There’s been a bunch written about this topic. Creating the tools has made several companies really big. Oracle paid $810 million for Eloqua in 2012. Marketing automation has been touted as a marketing revolution. But what does it all mean? Why do I need it?
I was an early adopter to the marketing automation world. Tied a big system to a big system and reaped the benefits. Yes, it was cool. But many of the same functionality can be obtained in other packages and gosh, you only really use 20% of the functionality.
Before you go off and purchase a system without thinking the whole marketing automation process through, take a few moments to go over each of these capabilities. How important is it to you? How do you do it now and can that be improved? You may find that you have tools in place to do many of the aspects of marketing automation.
- Email tools. Within any marketing system you’ll want to send out emails and track when they are open-end and clicked on, etc. This is the core of a marketing automation system. Automatically sending out follow up emails, based on if the original email was opened, is a key marketing automation task. Some email programs can do these as well.
- CRM integration. It’s ideal to have all data on each prospect stored in the CRM; every website visit, every email received every phone call and trade show visit logged. Not every combination of systems will yield a fully integrated view, however, the CRM remains the place to store your customer data.
- Website analytics. You will want to integrate date from your website visits, especially these who have responded to your offers. If your system is a bit more sophisticated, each known prospect’s web visits will be added to the CRM, giving you a much more full view of what prospects are doing.
- Lead scoring. Finding the ripe prospects in your CRM based on their “digital body language.” This works most effectively with a large number of prospects who interact often with your website and emails. You set rules of how points are assigned and also the point levels when actions, such as sending additional emails, or a phone call, will be taken.
- Lead nurturing. This was cited as the feature most companies wanted from marketing automation. It’s the automated equivalent of keeping in touch with the customer and at it’s best implementation, it is an automatic education of the customer, leading him or her down a predefined content path. Some folks called this “drip marketing” but the concept has evolved to a more involved science.
- Landing pages. Some marketing automation platforms offer landing pages, some do not. It’s kind of a nice to have, since many cloud services call effectively fill in the blank. Creating quality landing pages quickly and getting them solidly linked to your CRM is an important and repetitive task. The automation part of the system can make a big difference here.
Once you have thought through your needs, you will be better able to match up the systems available to your specs. You’ll likely get the most for your money and the least disruption this way. You might find that you can already do many of the marketing automation tasks with your current tools.
What marketing automation tools do you use? What functionality do you use the most?
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