either in the CMS or by integrating with a popular web hosting platform

  • Site editor: Change the layout of your site, either using code or a drag-and-drop editor

  • Content library: Store content for publication, including images and videos. Some come with stock images to use on your site

  • Online store: Set up a catalog of products and integrate a payment portal so users can shop online via your website

One key consideration while implementing a CMS is whether or not your site is mobile-friendly (if you’re using a pre-built template, most come with responsive design). In 2020, the number of unique mobile internet users stood at 4.28 billion, which means that over 90% of people who go online use a mobile device to do so. In fact, 54% of total internet traffic at any given time is from a mobile device.

As Google continues to stress the importance of mobile-friendly sites when considering how to rank a website, you’ll want to make sure that your site is mobile-optimized to avoid losing out on traffic.


CRM, or customer relationship management, is an entirely different beast. CRM solutions organize and manage information about customers, and so are one of the most important tools sales and marketing teams can utilize to keep track of their leads and make sure they’re communicating with customers at the most opportune times.


Example of a contact page where contact information is stored in a CRM (Source)

If your business works with customer data in any capacity, chances are you’ll need one too, but when you’ll need to adopt one might vary from business to business. It’s not just when you start acquiring customers and want to grow your customer base that you’ll need to adopt a CRM. The more customers and clients you have, the more difficult it’ll be to keep track of them without one.

The key features of a CRM include:

  • Contact management: Store customer data including email, phone number, and social media accounts.

  • Interaction tracking: Document every interaction you’ve had with your customer, including phone calls, support requests, and purchase history.

  • Lead management: Score and follow up on leads based on their likelihood of converting into customers.

  • Email management: Integrate your email and import directly into your CRM. You’ll also be able to run email campaigns or follow up directly from your CRM.

  • Pipeline management: Manage the sales process from every stage, and assign tasks or follow up with specific members of the team.

  • Reporting and analytics: Get aggregate performance data about deals lost and won, and make future sales predictions.

Though these are the most classic features of a CRM, other capabilities to aid the sales process include marketing automation, product catalog, and document management.

Key differences between CRM and CMS

Remember, a CRM is a tool to help sales and marketing teams organize and manage customer information whereas a CMS is the central hub from where you’ll manage all of the content you publish on your website.

The primary business functions a CRM helps solve are managing contacts, following up on leads, and reporting and forecasting sales. A CMS on the other hand is designed to help businesses solve creating a website, managing content, and setting up an online store.


You should consider obtaining a CRM when you start acquiring customers and want to grow your customer base. The more customers you have, the more difficult it’ll be to keep track of them without a CRM.

If you’re starting an online business, want an online presence to showcase your product or content, or simply want to start a blog, a CMS will be the central hub of your website.

Which tools are out there?

Whether you’re looking for a CMS to manage your content or a CRM to manage your customers, there are lots of software options to help you get on the right track.

See the methodology section at the bottom of this article for more insight into how the apps for each section were chosen.

If you’re looking for a CMS…

Learn more about the CMS tools listed in this article


Paperflite is a cloud-based CMS that assists marketing and sales teams with collaboration and prospect engagement. Its key features include predefined templates, document management, indexing, text editing, and a repository.

The application comes with a module that sends alerts to team members when clients interact with shared content. Marketing teams can use this system to create campaigns by choosing themes and customizing content and crafting messages for different audiences. 

The solution generates reports on metrics such as views and downloads, time spent on page, heat maps, and integrated video analytics. Managers can provide role-based access to staff and assign permissions for editing and publishing content.

Paperflite integrates with third-party applications such as Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, LinkedIn, and Twitter. It’s available on a monthly subscription and support is provided via an online help desk.


Paperflite's live chat feature available to customers (Source) is a cloud-based CMS designed for marketing and sales teams to generate and manage content. Elink helps those teams create email newsletters, website content, and single-page marketing content quickly. 

The software also comes with a Chrome Extension bookmarker so you can save content on the go. With the extension, you can edit the title, description, and image of every piece of content saved. This gives you more control over what content you decide to include in your marketing campaigns.

Elink is most commonly used to create email newsletters for marketing, email lifecycles, sales outreach, internal staff emails, internal team emails, training resources, internal competitor research newsletters, and much more!

