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.

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.
Or, you can automate your marketing with ActiveCampaign's flow chart-style marketing automation screen that lets you easily create detailed automation workflows. You can use data from your contacts profiles, their interactions with your site or emails, or anything else to steer your automations and reach back out to them with emails using your default templates or via SMS messages. You can even remind yourself to personally follow up on the most promising leads, or automatically turn off emails to people who seem to not be interested. Then, you can still reach out to all of your contacts with email newsletters, without needing a separate app for sending your update emails.
Marketing automation is all about low-cost, effective communication with prospects, which means email and social-media communications.  Every marketing automation system starts with basic email blasting and adds tons of features designed to facilitate beautiful, effective mail sequences on an industrial scale.  In order to improve email effectiveness, the marketing automation system includes templates for the mails and campaign designers to provide a clear, consistent path for the customer as their level of interest and information evolves. The customer journey from awareness through interest to desire and finally to action is explicitly mapped, with content and calls to action tuned for each branch in that journey. 

Marketing automation platforms that integrate seamlessly with customer relationship management platforms can be a very powerful weapon. Tight CRM integrations will allow you to transfer lead information seamlessly between marketing and sales. Better alignment between marketing and sales will improve the effectiveness of campaigns. Your CRM system should talk to your marketing automation platform and your marketing automation platform should talk to your CRM system.
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.
That doesn’t sound much like a CRM system, does it?  If the core of marketing automation is email blasting, the foundation of CRM is sales force automation (SFA). While both systems operate on leads, contacts and companies, they work in very different contexts.  The marketing automation user is almost entirely focused on leads.  In contrast, the SFA user sees leads as important only in the short term, as the successful sales rep will be working on deals (opportunities) and talking with contacts (leads that have been fully qualified and promoted or converted).  The SFA user is a very different animal than the typical marketing person, and too often there is actual animosity between the two teams.
Together, CRM and marketing automation provides a unified platform for all the teams to track and analyze customer activities and behavior. Accordingly, having discussions and strategies to turn a prospect into a customer and ensure customer purchase cycle is continuous. The same software also allows for the perfect balance required between the teams, continuous workflows and instills accountability.
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. 																		

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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