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Wouldn't it be nice if your marketing process was on auto-pilot? If one platform could link up your sales, online and offline databases, as well as figure out purchase habits the instant customers make their first purchase?

That future is now, that future is marketing automation. 

In order to help marketers understand this technology, we recently released our Marketing Automation Best Practices report. The following is a brief outline of some of the main topics covered in this report.   

At its most basic level, marketing automation technology has been around for years. A great example can be seen in mail merge software, with functionality which pulls information from a database and dynamically inserts personalized content into the email. 

Marketing automation has a heritage in B2B (where a longer sales cycle often increases the focus on lead nurturing) but much of its current usage is in the B2C world, for example where e-commerce retailers are trying to cultivate prospective customers and guide them to relevant products.

The latest marketing automation programs can store a near infinite amount of data, across multiple digital and analogue media vehicles. 

Over the past few years, a new breed of vendor has emerged which offers marketing automation as software-as-a-service (SaaS), offering seamless integration with their clients' data sources and back-end infrastructure.

Virtually any business can use this software, with companies no longer requiring a huge financial investment to automate their marketing processes. The tough part is getting started. 

How to get started

Before investing in marketing automation, a company should ask themselves a few questions.

1.    Who will be in charge of this process?
2.    How long will it take your company to approve your plan?
3.    Is marketing automation right for you?

Marketing automation tactics

Once these questions are answered, the following tactics may be of some help in your marketing automation journey.

Listen and learn.

Understand about individual consumers in order to better understand their needs, based not only on what they are telling you, but the behavior they exhibit.  

Individualize content.

Figure out what the most relevant information is for each customer and use that to drive your communication strategy. 

Time delivery to match need. 

Find out when different types of information are relevant, and when they are not, and make sure each individual gets the right information at the right time.

Ensure that each prospect gets the right amount of communication, with the right spacing between messages (cadence).  

Measure and optimize. 

Understand which programs and tactics are driving qualified leads into the funnel and converting into revenue.  

Cleo Kirkland

Published 7 June, 2011 by Cleo Kirkland

Cleo Kirkland is a digital strategist at Blue Fountain Media and a contributor to Econsultancy

7 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Nick Stamoulis

There are still some things that shouldn't be automated. Link building, although time consuming, should always be handled by a real person. While an automated process might be able to get you 1,000 links a day, a person is going to find the real, quality links and help build your brand.

over 5 years ago

Cleo Kirkland

Cleo Kirkland, Digital Strategist at Blue Fountain Media

Hey Nick,
I'm with you on that. Link building should be carried out by "real" people. Though, I don't think the point of marketing automation is to do everything for marketers, but rather to make the easier things easier through integration. Just like when you're cruising on auto-pilot down I-95: you still have to grab the steering wheel if you want to change direction, or push the brakes if you want to stop, but going in the same direction takes less effort.

over 5 years ago

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Peter

Glad you're catching up. But the debate has moved on.
Marketing Automation is based on several old marketing methodologies.
First is Push Marketing where you interrupt what people are doing with "Buy me" messages. MA makes that easy, but it has been rejected by buyers.
Second is that marketing can take over from Sales as the Lead Generator. The current systems show that they don't understand what salespeople did in the early stages of the buying process.

There is a place for technology in business generation. But MA isn't it. Look to MA2.0 or Marketing Intelligence for the real solutions.

over 5 years ago

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Katie Gibson, Stream:20

Further to the comment about link building, the same applies to email marketing – not everything is suitable for automation. Identify the campaigns with low ROI and once you have them optimised (in particular the best day/time to send), set up recurring sends. This will free up your marketing team to focus on more valuable ad hoc campaigns.

Use automation to do the grunt work for you and you'll find you suddenly have a steady stream of conversions alongside the big hitters that you're running as one-offs.

over 5 years ago

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