‘Marketing automation, Eloqua and Marketo’ are words being mentioned at virtually every meeting I have attended over the last 2 years. As an integrated sales and marketing agency, when I first heard about marketing automation software it was an hallelujah moment – finally there is a solution that will help us join the dots: to make marketing work for sales in a joined up and measureable way. The thing is, they are all still being talked about now, but I have not seen any real meaningful implementations yet. I am not saying that marketing automation is not useful or that we should consign it to the bin of the latest marketing fad. But, surely there is an easier way of embracing the benefits of the technology without the need for years worth of discussions, followed by another year scoping the project before you even see a roll out?  Let alone face your finance department cringing about how deep into their pockets they have had to go?

So some of you who will be reading this will be well versed in the concepts of marketing automation, but for others it will be a term you will have heard bandied about a lot but never really understood exactly what it is or how it works. For your benefit here is my view of what marketing automation is and isn’t in one paragraph:

What it is: a software that automates marketing activities in a workflow, mapping marketing tactics against audience research and buying behaviour. It enables you to capture names of people responding to a piece of marketing, segment them, nurture them through to a lead and onwards to a client and beyond. It is the cable that connects marketing with sales and turbo-charges them both!

What it isn’t: an email marketing solution or a way to send large volumes of communications (or spam!)

Example: the software would automatically send a visitor to your website a personalised email and then direct them to other content that would be of interest them. Depending on their action as a result of that email, they will get a personalised pathway of communications. If used strategically, it is possible to use marketing automation to segment and qualify your target audience to be able to identify hot prospects that will automatically be forwarded to the sales team for follow-up. Imagine that: marketing activities that actually provide the sales team with qualified and nurtured leads who are ready to buy?!

This all sounds fantastic, but I started this blog by saying it often takes years to roll-out a comprehensive automated marketing solution. So are there any interim solutions out there for companies who a) are already interested in marketing automation but will have to wait for corporate sign-off before they can deploy the big boys like Hubspot, Eloqua and Marketo; b) don’t have the budget or the need for all the bells and whistles offered by the big boys; c) aren’t big enough to have a marketing department, but are looking for a way to identify and nurture leads without having to dedicate headcount to it? The short answer is yes! There are some really cost effective (and in some cases even free!), easy to deploy, marketing automation solutions out there. So, if you want to learn more then drop us a line and we would be happy to talk through the options with you.

Laura Browne, CEO, Scott Partnership Inc.