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.
Marketing automation is all about low-cost, effective communication with prospects, which means email and social-media communications.  Every marketing automation system starts with basic email blasting and adds tons of features designed to facilitate beautiful, effective mail sequences on an industrial scale.  In order to improve email effectiveness, the marketing automation system includes templates for the mails and campaign designers to provide a clear, consistent path for the customer as their level of interest and information evolves. The customer journey from awareness through interest to desire and finally to action is explicitly mapped, with content and calls to action tuned for each branch in that journey. 
Let’s think with our shopper brains for a moment. You’re shopping online, add some items to your shopping cart, and go to check out. As you enter your billing address, you realize that you left your credit card in the kitchen. It’s midnight and you’re exhausted. You decide to put off your purchase until tomorrow. Then you totally forget. You’ve contributed to the phenomenon that online merchants call “shopping cart abandonment.”

Higher Logic Marketing Automation Enterprise powered by Real Magnet is a leading marketing automation platform that helps businesses attract, engage and deliver better email, marketing, social and mobile campaigns. Higher Logic simplifies marketing automation with its intuitive design, seamless integration with leading CRMs and dedicated consultative team that ensures smarter engagement. Higher Logic's easy-to-use platform, intelligent productive analytics, and exceptional email deliverability helps the modern marketer navigate and succeed in a complex digital marketing landscape. We serve a wide breadth of customers including some of the largest associations, media companies and the most innovative technology companies, including the American Red Cross, Arnold & Porter, IBM, Kiplinger’s, MIT Technology Review, and Viacom.
Let’s cite an example. Your marketing team puts up landing pages in your business website, brings in clicks, and captures leads interacting with your content. These leads are commencing contact but how much they are interested has yet to be determined, so your team engages with by providing relevant info. Leads are then scored depending on the actions or responses they take. These contacts become MQLs up to the point they are ready to be transferred to marketing.
At Henry's House of Coffee in San Francisco, roasting great coffee is a family affair. In fact, co-owner Hrag Kalebjian learned the trade from his father Henry, who grew up making coffee to serve in his own father's bakery in Lebanon. Although the company now exists digitally with an e-commerce store, Hrag wanted to connect authentically with his customers. He discovered that Mailchimp's marketing automation made it possible not only to tell his story, but to really engage his customers. See how automation helps Henry's House of Coffee keep tradition alive.
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.)
If your marketing collateral is being created and stored in disparate systems in an unorganized fashion, your customer facing teams will struggle to achieve consistency in multi-channel communication. Ideally, all your marketing content needs to be mapped to the stages of the buyer’s purchase process. Also, it needs to be stored on a single platform accessible across the organization.
Long gone are the days of importing a list of “leads” from a trade show and assigning the contacts as “leads” for sales. Marketing’s job is to not only attract attention (brand awareness) but their role has evolved to further qualifying leads that engage with the brand before passing along to the sales team. A simple model marketing can follow to qualify leads is identifying B.A.N.T. criteria. 																		
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