What is Marketing Automation and How Does it Work?

Sayani Deb

Everything, from attracting your target audience to converting them, roots down to marketing. So, you can call me Captain Obvious when I say marketing is important for business. 

But is marketing the only thing that needs to be taken care of? 🤔

No. There are multiple other things in a business that must be planned, executed, and managed. 

Since you cannot spend all your time marketing, you must have an alternative to simplify things: marketing automation. 

With the best marketing automation software, you can increase efficiency, reduce workload by automating repetitive tasks, and effectively run marketing campaigns. 

Here’s more about marketing automation. Keep reading and plan your automation strategy!

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation refers to automating the process of nurturing leads and making them sales-ready. The marketing automation process automates activities that lead prospects to a stage where the sales team can interact with them to close the sale successfully. 

Marketing automation makes the sales process seamless and much more efficient. It increases customer satisfaction. 

Take, for example, consider early-stage lead nurturing to be the key task. Marketing automation can provide access to relevant and valuable content. It can supply you with the right content to share with the prospects during interaction and increase the chances of conversion. Further, when you have a handful of interested prospects, you can automate emails specifically tailored for prospects. Finally, marketing automation can track lead activity and pass the well-understood and qualified leads to the sales team. 

Why is Marketing Automation Valuable? 

Overworked marketing and sales teams never realize their fullest potential. They juggle between tasks and deal with issues like being unable to track lead engagement, unqualified leads, and identifying loopholes, to name a few. 

With marketing automation, your teams can scale programs as automation can assist them with personalizing campaigns and delivering more targeted communications. It can help with aligning sales and marketing teams and measuring campaign effectiveness.

Marketing automation

Moreover, marketing automation can help you achieve your two significant business goals. They are:

Boost Efficiency – Marketing automation makes all your departments and teams more efficient. You can potentially reduce workload and free up your team’s time to focus on other vital and strategic aspects. 

For example, you can automate posting content on social media, responding instantly to emails and messages, sending offers and product recommendations, and much more. This means you team is free to do all the planning for upcoming campaigns. 

Increase conversion rates – Marketing automation can help you manage leads more efficiently. The right marketing automation software can take care of lead qualification, routing to sales reps, prioritization, and scheduling meetings without human interference. Also, automation software can track leads, and you can use the data for retargeting your website visitors. 

Besides, marketing automation also helps marketers;

  • Plan campaigns effectively,
  • Deal with customer records,
  • Automate cleaning databases and duplicate records,
  • Easily location leads with the help of marketing automation software 

Now that you know how valuable marketing automation is for your business, let’s see how marketing automation works. 

How Does Marketing Automation Work?

Marketing automation software handles most of the workflows and tasks in your digital marketing campaigns. There are six steps or processes that marketing automation software commonly involves. 

  • The first step involves collecting data about potential customers through app usage, website visits, email clicks, and other digital interactions.
  • Next, you must create relevant and valuable content based on the collected data.
  • Then identify, segment, and target prospects.
  • Based on the target market segments, design personalized campaigns for better experiences across different digital channels, like mobile, chat, and social media.
  • Predetermined schedules and customer actions set off the cross-channel workflows to perform two tasks – take customers down the sales funnel and/ or nurture the leads until they become marketing-qualified. 
  • Track outcomes and analyze. Identify the things that are working well and the ones that aren’t. Then, make adjustments as per the requirement to achieve higher ROI. 

Here’s an example to understand marketing automation in action.

Suppose you email invites to new leads to attend a webinar about your product or service.

The invited leads are directed to fill out a form for attending the webinar. Every lead who responds ‘yes’ to the invitation is automatically funneled into a new email list by the marketing automation software.

Everyone in the new email list is a part of an email nurture campaign. They automatically receive emails – starting with a ‘thank you’ email for attending the webinar. Then, they receive a link via email to download a case study on a similar topic as the webinar. 

7 Tips to Get the Most of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation software opens up a sea of possibilities, but there’s a catch. You must know to make the most of these automation platforms. If you are not completely invested, you will likely use only a fraction of the tool’s capabilities.

Here are 7 simple tips that can help you maximize the benefits of your marketing automation software. 

1. Structure your Marketing Campaigns

Take one step at a time. Trying to get everything done at once may not help. Work out the basics first, and you can generate ROI faster. Build capability, maintain momentum, and keep expanding your customer base.

