There is extensive evidence supporting the value that marketing can bring to marketers. According to a report by VB Insight, 80% of marketing automation users saw their number of leads increase, and 77% saw the number of conversions increase. Further, Companies using marketing automation see 53% higher conversion rates from initial response-to-MQL and a revenue growth rate that is 3.1% higher than non-users.
Marketing automation is a type of software that allows companies to effectively target customers with automated marketing messages across channels including email, websites, social media and text messages to generate sales leads. The technology is a segment of customer relationship management, or CRM, and is typically used by marketing departments as a way to remove repetitive tasks from staff workflows and increase overall marketing efficiency.
Delivra is a platform built on the knowledge that automated email open rates are 95 percent higher than regular email open rates. With that in mind, the company tries to maximize customer engagement by offering help with SMS and email drip campaigns; it also assists with direct mail and uses A/B testing and alerts when engagement or purchase “tendencies” have been spotted.
Even the simplest CRM system will use a dozen database tables to manage these processes, and some of the tables are quite wide (it’s not at all unusual to have 200 columns for the Account table) and tables may have several children.  The tables, however, hold standard data types (almost never a BLOb), and documents that might be attached (pointed to from tables) are static files and not part of a document management system.  However, CRM systems typically have several integration points with other parts of the corporate infrastructure (such as contract management, electronic signature, shipping/distribution and accounting systems).

We currently have three Editors' Choice picks for marketing automation solutions here at PCMag. One of them, Campaigner, impressed us with its intuitive UI and its wealth of online resources. Another Editors' Choice, the aforementioned Pardot, excelled due to its built-in search and social marketing functionality. Lastly, the aforementioned HubSpot had an impressive set of prebuilt workflows that also got our top nod. While all of these are fantastic solutions, they are all quite different, and it's definitely worth taking the time to research the best solution for your needs. This, of course, also applies even to the other products that did not get an Editors' Choice designation.
If your company has a small, in-house marketing team, don’t let resource constraints prohibit you from getting the most out of your marketing efforts. Marketing automation is great for growing your contact base and managing email campaigns. Comprehensive reporting and analytics help you improve the effectiveness of all your marketing campaigns, meaning more opens, clicks, shares, etc. Some platforms have flexible and affordable pricing models to help companies with restrictive budgets grow at their own pace. Also, if the platform is too much to handle in house, don’t worry – there are many marketing agencies that specialize in automation that can help you maximize your return. Make sure you choose a platform that agencies embrace, so you can get assistance beyond the vendor’s own onboarding program and have an ongoing resource to guide you through campaigns.
VBOUT is a powerful, affordable and simple to use, all-in-one marketing automation solution. The platform has an easy drag-and-drop landing pages and forms, visual customer journey builder, social media management and email marketing tools. In-depth native analytics and user tracking are provided, giving marketers full view of their contact's engagement and campaign performance. VBOUT provides agencies and partners with powerful tools to whitelabel the solution, build their own plans with their own marke-up, manage their accounts and shared assets from one account.
Tirena is a Managing Senior Analyst for Gartner Digital Markets. She graduated from Christopher Newport University with a Writing Intensive BS in Biology with a focus in genetics, obtained a Masters in Public Health from George Mason University, a Writing Certificate from the University of Cambridge and a Marketing Certificate from Georgetown University. Follow her on @TJDingeldein for insights on marketing, data science, and startups.
Also known as a Call to Action page, a landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action. Landing pages help increase conversion rates through targeted promotion. You can market multiple products to audiences using highly customized landing pages with specifically targeted content. Many marketing automation systems have excellent landing page builders. Make sure you select a landing page builder that is flexible and easy to use.
At its best, marketing automation is software and tactics that allow companies to buy and sell like Amazon -- that is, to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers. This type of marketing automation typically generates significant new revenue for companies, and provides an excellent return on the investment required.
Sailthru helps modern marketers at leading retail and media companies build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their customers. Sailthru personalizes individual customer experiences across digital communication channels—in email, on a brand’s website and in their mobile applications. Sailthru-powered 1:1 relationships with consumers help drive higher revenue, improve customer lifetime value and reduce churn.
There are plenty of businesses that rely on close personal relationships, where that have a hand-picked set of leads that their sales team works to turn into deals. They need to track what's said, note personal details about the contact, and make sure they know when they need to follow up. That's where the dozens of great traditional CRM apps come in, as we looked at in chapter 2. They're tools that can help your business track all of the info about your customers, your conversations with them, and convert them from leads into deals.
Sailthru helps modern marketers at leading retail and media companies build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their customers. Sailthru personalizes individual customer experiences across digital communication channels—in email, on a brand’s website and in their mobile applications. Sailthru-powered 1:1 relationships with consumers help drive higher revenue, improve customer lifetime value and reduce churn.
Marketing automation platforms that integrate seamlessly with customer relationship management platforms can be a very powerful weapon. Tight CRM integrations will allow you to transfer lead information seamlessly between marketing and sales. Better alignment between marketing and sales will improve the effectiveness of campaigns. Your CRM system should talk to your marketing automation platform and your marketing automation platform should talk to your CRM system.
For e-commerce businesses, automations can increase sales exponentially. But with a variety of automation tools at your fingertips, it can be hard to know where to begin. We evaluated the data from 150,000 businesses that use Mailchimp and determined that although tools like abandoned cart, product follow-up, and category follow-up automations are the most effective for selling more stuff, there are others that work better for boosting customer loyalty or re-engaging customers. See what works for best for meeting a variety of customer needs.

That means we should treat them like a real person, not a fragmented self across different tools like email, social media, etc. If we can leverage all the marketing tools, channels and behavioral data possible to paint a complete picture of a person, we can nurture them based on their unique challenges and interests, not based solely on the emails they open or click through.
Though it's not the easiest marketing initiative to execute on, marketing automation is certainly not impossible. Imagine you're trying to grow a plant. First you need fertile soil ripe for the growth of your plant. Next you need seeds themselves to care for, and last you need water and light in order to nurture those seeds into a lush, blooming plant.  It's not foolproof, but it's not impossible. In our story, effective marketing automation looks just like nurturing this plant does. At the end of the day, we hope we've nurtured our leads (the seedlings) well enough to produce actual paying customers (a lush, full-grown plant.)
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