For our recent Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation launch, I interviewed several marketing automation experts to get their input on key questions such as the future of marketing automation and it’s key benefits over an Email Service Provider (ESP). I had so many awesome answers from thought leaders, that I wanted to create a blog series that showcased their advice and opinions.

First we had Joseph Zuccaro Discusses What You Need To Ace Your Marketing Automation Implementation. Now we turn to John McTigue, EVP and Co-Owner of Kuno Creative, for his insight into what it takes to be successful with marketing automation. John has over 30 years business experience and focuses on business development, strategic partnerships, and enterprise inbound marketing.

1) What do you think the future of marketing automation will look like in the next few years?

I think you will see a continuation of the merging of disciplines, in particular content marketing and marketing automation. Marketers are beginning to realize that the quality of content is crucial to success in both lead generation and lead nurturing. Marketing automation will yield higher conversion rates and ROI because campaigns are better targeted towards the right persona and utilize consistently high quality, relevant content. I also think lead intelligence will improve as content consumption becomes a more effective indicator of buy cycle stage and lead score.

2) What are the most important things you have to keep in mind in order to be successful with marketing automation?

The most important thing is to emphasize the “marketing” and not just the “automation”. Pay attention to the content marketing strategy and target persona in every stage of a campaign. Make every step consistently excellent and relevant to buyer needs and interests. Automation is great, but simply contacting potential leads doesn’t accomplish anything. Persuading people to do something through good content is everything. The key to success in marketing automation is filling your funnel with high quality leads, then nurturing them at just the right pace to convert them to sales qualified leads.

3) What are some benefits of marketing automation that you would point out to someone who is considering switching from their ESP?

Marketing is no longer a one-way conversation. You can’t just send your prospects emails and expect them to do anything other than block or filter them. Marketing automation allows you to take a less intrusive, more nurturing approach while maintaining a high level of awareness on changes in lead behavior and sales readiness. Without marketing automation, you are just guessing – just hoping that people will take the bait and be ready to buy your products. Statistics show that buyers don’t do that. They want to learn at their own pace and be reached when they need more information or are ready to buy. A well constructed marketing automation strategy makes that a reality.

4) What should you focus on when selling marketing automation your executive team? What are some things that might resonate with a CEO, CFO, or sales?

Focus on the opportunities that are being missed in the sales process – lost leads, poor lead-to-sale conversion rates, lack of lead intelligence, poor sales and marketing alignment, and lagging revenues from digital marketing. Showing the ability to measure ROI from a marketing budget is the golden spike that will close the sales with any CEO. Marketing automation can so those things if handled well.

Want to read more thought leader interviews and learn more about marketing automation? Check out our brand new Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation.