Marketing automation refers to software platforms that help businesses automate their marketing and sales engagement processes to generate more leads, convert more leads to sales, and optimize ROI. Marketing automation allows marketers to automate repetitive tasks such as sending emails, maintaining social media, tracking website interactions, and managing various other tasks. Marketing automation centralizes all of the features and functions that make up the marketer’s role in an organization. A marketing automation platform should have the ability to integrate with other sales & marketing tools (CMS, CRM, social media, meeting software, etc.) to provide a centralized platform for data management and analysis.

You can create a Google remarketing ad in Mailchimp with just a few clicks, but it’s important to come up with a plan for your content and budget before you get started. Your copy should give shoppers a call to action, not merely a description of what you're selling. The images you choose need to match your brand and fit the ad space, too. And you'll need to set a budget that helps you maximize conversions. There's a lot to consider, so we've rounded up a few of our users’ most successful retargeting ads to serve as inspiration.
If your company has a small, in-house marketing team, don’t let resource constraints prohibit you from getting the most out of your marketing efforts. Marketing automation is great for growing your contact base and managing email campaigns. Comprehensive reporting and analytics help you improve the effectiveness of all your marketing campaigns, meaning more opens, clicks, shares, etc. Some platforms have flexible and affordable pricing models to help companies with restrictive budgets grow at their own pace. Also, if the platform is too much to handle in house, don’t worry – there are many marketing agencies that specialize in automation that can help you maximize your return. Make sure you choose a platform that agencies embrace, so you can get assistance beyond the vendor’s own onboarding program and have an ongoing resource to guide you through campaigns.
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:
With Pardot Marketing Automation software, marketing and sales can work hand in hand right in Sales Cloud to manage all prospect interactions, so you can create, deploy, and manage online campaigns from a central platform. With CRM marketing automation from Salesforce, you’ll be able to generate high-quality leads and accelerate pipeline and drive sales without having to hire a big marketing team. You can even create personalized, targeted emails and nurture campaigns like a pro.
Chris Daley, founder of 1250Ships.com, wanted to spend minimal time and money on marketing, but to look like he spent a lot. Retargeting made this possible. Chris set up a Google remarketing ad in Mailchimp that brought in over $8,200 in revenue, snagged 19 first-time buyers, and led to a 3,879% ROI in its first 3 months. With this ad, he reached potential customers across the web and built his brand’s reputation. Learn how to replicate his success.
The latest version of IBM Campaign brings many innovations to the sophisticated marketing team enabling you to work smarter and faster, and to keep your customers more engaged and loyal than ever. Marketers use IBM Campaign to maximize revenue and responses via personalized and optimized campaigns and offers. Increase results with powerful segmentation against the largest data sources and provide the right offers to the right contacts at the right time in the right channel. Boost ROI by optimizing contact communications and marketing spend. Choose to deploy fully to the cloud or on premise. Improve engagement and ROI: Easily integrate with the rest of your marketing ecosystem to seamlessly execute personalized, offline and digital campaigns to take your customers on targeted journeys. Work smarter and faster: With AI-powered Watson Assistant available with IBM Campaign, work smarter and drive to insights more quickly than ever. Save time, make better decisions and drive customer engagement. Optimize ownership for your enterprise: Choose the deployment and ownership approach that works best for your organization. Deploy on premise or via subscription and fully to the cloud — managed and hosted.
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.
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.
From there, marketing automation does all the work: streamling segmentation and targeting processes to determine the right audiences, quickly and at scale. Tailoring messaging to each customer automatically based on their profile. Creating relevant and personalized messaging across email, mobile, social, web experiences, and beyond with a few simple clicks. Delivering personalized experiences for your customers, whether you have 100 or 100 million, efficiently and effectively.
Also known as a Call to Action page, a landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action. Landing pages help increase conversion rates through targeted promotion. You can market multiple products to audiences using highly customized landing pages with specifically targeted content. Many marketing automation systems have excellent landing page builders. Make sure you select a landing page builder that is flexible and easy to use.
Total Expert is a fintech software pioneer of the first modern, enterprise-level Marketing Operating System (MOS) that enables lending and financial services firms to create customers for life by blending human relationships with digital simplicity. We power marketing and revenue growth for 10% of $2 trillion per year U.S. mortgage industry, and ensure banks and lenders stay ahead of how consumers expect to communicate, shop, and manage their financial lives in the digital/social era. For more information, visit totalexpert.com.
Personalization. Without personalized messaging, you’ll miss out on a significant number of conversions. Leverage marketing automation’s tracking capabilities to tailor your conversations with your contacts. Personalization works: 88% of U.S. marketers reported seeing measurable improvements due to personalization — with more than half reporting a lift greater than 10%.
What you’ll learn is that abuse reports are the norm rather than the exception—it’s normal to have 1 for every few thousand emails that you send. Some consumers are sensitive to email marketing (due to years and years of abuse), and others aren’t always familiar with the opt-out process. It’s a genuine mistake — people sometimes confuse “abuse reports” with opt-out forms.
Marketo has developed customized solutions for healthcare, technology, financial services, manufacturing, media, and higher education, and its Engagement Hub gathers data so businesses can personalize their interactions as they analyze and adapt. That adaptation can happen in real time with Marketo’s instantaneous insights and rich customer profiles. 																		

