That doesn’t sound much like a CRM system, does it?  If the core of marketing automation is email blasting, the foundation of CRM is sales force automation (SFA). While both systems operate on leads, contacts and companies, they work in very different contexts.  The marketing automation user is almost entirely focused on leads.  In contrast, the SFA user sees leads as important only in the short term, as the successful sales rep will be working on deals (opportunities) and talking with contacts (leads that have been fully qualified and promoted or converted).  The SFA user is a very different animal than the typical marketing person, and too often there is actual animosity between the two teams.
Artificial intelligence (AI) applications such as chatbots can help automate the delivery of that information or direct potential customers to webpages, online documents or forms that help create sales or gauge a potential customer's current or future interest in purchasing a company's goods or services. Marketing automation tools can also administer customer satisfaction and product usage surveys and then collect, measure and segment the response data.
Infusionsoft has found that its automation platform saves users about 28 hours per month when it’s integrated with users’ other systems. That platform automates lead capture and follow-ups based on user activity and collects data about customers to enable personalization. Its analytics reports shine a light on what’s working, what’s not, and what the current ROI is for any campaign.
First, let’s be clear about the distinction between sales and marketing roles: you wouldn’t believe how many companies scramble the definitions.  As a card-carrying marketing guy (yes, I made it to Sr. VP at publicly-traded companies), I maintain that the outbound part of marketing (the real users of marketing automation) needs to focus on getting the right message out to the right prospects.  People who respond with the right level of interest are handed off to sales for qualification, and people who don’t are kept in the system for cultivation and “re-marketing.” Outbound marketing is also involved in the care and feeding of existing customers, to cultivate loyalty and repeat business.

Sometimes customers stumble upon your online store before they're ready to make a purchase. In fact, 97% of first time site visitors leave without buying anything. This is where retargeting is key. Google remarketing ads—also known as retargeting ads—bring back website visitors who left your store. These ads reach shoppers across many other channels of the web, whether they're reading an article, listening to music, or shopping somewhere else. And when you create retargeting ads in Mailchimp, we’ll automatically generate thousands of ads that display in the right place at the right time, with no added fees from us. Find out how retargeting works.
Incentives can help you zight these external forces. Let’s go back to that example where you were shopping online but left your credit card in the kitchen. If you had a one-night-only 30% off coupon, would you have been more inclined to get up and walk to the other side of the house? If your shopping cart purchase was $20? Probably not. But if you were planning to spend $100 or more, the answer is likely to be a clear ‘you bet.’

On the lower end of the pricing spectrum, you'll find products such as Infusionsoft, which costs $379 per month for five users, 50,000 contacts, and unlimited emails per month. The Complete package also includes Infusionsoft's four core feature sets (CRM, e-commerce, marketing automation, and sales automation) at no extra charge. SendinBlue and Zoho Campaigns both offer free plans for anyone who is unwilling to spend even a dime for marketing workflows. Both tools scale upward for added capacity and complexity, and each offers pay-as-you-go plans for companies just dipping their toes into email marketing and marketing automation.
In addition to an organic integration with Salesforce, Pardot offers one of the cleanest user interfaces (UIs) and one of the largest variety of prebuilt templates on the market. But its best features are designed to improve your workflows once they've been created. For example, you can pretest the process of an automated program to see how it reacts. This is essentially a fire drill automation campaign to ensure your complex branching doesn't lead to a dead end or a duplicate email. Pardot also lets you schedule social media campaigns and post in real time to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter simultaneously. If you really want to manage your marketing program from within one solution, then Pardot also offers a search marketing tool that plugs into Bing, Google, and Yahoo. You can check search engine rankings, monthly volumes, and ranking difficulties as well as run competitor analysis and monitor your paid search campaigns. No other tool we reviewed offers search marketing functionality.
Email marketing is a great first step toward developing solid communications with your customers and prospects. But once you have moved past one-off messages and have decided to create prolonged, personalized messages powered by customer data, it's time to try marketing automation. No tools better exemplify the simplicity, effectiveness, and scalability of marketing automation software than two of our three Editors' Choice tools: HubSpot and Pardot.

These are just some of the amazing features you'll find when using marketing automation software. As a result, it's important for you to determine your most needed features before making a purchase decision. None of the tools we tested are bad. In fact, each of them will provide you with more power than your standard email marketing platform will. However, some are better than others, some are more expensive, and some do a better job letting you customize your workflows to suit your specific needs.

David Taber is the author of the Prentice Hall book, "Salesforce.com Secrets of Success," now in its second edition, and is the CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified Salesforce.com consultancy focused on business process improvement through use of CRM systems. SalesLogistix clients are in North America, Europe, Israel and India. Taber has more than 25 years of experience in high tech, including 10 years at the VP level or above.


