What is marketing automation?

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Published: 26 March 2016


What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is generally seen as esoteric subject, covering a confusing combination of topics. These include online marketing, SaaS software, social media, online publishing, website design, and sales management. Marketo have suggested the following concise definition:

“Marketing automation is a category of software that streamlines, automates, and measures marketing tasks and workflows so that companies like yours can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.”

There are many companies offering software to automate your business’s marketing efforts. It’s a trend that is expanding fast, with spending on marketing automation software growing from $225 million in 2010 to $1.65 billion in 2015. There are now over 142,000 business using marketing software, and these companies typically see a 451% increase in qualified leads, a 14.5% increase in sales productivity, and a 12.2% decrease in marketing overhead. The infographic below, created by Marketing Automation Insider, summarises the progress of marketing automation over the last 20 years. 

The rise of marketing automation

It’s clear that marketing automation can offer a big ROI to companies, but getting started can be daunting. HubSpot, a market leader in automation software, offers a handy guide you can download to help you decide if it’s for you, and get you off to a good start. Just click the link to download “A Practical Guide to Getting Started with Marketing Automation”. They also offer lots of free training to get you up to speed, have a look at HubSpot Academy.

Choosing the right software is another hurdle. The graphic below was created by Scott Brinker at chiefmartec, it shows most of the marketing software companies trading in 2015. In an article in Entrepreneur Justin Gray recommends four steps to choosing the right package for your business.

  1. Devise a comprehensive plan before you buy: Plan out steps for creating, managing and tracking your marketing efforts, and analyse the role of each department.
  2. Map your marketing funnel: Your sales funnel is full of usful information. Get started by mapping out who your customers are, what information they’re looking for, and how you’re going to measure responses.
  3. Choose a comprehensive tool that can serve multiple departments: Look for a single software solution that covers 80% of what your sales marketing, and customer service departments need. You should map out your buyers jounry and make sure all departments are working from the same script.
  4. Don’t overcomplicate it: Try to reduce your data down to the essentials, too much data can blind and confuse you. Choose a handful of key performance indicators that everyone understands.

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