When there’s no top-of-the-funnel foundation put in place to support middle of the funnel marketing automation. Many marketers invest in marketing automation before they have fertile ground for advanced lead nurturing campaigns to blossom. Marketers won’t have the ingredients they need for effective marketing automation until they have both a steady flow of organic leads coming through the funnel. Too many marketers without inbound lead generation strategies spend their time figuring out how to take the tiny fraction of the market they already have in their database as leads and squeeze more out of them. While they’re doing that, their competition is figuring out how to get more out of the 99.99% of the market that’s still out there. Do you have all the existing leads needed to hit your revenue goals in your database already? Are you getting your fair share of the available market?

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).
David Taber is the author of the Prentice Hall book, "Salesforce.com Secrets of Success," now in its second edition, and is the CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified Salesforce.com consultancy focused on business process improvement through use of CRM systems. SalesLogistix clients are in North America, Europe, Israel and India. Taber has more than 25 years of experience in high tech, including 10 years at the VP level or above.
The best way to overcome the limitation of time is by automating some of your processes — and marketing is one area ripe for automation. The key for small businesses is finding a tool that can automate many components of marketing at once, and these seven platforms take different approaches to automating marketing processes to make entrepreneurs’ lives easier.
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.
The cost of this software depends on the scale of your business and specifically, your marketing efforts. Often large in-house enterprise software implementation projects stretch beyond expected timelines and budgets. For most businesses, it makes sense to opt for a solution that provides a free trial so that they get a first-hand experience of setting up and using the application.
Large enterprises have long found value in the technology, but marketing automation isn’t just for big companies. In fact, Small and Mid-Sized Businesses (SMBs) make up the largest growing segment in the space right now. And thousands of companies even smaller than that are using automation as well. Similarly, companies across all industries are using it. The early adopters were primarily in “business-to-business” (B2B) industries such as high-tech / software, manufacturing, and business services. But increasingly companies across all categories–including “business-to-consumer” (B2C) industries such as healthcare, financial services, media and entertainment, and retail–are adopting the software for its real-time, engagement-oriented approach to maintaining and extending customer relationships throughout the customer lifecycle.
When you’re considering marketing automation platforms, you need to find the provider that best meets your specific goals and business needs. While it’s important to consider individual features and functionalities, your focus should be on finding a platform that is affordable for you in the long term, as well as scalable so it can grow with your business.
When designed well, marketing automation solutions make your job easier. They perform the difficult, tiresome work that is a natural part of running a marketing campaign while drawing from various data sources. The software compiles information, such as the number of opened emails, abandoned e-commerce carts, and data from web forms, to help inform your marketing decisions. When you maximize the features that these solutions offer, they can truly improve your company's bottom line.
Understand what’s working and how you can improve your marketing strategy over time with real-time metrics covering opens, clicks, and comparative stats per campaign. Individual campaign results automatically push to Act! contact records for a detailed interaction history. Perform A/B tests to pinpoint your most impactful subject lines and content to continually improve the effectiveness of your campaigns.
When customers leave something in their cart, reminding them to come back for it is only polite. And it's not just about manners, it also yields real results for businesses—we’ve found that our average user earns enough money from their abandoned cart automation to pay for their Mailchimp account. Abandoned cart messaging lets you do more than nudge customers to return and buy the original item they were eyeing, you can also recommend similar items they might like using their purchase history and behavior on your site. Learn how to give shoppers the personalized attention they deserve and increase your bottom line.
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 is a subset of customer relationship management (CRM) or customer experience management (CXM) that focuses on the definition, segmentation, scheduling and tracking of marketing campaigns. The use of marketing automation makes processes that would otherwise have been performed manually much more efficient and makes new processes possible. Marketing Automation can be defined as a process where technology is used to automate several repetitive tasks that are undertaken on a regular basis in a marketing campaign. A tool that allows an individual to design, execute and automate a time-bound marketing workflow can be called a Marketing Automation platform.[citation needed]
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.
Furthermore, CRM is used by the sales team for retaining existing customers. The software has tools to gather information and feedback from various customer channels, and analyze said information to provide the sales team with customers’ behavior, interaction history with your company, and purchasing trends, among others. Armed with customer knowledge, sales teams can craft targeted offers and loyalty campaigns to enhance customer retention.