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.

Finding new customers is exciting, but it's even better when customers return to your shop again and again. With Mailchimp's marketing automation, it's easier than ever to keep shoppers coming back for more. It all begins with your first impression, and our welcome automations help you put your best foot forward. And after a purchase is made, you can solidify their love for you with an order notification that matches the look and feel of your brand. You can even reward customer loyalty and say happy birthday. Learn how to use automations to turn new customers into old friends.

Right on the dashboard, you'll see the locations of your site visitors on a world map, along with the pages on your site that are being viewed. You can automatically categorize potential customers based on any criteria, and then can wait for them to reach out on a live chat or proactively start chatting with them when it seems they might be close to buying. Combine that with the standard CRM and marketing features, and you've got an extra set of tools that just might help you sale faster than you would if you're waiting on drip emails to bring back customers.


Eventually, your company’s marketing program will get so big that you can’t — possibly — manage everything via Outlook, Word, and Excel spreadsheets. You could always hire a team of marketing specialists, but eventually, you’re going to start wasting cash on redundant tasks like emailing new customers, setting up social media-to-email programs, and emailing your users every time you post blog content.
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.

If you have to get one initially, go for a CRM but make sure that you can immediately set up a marketing automation system once your situation calls for it. A good CRM foundation is HubSpot CRM; not only because it is 100% free, but it is highly scalable to match your growing needs. Getting started with it is easy when you sign up for a HubSpot CRM free app here.


Salesforce.com subsumes marketing automation under its CRM umbrella.  Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud has been constructed largely from acquired companies and now includes sentiment monitoring, advertising, customer “journey management”, email blasting, campaign management and several other features that are typically used only by the marketing department.  Since only some of these are typical “marketing automation” features, we need to sort things out a bit.
iContact Pro provides marketing automation software and services for marketing teams to drive quantifiable results. The iContact Pro platform integrates email marketing, landing pages, social media management and robust analytics in a simple but comprehensive cloud-based solution that helps customers outsmart the competition and grow their business. ***ICONTACT PRO INCLUDES***: BUSINESS-CLASS EMAIL: Creating effective email campaigns is easy with 650+ professional templates and top class deliverability. SEGMENTATION AND TARGETING: Target your leads based on who they are and how they interact with you. LANDING PAGES: Create great looking, mobile responsive landing pages in minutes. Drive, track, and measure action on email, social, and your website. WORKFLOW AUTOMATION: Nurture customers with the right content, at the right time, by creating custom experiences using the most intuitive workflows in the industry. LEAD SCORING: Customize scoring criteria and the software automatically qualifies your leads so you can engage with confidence and increase your marketing efficiency. CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT: Create, track, and measure your integrated marketing campaigns, from Tweets to email with powerful and easy-to-understand analytics. SALESFORCE INTEGRATION: Sync contacts and leads directly between your Salesforce.com and iContact Pro accounts, so you can quickly and effectively close your newly qualified and ready leads. SOCIAL CRM: Track and record every engagement with your prospects across email, social media, landing pages, news releases, and website visits. ***ICONTACT PRO BENEFITS*** DO MORE Nowadays, a marketer’s life is full of long hours, distractions, and beeping devices — it’s time for you to work smarter, not harder. iContact Pro was created to help companies engineer more calculated ways to send personalized communications to customers. No advanced degrees required. LIBERATE YOUR IDEAS Automation is not rocket science. But with most big enterprise solutions, getting started with marketing automation might feel a lot like planning a complicated rocket launch. iContact Pro was built to work fast for any size team, so when you say “yes” to marketing automation, you say “no” to complicated implementation. Simply login, pick an activity, and take off! TARGET YOUR MESSAGE Email marketing is at the heart of any results-driven strategy. iContact Pro is your virtual segmenting machine, helping you create individual CRM profiles to provide subscribers with the most relatable experiences for them — no matter how they engage with you. NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS Bringing in more leads doesn’t always mean more revenue; prospects demand a higher quality experience from you. iContact Pro helps you nurture relationships throughout the entire customer lifecycle in a way that feels personal, but is in fact highly automated. Reach out to the right people, at the right time, with the right message. ENGAGE YOUR NETWORK Get more mileage from existing content. Turn social fans into subscribers by including links to your own landing pages and invite people to download valuable content in exchange for their email address. Flexible, built-in tools allow you to schedule a calendar of social activity in advance or join in on trending conversations as they happen. CAPTURE MORE LEADS Everything you need is now easier to do. From designing professional landing pages and email templates, to setting up intuitive workflow triggers based on customer actions, our interactive tools make it easy to cross marketing tasks off your to-do list. MAKE DATA ACTIONABLE Great results come from consistently testing and drilling down into your performance data to make campaign tweaks on-the-fly. Engagement reports let you count up and compare the success of your social posts, landing pages, and emails. Ask us how you can integrate data from other tools with your dashboard for convenient, one-screen viewing. KEEP MOVING FORWARD We’re not doing our job if questions block your way to making things happen on your terms. We work hard to take the guesswork out of success. You can count on our experts and software to flatten learning curves along the way so you can just get up and get going.
Artificial intelligence (AI) applications such as chatbots can help automate the delivery of that information or direct potential customers to webpages, online documents or forms that help create sales or gauge a potential customer's current or future interest in purchasing a company's goods or services. Marketing automation tools can also administer customer satisfaction and product usage surveys and then collect, measure and segment the response data.
Market segmentation – the system can automatically classify and assign the lead to a marketing segment based on information gathered from your lead’s activities and interactions. With analytics, marketers get to know which leads are likely to be converted into customers. Hot and qualified leads, with all relevant profiles and information, are them pursued by the sales team.

