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The Benefits of Email Marketing Automation: Is it Time for an Upgrade?

Read about key differentiators between email service provider (ESP) platforms and marketing automation platforms, and the advantages automation can bring.
Article Outline

As budgets shrink and buyers get more selective, email marketing is more important than ever. How is your email marketing solution holding up? Is it driving growth and performance for your organization? If it’s not, you owe it to yourself, your team, and your customers to evaluate the alternatives. Maybe it’s time to take the upgrade from your current email service provider (or ESP for short, think Mail Chimp, Active Campaign, Constant Contact) and enjoy the benefits of email marketing automation. 

Today’s marketing teams can’t afford to fall behind. Every solution in your tech stack needs to be pulling its full weight by saving you time, delivering a reliable return on your investment, and above all else, giving your prospects and customers a great experience. With over 11,000 martech solutions available, there’s no reason to continue suffering in silence with a platform that isn’t working hard enough. 

What’s the Difference Between an Email Service Provider and Marketing Automation?

There’s a common misconception that ESPs and marketing automation platforms are more similar than they are different. And while it’s true that both software applications are capable of sending marketing and sales emails en masse, that’s where the similarities end. Not sure what the difference is? We’ve got you covered:  take a look at our primer on the 5 key differences between email marketing and marketing automation

If you’re thinking about making the switch from an entry level email service provider (ESP), consider these benefits of email marketing automation.

Email Marketing Automation Benefit: Lighten the Load of Manual, Repetitive Work

Without automation, your team needs to spend valuable time on tasks that don’t add much value to your business. Scheduling sends. Segmenting lists. Getting deep in the weeds on customer journeys, campaign paths, and lead scoring. Manually importing and exporting list after list after list. Absolutely drowning in spreadsheets.

Sound familiar? Take the rote and repetitive aspects of email marketing automation off your plate, with features like automated journeys that give your audience the right message for them at the right time, every time.

Email Marketing Automation Benefit: Break Out of the Single Channel Box

Email is crucial. It’s the backbone of a modern marketing engine. But if your email marketing campaigns aren’t fully integrated into your other marketing efforts, you’re leaving money on the table. Today’s buyers are savvier than ever, particularly on the B2B side. They may have done up to 70% of their research before even talking to a member of your sales team. 

If you want to be included in that independent research stage, you have to be putting out multichannel, and multimedia content. Fortunately, marketing automation platforms can help you meet customers where they are. Marketing automation platforms have the benefit of incorporating channels such as social media, landing pages, text messaging, webinars, surveys, and more. A high quality marketing automation platform can help you map out the entire journey, and plan the right touch points to reach your future customers.

Email Marketing Automation Benefit: Become the Sales Team’s New BFF

Two Act-On illustrated characters give each other dap because they both enjoy the benefits of email marketing automation.
If you’re using an ESP, this won’t look familiar: it’s how sales and marketing get along when they use marketing automation.

The relationship between marketing and sales is a tale as old as time. If you’re using an email service provider without full marketing automation capabilities, the relationship might be a little fraught. ESPs have limited if any ability to automatically trigger sales actions, and lead sharing capabilities are inefficient at best. 

Without the added benefits of marketing automation, like lead scoring and journey mapping, you can’t route leads to sales as quickly. Remember that savvy B2B buyer from benefit #2? They’ve already moved on to the next best piece of content by the time your sales team is able to follow up with them about the ebook they downloaded from your landing page. Better luck next time. 

The result? Sales and marketing aren’t aligned, and trust starts to erode. The sales team wonders why they’re not getting leads fast enough. The marketing team begs for patience as they try to plug the gaps in their ESP with spreadsheets, project management platforms, and elbow grease. Automation cleans up this process and encourages more alignment between marketing and sales.

Email Marketing Automation Benefit: Manage Your Leads With Ease

That brings us to lead management. For the modern marketing team, how you manage your leads can make the difference between falling short of your end of quarter goals, and popping the cork on some bottles when you shatter your previous conversion records. Marketing automation gives you the ability to build multiple nurture sequences for buyers according to what they’re looking for and where they are in the buyer’s journey. ESP’s can’t do that!

A laptop and tablet open on a table beside a cup of coffee, with an ebook displayed on the tablet.
Ebooks are great marketing tools: and you can fully employ their benefits with email marketing automation on your side. Photo by Curvd on Unsplash

For example, let’s say you have an ebook that prospects are only likely to download when they’re getting close to a buying decision, something like “How to Convince Your CFO to Approve Your Software Purchase.” With marketing automation, you can set up a nurture sequence that helps move that buyer down the funnel, by offering them answers to common objections you encounter in the sales process. 

But say for example, you have another group of buyers who haven’t signaled that they’re ready to buy. Maybe they downloaded an asset that’s more top of funnel, like a research report you commissioned with an analyst or a thought leadership piece on the outlook for your industry. You know they’re interested in what you’re selling, but they are likely still learning the lay of the land. Time to serve them a more gentle nurture stream that helps guide them through the buyer’s journey more slowly.

The point is, with marketing automation, you can set up these kinds of automated nurture paths, and they’ll automatically trigger based on your audience’s behavior. No more going cross-eyed from staring at spreadsheets and pivot tables. 

Email Marketing Automation Benefit: Integrate With Your CRM

An Act-On alien mascot character in superhero cape and mask midflight
Pictured here: You, once you start seeing the benefits of email marketing automation after using an ESP.

All of the above benefits will only get you so far without robust and seamless CRM integration. That’s something that not every marketing automation solution can promise. For instance, some of the leading platforms like Marketo and Hubspot are really only offering marketing automation as a loss leader for their own all-in-one CRM solutions. 

Act-On doesn’t play that game. We do marketing automation and we do it better than any of our competitors. But we don’t have any interest in hamstringing you to the CRM of our choice. We think you should be able to choose the tools you want, and we’ll work with you to get your integration up and running smoothly. The benefits of that kind of seamless CRM integration include better segmentation, more transparency, improved lead management, and more insight and impact on revenue-focused campaigns.

Interested in learning more about how email marketing automation can launch your marketing efforts to the next level? Check out our recent article on using marketing automation to become a supermarketer!

There’s even a webinar you can explore that goes even deeper on that topic. Sorry, are we being too helpful here?

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