Marketing Automation Definition
Marketing automation is a technology that helps businesses grow by automating marketing processes, tracking customer engagement, and delivering personalized experiences to each customer across marketing, sales, and service.
With marketing automation, connected to a CRM, businesses can track and action on customer data to deliver automated engagements across the web, email, social, and sales channels based on who the customer is and what they care about. This enables marketing teams to set up robust campaigns to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.
According to the State of the Connected Customer, “69% of buyers expect personalized, ‘Amazon-like’ customer experiences.” Marketing automation makes this possible by giving companies the tools to personalize interactions, align around an ideal customer experience, and help customers find exactly what matters to them.
Marketing automation helps B2B companies reach and engage prospects in many ways, including:
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Lead nurturing and inbound marketing
- Digital advertising
- Landing pages and forms
The key benefits of marketing automation are:
- Generate more leads and move them quickly through the pipeline.
- Engage buyers on their terms with dynamic, personalized campaigns.
- Understand each step of the marketing journey from click to close, capturing true marketing ROI.
Regardless of industry, channel, or use case, marketing automation platforms help B2B companies build personalized, seamless journeys for leads and customers at scale.
Click on a section title below to learn more about a particular topic.
- What challenges can marketing automation solve?
- What does marketing automation actually do?
- Who uses marketing automation?
- Why use marketing automation?
- How to use marketing automation for inbound marketing.
- How to use marketing automation for account-based marketing
- How to get started with marketing automation
- How to choose the best marketing automation platform for your business
- Why use Pardot?
More of a visual learner? Watch these videos for a deep dive into marketing automation.
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5 Essentials for Getting Started with Marketing Automation
What challenges can marketing automation solve?
Marketing and sales teams face many of the same challenges on a day-to-day basis. Here are a few examples of common challenges these teams face — and how to solve them with marketing automation.
Your conversion rates are dropping, but your lead database is overflowing.
With lead scoring and grading, you can determine how engaged a prospect is based on activities like interacting with website content or emails. Plus, you can see how closely they match the profile of your ideal buyer. Lead scoring and grading features also make it easier to prioritize which leads to follow up with first.
Read more about creating a lead scoring model
You're missing out on opportunities because your sales reps aren't connecting with buyers at the right time.
Powerful features like lead nurturing ensure that you won't miss out on an opportunity that isn't ready to close. For instance, prospects who aren’t ready to interact with sales teams can be automatically added to an educational email journey, which can deliver relevant, dynamic content based on their preferences.
Read more about generating and nurturing leads
Sales and marketing goals are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Sometimes, sales teams are left completely in the dark about how or if marketings efforts are impacting their bottom line. Working together, sales and marketing teams can clearly identify what an ideal lead looks like and create a process for sourcing, passing, and guiding leads through the sales funnel.
Read more about aligning sales and marketing teams
What does marketing automation actually do?
Marketing automation platforms primarily helps companies do one or more of the following:
Lead generation is the process of collecting information about prospects — those who may be interested in buying your company’s products or services — and engaging them with relevant, useful marketing content, such as a step-by-step guide.
Get the The B2B Marketer’s Lead Generation Field Guide
Generating leads is just the beginning; managing them is a crucial step to drive interested leads through the marketing funnel until they’re ready to be passed off to sales teams. This step includes audience segmentation, lead qualification, and lead nurturing.
Learn more about how to nurture leads
Build and manage email marketing campaigns
In B2B marketing, an effective email program can be the difference between closing more deals and letting hot leads slip through the cracks. You can build dynamic emails, use A/B testing to see which content works best, and set up triggers to automate email delivery at the right time.
Get the 7 Inspiring Email Templates e-book
Align sales and marketing teams
Marketing automation can bring sales and marketing teams together to make their efforts more efficient and effective. Sales teams can deliver marketing-approved drip campaigns to leads, for instance, while marketing teams can see how their tactics contribute to increased sales via integration with CRM.
Browse our blog to learn more about sales and marketing alignment
Report on ROI
Key stakeholders, such as CMOs, want to see marketing’s impact on revenue. Marketing automation platforms can help you check on the status of your funnel at a glance, report on campaign performance easily, and more.
Nucleus Research: VMware + Salesforce Case Study
See how VMware achieved 641% ROI on their Salesforce investment in less than 3 months.See the Story
Who uses marketing automation?
Both marketing and sales teams use marketing automation. Although this technology brings the two together, marketing and sales teams actually use marketing automation in different ways.
Marketing automation for marketers
Marketers can use marketing automation to drive pipeline by sourcing the hottest leads, creating customized campaigns (such as email campaigns) to target ideal buyers, and moving leads through the sales cycle to maximize the ROI of marketing programs. Marketers can execute on a digital marketing strategy without all the hassle of sending one-off emails or managing tasks manually. They can also provide sales teams with pre-approved, on-brand messages (such as email templates) that sales teams can customize for qualified leads.
Marketing automation for sales
Marketing automation is the bridge that connects sales teams with marketers, and gives them access to content they can send to leads with the click of a button. Sales will know which leads to follow up with first and be able to focus their time on what matters most: closing deals.