Since it is available as a web-based packaged module, no technical team or coding knowledge is required to set it up. This software design incorporates industry best practices and standardized marketing processes so you can start using the in-built functionalities with minimal customization. Also, for integrating your website or enterprise applications with Agile, ready-made APIs and developer resources are available.


Marketing Automation Users: Marketing automation systems, as you would assume, are primarily used by the marketing department. Marketers can use the system to draw leads into the sales funnel, where they would then be transferred to the CRM system. The ability to respond to opportunities based on marketing initiatives gives your company a leg up on the competition and allows them to feed your sales funnel with qualified leads.
It’s ineffective given the effort required to see meaningful results. When done correctly, effective marketing automation takes time, effort, and resources to implement and maintain for revenue growth. Even if your database is currently filled with top-notch, quality leads, how effective will your marketing automation be when you’ve either converted all those leads into customers, or when your database begins decaying at the rate of 23% / year (via unsubscribes, job turnover and a variety of other factors.) Even when they’ve invested the time and effort to master the art of “Amazon-like” marketing automation, without enough leads to work towards purchase many marketers end up unhappy with the ROI of their marketing automation investment.
Email: A lead completes your form, follows up, redeems your offers, and still doesn’t convert. What do you do? You send an automated email, that’s what. You can customize your marketing automation software to end personalized messages based on user triggers. Think of this approach like a logic puzzle. If users take actions x, y, and z on your site, your marketing automation software will deploy message “q.” This process is something known as sequencing – which we’ll get to later.
When there’s no top-of-the-funnel foundation put in place to support middle of the funnel marketing automation. Many marketers invest in marketing automation before they have fertile ground for advanced lead nurturing campaigns to blossom. Marketers won’t have the ingredients they need for effective marketing automation until they have both a steady flow of organic leads coming through the funnel. Too many marketers without inbound lead generation strategies spend their time figuring out how to take the tiny fraction of the market they already have in their database as leads and squeeze more out of them. While they’re doing that, their competition is figuring out how to get more out of the 99.99% of the market that’s still out there. Do you have all the existing leads needed to hit your revenue goals in your database already? Are you getting your fair share of the available market?
B2C companies, however, probably have the most to gain from marketing automation technologies, as they can reach larger segments of their customers with personalized messages than they could afford to without it. In the past, B2C brands may have sent the same email to all of their customers in regular intervals, which, at best, got a marginal return and, at worst, turned off otherwise loyal customers with off-topic communications.
In its most basic form, marketing automation is a set of tools designed to streamline and simplify some of the most time-consuming responsibilities of the modern marketing and sales roles. From automating the lead qualification process to creating a hub for digital campaign creation, automation is all about simplifying a business world that is growing far too complex, much too quickly. 																		

However, the usefulness of integrating both the software together is that you gain organization and centralization in your data, have easy customer behavior visibility and improve workflow prioritization. According to SessionCam, 89% of users have integrated their marketing automation with the CRM because it offers ease in process and data management.
It's an all-in-one app that combines your content creation and social media sharing tools with the analytics data to help that content perform well. Then, it also has a detailed CRM that shows info about your site visitors, marketing automation tools to reach out to your visitors and turn them into customers, and the new Sidekick tool to give you a combined place to email and contact everyone.
Marketing automation is a software solution used primarily by marketing teams to measure and strengthen marketing’s impact on funnel activity and pipeline development. Marketing automation exists for the primary goal of automating marketing-focused actions and tasks. Many marketing departments are challenged with complex manual processes to execute campaigns and repetitive tasks such as email marketing, social media distribution, and other website actions that can hinder marketing’s performance as programs scale.
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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