Marketing automation: An overview

Marketing automation can be confusing simply because it is such a big concept. Essentially, everything that falls or could fall under the heading “marketing” can be systematized and fit under “marketing automation.”

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This includes demand generation, traditional marketing activities, inbound marketing generation, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and social media marketing. It includes website optimization and customization via segmented visitor analysis software that tells you who is visiting your website, where they’re from, and what they’re likely to be interested in.

robot spyIt also includes lead qualification, lead nurturing, and lead management via thought-leadership activities, blogging, white papers, newsletters, and case studies. Actual sales themselves are naturally part of the process, along with steps in which you contact customers or pre-customers via email, social channels, or even by phone. And, of course, there is ongoing campaign analysis, sales effectiveness tracking, and sales intelligence.


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The oft-cited statistic is that 70 percent of the buying process is complete before the purchaser ever engages with a salesperson. Whether that number is accurate or not, in these days of search engines and social networks, more and more power is being transferred from sellers to buyers, who can easily perform company and product research that 20 years ago would have been a dream.

A good marketing automation suite should provide the tools to drive traffic to your various sites, subsites, and social channels; help you understand who that traffic really is; help you customize your messages to those people; and then invite them into a complex opening dance with your company that ultimately leads the ultimate prize: Cash in your pocket.

Along the way, email marketing, landing pages, CRM integration, social marketing, and analytics and reporting are key.

Next: The big (new) boys: Hubspot, Eloqua, Marketo … and Salesforce