The term refers to software platforms designed for marketing departments and organizations to automate repetitive tasks. Marketing departments, consultants and part-time marketing employees benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes which are then interpreted, stored and executed by software increasing efficiency and reducing human error.
Marketing automation tools are designed to perform three key tasks:
1. Development and analysis of marketing campaigns and customers
2. Management of marketing campaigns
3. Appropriate customer data organization and storage
According to Marketo, "marketing automation uses technology to help you determine which stage of the buying process your customers are in, and to guide them to the next stage until they eventually buy your product."
Fully-developed marketing automation systems provide information and assistance across all phases of the marketing process, including:
- Demand Generation
- Lead Management
- Lead Scoring
- Lead Nurturing
- Lead Generation
- Campaign Analysis
- Lead Qualification
- Sales Effectiveness
Benefits of marketing automation
- More targeted campaigns. Marketing automation allows you to build buyer-led campaigns based on the buyer's specific online behaviour and engagement, allowing for tailored, one-to-one communication
- Through lead scoring and nurturing, it can help to identify and pass on qualified, Sales-ready leads
- Integration with your website and your CRM allow for complete visibility around the buyer's journey, with marketing automation managing the front end of demand generation, and CRM managing the back end
- Manage multiple complex campaigns in the one place
- Comprehensive reporting allows you to track ROI of your marketing activities
- 'Set and forget' - once campaigns have been set up, these will run automatically. Little maintenance is required to continue executing these campaigns
Silverpop offer the following summary of marketing automation's value:
"Given a well-defined lead management process and content marketing strategy, marketing automation becomes the engine for moving the B2B demand generation process forward. It monitors our engagement with buyers; it semantically serves up content offers and/or responds to buyer-initiated page views and downloads; it learns from interactions with the buyer, developing an understanding of where (s)he is in the buying process; it uses this to nurture prospects; and it eventually governs hand-off of a buyer from the marketing to the sales organization. This ultimately makes sure that sales engages with a prospective buyer only when the time is right … and with the buyer already having been nurtured and educated."