Marketing Automation: Past, Present and Your Company’s Future

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Marketing automation is hot, no question. But why? Is it is really a breakthrough new technology that warrants all this love or is it simply the value prop of gold at the end of the rainbow that has marketers flocking to vendor sites wanting to learn more?

Having posed that question, it’s worth noting that marketing automation technology has been around for well over 10 years. This is not some new technological breakthrough suddenly appearing to capture the hearts and minds of marketers around the globe. What is new is the type and quantity of companies in which marketing automation has gained traction.

Online Marketing Goes Mainstream

The reason marketing automation is being embraced by entirely new varieties of companies is as simple as Everett Rogers’ technology adoption curve. When it comes to marketing automation, the early adopters were the most tech-savvy large enterprises. These organizations not only had the capital to implement this new technology, but also needed to prove that the results of online marketing programs could actually be quantified.

Fast-forward to today, and everyone—including old-line companies that didn’t even have websites five to ten years ago—are emailing often, running webinars and becoming fluent in SEO, SEM and social media. The goals of these companies: to gain competitive advantage and fill their sales funnels.

I actually saw a company that sells toilet seats marketing on Twitter last week. In other words, online marketing has become mainstream.

Core Capabilities of Marketing Automation Systems

As new companies begin to implement online marketing campaigns, they eventually start to feel the pain that early tech adopters and large enterprises felt years ago when first implementing marketing automation software. These new prospects tell us every day that that they are confused, frustrated and discouraged the deeper they dig into this technology and its vendors. All the conflicting vendor claims, mile-long feature checklists and the bombardment of emails, webinars, eBooks, and whitepapers are compounding the confusion. In the scramble to differentiate, every vendor has a list of off the wall features in the “go-to” sales handbook that they relentlessly hurl at prospects around every turn to differentiate themselves.

Salespeople, who are as confused as anyone, are saying yes to everything and checking feature boxes like Keno cards so they can hurry and follow up on the next lead.

Ok, time out. Hit pause on the webinar and put down the eBook for a moment. Here is my attempt to break down the value proposition of a marketing automation system into three core capabilities. It doesn’t have a clever, well-crafted three-letter acronym, nor does it promise a 7000% ROI, but here it goes:

  • Integrated Marketing – Arguably the number one pain point that has marketers looking to marketing automation vendors for help. Bringing together all of your online marketing channels into one execution platform with centralized reporting and analytics (email, website analytics, web forms/landing pages, document downloads, webinars etc.). In short, marketers are tired of managing multiple systems with disparate data without access to high-level information on what is happening across all their marketing channels and how those channels relate to each other. They want to know if the prospect that clicked on the email also showed up on the website, or if someone that attended an event also downloaded a whitepaper. In brief, they want to see all the prospect’s actions in a single consolidated, integrated profile.
  • Automated Marketing Process – The ability to create programs or tracks to guide your prospects through knowledge acquisition, the qualification process and sales funnel in preparation for sales engagement. Another aspect of this is automating the process of moving leads from marketing to sales (with the supporting information to answer the age-old sales question of “why is this a lead?”). Another example would be taking leads previously passed to sales that didn’t go anywhere and getting those back into the marketing mix.
  • Lead Scoring & Behavioral Filtering – The third core capability involves assigning logic and process to qualifying leads based on how they interact with your online marketing assets.

I might be going out on a limb here, but I would argue that the above three bullets address the major pieces of the puzzle that marketers are trying to put together when they evaluate marketing automation solutions. I will also be the first to admit that every vendor in the space can address these adequately. The difference is in how vendors approach the solution.

How is Act-On different?

We are often asked what makes Act-On Software different. The short answer is that our platform was designed from inception to demystify the advanced concepts of marketing automation and make them accessible to the masses at a reasonable price point. Act-On is not some enterprise software solution with a website that lightly throws around terms like “Easy to Use” and “Quick to Implement.” We do not claim to be the most feature-rich platform, nor do we claim to make your marketing and sales people love each other once you sign up for our service. Our mission is to make marketers’ lives easier and provide the vehicle for better marketing results—without the cost, resources, time to implement and overhead.

Ready to make marketing automation work for your company? Join us in one of our weekly live demos, request a one-to-one demo, or send us an email—we’re waiting to hear from you.