The Distinction in Senior Living: Marketing Automation or CRM?

You and your team likely have a marketing automation system and perhaps also a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to support resident acquisition, communication, and retention. Surprisingly, in a recent benchmarking study of the industry, ActiveDEMAND learned that many senior living marketing professionals are unclear on the distinction between the two. While marketing automation and CRM systems can indeed work in tandem, we will explore the core differences and how each can play a unique role in building trust with your communities’ future residents and families.

Marketing Automation or CRM

marketing automation

Marketing automation focuses more on automating repetitive marketing tasks, nurturing leads, and moving them down into the sales funnel. Think of it this way: the marketing automation program (MAP) operates in the space before a prospect becomes a lead. Once they become a sales-qualified lead, they are now operating in the sales CRM. The marketing automation program houses the data to illustrate the full buyer’s lifecycle. With truly integrated MAP-CRM solutions, your team can track and report on all aspects of the journey:

  • First touch
  • First conversion
  • First marketing-qualified engagement
  • Sales-qualified handoff to the sales CRM
  • Sales engagement
  • Move-in


customer journey

Each platform, marketing automation and sales CRM, has its focus, but it’s the marketing automation system that can supply your team with the complete data picture of what’s working and why. When used properly, marketing automation personalizes interactions, builds trust, and results in higher conversion rates. Key features of most marketing automation systems include:

  • Journey Tracking: Track and record all aspects of the buyer’s journey from anonymous site visit to form submissions, appointments, or tours to calls and emails that indicates where prospects are in their journey.
  • Lead Nurturing: Automates a series of emails tailored to each potential resident’s interests, gradually warming them up to the idea of moving into your community.
  • Segmentation: Categorizes your audience based on specific criteria, enabling targeted campaigns.
  • Campaign Management: Plans, executes, and measures the impact of various marketing campaigns for you while you handle more high-level strategic work.
  • Analytics: Tracks the effectiveness of every campaign, supporting you in understanding the return on investment and refining your strategies to further build trust with would-be residents and family members.
  • Live chat: Engages residents and their families as they visit your website, nurturing them to have conversations with your sales team. 
  • Reporting: Analyzes trends, measures performance, and shows what marketing is working and what activities are generating leads for sales so you and your team can continually improve your approach.



The CRM primarily focuses on managing interactions with prospective and current residents – that is, it is more sales than marketing-focused. It provides a centralized platform where organizations can store and access sales information, such as contact details, preferences, and historical interactions. Key features of many CRMs include:

  • Contact Management: Allows you to store detailed information about residents and leads, ensuring that every team member has access to the same data.
  • Interaction Tracking: Records every sales pipeline touchpoint, from tours to calls to move-in agreements signed, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.
  • Task Management: Sets reminders for follow-ups, schedules appointments, and accounts for every task throughout the sales cycle.
  • Relationship Building: In essence, your CRM is designed to support your sales team in improving relationships between your organization and its future residents, facilitating better communication of and understanding of the value your organization brings to their lives.
  • Reporting: Analyzes trends, measures performance, and shows how the sales process is working and what leads are resulting in move-ins so you and your team can continually improve your approach.

marketing automation and crms work together for senior livingWhile they serve different primary functions, when your marketing automation and CRM systems work in tandem, the unified system can track a lead from the initial touchpoint, through the nurturing process, to conversion and beyond. With data and analytics from both systems at hand, your team can offer personalized experiences to potential and current residents and families, improving move-in, satisfaction, and retention rates.

To learn more about how ActiveDEMAND can build out campaigns like these for you and your team, book a demo today. No cost, no obligation, no sales pitch. Promise. 

ActiveDEMAND is a marketing automation software company supporting multi-location senior living organizations in building trust with future residents and family members at scale. Our marketing automation software is used in more than 3,800 senior living communities across the United States. More than 7,500 marketing professionals nationwide use our marketing automation software. For details, visit