Published: Sep 17, 2014
Last Updated: Dec 3, 2017

If 2013 was the year of content marketing, then 2014 is the year of marketing automation. I know, I know, you’re cringing at yet another buzzword to keep up with, but hear me out. A recent study by The Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups shows that companies that use marketing automation outperform companies that don’t in several key areas:

  • 59 percent of companies with marketing automation are able to use intelligent targeting to trigger content, compared with 17 percent without.
  • 54 percent of companies with marketing automation capture intelligence for their sales teams, compared with 25 percent without.
  • 49 percent of companies with marketing automation customize content to their buyer journey stages, compared with 21 percent without.
  • 45 percent of companies with marketing automation regularly repurpose content for efficiency, compared with 28 percent of companies without.

What is Marketing Automation?

To put it simply, marketing automation is a process that helps you reach the right leads at the right time. It encompasses four main areas of your marketing campaigns: defining, scheduling, segmenting and tracking. 

As consumers gain more access to information, it only makes sense that they will want to do their own research before contacting a sales department. That’s where marketing automation truly shines. When used properly, it can help you create an automated campaign that sends different types of information to leads based on their location in the sales cycle. No more email blasts, no more pushy, ineffective outbound marketing tactics. It’s a truly innovative process that provides a much larger return-on-investment (ROI) than other marketing tactics. 

What Can You Do with Marketing Automation?

As a subset of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), marketing automation is designed to: 

  • Reduce the amount of time you spend on repetitive tasks 
  • Develop and execute more effective marketing campaigns
  • Create a segmented customer database
  • Make your inbound marketing processes more efficient
  • Increase revenue while decreasing expenses
  • Give you more insight into your target market
  • Monitor your campaign’s performance at each stage of the sales cycle

Now that you know what marketing automation can do for your company, it’s time to establish a plan for how to implement this tactic. 

Create a Strategy

Before you even look into marketing automation platforms, you must have a strategy in place for how you plan to use it. If companies don’t see the results they expect from marketing automation, it’s because they either a) don’t have a strategy in place, or b) aren’t using their automation platform correctly. 

In your initial meetings about adopting a marketing automation platform, make sure to include all relevant departments, especially sales. In order to get the maximum benefit, everyone in the company must understand what you’re doing and why, particularly if they’re going to be directly impacted by your automation results (as sales will).

This meeting is also a good place to have a discussion about your current lead generation/sales funnel system. Ask people to write down some pros and cons of the way you currently do things and make sure to address both sides. If, for example, sales complains that all of the leads that come from marketing are under-qualified, you know that you need to put more effort into evaluating prospects. 

You should also create a plan for how you’re going to use each area of your marketing automation platform. Many companies think the most important aspect is email, so they focus all of their efforts there and let everything else fall to the wayside. This is a mistake. Today’s automation tools have so many features that can help you get a better understanding of your customers, from social monitoring to lead scoring to segmentation. Make sure you think about how to use each feature to get the maximum impact.

ROI: Building a strategy to take advantage of all aspects of your marketing automation platform will help you streamline data collection, increase revenue and automate traditionally manual processes. 

Check back next week for steps two and three in this process.

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About the Author

Maria Baradell
Maria Baradell
Maria Baradell is a veteran digital marketer with experience in both corporate and agency roles.

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