Marketing Automation answers the question, “How do I best communicate with my database?”. Less sophisticated organizations take the approach of “Batch and Blast”, aka the “Shotgun” approach to marketing to their database. See if something sticks and continue messaging until there are Marketing Qualified Leads to send to Sales.
Automation allows for more timely, nuanced, and accurate communications that resonate with your audience. You’ll spend less per Contact and have happier more engaged prospects. This is achieved by improving your ability to segment your audience and create personalized communications. There are many Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) available from Adobe, Marketo, Salesforce, Oracle or even more simple tools such as MailChimp and Constant Contact. Take a look at this video over at Marketing Sherpa on how SmartBear Software uses Marketing Automation for Lead generation.
Evaluating a Solution
- Deciding on a platform will revolve around several key points:
- How large of a database do you have? Do your choices have trims to match, or will you need to make alterations to your database to fit?
- Are there limitations on the number of emails you can send?
- Does the solution offer tools to help better segment your audience?
- Does the solution offer tools for personalizing communications?
- Will you be able to do data collection within the system, or will you instead need to integrate another product?
- Do you have the resources needed to operate and manage an automation tool?
- Do you have an existing Contact Relationship Management (CRM) system? Some MASs like Hubspot and Pardot include these capabilities, whereas others like Marketo and Eloqua can integrate with a CRM.
It is also useful to look at overall industry rankings like the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Dom Nicastro at CMS Wire gives a great overview here. Other great industry resources include Forrester and Demand Gen Report.
Conclusion and Next Steps
Marketing Automation can greatly improve conversions from Marketing to Sales. However, adding automation to your Marketing strategy is a big step. Understanding the impact it will have on the very nature of your organization is critical. Once you have decided on a MAS and gone through the initial setup, be prepared with a roadmap of specific goals for your first year. Have quarterly meetings to evaluate successes and missed opportunities.
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