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Executive Perspective: Is Marketing Automation the CRM for Marketers?

For the purpose of today’s article, let’s think about marketing automation and CRMs a little differently. Just as Salesforce functions as a CRM for sales, marketing automation can be thought of as a CRM for marketers. It’s the power of information that fuels data-driven programs, and today’s leading marketing automation vendors are bringing more and more intelligence to marketers so that they can do their jobs more effectively.

Consider the following high-level goals that most modern marketers are responsible for:

Marketing automation can help marketers achieve all three. Let’s take a look at each:

1. Increase Leads

79% of marketing leads never convert to sales (MarketingSherpa)

Like it or not, a lot of B2B marketers believe that their number one job is to generate leads. This is a fallacy; marketers are responsible for quality leads that drive pipeline and revenue. The irony is that no one really cares about leads — they care about results. Leads are just the common target that sales and upper management can hold marketers accountable for.

Imagine that marketers no longer have to spend all of their time and money on generating leads, but rather on qualifying them using lead scoring and nurturing programs. For a lot of marketers, this is a light bulb moment that makes them think about their strategy and what’s really important when it comes to driving revenue. Marketing automation can help marketers dramatically increase lead quality and conversion rates by driving lead generation through forms, landing pages, progressive profiling, paid search connectors, lead scoring and grading, and automatic lead assignment.

2. Increase Pipeline

77% of CMOs at top performing companies indicate that their most compelling reason for implementing marketing automation is to increase revenue. (Gleanster)

Take this from a marketer who is in the trenches every day, like you: marketing automation doesn’t only make it easier for marketers to do their jobs more effectively, but it also helps drive phenomenal results. Think of your marketing automation tool like a CRM for marketers — they can work in it daily, similar to how sales works in a CRM like Salesforce, and use the automatic sync between the CRM and marketing automation tool to keep both sales and marketing on the same page.

To drive pipeline, marketers can rely on automation features like prospect tracking and real-time sales alerts, which allow sales and marketing to work together to identify hot leads, fast. (Take a look at my previous Executive Perspective post to learn more about tracking marketing’s impact on pipe).

3. Understand the Customer Journey

70% of the buying process is now complete by the time a prospect is ready to engage with sales (SiriusDecisions)

If this is true, then shouldn’t marketers just get 70% of the credit for all closed deals? Unfortunately, that would be too easy, right? However, this stat does clearly demonstrate that the role of the marketer is more important than ever, especially as technologies advance and buyer preferences evolve. Marketing can not only use the power of marketing automation to generate leads and pipeline, but also to share the story of the path that a prospect takes throughout their buyer journey. Marketers can better control the user experience, sales processes, content strategies, and marketing programs that have an impact on their buyers.

Marketing automation has plenty of features that can help companies better understand the customer journey. For example, Pardot offers a Lifecycle report to give greater insight into sales funnel health and prospect activities over time, as well as reports on campaign performance so that marketers can see which programs are working and which are not.

To sum it all up? Start thinking of marketing automation as the CRM for marketers, helping you as a marketer understand, communicate, and share the buyer’s journey, customer success, and customer-oriented programs that will ultimately drive revenue for your company.

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