Why use marketing automation?
Primarily, companies should use marketing automation to find and nurture leads, close more deals, and maximize ROI. But automated marketing is important for a number of other related reasons as well.
By using it, you can do all of the following:
- Get a 360-degree view of prospect activity by linking data from your CRM to campaigns, which can help align sales and marketing teams.
- Easily identify and prioritize the hottest leads.
- Nurture cooler leads until they're sales-ready so you never miss an opportunity.
- Fill your pipeline with quality leads to directly impact revenue.
- Deliver personalized customer experiences across all channels and audiences.
- Target buyers at every stage of the buying cycle.
- Make data-driven decisions and identify new opportunities for growth.
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How to use marketing automation for inbound marketing
Marketing automation and inbound marketing are not mutually exclusive; instead, marketing automation enhances your inbound marketing strategy. They are two pieces of the same puzzle that work in tandem.
But what exactly is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is the idea is that creating valuable content — such as whitepapers, infographics, e-books, blogs — helps extend reach to potential customers, engage them with targeted marketing efforts, and eventually lead them to conversion.
While inbound marketing is a great strategy for creating brand awareness, building relationships, and generating leads, it can fall short in a number of areas:
- Inbound is primarily a marketing tactic. By itself, it does not move prospects through the funnel. It’s less applicable to leads already in the sales funnel.
- Inbound doesn’t close deals (i.e., there’s not a huge sales component).
- Inbound requires a lot of content, so it may be daunting for many companies who don’t have time to build large content libraries.
- Inbound doesn’t necessarily result in qualified leads. It’s great at building awareness and capturing information initially, but lead qualification is lacking.
Marketing automation can bridge the gap in many of the areas where inbound falls short. For instance, marketing automation allows sales teams to be brought in to help close deals, which is something inbound marketing may not be fully equipped to accomplish on its own.
The Guide to Inbound Marketing and Automation
Learn more about how to use inbound marketing and automation together.Get the Guide
How to use marketing automation for account-based marketing (ABM)
Marketing automation is vital to carrying out any account-based marketing strategy (ABM).
But what exactly is ABM?
ABM is a B2B marketing strategy that uses a suite of tools and processes to create personalized campaigns for target accounts. So, instead of a single campaign with many targets, you can create multiple campaigns, each targeting just one account.
There are four pillars for measuring success in ABM, and each of them involves marketing automation in some way.
1. Identify the right accounts
Use a predictive lead scoring solution to give you insights on which accounts are the highest-value prospects. You can also report on your existing customers to find trends to identify those target prospects.
2. Improve customer engagement
Use an artificial intelligence solution, such as Einstein Behavior Scoring, to analyze engagement data and determine which prospects are most likely to become customers in the future.
3. Align sales and marketing
Implement a unified platform to share sales and marketing data in one place.
4. Measure and optimize campaign performance
Track campaign performance and optimize content in real time across channels with a solution like B2B Marketing Analytics.
Elevate Your B2B Marketing: A Guide to Intelligent Account-Based Marketing
Learn more about how to use marketing automation for ABM.Get the Guide
How to get started with marketing automation
It might seem like a daunting task to get started with marketing automation — but not to worry.
Just answer the questions in these steps to start your marketing automation journey:
1. Determine the goal for your marketing efforts
- Are you focusing on generating leads and filling your sales pipeline?
- Are you trying to open up a new market?
- Are you focused on renewals and current accounts?
2. Look for use cases within your industry
- How has marketing automation worked for other similar businesses?
- How are they using a platform to meet their overall marketing goals?
3. Talk to your sales team
- What are their automation needs?
- How can they become more efficient?
- How can marketing better communicate with sales?
- Are there any gaps in your lead transfer processes?
4. Talk to your C-Suite
- What are the metrics that you should be using to track your performance and revenue goals?
- Are they different from the metrics you are using?
- Where do marketing's key performance indicators overlap with sales’ KPIs?
5. Think about your long-term goals
- Is your marketing automation platform adaptable and flexible?
- Can it grow and change as your business grows and changes?
How to Make a Forward-Looking Decision When Investing in Marketing Automation
Kickstart your path to implementing a marketing automation platform.Read the Blog
How to choose the best marketing automation platform for your business
With so many options to beef up your martech stack, how do you choose the right marketing automation platform to suit your needs? Here are a few resources to help you find the right platform for your company.
Why use Pardot?
Pardot helps marketers and sales teams find and nurture leads, close more deals, maximize ROI — and more. Here’s why we’re different from other B2B marketing automation platforms:
- We are Salesforce. We are built on the World’s #1 CRM.
- Time to Value. You can implement Pardot quickly to start generating more leads — and revenue — faster.
- Marketing Analytics. Use B2B Marketing Analytics to organize and analyze all of your data across sales and marketing to make data-driven decisions.
- Sales Activation. Automating sales processes and building marketing-approved campaigns so sales teams can focus on closing more deals.
Find out more about why you should try Pardot.
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