A sale isn’t the end of a brand-to-consumer relationship. It’s the beginning. And it’s probably the customer acquisition channel that you’re ignoring. Delight is what helps marketers navigate the art of upselling. Marketing automation, social media, and emotion-driven calls to action are crucial to this stage of marketing. This idea holds true for consumer and B2B marketers alike.
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CRM software is the main platform of your sales team and sales agents to improve their productivity and enhance customer interaction with the end goal of closing sales. It is designed to help your company manage its relationship as well as interactions with all customers and prospects. For this purpose, CRM software brings with it features and capabilities such as the following:
But marketing automation apps with CRMs go much further. They tie directly into your site or app, adding all of your users into the CRM as soon as they sign up. They'll then monitor your site stats, showing how people discover you, which parts of your site they've seen, and then point out the people you focus on in your marketing efforts. They'll even automatically email your users to make sure they don't forget about your product.
As every small business owner knows, wearing a lot of hats is how you keep your company in the black. The problem, of course, is that any business owner only has 24 hours in a day. Cramming business development, customer service, marketing, production, financials, and everything else on one to-do list is a recipe for disaster (and a complete lack of sleep).
When you create automated emails, you can keep customers engaged without the hassle of sending messages one by one. But how do you automate outreach without losing authenticity? It's easier than you might think. Mailchimp makes it a breeze to wish customers happy birthday or to say thank you for a purchase. By creating customized, targeted emails that send when triggered by a specific date, event, or activity, you can send thoughtful messages that match the look and feel of your brand and resonate with your customers. Check out these best practices for sending automated emails that really click.
In fact, because of the variation in buyer journeys across the B2B landscape, these platforms must be tailored to meet the needs of unique prospects — not to mention the distinct use cases of marketing and sales teams. B2B marketing automation platforms may have similar foundational components, but their implementation varies across different industries and brands.
Marketers can use marketing automation to drive pipeline by sourcing the hottest leads, creating customized campaigns (such as email campaigns) to target ideal buyers, and moving leads through the sales cycle to maximize the ROI of marketing programs. Marketers can execute on a digital marketing strategy without all the hassle of sending one-off emails or managing tasks manually. They can also provide sales teams with pre-approved, on-brand messages (such as email templates) that sales teams can customize for qualified leads.

Traditionally, this automation software has been equated to email marketing tools that automate sending and tracking of mass email campaigns. However, this software offers much beyond that. Today, it is an established fact that this type of automation has a direct tangible impact on the revenues of businesses, especially in the case of B2B enterprises.
If you're running a brick-and-mortar business—say, a hotel, restaurant, or store, or even an in-person service company like a law firm or repair team—website visitors might not be your most important lead source. You'll likely have far more people calling your business to check about your opening hours, current prices, and more. CallTrackingMetrics is designed exactly for that.
Oracle Eloqua, part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud, provides best-in-class lead management, campaign management, and sales tools that help marketers deliver the most connected and personalized experiences from first impression to customer advocacy. Eloqua's marketer-friendly platform enables organizations of any size to execute advanced marketing strategies, at scale, using the industry's richest dataset and adaptive technologies. Some of the top reasons customers choose Oracle Eloqua include: * Most Comprehensive Platform Built for B2B Marketers * Industry’s Richest Dataset * Marketer-friendly UI * Powerful Lead Management & Acceleration * Adaptive Campaign Management & Nurturing * Sophisticated Targeting & Segmentation * Broad 3rd Party Data Enrichment * Market-leading Extensibility & Integrations * Enterprise Scale Performance & Security

“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.
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. 																		

The HubSpot dashboard enables teams to immediately sort the contracts won (or not) and maintain a clear view of their performance toward their goals. HubSpot’s CRM automatically tracks customer touchpoints across different channels and keeps a timeline of all calls, emails, and meetings involving specific customers. The platform also helps create personalized paths to purchase and compile data showcasing how every marketing campaign contributed to sales.
ClickDimensions is the only marketing automation solution natively built in Microsoft Dynamics 365. Our solution includes essential marketing tools like email marketing, campaign automation, web intelligence, surveys, web forms, social marketing and more to help Dynamics 365 users attract more leads, close more sales and more effectively engage customers.