2. Optimize Campaign Creation Stages 

Make sure to give your best efforts at every stage of the campaign creation process. Use relevant, complete, and accurate data to create new leads; build and execute robust processes to move prospects down the funnel; and create the right type of content to engage audiences. 

3. Establish Marketing Guidelines and Follow Them

Follow the best practices only. Train your teams to understand and follow the guidelines. Make your teams capable of implementing the best practices behind CRM, segmentation, compliance and all other marketing and sales activities. 

4. Streamline Sales and Marketing

Sales and marketing must work together to ensure the best outcome. Even to get the most out of marketing automation software, these teams must collaborate and implement the best practices for lead nurturing and scoring. This will ensure that only the most qualified leads are sent to the sales teams. 

5. Personalize Marketing Efforts 

Great marketing efforts are customized. They are based on accurate and well-built buyer personas. So, make the lead data your guide and deliver messages based on customer attributes and buying behavior. 

6. Don’t Blame the Technology

Marketers often blame the platform for not achieving instant success when using marketing automation software. There are two things to understand here – 

  • Results take time. You can expect everything to work instantly.
  • The technology is not at fault. Perhaps, your team needs better training. 

Interact with your team and discover their challenges with the marketing automation software. If your team lacks skill or knowledge, provide them with advanced training sessions to help them operate effectively. 

7. Adapt to the Tool and Achieve 

The marketing automation tool you adopt is nothing but software. So, it is most likely that the software won’t be as intuitive and flexible as the people operating it. Though you should make marketing plans and remain fundamentally intact, you should also have the flexibility to accommodate changes. 

Top 7 Marketing Automation Benefits

Before I give you the top seven marketing automation benefits, here’s something for starters. 

Marketing automation works (in case you’re still doubtful!). Research says that marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in overall marketing overheads. Digging further, I found that data shows a 451% increase in qualified leads for businesses that use marketing automation technology. 

Besides these data-backed benefits, let’s see what more benefits marketing automation has in store for you. 

Lead nurturing

Nurturing leads can b time-consuming and tricky. Regardless of whether the leads will convert or not, you must nurture and guide them through the sales journey. Research suggests that 50% of business-generated leads are qualified but not ready to buy. So, nurturing is a must to trigger a purchase.

Marketing automation software can assist you in the lead nurturing. It can adequately follow up on every lead until they show interest in your product or service. Automated lead nurturing helps warm the leads who aren’t ready to interact with a salesperson yet.

Lead prioritization

There’s no denying that marketing automation adds a lot of information to each lead profile. Your salespeople can access the full purchase history, and social media activities of leads before they first reach out to them. This lead information is available in real-time and can help sales reps prioritize based on buying behavior, pain points, value, and other factors. 

Thus, the collected lead information increases the likelihood of lead conversion and helps you maximize your bottom-line ROI. 

Better outcome, fewer resources

One of the greatest challenges businesses face is finding time and resources for marketing. For example, collecting prospects’ data is a massive task if performed manually. Your team must make calls or conduct interviews and surveys to collect information. 

Marketing automation can save you time and resources. If you have the right marketing automation software, you can accomplish the task of 50 employees who collect data manually. Instead, your team can focus on other strategic marketing tasks. 

Additionally, with automated campaigns, marketing automation can send thousands of custom emails without human intervention. 

Better-informed decisions

As mentioned, marketing automation software facilitates data collection. It efficiently gathers relevant and accurate data and provides the required intelligence to make things work. 

With the right marketing automation solution, you can gauge marketing campaigns, forecast consumer trends, attitudes, and responses, and make smarter decisions. Also, you can create a full prospect profile with the help of marketing automation software.

Personalization of Buyers’ Journey

A personal touch to your content can be a game-changer. Personalization is one of the proven ways to convert a one-time customer into a loyal fan. 

You can update prospects and customers on personalized offers, product recommendations, and more through marketing automation. In fact, marketing automation software can streamline the process of communicating appropriate, personalized content via email to the right buyers at the right time. 

Marketing automation can also help you create personalized social media and blog content. Hence, achieving customer happiness and satisfaction will be easier for you. 

Save More Time on Marketing Campaigns

Marketing automation software enables you to create campaigns easily. You can create effective marketing campaigns, social media campaigns, and landing pages. Even if you aren’t a technical expert, you can still create campaigns and enjoy the benefits of marketing automation platforms

Further, you can save a lot of time implementing marketing automation software. You can automate sending emails, creating email content using templates, and setting up campaigns quickly and easily. 

