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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.


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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.

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: