Your Guide to Software Selection

Marketing Automation FAQs

In our blog, we enjoy blowing your mind. We relish being in a position where we can introduce you to new concepts and give you a different viewpoint on your industry’s software practices. But that’s not what we’re doing today. Today, we just wanted to give you the lowdown on some of the most common questions we’ve come across regarding marketing automation.

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is the cause of thousands of sighs of relief from marketers. It involves streamlining several of marketing’s manual, time-consuming processes. Based on lead or customer behaviors and/or the simple passage of time, marketing automation reduces the amount of work spent on moving leads down the sales funnel. This is done with software that automatically schedules and sends various types of marketing materials. In addition, it can help identify and segment the most qualified leads to market to.

What are the Main Features of Marketing Automation?

Although there’s a wide variety of features available in marketing automation software, there are some that stand out above the others. We conducted a study that found the most popular requirements of marketing automation buyers. These included email automation, lead nurturing, campaign tracking and customer tracking.

What is a Marketing Automation Tool?

A marketing automation tool is any piece of software that automates a marketing task. This could be an all-in-one solution, an email automation platform, a mobile marketing automation system, or any other marketing-focused software.

What are the Benefits of Marketing Automation?

There’s too many benefits of marketing automation to list them all here. But some of the biggest benefits include saving time, reducing workload, improved lead nurturing, reducing lead leakage (the number of leads that don’t get followed up with), increasing customer retention and increasing revenue. Oh, and much happier marketers, of course.

Who Should Use Marketing Automation in my Organization?

Mostly marketers use marketing automation software (we told you weren’t here to blow your mind). However, your sales team can also benefit from using the software. The simplest use is to automate prospecting emails. But another insightful use is to find out who’s visited your website. You can then reach out if there’s a company you’re particularly interested in, or one where you have a contact. Marketo put together a short list of other ways salespeople have leveraged marketing automation.

What is Email Automation?

Email automation is one of the most common marketing automation tactics, as well as one of the most effective. It simply involves the automatic sending of emails to your leads. These emails are written out in advance to create a cohesive campaign, and are triggered by either a lead’s behavior or the passage of time.

What is Lead Nurturing?

One of the most important functions of marketing is lead nurturing. The harkens back to growing and nurturing plants, as the two processes share similarities. Just as nurturing plants involves continuous watering and checking up on them, lead nurturing involves continuously following-up with leads based on their behavior and their interactions with your company. If you want to avoid your plants succumbing to those pesky insects, or your leads ending up with your pesky competitors, these processes have to be implemented carefully and methodically. When done right, lead nurturing moves your leads down the sales funnel and, eventually, converts them into paying customers.

How do You Nurture Leads with Marketing Automation?

Nurturing leads with marketing automation mainly occurs through… well… automation. Marketing automation software can automatically send behavior-based emails such as offer downloads and follow-ups to site visits. It can also help segment your leads based on how qualified they are and what they need, in order to provide them with the most relevant content.

What is a Nurturing Campaign?

A nurturing campaign is a series of emails and other tactics set up to convert leads into customers. For example, say someone visits your site and wants to download one of your free offers. By submitting their information to receive the offer, they become a lead. Your marketing automation software automates an email to send instantly, giving them the link to download the offer. When that person visits your blog, the software sends an email with content related to the blog they read. Following a few more follow-up emails and site visits, a sales rep gives them a call.

What is a Nurture Track?

A nurture track is essentially a lead nurturing campaign geared to a specific type of lead. Not all lead nurturing is for new leads. A nurture track can be used to get back in touch with leads that weren’t previously highly qualified, or to touch base with a paying customer that hasn’t used your platform in a while. These are only a few examples, but there are plenty of nurture tracks you could implement.

What is Drip Marketing?

Drip marketing is similar to lead nurturing in that it relies on a series of messages sent to the lead. What’s different, however, is that drip marketing sends these messages based on time, rather than behavior. For example, after a lead signs up for an offer, a drip campaign would first send a welcome email with the offer. After a few days or weeks, a second informational email would be sent, followed by another a few days or weeks after that. At some point these emails may include more offers, ask to schedule demos or include other types of calls to action.

What is an Email Workflow?

An email workflow is the series of automated emails that are sent as part of a nurturing campaign. These include the emails that automatically send based on a lead’s behavior (e.g. downloading an offer) and those that are sent to leads based on their profile (e.g. size of their company, location, etc.). The point of an email workflow is to optimize the three “rights:” sending the right message to the right person at the right time.

What is the Difference Between Marketing Automation and Sales Automation?

The most obvious difference between marketing and sales automation is in their names; marketing automation supports the marketing team, and sales automation supports your salespeople. The differences in features, however, is more pronounced. While marketing automation is more focused on touching base with leads and presenting them with relevant content, sales automation is more concerned with managing leads’ contact information, order processing and inventory monitoring. For a more in-depth discussion about these differences, check out our full article on the subject.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is the type of marketing that marketing automation software focuses on. Its purpose is to act as a big magnet that attracts leads with various types of content, including social media, blogs, free offers and email campaigns. We gathered a list of seven inbound marketing tools that marketers should use.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing is the process of reaching out to prospects to try to convert them into leads and customers. This is the more traditional approach, where a company initiates the first contact through outreach emails, cold calls, presenting at trade shows and other tactics.

What is an Inbound Marketing Campaign?