More efficient marketing process

Marketing automation software enables you to map out customers’ journeys. At the same time, you can identify and build processes that will ensure a better experience for your potential customers. Once you create these processes around the customer journey, it is easier to nurture leads and move them down the sales process faster. 

Here’s something simple to help you understand better. Most prospects will likely move to another company if you do not respond fast enough or follow them up at the right time. Using the advantages of marketing automation software like RevenueHero, you can automate the lead distribution process. Further, marketing automation can help you send automatic responses instantly to keep prospects engaged. 

How does Marketing Automation Help Marketers?

If you think marketing automation is for lazy marketers, you are wrong! 😑

In today’s tech landscape, marketing automation is a must. It makes marketers more efficient and helps them deliver personalized customer experiences. Marketing automation lets you progress faster. Hence, you'll stay behind the competition if you aren’t using automation in this fast-paced business era. 

Besides the above-mentioned benefits of having marketing automation software, there are other ways in which automation helps marketers. Here are a few. 

Marketers can bring sales and marketing on the same page with marketing automation. 

There’s no hush-hush that integration between sales and marketing can get a little rocky in several organizations. This lack of integration can affect the outcome due to unhealthy competition, personal goals, or anything. 

As tech evolves, the sales and marketing integration is more significant than ever. Hence, businesses should make efficient and effective efforts to combine these two functions. 

Marketing automation can help you align your sales and marketing teams by improving lead quality, increasing revenue, and automating manual processes like lead routing, assignment, and follow-up. 

However, to make your marketing and sales teams stay on the same page, you must also align their goals. Ensure that the teams move together towards achieving the broader business goals. 

Marketing automation can create a 360-degree view of your customers.

Most marketing automation software can be integrated with your CRM. And integrating both CRM and marketing automation can help marketers to delve deeper into customer behavior tracking. 

For instance, you can track the web pages your prospects visit, the content they’re interested in, and the stage they are in the buying cycle. Once you get these insights, you know exactly what your leads want. Hence, you can tailor everything – from content marketing to sales pitches- according to prospects’ preferences. 

Marketers can improve social media marketing with automation. 

Marketing automation software can help marketers improve social media engagement by providing valuable insights. Using these insights, you can build a strong social media marketing strategy and improve how audiences engage with your brand. 

Also, specific marketing automation tools can produce content curation ideas based on what your target audience is interested in. With these content curation ideas, you can save time and boost your brand awareness faster. 

7 Marketing Automation Best Practices

Are you looking out for ways to improve your existing plans and activities? These marketing automation best practices will surely help you make the most out of your efforts. 

Get to know your audience diligently.

Automation often makes people think of impersonal campaigns created en masse. But if you want the best results from marketing automation, following the best practices is a must. Here, the key is to ensure building campaigns with your target audience in mind. 

First, come up with buyer personas. Include your ideal customer characteristics and attributes, like demographic info, motivations, interests, buying patterns, pain points, and more. To do so, use market research tactics (survey, interview, website, social media analytics, etc.) and marketing automation insights. 

Understand your buyer’s journey

Your audience’s expectations evolve as they discover a brand, become a customer, and get along the stages of the sales process. So, your marketing automation software must enable you to build campaigns that feed prospects the right content at each stage of the sales funnel. This will help them progress faster. 

Create a customer journey map and note every touchpoint a buyer goes through. This will help you improvise each touchpoint and decide what buyers should receive and when. Also, this information will help you build relevant marketing automation workflows. 

Customer Journey

For example, you may set up welcome emails for people who subscribe to your email list. Now, these welcome emails must not be promotional. Instead, they must contain a message that builds trust between the buyer and your brand.

Further, you can customize the next steps through the marketing automation software based on how your contacts engage. 

After a customer converts, the buyer’s journey doesn’t end there. For sustained engagement and retaining customers, create targeted campaigns. Example - Set up an onboarding workflow for newly converted customers that guides them through your product. Whereas, for customers with declining engagement, create campaign content that sparks their interest again. 

Map your lead management flow

One of the best practices that successful companies follow with marketing automation is mapping out their lead management flow. 

Track your flow and note all trigger points that impact the lead routing process. Also, define a structured process to manage leads and ensure that everyone is aligned on the process. Once you have a well-defined process, you can automate activities per requirement. 

Gather the right and relevant data 

Marketing automation is not about running mass campaigns. Instead, automation should ensure that the right information reaches the right people. And to build such targeted campaigns, you need data about your target audience. 

