By now you’ve probably heard about marketing automation. Software providers such as Act-On, Marketo and Hubspot have grown in popularity and name recognition. But do you really know what marketing automation is and the value it can bring?

Marketing Automation: What It Is and Why It Is Valuable

Most people think that it is just a fancy way to say email marketing, but marketing automation encompasses so much more and it differs from CRM, yet works hand-in-hand with CRM at the same time. So we are going to take you through exactly what marketing automation is and why it can be valuable for your company.

Marketing Automation Defined

Marketing automation is a software technology that helps companies automate marketing management and customer engagement in order to be more efficient, streamline resources and, ultimately, increase revenue. It is an all-in-one marketing platform that provides valuable data, allowing marketers to see where customers and prospects are in the buying process and then take action accordingly. As Act-On Software puts it, “If your email, webinar management, and CRM systems stand alone…if your website visitor tracking is manual…if your social media results are hard to track…it just might be time to integrate and automate your marketing tools and tactics.”

Here’s an example of marketing automation in action

Let’s say that Person X just came across your company’s website and filled out a form with his name and email to download a whitepaper. Then, he visited your blog and read some of your posts. He is beginning to learn about your company’s expertise and services.

This would be a good time to connect with him personally, right? Let’s say you decide to send him an email. It can be as simple as a thank you for downloading the white paper with more information about your company and a call to action to contact your team or read another blog post similar to what he read before. When the email is sent, you’ll be able to track if he clicked on it, visited your website again, or didn’t open it at all. Based on the result, your automated system might send him another email 2 weeks later informing him about a company event or a new whitepaper that he can download. Your sales team will see how he reacts and give him a call if it is a quality lead.

Can you see how marketing automation can really help move prospects down the sales funnel? It allows your company to see which leads are good to follow up on, and the emails are sent without you even thinking about it. It may take some time upfront to set up the automation, but afterword it will be a valuable asset to your marketing and sales team.

Why is marketing automation valuable?

Marketing automation provides a huge opportunity for your company to get ahead of the competition by making your marketing efforts more effective. How? Marketing automation saves you time, cuts costs and increases reach and engagement by sending relevant and timely content to prospects.  In a nutshell, it aligns your marketing activities with sales, which increases operational efficiency. It also provides the proof that marketing delivers measureable, bottom-line results.

Effective use of marketing automation can lead to higher performance and ROI

According to Act-On, marketing automation correlates with higher performance in small and medium business (SMBs). MarketingSherpa has stated that companies who learned how to nurture their leads and not blast them received a 45% increase in ROI.

Marketing automation is especially effective in B2B

78% of B2B buyers start their research with search, yet only a handful of B2B marketers are using marketing automation. Further, 75% of B2B companies do not measure or quantify social media engagement. Marketing automation allows you to better connect with these buyers that are visiting your website and nurture leads that otherwise might be lost.

The adoption of marketing automation continues to increase

The adoption of marketing automation technology is expected to increase by 50% by 2015; yet, SMBs are running behind large enterprises in adopting marketing automation to manage leads.

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As an APEX Agency Partner with Act-On Software, circle S helps clients plan, design and implement effective digital marketing programs across all channels using the Act-On marketing automation platform. We plan to cover marketing automation in much more detail in the coming weeks. Next, we’ll cover what some of the common features of marketing automation are and how they can make your digital marketing efforts more effective and efficient.