Once upon a time, you could launch a product or a service with a newspaper, radio, or TV ad; deliver orders to middlemen; or provide services yourself and watch the dollars roll in.

That fantasy world is long gone, and in its place is a complex and quickly moving reality in which you need to source demand, manage leads, nurture prospects and make them customers, sell, deliver — and keep doing it over and over while maintaining and enhancing relationships.

lemonadeIn other words, yes, you actually have to talk to people, in a lot of different ways and via many different media.

That’s where marketing automation comes in. These technologies help you find customers, maintain relationships with them, nurture those relationships, and make the most of your marketing efforts.

Marketing automation is growing fast — 50 percent annually, according to some numbers — and is already a billion-dollar industry in the business-to-business market alone. Solutions range from $199/month to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and companies are adopting solutions from both massive long-time enterprise vendors such as IBM and startups that no one knew of five years ago — and barely anyone outside of the field of marketing automation knows today.

From VentureBeat
Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

VentureBeat’s Marketing Automation Index is now available.
See the announcement here, and get the report here.

But the costs of picking the wrong marketing automation solution — or failing to plan — are massive.

”People who don’t have their processes planned out when they turn on their system take two to three months to recover,” says marketing automation expert David Raab.

The interesting part is that we’re in the middle of a revolution — a cloud-fueled revolution where marketing automation is transforming from something the leading and bleeding edge does to something that every midsized company needs to do,just in order to keep up. As as that change occurs, VentureBeat wants to be there, helping startup, small, and medium-sized businesses grow alongside them.

Oh, and we want your input. What follows is our initial report, but we’ll be updating it in the coming weeks as we hear from you.

Click through for each part of our initial report:

More information:

International Business Machines Corporation, abbreviated IBM and nicknamed Big Blue (for its official corporate color), is a global technology and innovation company headquartered in the Northeast US. IBM is the largest technology and ... read more »

Salesforce, the Customer Success Platform and world's #1 CRM, empowers companies to connect with their customers in a whole new way. The company’s platform and application services include: Salesforce Sales Cloud, the world's #1 sale... read more »

Eloqua, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle, is the leading provider of modern marketing automation and revenue performance management software that helps ensure every component of marketing works harder and more efficiently to drive r... read more »

Oracle is the gold standard for database technology and applications in enterprises throughout the world. The company is the world's leading supplier of information management software and the world's second largest independent softwar... read more »

Marketo (NASDAQ: MKTO) provides the leading marketing software for companies of all sizes to build and sustain engaging customer relationships. Spanning today’s digital, social, mobile and offline channels, Marketo’s® customer eng... read more »

HubSpot is the world’s leading inbound marketing and sales platform. Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 10,000 customers in 65 countries use HubSpot’s software, services, and suppo... read more »

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