You can start collecting data of each lead through your lead capture signup form. However, make sure to collect only the data that helps you understand your audience’s needs and motivations. For instance, B2B companies mostly collect data like job title, company size, and industry, whereas B2C companies are more inclined towards collecting demographics. 

Further, collect behavioral data like what engages your audience the most, what they are responding to, what type of content they are interacting with, etc. Such insights can offer valuable clues about customer interests and preferences. Once you have the gathered info, you can build different automated journeys for customers with shared interests. 

Create omnichannel experiences

Your target audience is everywhere, spread across multiple channels. Though email automation is the marketer’s first choice to start automating campaigns, customers expect seamless experiences across all channels. 

So, maximize the possibility of engaging prospects with a multichannel experience. Reach out to them on the most active channels and be ready to switch from one channel to another. 

For instance, choose SMS marketing along with email automation as it has more immediacy, making SMS perfect for reminders, follow-ups, and time-sensitive messages. Further, you can use emails for sharing information, updates, and alerts and also to collect feedback via surveys. 

To create the best multichannel experiences, you can combine email marketing or WhatsApp marketing with social media ads to increase customer touchpoints. Suppose you already use automation to send abandoned cart reminder emails. You can add an extra step to your workflow to retarget audiences who aren’t persuaded via social media ads.

Automate internal processes

Marketing automation saves time. So, use it for internal processes, too, alongside marketing campaigns. Marketing automation software can optimize your efficiency with limited resources. 

There are several internal processes and repetitive tasks that must be automated but are manually performed. Once you automate these processes, you can reduce the risk of human errors and also free up your humans to take care of the more strategic aspects. 

Here are a few activities that you can automate.

  • Data entry – Updating databases with the latest info is something marketing automation can take care of well.
  • Contacts segmentation – Automate adding contacts based on triggers like contact actions rather than manually managing contacts. 
  • Cleaning and maintaining database – There are marketing automation software to clean your database by eliminating incomplete data and uninterested leads. 
  • Lead assignment – To increase speed to lead, automate the lead assignment process based on predetermined criteria like geography, company type, location, or simple round-robin scheduling. 

Track your performance

A marketing automation best practice without which you cannot progress – tracking performance. Once you roll out the automation, you cannot sit back and relax. You need to track each process that you have automated and the results they produce. 

Make a list of metrics that are important for you to track your progress. For instance, open rates, click-through rate, number of unsubscribes, new subscriptions, number of closed deals, sales cycle length, and more. Along with these, track your conversion rate at each funnel stage. It will help you determine if leads are falling off at specific points. Then dig deeper and adjust workflows o address the prevailing issues. 

5 Common Problems That Automation Can Solve

Are you looking for solutions to marketing inefficiencies, a leaky sales funnel, or insufficient qualified leads? 

Marketing automation is all you need.

Here are 5 common problems that marketing automation can easily resolve. Take a look. 

Problem #1 - I am unable to track or optimize user engagement.

Marketing automation software lets you track, capture, manage, and score leads in your sales funnel. This allows you to create, manage, and automate conversations and marketing processes across online and offline channels.

Further, you can optimize programs and engagement using retargeting and recirculation alongside automation to make the right content available to the right person at the right time. 

Problem #2 I need to do more in less time.

In this fast-paced business environment, marketers always face the pressure to do more with less. They need to close deals faster, generate revenue, and leads efficiently. Tasks line up for marketers all the time. Here’s where you need marketing automation. Automation takes up repetitive tasks and frees marketers’ time to focus on strategic work. While marketing automation software manages leads, marketers can plan the next step. 

Problem #3 I have a leaky sales funnel and a low conversion rate.

61% of marketers rank lead generation as their number one challenge. Dealing with a low lead conversion rate or leaky sales funnel can be frustrating. But marketing automation can help you fix it. 

Marketing automation software enables you to nurture leads with beneficial and relevant information across several channels until the leads are sales-ready. Once you excel in lead nurturing, you can generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost

Problem #4I do not have enough qualified leads.

Why do you need more qualified leads? Because lead generation is not the only focus for marketers. They must ensure that the leads are a good fit for the company. It is more of qualified leads that increase the possibility of conversion. 

As automation helps you collect relevant data and understand buyers’ profiles, you can personalize each prospect’s journey. You can customize the touchpoints, nurture leads, score them, and increase the possibility of qualifying them as sales-ready.

Problem #5 My processes have tech gaps and marketing inefficiencies.

