marketing-automationIf you’re a marketing professional who tries to keep up on trends shaping and affecting our industry, marketing automation has become a subject that’s hard to ignore. It’s a $3.6 billion industry that’s growing an estimated 10-12% annually. On the other hand, if you’ve read this far and are scratching your head and wondering “What the heck is marketing automation?” Wikipedia provides a definition as follows:

“Marketing automation refers to software platforms designed for marketing departments and organizations … to streamline sales and marketing by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions…to increase efficiency and reduce human error.” 

The Three Categories of Marketing Automation

There are basically three categories of marketing automation. The first is marketing intelligence, referring to the use of tracking codes to monitor online behaviors so potential customers can be analyzed and patterns of behavior used to create behavior-based market segments. Amazon was the first large enterprise to do this well, and today most Amazon customers will admit that Amazon’s knowledge of consumer’s past behavior improves their experience with the site.

The second category is business development, focused on moving potential customers from the top of the sales funnel (initial awareness) to the bottom of the funnel (ready to buy) by doing things like segmenting and nurturing based on interests expressed, scoring or qualifying leads based on fit and intent, and attempting to close based on a combination of behavioral and attitudinal measures. Automated business development relies on e-mail, social media, search engine optimization, and content marketing to make it work.

The third category is workflow automation, and generally refers to internal processes like budgeting, the marketing calendar, digit asset management, and everything else that the largest enterprises need to run large, complex marketing organizations.

While this third category may be important to Procter & Gamble, General Mills, and other giant marketers, the vast majority of businesses will find the greatest business impact from tools and processes in the first two because they’re both accessible for smaller businesses and they focus on the top line, which is where most businesses need help today.

The Benefits of Using Marketing Automation

Here is a quick sampling of the most powerful benefits businesses can expect from marketing automation deployment:

• Increased qualified leads, at a lower cost per lead

• Improved customer retention and relationships

• Improved marketing alignment with sales

• Demonstration of strong marketing ROI

Some indirect benefits that we’ve witnessed with clients extend to the impact on culture and attitude at businesses that are putting 2.0 tools to work. Sales professionals especially are finding out how much more rewarding it is to work with warm qualified leads as opposed to cold calling from low quality purchased lists, while they’re also seeing less emphasis on pricing because they’re working with higher quality leads.

For anyone interested in learning more about the vendor options available, any search should start with a research study conducted recently by G2|Crowd (, a third party software reviewer. HubSpot got the highest satisfaction marks from users, followed closely by Marketo. For larger enterprises, Eloqua was seen as most scalable, but didn’t receive satisfaction scores as high as HubSpot or Marketo. All products offer easy access to trials.

If you’re getting started with marketing automation, keep going, it’s worth the effort. And if you haven’t started yet…what are you waiting for?

Want to see the HubSpot software in action? Request a free demo from our team!

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