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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you start your day at work, you likely open a half-dozen apps and websites and spend quite a bit of time just figuring out what needs done and finding the info to do it. Not anymore with Infusionsoft. It's watching your site, tracking info about your potential customers and what they've seen, and at the same time is keeping up with what you need to do. Then, in a nifty "My Day" view, it'll show you everything you need to be doing—including your tasks, communications with contacts, and calendar appointments—along with info about the customers related to your tasks right in the same overview.
In addition, a CRM system that can be shared between sales and customer service brings new opportunities. The salesperson will be aware of customer service issues that arise with a customer, and the customer service staff can quickly determine the actions taken by a salesperson to contact a customer or resolve an issue. If customer service handles a problem they can easily inform the sales team by updating the details in the CRM. 																		

The consequence is that marketers begin buying lists of email addresses to nurture instead of generating inbound leads. While it seems like a quick fix, it's not a long-term solution, nor does it create the fertile ground for a healthier, longer relationship with your future customers. In our plant analogy, it's sort of like using artificial chemicals or enhancers to make your plant grow faster. Sure, it seems like a good, quick fix--but it doesn't set you up for future, long-term success.  
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