What is marketing automation?

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Marketing automation is a phrase you will be hearing a lot, if you haven’t been hearing it already. You could say that marketing automation is CRM evolved.

Please rate our toilet graphicCRM (or customer relationship management) has been a big feature of marketing since brand owners realised the internet had potential. Many software companies – from enterprise level down to small business level – have competed to create CRM systems that help us manage our contacts.

At the top end of the market there’s Oracle, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SAP. At the lower end we have Sugar CRM, Goldmine, even Business Contact Manager, which came bundled with Outlook. Those are just a few of many.

Marketing automation is only as good as its data

Marketing automation software takes CRM to a whole new level. The idea is simple – automating your marketing. But that’s where confusion can begin.

Any software tool is only as good as its user. Marketing automation, as with CRM, needs to be planned, managed and monitored. Tools like Hubspot and Marketo are well known automated marketing tools, but they don’t run your business for you, neither do they find you customers or replace your marketing department.

Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD, says here about it being a big if/then statement: “The real challenge for most marketers in implementing MA is having the knowledge of what to do IF and what content to provide THEN. MA does little for marketers if they haven’t developed buyer personas or have insufficient relevant content at their disposal.”

In short, you need to still get the leads into the system and have a process in place for segmenting and responding to those leads. Good software will give you the right functionality and some good analytics, but you, the user, still need to apply some marketing thinking to the process.

Here are some marketing automation stats for you to consider

These stats were collated nicely by Melissa Mathews on FathomDelivers.com.

  • Gartner Research group believes that, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human.
  • Focus Research says marketing automation has seen the fastest growth of any CRM-related segment in the past five years.
  • Additionally, 45% of spend on marketing automation came from mid-sized companies, according to Fision Online.
  • Bulldog Solutions reports that companies investing in marketing automation solutions see 70% faster sales cycle times, and 54% improvement in quota achievement.

Related reading

For more lead generation advice, check out our guide: How to generate more leads.

Steve Masters profile picture
Steve Masters

Steve (RIP) was Services Director for Vertical Leap. He started professional life as a magazine journalist, working on music magazines and women's titles before becoming a web editor in 1997, then joining MSN to work purely in online publishing. Since 1999 he has worked for and consulted to a broad range of businesses about their digital marketing.

More articles by Steve
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