Marketing Automation Software: An Introduction & Buyer’s Guide

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Marketing automation targets a very specific, CRM-demographic within the software market. MA software is geared towards the reduction of time-consuming processes and tasks within various, marketing sectors.

By implementing specific, analytic marketing tools and strategies, the MA software niche is able to segue the “middle man work” so to speak; replacing tedious, manual processes with expedient platform solutions.

A steady influx of product innovations/upgrades enhance existing marketing solutions. Currently, these solutions can be divided into two varying spectrums: business to business (B2B) solutions and business to consumer (B2C) solutions. Both divisions vary by functionality, intentions and targeted objectives.

B2B firms have extended sales cycles, and also focus on CRM-enhancing techniques. In contrast, B2C endeavors focus on brand-promotion, in addition to direct, outreach marketing techniques.

The following information is designed to encourage a general comprehension of MA software applications, along with updating and enhancing buyer awareness of current marketing trends.

A Review of MA Software

MA software is intended to assist marketing firms in the development, projection and succession of campaign ventures. These systems are implemented to regulate both workflow and collateral, along with monitoring prospect behaviors and securing sales leads.

B2B systems rely on savvy techniques to extract lead generations and management capabilities. Lead-scoring operations result in demographic-based leads (ie. industry/scalability), coupled with behavior-influenced leads (ie. website activity, campaign responses). The results are qualified leads, close to the culmination of purchase. In cases of piqued buyer interest, sans finalized purchase, marketing strategies like “stay in touch” campaigns can be employed via tracking software platforms.

B2C systems utilize an extensive, customer-records database to distinguish customers into buyer-specific categories. These marketing endeavors are intended to generate consumer responses (ie. encourage a buyer to finalize product purchase). Additionally, B2C campaigns may employ telesale-outreach strategies to encourage purchases from prospective buyers.

MA software additionally promotes advanced analytical/reporting tools that highlight individual, lead successes. This enables a cost-effective analysis of allocated resources.

MA Buyer Categories & Vendor-System Allocations
Most buyers are discernible by four distinctive, category features and should evaluate appropriate systems that benefit their specific niche base.

1.) B2C Enterprise Buyer

This buyer category accommodates consumer-based, marketing firms. B2C enterprise buyers require strategic and analytical software that can scope, differentiate and target an extensive volume of niche-driven consumers. Because of this, B2C enterprise buyers should consider Aprimo (Terradata) and Unica (IBM) systems to correspond with their niche-specifications.

2.) B2B Enterprise Buyer

This category discerns firm-based buyers who aim to appeal to other businesses/enterprises. These buyers participate in extended sales cycles and/or leads, and pursue opportunities that may render prospective networking relationships.

Fostering lead-score scenarios and employing SFA tactics are distinguishable features of B2b enterprise buyers. Because of this, B2B enterprise buyers should evaluate the following software systems to correspond with their buyer-specifications: Eloqua; InfusionSoft; Marketo; Manticore; Pardot, Genoo.

3.) CRM-Suite Buyer

These buyers rely on basic “brass tacks” to focus on the development of CRM-based programs and techniques. They swap requirement depth for standard applications of SFA and CRM strategies, and should evaluate the following software systems to correspond with their buyer-specifications: Oracle CRM; SAP; Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

4.) Email-Emphasis Buyer

This final category highlights buyers who participate with contemporary outreach techniques, but have not yet committed to MA-software submersion. These buyers typically manage prospective-customer databases, while piloting consistent email campaigns.

The best software platforms tailored to email-emphasis buyers are Alsamarketing, Constant Contact, InfusionSoft and Vertical Response systems.

Market Trends to Master
There are a number of market trends that buyers should recognize. These trends include:

Software as a Service (aka. “SaaS”)

SaaS is not so much a trend as it is a software delivery model. Most marketing solutions are employed via cloud systems that are virtually-hosted. This web-based marketing model ensures optimal accessibility on multiple devices and/or operating systems.

Social Media Outlets

Social networking is at an all-time high! This marketing medium enables cyber-based, affiliation channels that were once inconceivable before the emergence of the ‘net. Social networking inclusion is likely to fuel generational, MA upgrades.

Two-Dimensional Barcode Usage

2D barcodes have been the source of countless, marketing maneuvers. Consumers rely on their smartphones’ browser capabilities to uncover product and/or service information. Recent marketing solutions have already integrated 2D barcode support for increased, smartphone usage.

 

MA Mergers & Acquisitions
CRM and/or ERP vendors are likely to procure marketing-based firms, but many providers will form acquisitions to sustain a competitive upperhand. IBM and Terradata made notable acquisitions upon procuring Aprimo and Unica, and in similar fashion, Oracle acquired substantial assets from Market2Lead. Going forward, buyers should anticipate such comparable mergers.

Benefits & Potential Issues
Buyers who successfully-integrate MA systems should expect the following benefits:

Qualify Legitimate Leads
MA systems ensure marketing firms can appropriately-target prospective consumers, while also qualifying and directing sales leads to the appropriate representative.

Enhanced Coordination of Sales
MA solutions can ensure improved coordination activities. This is done with marketing firms’ capacity to promote and track product effectiveness, based on the number of qualified leads that amount to tangible sales.

Effective Campaign Techniques
With MA software in place, firms can determine their campaign clout and adjust any strategies based on acquired improvements.

Decrease in Costs
Savings and costs are achieved through the number of department employees, in addition to outside support expenditures.

MA software complications are generally a product of poor management and expectation oversights. Employ well-strategized, delivery methods to ensure a favorable turnout.

Recent Events to Recognize

Due to rising competition within an-already combative industry, marketing solutions have enabled a wide range of buyer-options, along with easier accessibility of MA software for smaller companies.

1.) SilverPop

SilverPop released a free Facebook application that enables high-conversion rates for marketers due to easy-landing pages and networking forums which highlight customer interactions with businesses.

2.) Marketo

In recent months, Marketo merged with Crowd Factory Inc. (a social campaign management platform) to enhance its already-popular, MA software. Marketers are able to determine and measure social network-based campaigns that promote user-sharing.

3.) Optify

Optify recently released an innovative, email managing tool for specific campaigns that track visitor click-throughs and open-rates activity.

4.) HubSpot

Lastly, Hubspot has launched a new email software with an enhanced, contact database. These tools are intended to improve consumer-based marketing via its refurbished, clientele-oriented system. Marketers can track email/browsing history, form submittals and social media data in one solidified program.

A 30-something online marketing consultant living in Miami. After spending a decade focused on SEO, I branched off to architect a software solution to assist high-volume Amazon sellers in the automation and enhancement of their business, including automated ASIN identification, association and algorithmic repricing strategy. I can be contacted via LinkedIn or my blog.

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