SALESmanago Marketing Automation provides an easy to implement next generation solutions that redefine the way traditional marketing tools are used. Every day we are going above and beyond the expectations regarding the capabilities of email marketing, dynamic & personalized website content, social media marketing, anonymous marketing automation, online advertising and mobile marketing. Our main goal is to create a product that empowers its users to implement any kind of marketing processes they desire and gets their business to the next level.

This brings me to the end of this guide. Hope it helped you in understanding what CRM is, the questions you must ask yourself before you choose a CRM, and the benefits of a combined CRM and marketing automation system. Please share this guide if you liked it. It inspires us to create more stuff like this. You can ask me any questions you want, and I’ll get back to you. 🙂
Instead of being a separate app with just a code snippet you'll add to your site, Inbound Now lives inside your WordPress install, capturing leads and automating marketing right from the place you manage the rest of your site. It's got free tools to create landing pages, A/B test them, and identify your site visitors, then there's paid extensions that'll add social media and email integration, lead importing, and more.
Forms and landing pages: Build custom landing pages without having to know HTML and link marketing assets stored in automation systems to use as downloadable content. Progressive profiling helps marketers shorten forms to ensure prospects aren’t turned off by long forms. They can be shown additional fields in future forms allowing marketers to build up a detailed prospect profile over time.
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.
VBOUT is a powerful, affordable and simple to use, all-in-one marketing automation solution. The platform has an easy drag-and-drop landing pages and forms, visual customer journey builder, social media management and email marketing tools. In-depth native analytics and user tracking are provided, giving marketers full view of their contact's engagement and campaign performance. VBOUT provides agencies and partners with powerful tools to whitelabel the solution, build their own plans with their own marke-up, manage their accounts and shared assets from one account.
If you are unable to generate a considerable amount of qualified leads through outbound marketing tactics such as mass email or call campaigns, it could be because of improper segmentation and targeting of the audience lists. You need to adopt a systematic approach towards storing and filtering lead data based on specific segmentation parameters to ensure that your communication is relevant to the audience.

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.
Also known as a Call to Action page, a landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action. Landing pages help increase conversion rates through targeted promotion. You can market multiple products to audiences using highly customized landing pages with specifically targeted content. Many marketing automation systems have excellent landing page builders. Make sure you select a landing page builder that is flexible and easy to use.
Google Analytics can show you what pages are being looked at in real time, along with detailed info about the browsers used, exit pages clicked, and how long people are on your site. You can even use it to see—to a certain degree, at least—which keywords and content styles perform best. HubSpot gives you that same info, along with the tools you need to create great landing pages, blog posts, and more, plus CRM tools that'll help you identify your customers and continue your marketing efforts.
“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.

