Marketing has historically tracked campaigns in CRM for internal reporting purposes, but with modern business intelligence (BI) and reporting tools, that is no longer a requirement. The “subscription economy” has lead to CRM deployments moving away from expensive on-premise management architectures and are offered as license based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model where hosting and maintenance is managed in the cloud. For the purposes of this article, CRM is best utilized when managing bottom of the funnel opportunities in the sales process.
Has a focus on moving leads from the top of the marketing funnel through to becoming sales-ready leads at the bottom of the funnel. Prospects are scored, based on their activities, and receive targeted content and messaging, thus nurturing them from first interest through to sale. Commonly used in business-to-business (B2B), business-to-government (B2G), or longer sales cycle business-to-consumer (B2C) sales cycles, Marketing Automation involves multiple areas of marketing and is really the marriage of email marketing technology coupled with a structured sales process.
Often, a brand will use multiple marketing automation tools, referred to as the marketing technology -- or martech -- stack. These marketing automation platforms assist in lead generation via email marketing, chatbots hosted on social media or websites, and other channels such as short message service (SMS) text. Marketing automation tools extend the reach of marketing campaigns, creating inbound marketing, a term some vendors use to refer to the strategy of finding prospects for top- to mid-funnel via personalization of pitches derived through analytics tools which segment customers into different groups for different approaches.
Infusionsoft is the only drag-and-drop tool we tested, which is a nifty feature for marketers who may wish to work on touchscreens or don't have time to deal with lengthy drop-down menus. It also provides unique tag removal that automatically pulls contacts from campaigns if they perform a certain action. For example, if contacts don't open three emails in a row, then you can set the tool to remove all such contacts from the workflow. This way, you're not sending messages into a vacuum. The tool also gives you the most useful real-time alert dashboard of any that we tested in this class. It lets you see every contact interaction with anyone in your database. So, if you sent an email to someone a week ago but they just opened it this second, then you'll see their name pop up at the top of your dashboard. From this tab, you can send a follow-up email or adjust the contact's standing within the specific workflow.
According to Hendrix, there are two types of "bad" marketing automation: People who use a marketing automation platform ineffectively, and platforms that label themselves as “marketing automation” even when that’s not the case. “True marketing automation allows you to track each touchpoint that a person has with your brand, take that in and adapt your messaging accordingly. It should enable you to not only automate processes, but anticipate your buyers' needs and accelerate their buying journey. Marketers need a solid marketing automation strategy, rather than just automating the same tasks they’ve been doing all along," Hendrix said.
Instead of relying on outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and aggressively pushing audiences into become leads, inbound marketing is the practice of attracting users through quality content that pulls people toward your company and product naturally. By closely aligning your content and marketing materials with your customers’ interest, your brand is in a position to attract, delight, and engage customers over time.
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.
Marketing automation platforms allow companies to deliver promotions on, say, flash sales, to small segments of the customer universe based on targeted campaign objectives, or revenue goals for a particular territory or population. AI and analytics tools either can or soon will be able to create predictive models that can drive even more revenue with fewer customers contacted per campaign, depending on the tool and to which CRM platform it connects.