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.

Marketing automation systems generate huge amounts of not-very-well-structured data and analyze click streams in response to campaigns. In companies with large lead counts, the reporting engines have to handle tens of millions of rows – but the tables are very narrow (typically, less than 10 columns) so report outputs don’t involve a ton of query logic…just a ton of raw data.
Sailthru helps modern marketers at leading retail and media companies build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their customers. Sailthru personalizes individual customer experiences across digital communication channels—in email, on a brand’s website and in their mobile applications. Sailthru-powered 1:1 relationships with consumers help drive higher revenue, improve customer lifetime value and reduce churn.
Salesforce.com subsumes marketing automation under its CRM umbrella.  Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud has been constructed largely from acquired companies and now includes sentiment monitoring, advertising, customer “journey management”, email blasting, campaign management and several other features that are typically used only by the marketing department.  Since only some of these are typical “marketing automation” features, we need to sort things out a bit.
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
Marketing automation is designed to help generate marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to be handed over to sales. Meanwhile, CRM’s goal is to convert MQLs to sales qualified leads (SQLs) and ultimately to sales. MQL basically pertains to engaged leads while SQL refers to vetted prospects. Although the respective goals are different as you can see where one ends and the other begins in the sales funnel, marketing automation and CRM have complimentary roles in the effort to transform leads into customers.
Aritic PinPoint, a fully integrated permission-based marketing automation platform, is more popular for its advanced automation and customer engagement features. It enables businesses to nurture anonymous and identified visitors based on their browsing activities. Following this, features like ad targeting and behavior tracking help to fill in the sales-marketing pipeline. Dynamic segmentation, multichannel marketing, advanced filters and tags, progressive profiling, SEO and analytics, and a huge list of integrations have helped Aritic PinPoint make a strong digital foothold despite strong competition.
If you are running a larger business, chances are you already have a sizeable database of contacts. A marketing automation platform can connect with your CRM to streamline your data and eliminate any cold contacts from your email marketing process. Similarly, if you’re already managing multiple campaigns and websites, automation software can provide you with powerful data on which landing pages are converting the most, which emails and posts are working best, and which content is getting the most downloads. Automated segmentation is also a helpful tool to ensure that you’re sending relevant content to your leads, especially if you provide different services or operate in different countries.
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. 
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.
When you start your day at work, you likely open a half-dozen apps and websites and spend quite a bit of time just figuring out what needs done and finding the info to do it. Not anymore with Infusionsoft. It's watching your site, tracking info about your potential customers and what they've seen, and at the same time is keeping up with what you need to do. Then, in a nifty "My Day" view, it'll show you everything you need to be doing—including your tasks, communications with contacts, and calendar appointments—along with info about the customers related to your tasks right in the same overview.
Analytical insights offered by leading SMB marketing automation solutions have helped marketers track and respond to unique customer behavior and take decisive action by interpreting the same. B2B Marketers who proactively leverage data-driven marketing are “three times more likely than laggards to report achieving competitive advantage in customer engagement/loyalty.
eTrigue is a cloud-based marketing automation provider featuring easy-to-use campaign building and rapid time-to-value. eTrigue’s DemandCenter helps hundreds of organizations track and nurture prospects through inbound and outbound programs. DemandCenter tracks across email, web, mobile, and social. eTrigue DemandCenter’s integrated marketing suite is particularly attractive to medium and small organizations, as well as to divisions or groups within larger enterprises.. eTrigue makes it simple for small marketing teams to can manage all online marketing efforts from a single dashboard. Full integration with major CRM, Webcast systems and ad-reporting systems. Instant real-time lead alerts are included for sales.
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.
Email marketing is a great first step toward developing solid communications with your customers and prospects. But once you have moved past one-off messages and have decided to create prolonged, personalized messages powered by customer data, it's time to try marketing automation. No tools better exemplify the simplicity, effectiveness, and scalability of marketing automation software than two of our three Editors' Choice tools: HubSpot and Pardot.
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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