Nothing can mend inefficiencies better than marketing automation. As I have already mentioned, automate certain manual internal processes to free up your team and allow them to invest more time in planning and building strategies. If your human resources are free from the additional workload, they can help in campaign innovations, prepare for lead interactions, study prospects, and close more deals effectively. 

Marketing automation successfully solves the above-mentioned five problems. Now, let’s see what B2B marketing automation is with examples. 

B2B Marketing Automation with Examples

B2B marketing automation and marketing automation, in general, are not very different. Coming to B2B marketing automation specifically allows you to streamline marketing activities, roles, and responsibilities through triggers and workflows. B2B marketing automation is meant to nurture your leads while helping your teams to stay efficient and productive. 

How can you use B2B marketing automation? Here are a few examples. 

  • Trigger workflows to follow up on leads who visit high-intent web pages like product pages or pricing pages. 
  • Complete data fields automatically and update current data without manual entry.
  • Set up educational workflows to send new customers resources, including videos, knowledge base articles, how-to articles, demonstrations, etc., to help them learn to accomplish the basic tasks. 
  • Set up a rewards system for your loyal customers. Send them discount codes to encourage another purchase or on completion of a specific number of purchases. Also, if a loyal brand advocate refers a new customer, appreciate their gesture with a discount, gift, or promo code.

Let’s see the best B2B marketing automation software and how you can use them to make your business more efficient. 

Top 5 B2B Marketing Automation Software and Their Capabilities

When looking for marketing automation software, ensure that you have a list of the goals you want to achieve by implementing the software. Then, choose the marketing automation software that fits your business needs ideally. Here are a few of them.

Image: Logo of the five mentioned marketing automation software

1. HubSpot Marketing Automation Software

One of the most popular marketing automation software in the market, HubSpot allows you to nurture leads with the help of custom email drip campaigns. Using this automation tool, you can send the right email to the right prospect at the right time based on the target audience’s criteria. 

Here are a few key HubSpot features.

  • Create workflows easily with the visual editor
  • Advanced segmentation to determine the audience who should be enrolled in the workflows
  • Personalize emails based on the contact information
  • Implement triggers and workflows for lead scoring, data entry, notifications, webhook creation, etc.  

2. RevenueHero

RevenueHero is one marketing automation software that can make lead management easy for you. The marketing automation tool helps you to automate the lead routing process, freeing your sales team to prepare for better lead interactions. 

Here’s what you can do with RevenueHero.

  • Capture and qualify leads from web forms 
  • Route leads automatically to the right sales reps based on predetermined criteria – round robin, territory, experience, skills, job title, etc.
  • Prioritize leads based on scores.
  • Schedule instant meetings considering both the prospect's and the sales rep’s availability. 

3. ActiveCampaign

As the name suggests, ActiveCampaign lets you automate campaigns and a lot of other tasks. This marketing automation software enables you to automate welcome email campaigns and track engagement using custom fields, engagement tags, and more. 

What can you use ActiveCampaign for?

  • ActiveCampaign enables you to automate email campaigns
  • Pull information about your target audience from web pages, chat, social media, and SMS. 
  • Identify the most engaged audiences automatically and nurture these leads. 

4. Marketo Engage

Marketo Engage is a B2B marketing automation software that enables you to perform audience segmentation based on enriched data, engagement information, and integrated customer profiles. 

The marketing automation software helps you to nurture the target audience and score their engagement throughout their journey. The software also provides personalized content that helps you connect with the audience at scale with the help of technology and artificial intelligence. 

5. Salesforce

Formerly known as Pardot, Salesforce’s B2B marketing automation software can integrate with your CRM, pull all data, and use it to align marketing efforts, lead generation, and maintain engagement. 

The marketing automation software has several engagement capabilities, including real-time sales alerts, lead scoring, lead segmentation, email campaigns, account-based marketing, lead management, reporting, multi-channel engagement, and more. 

Build your Marketing Automation Strategy

It is pretty easy to set up marketing automation regardless of your industry. But before you do so, settle on your business goals, create a brand message, and decide on the criteria to power your workflow. 

B2B marketing automation can help you speed up processes and take your revenue plans and goals to the next level. Moreover, with marketing automation increasing overall efficiency, you can begin focusing on cultivating long-term relationships with your customers. 

Also, do not forget to choose the right B2B marketing automation software for your business. To help you out with lead management, here’s the RevenueHero platform. Explore and learn more!

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