If you’re in the business of digital marketing, then you’re doing your best to attract new leads. Now when we think of leads, it’s like meeting your significant other for the first time.

They’re not sure about you and you’re not sure about them. But a relationship begins to blossom, and the next thing you know, you’re going out on dates and starting to build a strong relationship.

This is kind of how your leads work when they enter your sales funnel. They are the furthest away from making a sale, but it’s your responsibility to nurture your relationship with your leads. And in order to create a strong first impression, it’s best to know as much as possible about your leads.

Thankfully, marketers are turning to Marketing Automation in order to manage and nurture the relationships with their leads. Obviously leads aren’t going to be sales-ready. Perhaps someone downloaded a whitepaper or subscribed to your newsletter. This doesn’t mean they want to do business with you, but it does mean they are your intended audience.

Marketing automation allows you to be proactive with your new leads instead of hoping your marketing efforts simply line up with their needs. Marketing automation provides you with data that will better help you understand each individual lead by profiling.

What I mean by profiling is getting to understand your leads beyond just that of an email and a name. You want to find out more, like their company name and what they do. Marketing automation will help you do this. Let’s say for example someone downloads a whitepaper and leaves their name and email. Next time that person comes back, they want something else. Instead of being asked for their name and email address, your marketing automation kicks in and remembers this person and addresses them by their name, and then asks for company name and position in order to download whatever it is they are looking for. You can then continue to store this information and further the lead down the marketing funnel.

The Biggest Difference Between Email and Marketing Automaton

Marketing automation often gets compared to email marketing, simply because marketing automation uses email as one of its key methods for keeping in touch with customers. As I mentioned before, marketing automation goes well beyond that of simple email campaigns because it allows you better understand your target audience and where about they are in the buy cycle. The biggest difference: email marketing can only track interactions (click-through rate, open rate, etc) with your emails while marketing automation allows you to track a person’s interactions with your company’s entire marketing plan.

If someone is visiting your site for the first time and clicked on a download, you’ll want to follow up with an email thanking them for the download and offering some further information. On the other hand, if someone is coming to your site often and has downloaded several of your resources, then perhaps a follow-up phone call is in order.

This is what takes Marketing Automation to the next level. It allows you to see where a particular target is within your marketing funnel, and from there you can take the proper action to further them down the funnel.

Your buy cycle has a beginning and end, with lots of nuts and bolts in between. Your responsibility is take the leads at the beginning and give them little nudges along the way to the end. How you get that lead there is up to you, and marketing automation is a great strategy to use if you’re proactive with your leads.