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.
We envision a future where online retailers truly understand their customers, resulting in the growth of their businesses’ profitably. Exponea Experience Cloud is our way of bringing this vision to life. Exponea’s very essence is an intelligent union of customer data management and analytics, while cracking the true Single Customer View. Through this, we have enabled marketers to understand their customers and immediately turn such insights into actionable campaigns, all within a single integrated solution. Built on top of cutting edge technology, Exponea empowers marketers to deliver truly personalized, in the moment experiences to their customers at scale through deeply embedded AI-powered capabilities, removing obstacles and leveraging intent to purchase both on your online store or outside of it. True to our vision, we work closely with our clients and mentor them all along the short path to success. We enable the fast transfer of know-how which often results in a change of mindset and is a catalyst for a rapid, profitable growth of emerging e-commerce leaders around the world.
From the above example, you can picture the roles played by marketing automation and CRM. The former is to create awareness of your products and services while the latter is to set up or prepare for purchase. They are separate roles but at the same time complementary, unifying the two funnels that make up the buyer’s journey. Below you can see the stages in the sales pipeline that are handled by marketing automation and 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.  
Single Platform Availability: Though you may be looking at only a marketing automation module for your current requirements, it is possible that you may, in future, choose to automate other customer-facing functions such as Sales and Service. It is recommended to opt for a solution that provides all these functions through a single platform. This will greatly reduce integration complexities and empower you with a comprehensive view of interactions across the customer lifecycle, in future.

366 Degrees is a marketing automation platform that allows small to medium businesses to communicate with leads across several channels and track their interaction with your content. With integration into the CRM platform of your choosing, you can keep your lead database up to date across your marketing and sales teams. 366 features smart content creation with pre-made HTML snippets that make creating emails and landing pages easy, no coding background needed! Then, track your leads' interactions with your content and automatically follow up with behaviorally cued automatic drip campaigns. 366 features integrations to Salesforce, Datanyze, Nimble, and now Vidyard for video marketing made easy. Drop video into emails, landing pages, or social posts and watch leads pour in.
Iterable is the growth marketing platform that enables brands to create, execute and optimize campaigns to power world-class customer engagement across email, push, SMS, in-app and more with unparalleled data flexibility. An integrated, cross-channel solution—built for marketers, trusted by engineers, designed with intelligence. Lifecycle Marketing Made Simple Engage your customers at each touchpoint of their buying journey—from sign-up to check-out and beyond. Drive user activation, nurture, and reactivation with relevant cross-channel messaging. Warmer Welcomes Activate consumer attention and interest with stand-out content that makes an impactful first impression. Get new customers acquainted with your products and services with personalized welcome, trial and onboarding campaigns. Next-Gen Nurture Captivate customers to build rapport for the long term and strengthen their relationship with your brand. Stay top-of-mind with targeted sales, promotions, announcements and product updates across all the channels that matter most to your audience. Robust Re-Engagement Keep customers coming back for more by reactivating their interest to drive retention and loyalty. Deploy cart abandonment campaigns to complete more checkouts, then trigger post-purchase or renewal sequences when the time is right.
We currently have three Editors' Choice picks for marketing automation solutions here at PCMag. One of them, Campaigner, impressed us with its intuitive UI and its wealth of online resources. Another Editors' Choice, the aforementioned Pardot, excelled due to its built-in search and social marketing functionality. Lastly, the aforementioned HubSpot had an impressive set of prebuilt workflows that also got our top nod. While all of these are fantastic solutions, they are all quite different, and it's definitely worth taking the time to research the best solution for your needs. This, of course, also applies even to the other products that did not get an Editors' Choice designation.
Sugar can eliminate silos between your marketing and sales teams. As a marketer, you can define lead management and routing processes that work the way you do. Create rules to determine if leads should be routed to business development teams, directly to sales reps, or sent back for additional nurturing by marketing. Integrate Sugar to your existing marketing automation tools to tackle scoring, automation programs and drip campaigns with two-way data synchronization.

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.


Marketing automation creates relevant content and messaging at scale across many channels. Send email messages with dynamic content that personalizes far beyond sticking a customer’s first name in the subject line. Integrate mobile messaging with your email and social campaigns through SMS/MMS, push notifications, and group messaging. Generate digital ads that appear for the right person at the right time. Plus, recommend the right products on your website for each individual user — automatically.

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.
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