Inbound Lead Generation: Modern SMB automation tools for marketing empower you to generate quality leads through inbound content marketing tactics. You can make your blogs or websites more interactive and create personalized landing pages with utmost ease. Customized web forms can help you implement progressive profiling that provides a non-intrusive way to capture lead or customer data in a seamless manner.

Good marketing automation takes into account the evolving needs of your leads, and the behaviors and interactions they have with you across all of your marketing channels. not just email. Using behavioral inputs from multiple channels such as social clicks, viewing a pricing page or consuming a particular piece of content gives marketers the context they need to fully understand a lead’s challenges and how to guide them down the funnel. The most effective marketing automation not only collects data from multiple channels, but uses those various channels to send their marketing messages as well. That means the success of your campaign relies less on the email, and fully utilizes the various channels that influence a buyer’s decision.
Let’s cite an example. Your marketing team puts up landing pages in your business website, brings in clicks, and captures leads interacting with your content. These leads are commencing contact but how much they are interested has yet to be determined, so your team engages with by providing relevant info. Leads are then scored depending on the actions or responses they take. These contacts become MQLs up to the point they are ready to be transferred to marketing.
Marketing automation plugs into a company's CRM system, which, typically, has its own native marketing automation cloud service (such as Salesforce Pardot and Oracle Eloqua). Eloqua will work with other CRM platforms that compete with Oracle's, and Marketo, an independent marketing automation platform, will work with Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft and other CRM systems. HubSpot also is a popular marketing automation platform that has its own CRM backbone.

The next part of the process is triggered once the sales team takes over, continues engaging with the leads, and vets for their level of interest as well as capability to purchase. When leads have been assessed as viable prospects, they now become SQLs. In this specific journey from MQL to SQL as well as the overall process that cover the stages from lead to customer, the features and capabilities of marketing automation and CRM come into play.

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.
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.
Ever wanted a way to talk to the people visiting your site or using your app, the way you could call up to a specific office using your building's intercom? There there's a new digital intercom for you, aptly named Intercom. It'll find out who's using your site or app (it's the only tool among this bunch that works with mobile, too), let you filter through them easily, send them emails or in-app messages, and see who's slipping away. You'll even have a team inbox where you can handle support, marketing or anything else. 																		

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.
Marketing automation can eat up a significant portion of your clients’ budgets, leaving less room for your agency’s retainer. (Psst...SharpSpring’s agency pricing model is as little as 1/10th to 1/20th the cost of others.) You’ll want a platform built around the needs of agencies to help you create higher-value relationships, generate monthly recurring revenue, and prove your ROI. Look for a provider that lets you reinforce your brand by rebranding the platform interface, domain, login screen and notifications. The vendor should treat you like a partner, including sending you new business referrals.
HubSpot heavily relies on list building to help you manage your workflows. The tool lets you shrink (or grow) your lists in the same way you would narrow down products on Amazon or eBay, a feature which is incredibly straightforward and fast. When you add a URL to a contact record, HubSpot will automatically pull in demographic information, such as the contact's company location and number of employees. You can email a contact directly from the Contact Record, and you can make a Voice-over-IP (VoIP) call if you have turned on this paid feature of HubSpot Sales. This integration lets you log and save call information within each contact record so there is a transparent history of which marketers and sales professionals interacted with contacts. You can also schedule interactions with contacts. You won't find these features on the other platforms we reviewed.
As efficient as automation is, it can't be the only marketing strategy. The worst thing a business can do is automate all of its marketing. “By over-automating your marketing, you end up managing a customer journey instead of optimizing it. Each business is different, but good marketing automation happens when a business is thoughtful about the personal relationships with its customers,” he said.
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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