In this post we look at what marketing automation is, what it’s used for and why it’s a powerful tool for businesses and organisations. In part two we’ll provide a breakdown of a few of the most popular marketing automation tools available.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation refers to software used to streamline and trigger marketing communications based on the behavior of a sales lead. Automation integrates with customer relationship management (CRM) systems such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

As a practical example, if a salesperson met a new sales at an event and entered their details to the CRM, the marketing automation software could send out an email to that lead and provide further information about the business. If the lead then started to interact with those emails – by reading them or clicking through to the company website – the automation software can send an alert to the salesperson, telling them the lead is engaging and it is time to call them.

It’s also possible to move leads from softer value based content to more direct sales content depending on how they interact with prior emails. This warms them up for a sale which is known as ‘lead nurturing.’

Why should I use it?

By closely aligning marketing and sales activities, leads can be more efficiently converted into customers. Salespeople will have detailed information on how the lead has interacted with marketing materials providing a greater understanding of their needs.

Different organisations have different requirements so the way they use automation will vary. Some common needs that automation can address are:

  • an abundance of leads without an ability to prioritise which ones sales should concentrate on
  • the automation of standard emails to reduce workloads
  • automated event follow up for companies who often host or attend events
  • long term nurturing campaigns to keep leads engaged over extended time periods

The results of marketing automation around the industry were profiled in a recent study by technology news outlet VentureBeat; some of the key findings were:

  • companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months
  • businesses that use marketing automation see a 451% increase in qualified leads
  • lead nurturing increases the percentage of leads covered by sales teams from as low as 20% to up to 75%
  • marketing automation platform users see 53% higher conversion rates

These results have driven even the largest companies to adopt the technology with a recent study showing that 25% of Fortune 500 B2B companies have already adopted marketing automation tools.

Where to next?

In part two we’ll break down some of the main options on the market and how they could work for you.