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.
The multichannel view offered by ActiveCampaign gets glimpses of a small business’s website while looking at users’ email and mobile devices. Its campaign builder helps entrepreneurs design marketing collateral, and the platform consolidates customer data so these insights can impact the email, SMS, and CRM options ActiveCampaign offers. This data also allows business owners to create segments.
The emfluence Marketing Platform was built for marketers, by marketers. We believe that usability is as important as functionality. That’s why we’ve focused the emfluence Marketing Platform’s features around what’s really important: helping digital marketers like you accomplish your goals every day. Whether you’re launching your own digital campaigns, managing a brand across a network of franchises, or creating campaigns for your book of business, you can leverage the emfluence Marketing Platform for: • Email Automation • Email Marketing • Drag & Drop Email Builders • Social Media Management • Surveys • Landing Pages • Form Builders • Automated Reporting • Website Tracking • Light Boxes and Modals • Variable Content Blocks Why do we spend so much time focusing on how you use our platform? Because we’re marketers, too, and we know that digital marketing isn’t just about sending emails and posting pictures to your favorite social media channel. It’s complex recipe of strategy, timing, response, and engagement. We believe with the right tool, you’ll be unstoppable.
A CRM is a software solution used by sales and service teams to cultivate deeper relationships with interested buyers and active customers. Used to house prospect and client data, the CRM system has a collection of information for each contact in your organization, information your teams can then leverage in their client meetings and communications.
Marketing automation lets you implement a digital marketing strategy without having to manually press “send” on each and every email, message, campaign, or post you create. Good automation tools help you identify your audience, design the right content, and automatically trigger actions based on schedules and customer behavior. Once your campaign rolls out, you can focus on other tasks, then analyze and tweak your marketing plan as results start coming in. An automated marketing strategy can save time and resources, driving revenue and ROI while you focus on growing your business.
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.
Marketo, an Adobe company, offers the leading Engagement Platform that empowers marketers to build brand value, grow revenue, and prove impact. Consistently recognized as the industry’s innovation pioneer, Marketo is the trusted platform for thousands of CMOs thanks to its scalability, reliability, and openness. To learn more about the Marketo Engagement Platform, LaunchPoint® partner ecosystem, and the vast community that is the Marketing Nation®, visit www.marketo.com.
If you run a small business, you probably wear a lot of different hats. Often there's little time to think about drawing traffic to your site, growing your following, or selling your stuff—even if it is vital to your success. Marketing automation is software that handles these tasks for you. Instead of creating a one-off campaign every time you need to talk to your customers—via emails or your social media channels—you can set up automations, and never have to worry about customers slipping through the cracks. Learn the basics of marketing automation. Learn the basics of marketing automation.
Zaius is a CRM & Marketing Automation platform built for ecommerce brands. By combining a single customer view, real-time, multi-channel marketing automation, and cross-channel attribution, Zaius empowers marketing teams to drive more repeat purchases and maximize customer lifetime revenue - without any IT support. It’s the first CRM built specifically for B2C marketers.
The effective marketing automation system is actually a content management system in disguise, so it must explicitly manage its content assets through a lifecycle. As those assets are typically stored on the company’s website, the marketing automation system needs to be able to rapidly generate attractive registration and download pages. Since prospects’ behavior can’t be predicted in advance, marketing automation systems need to have workflow management features to facilitate “A/B split testing” that provides data to guide the refinement of web pages and campaign sequences for optimal results.

Personalization. Without personalized messaging, you’ll miss out on a significant number of conversions. Leverage marketing automation’s tracking capabilities to tailor your conversations with your contacts. Personalization works: 88% of U.S. marketers reported seeing measurable improvements due to personalization — with more than half reporting a lift greater than 10%. 																		

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.
This becomes important when a company's marketing operations rely on a survey, email, social media or chatbot app for inbound lead-generation efforts that plug into Marketo or Eloqua, which, in turn, allows those marketing processes to continue regardless of which CRM the company uses. In effect, they act as middleware connecting the thousands of niche marketing automation tools and large CRM systems, where a company's customer data resides.
Personalization As you build out your inbound marketing and marketing automation strategy, you will learn more about your leads. This learning process will empower your company to re-invest that data into refining your marketing strategy. Marketing automation software will help you streamline this process and build 1:1 connections with hundreds of thousands—and even millions—of users.
When a company's marketing operation grows and becomes more sophisticated, the usefulness of a marketing automation system increases. At that point, a company will typically implement a marketing automation system and integrate it with the CRM. The integration avoids storing redundant information, reduces costs and improves customer relationships because all information regarding a customer is available in one place.
Marketing automation focuses on the needs of the marketing team and CRM is focused on the needs of the sales team, Hendrix said. “Marketing automation is your communication engine, while CRM is your database of record,” she added. Some marketing automation systems support native integrations for CRMs like Salesforce, SugarCRM and Microsoft Dynamics. These integrations help marketers create a connected and automated lead management process that enables optimization over time, with the right reporting.

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:

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.
Delivra is a platform built on the knowledge that automated email open rates are 95 percent higher than regular email open rates. With that in mind, the company tries to maximize customer engagement by offering help with SMS and email drip campaigns; it also assists with direct mail and uses A/B testing and alerts when engagement or purchase “tendencies” have been spotted.
With Pardot Marketing Automation software, marketing and sales can work hand in hand right in Sales Cloud to manage all prospect interactions, so you can create, deploy, and manage online campaigns from a central platform. With CRM marketing automation from Salesforce, you’ll be able to generate high-quality leads and accelerate pipeline and drive sales without having to hire a big marketing team. You can even create personalized, targeted emails and nurture campaigns like a pro.
Lead Liaison is a cloud-based sales and marketing automation solution that helps businesses accelerate sales by attracting, converting, closing and retaining more prospects. Filling a void in the small pool of marketing automation providers that focus on marketing-centric functionality, Lead Liaison gives equal focus to sales support with solutions such as a hot-lead dashboard, Buy Signals and a live ticker alert of businesses on the customer’s website. Lead Liaison blends ease-of-use, a flexible business model, deep external integration, marketing across social, web, mobile, email and offline channels and powerful functionality, all specifically tailored for small to mid-sized businesses, into a single platform, called Revenue Generation Software®. Lead Liaison offers clients the highest value per dollar of any industry provider. Additionally, Lead Liaison provides content creation services leveraged for communication vehicles such as press releases, blog posts, emails, and posts on social media platforms. Founded in 2013, Lead Liaison is headquartered in Allen, Texas, near Dallas, and employs 19 people. For more information, visit www.leadliaison.com or call 1-800-89-LEADS (895-3237).
It's far less of a CRM and a marketing automation app than most of the apps on here, but it fills an important niche for businesses with more calls than clicks. You can take your sales calls in the web app, track info about each of the callers, and CallTrackingMetrics will let you know which page or ad the user saw when they called. There's even SMS automation so you can send text messages to potential customers, following up even when there's not an app for them to keep using.
That means we should treat them like a real person, not a fragmented self across different tools like email, social media, etc. If we can leverage all the marketing tools, channels and behavioral data possible to paint a complete picture of a person, we can nurture them based on their unique challenges and interests, not based solely on the emails they open or click through.
If your company has a small, in-house marketing team, don’t let resource constraints prohibit you from getting the most out of your marketing efforts. Marketing automation is great for growing your contact base and managing email campaigns. Comprehensive reporting and analytics help you improve the effectiveness of all your marketing campaigns, meaning more opens, clicks, shares, etc. Some platforms have flexible and affordable pricing models to help companies with restrictive budgets grow at their own pace. Also, if the platform is too much to handle in house, don’t worry – there are many marketing agencies that specialize in automation that can help you maximize your return. Make sure you choose a platform that agencies embrace, so you can get assistance beyond the vendor’s own onboarding program and have an ongoing resource to guide you through campaigns.
Google Analytics can show you what pages are being looked at in real time, along with detailed info about the browsers used, exit pages clicked, and how long people are on your site. You can even use it to see—to a certain degree, at least—which keywords and content styles perform best. HubSpot gives you that same info, along with the tools you need to create great landing pages, blog posts, and more, plus CRM tools that'll help you identify your customers and continue your marketing efforts.
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.
If your business depends on marketing notepads, spreadsheets and informal emails for customer communication, there are high chances that the customer experience you are providing is not up to the mark. At the very least, it is necessary to have a centralized contact database for all leads and customers, and track every interaction with each of these contacts.
ThriveHive is marketing platform that empowers small business owners to grow their businesses through better marketing. The platform includes all of the essential online marketing tools and guidance necessary to get small business owners online and to succeed with marketing. ThriveHive is guided marketing for small business. Features Include: Better Website (optional) - Professionally built or DIY Customized Marketing Plan - Plans that work for small businesses Marketing Platform- All of your marketing in one place Contact Manager - Manage leads & customers Email - Send & track emails & newsletters Blog & Social Media - Create blog & social media posts Insight Emails - Marketing & lead notifications Marketing Coach - One-on-one expert marketing help Managed Advertising - Google AdWords & More

A marketing automation app will take a bit more time to set up than the traditional CRM. You'll likely need to copy a bit of code from the tool after you've created your account, and embed it into your site or app. Once you've done that, though, the apps here will do the rest of the work for you, identifying your visitors and clients and automating most of the CRM heavy lifting you'd have to do in other apps.
This is another fundamental feature of marketing automation software. Lead scoring enables marketers to concentrate on the most promising leads. Every customer receives a score, based on his activities. When a lead matures i.e. reaches a threshold value, it is sent to a sales representative so that appropriate action can be taken. Being able to move leads through the entire marketing funnel is a challenging task and should be handled effectively by your Marketing Automation Platform.

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Similar to standard email marketing software vendors, marketing automation software vendors have created workflow templates that help guide you through the automation process. This way, you don't have to build new sequences from scratch. These templates usually start with a basic interaction, such as a "Welcome" or a "Thank you for making a purchase" message. Once a contact receives the initial email, he or she is guided through a sequence based on his or her actions. For example, if John receives a welcome message and he clicks a link to an offer, then that action automatically pulls him onto a distinct email marketing journey. Conversely, if Sally deletes her welcome message, then she may automatically be pulled off the workflow to conserve your email output.
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.
SharpSpring is a comprehensive marketing automation platform with robust features, functionality and performance. SharpSpring is one of the most flexible platforms on the market, offering powerful, behavior-based email marketing, native or 3rd party CRM integration, dynamic forms, landing page and blog builders, social media management, universal CMS compatibility, and integration with hundreds of applications. SharpSpring is usually less than 1/3 the cost of the competition, is the easiest company to work with and the easiest platform to use. Marketing agencies should inquire about SharpSpring's special partner program.

Through integration, you can have a unified approach to data management as all the contact, communication and other informational data is saved under one single platform. The data is organized, easy to view and edit, and faster to analyze. Also, a centralized data system means that new data is easy to input and organize, and tracking and reporting of data becomes efficient.
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