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.

According to CLIENTSFirst Consulting, 30% of contact data changes every year. A contact will move addresses, get a new job, or might even retire, causing the data in both of your systems to become out of date. When putting this in a larger context where a company has 200,000 contacts in their CRM, this is potentially 60,000 contacts that end up having inaccurate data every year.

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.

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.


Though it's not the easiest marketing initiative to execute on, marketing automation is certainly not impossible. Imagine you're trying to grow a plant. First you need fertile soil ripe for the growth of your plant. Next you need seeds themselves to care for, and last you need water and light in order to nurture those seeds into a lush, blooming plant.  It's not foolproof, but it's not impossible. In our story, effective marketing automation looks just like nurturing this plant does. At the end of the day, we hope we've nurtured our leads (the seedlings) well enough to produce actual paying customers (a lush, full-grown plant.)
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