Additionally, the software allows you to embed visual Elink collections onto your websites/blogs to share video collections, press mentions, social media mentions, client list, partners list, news feeds, industry news, cloud files, etc.


An example newsletter with customization options (Source)


Directus is a free and open source, cloud-based CMS that helps businesses connect custom SQL databases with dynamic API and view and manage database content. Features include customizable branding, bookmarking, revisions and rollback, single sign-on (SSO), status tracking, multi-language, and data filtering.

The application comes with predefined content authoring workflows that enable supervisors to set project statuses as draft, under-review, published, or soft-delete along with role-based permissions for users. 

Directus API imitates actual SQL database schema by using the database mirroring feature and triggers custom code through events and webhooks. You can create or delete projects consisting of database, storage adapter, and configuration file and hide names by building private projects.

With its digital asset management module, you can store files, scrape metadata, and create automated thumbnails of higher resolution images. Support for the solution is provided via documentation and discussion forums.


An example of how to customize individual pages and pieces of content (Source)

If you’re looking for a CRM…

Learn more about the CRM tools listed in this article

Less Annoying CRM

Less Annoying CRM caters to the needs of small businesses. It offers cloud-based deployment, various configuration options, and a dashboard that provides an overview of contact information, projects, files, and other information.

Offering features for contact management and sales force automation (SFA), Less Annoying CRM allows you to consolidate customer information in a single place, accessible to the entire team. The dashboard allows you to view any notes, files, tasks, events, and pipeline information related to a contact. Modules include lead tracking, note taking, calendars, and task management.

Configuration options allow you to customize sales processes and lead definitions to align with business processes and industry needs. Less Annoying CRM offers 256-bit encryption security. Its servers are hosted on Amazon’s infrastructure with multiple data backups kept off-site, allowing data to be restored if necessary.


Less Annoying CRM’s workspace for users (Source)


Salesflare is a CRM and email outreach platform used by thousands of small and midsize B2B businesses.

It automates data entry by gathering data from social profiles, emails, calendars, phones, company databases, and professional email signatures.

Assisted by its sales tracking and automation features, Salesflare can be used to generate and follow-up leads at scale. It has built-in email tracking, capabilities for sending personal emails at scale, lead scoring, social integrations, sales analytics, and an automated address book.

Salesflare's full functionality is available in all major platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, and Gmail or Outlook inboxes.

The software is focused on accelerating B2B sales and is primarily used by marketing agencies, software companies, startups, consulting companies, commercial real estate agencies, non-profits, and pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies.


Example of Salesflare’s sales pipeline (Source)


VipeCloud is designed for small and midsize businesses across various industries. With email marketing and marketing automation features, VipeCloud can accelerate team growth and streamline sales processes. Other key features include task management, lead scoring, email marketing, document storage, social media integrations, and mobile access.

VipeCloud’s marketing suite helps sales teams prioritize leads via workflow automation and lead scoring. Users send and keep track of emails, define and automate the cadence of outreach campaigns, manage and segment contact lists, and connect email marketing to website visitor activities. The sales suite lets users send personalized video messages to leads, scan business cards, and automate contact detail entry.

Additionally, VipeCloud features a performance stack module that lets users add and update contacts, manage the quantity and type of team activities, create alerts based on user actions, and add tags to contacts, companies, and opportunities.


VipeCloud’s contact management page (Source)

More about CMS and CRM

While some CRMs may offer features like eCommerce, and some CMSs do the same with contact management, the core of each software serves a different purpose. You will, however, likely need both: CMS is imperative as you build your business and want to create an online presence, while a CRM will be invaluable for helping you grow your customer base.


Applications highlighted in this article are selected based on the Category Leader rankings for each category.

Category Leaders rankings highlight top-ranked North American software products based on ratings from end-users in five key areas: ease of use, value for money, functionality, customer support, and likelihood to recommend.

To create each Category Leaders ranking, our research team may evaluate hundreds of products in any one category. Only the products with the highest scores become Category Leaders.

We have used the top three products in the CRM and CMS categories to feature.

About the author

Collin Couey

Senior Content Writer
Collin Couey is a Senior Content Writer at GetApp, covering medical, education, and customer experience technologies, with a focus on emerging medical trends. Collin has presented at the Conference on College Composition and Communication as well as the Pop Culture Association Annual Conference. Collin loves playing disc golf and Dungeons and Dragons in his free time.
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