Marketing automation offers a number of specific benefits for small and medium businesses (SMBs). First, it helps you monitor the effectiveness and ROI of your digital marketing campaigns, so you can find out what’s working and what’s not. Next, it automates many activities – like lead follow-up, email campaigns, list segmentation, lead scoring, etc. – saving you tons of time and effort. Marketing automation also has great tools to support drip marketing campaigns. It enables you to build quality emails and landing pages, and then track your campaigns from start to finish to see how leads are moving through your funnel.
“Set it and forget it” solution. Marketing automation is a remarkable tool that helps marketers achieve results. But those results don’t happen without a the right processes, strategy and effort set in place. Marketing automation is meant to enhance and support marketing and sales, NOT become a one-size-fits-all substitute. So don’t sit back and expect marketing automation to magically achieve goals without you.
Automated emails improve engagement and benefit your bottom line. These messages are triggered by specific customer actions, like joining a mailing list, making a purchase, or filling out a quote form. They can even be prompted by inaction—like when a customer places an item in their shopping cart but doesn't actually buy it. And although they boost business, it's a good idea to evaluate what you're sending and why. In this article, we talk to an email marketing expert about how to identify and implement the right email automation triggers.
Monitor every person who visits your website by tracking their behavior, including which pages they click, from where they access the website, what keywords they type on Google that direct them to your website, and so on. Many applications deliver real-time alerts to sales representatives when a lead, prospect or customer visits the website. Visitor tracking should also help you segment your database based on these tracked activities.
For true Greenfield installations, however, it is actually best to have the CRM system perform the marketing automation functions.  While buying best of breed for each system has advantages, if a feature really is valuable the CRM vendor will eventually implement it.  So in the medium to long term, the costs of integration and database synchronization for separate best of breed systems is typically more trouble than it’s worth.
Contact-focused CRMs are one of the best ways to maintain a personal touch with your customers and business contacts, since you'll have one place to keep track of everything about them. Hatchbuck gives you that same contact-focused interface combined with even more detail about each person related to your company. It has a bit more focus on the traditional ways you'd gather leads—especially via forms—than the other apps listed here, and instead of focusing on every possible visitor it's just focused on the important leads you import or that fill out your forms.
Great post and clarification. Personally I use http://www.myconversionbrain.com as it’s cheap and designed for small business owners like myself. It’s not so much of a crm but more of a marketing automation tool and lead tracking which helps my marketing efforts. The problem I find with most marketing automation systems is that its way too expensive for small business owners.
Marketing management system refers to the software that helps achieve demand generation excellence so that you can be more effective while promoting your business via multiple channels and generate more revenue for your company. With a reliable marketing automation software, you can save much time, which you may use to generate more quality leads and convert them into customers, ultimately closing more deals and growing your business.
CRM integration is definitely key to the success of marketing automation. While these are two similar tools, it’s the differences between them that make them so compatible. CRM is more focused on collecting knowledge about existing customer accounts and managing new-customer pipelines while Marketing Automation is more focused on orchestrating one-to-one communication with early-stage prospects and routing new prospects to manage subsequent marketing and sales actions.
When the two functions combine, marketing and sales departments work as a single unit.  Marketing sells (creating visibility) on a large scale, while sales markets in a one-on-one fashion, using the information-sharing and persuasion tactics. With sales and marketing working so closely, there’s a clear value in getting the two divisions on the same page, and working in even more alignment. For small businesses, that’s particularly important as getting the best out of one single lead is crucial.
Or, you can automate your marketing with ActiveCampaign's flow chart-style marketing automation screen that lets you easily create detailed automation workflows. You can use data from your contacts profiles, their interactions with your site or emails, or anything else to steer your automations and reach back out to them with emails using your default templates or via SMS messages. You can even remind yourself to personally follow up on the most promising leads, or automatically turn off emails to people who seem to not be interested. Then, you can still reach out to all of your contacts with email newsletters, without needing a separate app for sending your update emails.

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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