Understanding Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is the practice of utilizing software to automate marketing activities. Marketing professionals make use of such software to automate repetitive tasks, such as emails, social media analysis, and other online activities. Marketing automation software significantly reduces the time and effort to accomplish such tasks.
Additionally, marketing software tools are used to manage and control the products of various marketing tasks and processes. Those are then analyzed, saved, and processed by marketing automation tools. Marketing professionals employ marketing automation platforms to reduce manual human error and increase operational efficiency. Such platforms usually provide features for lead generation, email marketing, social media marketing, and much more. Marketing automation platforms are also a part of (or are able to integrate with) standard CRM solutions. Such CRM marketing tools are marketed occasionally as CRM for marketing management or “marketing CRM” in short.
Establishing Successful Marketing Automation
Unfortunately, the phrase “Marketing Automation” has become a common utterance among marketers who are constantly looking for marketing automation software, thinking that all of the digital marketing tools that they need for growth, including the ones required to generate new leads, all fall under the marketing automation category. This misunderstanding puts marketers to finding sophisticated solutions that can be just a part of marketing funnel automation, but not something that can help them attract new leads.
The result of these misunderstandings is that marketers engage in purchasing lists of email addresses to generate leads from, instead of focusing on nurturing inbound leads. Although such an approach may work in the short term, it is not a long-term solution. This approach does not promote longer and healthier relationships with future customers.
From the several concepts that work together to establish a successful marketing automation strategy, there are two very important principles to focus on when creating an effective and scalable marketing automation process.
These two principles are:
- Understanding that marketing automation does not itself perform lead generation, but is nevertheless a key component in a successful lead generation strategy. The initial focus must be geared towards building a solid pipeline of quality leads. This is achieved through the generation of optimized and relevant content that talks directly to the potential client’s needs and requirements. This is the point where inbound marketing becomes the cornerstone of your marketing funnel.
- Pivoting all marketing messages around the idea that the receiving end of these messages is an actual person. This means that these people must be reached and treated like a real person, not as soulless online bots receiving template emails. These channels and behavioral data must all be utilized together to paint a complete picture of a person. Once that is achieved, these leads can be developed with respect to their unique interests, not based solely on the emails they read or links they click on.
Below is an overview of some of the best marketing automation software and online marketing automation providers available today:
bpm’online: bpm’online provides some of the best online marketing software on the market today. It is designed to serve small businesses and large enterprises alike. It is an excellent choice for businesses of any size looking to achieve flexibility, efficiency and scalability in a marketing automation solution. Bpm’online offers an extremely versatile platform with both on premise and on-cloud deployment options. It grants businesses full command over all aspects of campaigns and leads, with powerful features, such as granular email marketing, inbound lead segregation, parallel campaign management and social media tracking. It regularly features as one of the top marketing automation providers available today.
Salesforce Pardot: Pardot is created by Salesforce for small and medium businesses that lack large sales and marketing teams and resources. Pardot is a comprehensive marketing automation solution, with proven capabilities, such as email marketing, campaign management, and social media tracking. It provides access to users from both online and mobile. Pardot integrates well with the rest of the Salesforce online modules as it is only available on cloud.
Hubspot: HubSpot is an online software company that focuses on inbound marketing and provides businesses with tools that help shift their marketing strategies from outbound lead generation processes, such as cold calling, email spamming, trade shows and offline ads towards an inbound lead generation strategy, allowing them to be found by potential clients in the relevant digital channels. Just like Pardot, the Hubspot platform is available only online.
SharpSpring: SharpSpring provides futuristic solutions that aim at improving the way traditional marketing tools are employed. This online platform provides a set of standard marketing automation tools that help businesses take control over their online relationships and deliver the right messages and content to their customers across multiple channels including email, mobile, devices, social media, banner displays and other web assets.
ActiveDEMAND: The ActiveDEMAND integrated marketing solution is a powerful and scalable platform that provides marketers with capabilities, such as call tracking, email analysis, landing page management, social media management and dynamic content management. It also features the Marketing Agency Portal, which caters to agencies requiring multi-client account management.
Oracle Eloqua: Oracle’s marketing automation platform, which is currently known as the Oracle Marketing Cloud (previously known as Oracle Eloqua before Oracle’s acquisition) was one of the earliest providers of marketing automation solutions. It is aimed primarily at very large organizations and allows enterprise marketers to effectively plan, execute and analyze end-to-end digital marketing campaigns while simultaneously maintaining a personalized customer experience across the board.