If you have been paying attention, you know that sales and marketing have changed over the last couple of decades. The primary reason is the Internet, and the way it has empowered customers. Today, customers – both B2B and B2C consumers – are largely in control of the relationship they have with companies because an entire globe’s worth of prospective choices has opened up to them. This reality means companies need to approach sales and marketing in a new way.
And this has led to the rise of “marketing automation” – software platforms and technologies that enable businesses to market more efficiently across online channels, and automate repetitive tasks. Marketing automation is generally considered a subset of customer relationship management (CRM) software. CRM has been around longer, helping companies to track their interactions with prospective customers by organizing and automating those interactions. Ideally, your marketing automation platform connects seamlessly with your CRM system so that you can track customers from suspects to prospects to customers to repeat customers.
Not surprisingly, marketing automation differs from CRM in its focus on marketing functions. Specifically, most marketing automation platforms tie together email marketing, social media publishing and monitoring, content management, and analytics. With marketing automation, it is possible to create workflows that enable a business to provide the right content at the right time to the right customer.
Gaining an understanding of the available marketing technology options can be difficult. According to the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, the number of marketing technology companies has doubled in less than a year, and the space promises to continue to grow at a rapid pace.
Some of the most popular marketing automation platforms are Eloqua, Hubspot, Marketo, and Pardot. All have different fee structures and price points. Some are built for enterprise customers, while others are more focused on helping small businesses. Finding the right fit for your business requires taking each for a test drive and determining what will work best for your team.
Which brings us to the final point – just because it is called “marketing automation,” you should not think your marketing is automatically done for you. There is significant work involved with maximizing the potential of a marketing automation platform. Most businesses find that it requires a dedicated FTE to get the most from the software and to truly make a positive impact on your business.
However, many of those businesses will tell you that the investment is worth it, helping them to drive revenue and thrive in this new era of sales and marketing.
Contact us at 215.441.4600 if you have questions or would like to discuss how this topic may impact your business.
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