What Is Marketing Automation?

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Marketing automation is the colloquial term used to describe any software platforms that seek to simplify, automate, and streamline repetitive marketing tasks.  

It’s intrinsically designed to amplify your marketing capabilities and create efficiencies in existing efforts, thereby improving lead acquisition, customer retention, enhancing conversion and sales process.

Though the concept of marketing automation is relatively new, a number of providers exist with varying feature sets.  In evaluating whether a provider is right for your business, it’s critical to understand your organization’s pain points and long-term goals.

Below, we’ve provided a broad overview of core functionality and key features traditionally offered by marketing automation software providers:

CRM[tooltip text="CRM" gravity="nw"]Customer Relationship Management[/tooltip] Integration: Allows alignment of marketing and sales, bi-directional integration of CRM allows for data to be easily manipulated and managed.

Web AnalyticsWeb Analytics: Integration of analytics allow for segmentation, scoring, and qualification of prospects based on behavioral targeting.

Lead NurturingLead Nurturing: Allows for autonomous qualification of lead flow, and enhances customer engagement potentially providing increase up-sell/cross-sell opportunity

Lead ScoringLead Scoring: Allows for quality metrics to be applied to prospects and leads relative to historical efforts and others in your database

Email MarketingEmail Marketing: Allows for automation of email marketing campaigns, definition of demographics and targeted prospect groups.

List ManagementList Management: Allows segmentation of leads and campaign-specific targeting

ReportingReporting: Reporting allows fine tuning of marketing initiatives based on response rates.

How Does Marketing Automation Work?

With emphasis on automation. Monotonous labor-intensive tasks manage themselves autonomously, reducing labor cost and increasing efficiency.

There are two tasks, among many, for which the software resolves: customer segmentation and campaign management. Marketers use such factors as sex, age, and education to divide and classify customers. Performing this task is called customer segmentation. This makes it easy for marketers to create a target population and measure the efficiency of allocated resources. On the other hand, marketers also use the software to inform potential customers of business products and services. By employing an email management campaign, marketers send pre-formatted messages about products to a list of email contacts. Marketing Automation Software has become the best solution for developing email marketing and sales campaigns and driving revenue.

Automation Improves: Lead Acquisition, Lead Quality Analysis, Low Quality Lead Nurturing, Current Customer Nurturing, Lead Routing and Sales Quality Confirmation

By automating menial tasks, organizations can focus on measuring conversion and response rates and optimizing their program for optimal performance.

Data Aggregation

Often overlooked, though a key benefit, the consolidation of data among disparate sources can provide significant insight into your efforts.  Put simply: where as you previously had to review data from your analytics package, your lead database, your CRM and your email marketing program independently; you’re now able to view all program performance and metrics from a single console.  This functionality is key to success, allowing an organization to analyze all of the components of their program in one fluid process while simultaneously gauging the effectiveness of each.

The Benefits of Marketing Automation

Now that you understand the common features in marketing automation systems and their impact on the sales and marketing cycle, lets review the benefits an organization can reap through implementation of these processes:

Alignment of Marketing & Sales Efforts

Marketing automation aligns departmental efforts by facilitating increased communication and transparency.  Organizations implementing these solutions tend to realize immediate benefit from the consolidation.  A consolidated platform, in concert with CRM integration, provide actionable metrics on the quantity and quality of prospects driven to your sales team.  You’re essentially forging an automatic feedback look, and because the process is fully automated, programs adjustments (and ultimately, lead flow manipulation) becomes a painless process.  Gone are the days of throwing dollars at the wall and hoping something sticks.

Actionable Insight (Understanding What Works & What Doesn’t)

As a side effect of the consolidation of the lead to sales funnel, organizations are easier able to identify actionable insights to improve their effectiveness.  In automation — marketing or otherwise — incremental optimization is easily achieved and can have significant impact to bottom line.

Consolidated program analysis provides clarity to ROI from their marketing efforts, eliminating the perspective of the marketing department as a cost center.  Accountability now transparent, each component of the sales cycle becomes easier to evaluate.

Reduction In Operating Cost

Isn’t it always about the bottom line?  Commonly the catalyst for initial attraction of organizations, reduction of operating cost is a natural byproduct of any automated system.

It’s reasonable to expect:

  • Decreased labor cost: automation of the qualification and routing of prospects in addition to immediate insight into campaign effectiveness.
  • Increased efficiency: automation of menial tasks allows sales to focus on quality prospects, thereby eliminating waste of time and resources.

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.