An inbound marketing campaign is the process through which you move your leads down the sales funnel. These usually start off with a downloadable offer, and then include drip marketing and/or lead nurturing tactics. Other common tactics include free webinars and social media engagement.

What is Lead Scoring?

Think of lead scoring like the hiring process. When you’re reviewing potential candidates for a position, you assess the qualifications of each — what related experience they’ve had, how much experience they’ve had, have they worked in a similar industry before, etc. You do so to find and pursue only the most relevant, qualified candidates. The same is true for lead scoring. You don’t want to pursue a lead that wouldn’t need your services, or one that can’t afford them. Lead scoring takes different information into account, such as job title, company size, company industry, etc., and assigns them a numerical score that ranks leads in order of highest-to-lowest priority for your sales and marketing teams. We know, chances are you became a marketer so you wouldn’t have to do math. Don’t worry, scoring your leads isn’t rocket science (or even calculus). You just need to add up those scores.

How do You Score Leads?

There isn’t a standard practice of lead scoring; it’s very unique to your business, based on your industry, services provided, customer base, etc. So, sorry, to properly lead score, you need to set up the scale yourself. But luckily it’s not too difficult. You can start by setting a scale (most common is 0 to 100), and then coming up with criteria, such as those mentioned above. After that, decide which criteria are most important, and finally, assign point values to each criteria and subset of criteria. For example, if company size is an important lead criterion, you may want to assign twice as many points as a less-important one. So for a company with 1-50 employees you may assign 2 points, for one with 51-100 you may assign 4 points, 6 points for 101-500, and so on. After you’ve collected enough information on your leads, you can properly score them and actively pursue your most qualified leads.

What is a Qualified Lead?

A qualified lead is the technical term for a… well… well-qualified lead. These are the leads you should most actively market to, as they’re most likely to convert. You determine your qualified leads through lead scoring, by determining a certain threshold at which a lead becomes a qualified lead. For example, if you score your leads 0 to 100, you may set the qualified lead bar at 70. In this case, any and all leads that score 70 or above are determined as qualified leads, also known as highly-qualified leads, or HQLs.

What is the Difference Between Lead Generation and Demand Generation?

The difference between lead generation and demand generation is similar to that of outbound and inbound marketing. With these two forms of marketing, outbound reaches out to leads, while inbound slowly draws leads in. In lead generation, the goal is to connect with prospects, build a relationship and then convert the lead. Demand generation, on the other hand, involves minimum interaction with your prospects, since it creates awareness and buzz around your company. Lead generation involves aspects of drip marketing and lead nurturing to build relationships, whereas demand generation relies more on news releases and other forms of PR in addition to sponsoring webinars and setting up meetup events.

What is Lead Management?

Lead management involves moving a lead down the sales funnel, from discovery to conversion. This includes managing the lead (surprise!) through each step, from lead generation to lead scoring, lead nurturing, drip marketing and any outbound efforts. The crucial aspect of lead management is tracking the lead, so your salespeople and marketers know where the lead is in the funnel, and which touchpoints they’ve received. That’s where marketing automation software takes over; it tracks all of these aspects, making lead management a very… um… manageable task.

Can Small Businesses Use Marketing Automation?

Companies of any size can, and should, use marketing automation. Every company can benefit from a reduced workload and well-planned lead generation. Of course, if you’re a small business, you probably shouldn’t adopt the most robust enterprise solution. But there’s no shortage of marketing automation vendors offering solutions that are both powerful and affordable.

Can You Use Marketing Automation to Test Campaigns?

The best marketing automation platforms allow easy A/B testing capabilities. All you have to do is set up two different campaigns, divide the leads, and let the software do the rest. It’s capable of assessing which landing pages produce the most leads, which emails get the most clicks, and which campaigns convert the most customers.

Can You Collect Data with Marketing Automation Software?

Marketing automation software is dependent on data. So in short: yes, it collects data. In fact, it collects a lot of data. It collects all the data that leads give you in a form, including name, contact information and company profile information. But it doesn’t stop there. It also collects data on their interactions with your company. All this information gets added to their profile, so you can see how many times a lead has downloaded an offer, how many times they’ve visited your website, what their favorite page is on your website along with how many and which emails they opened and clicked through on.

Can You Track the Customer Journey with Marketing Automation Software?

Marketing automation software is one of the best tools to track the customer journey. By collecting data on your leads, you can find the most common pathways for becoming a customer. For example, you may find that a downloadable eBook may bring in the most leads that eventually lead to customers, and that certain lead nurturing emails are more effective than others. With these insights, you can further optimize your sales funnel by creating more of your best-converting content.

What is Local Marketing Automation?

Local marketing automation is a special platform designed to localize the usual marketing automation touchpoints. Typically reserved for large national or international companies, local marketing automation presents leads and customers with the most relevant information. After all, as a consumer, are you more likely to visit an ice cream store if an ad takes you to their national website, or if it gives you a coupon to your local franchise?

What is Mobile Marketing Automation?

Mobile marketing automation is a lead nurturing tool dedicated to mobile experiences (didn’t see that coming, did you?). Like a regular marketing automation platform, mobile marketing automation sends messages based on lead behavior, including emails. What sets it apart, however, is that it can also automate the sending of push notifications, in-app messages and text messages. In today’s hyper-mobilized society, these are some of the most powerful messages. Remember the three rights: sending the right person the right message at the right time. Even if you identify the perfect lead and send them the perfect conversion message, it won’t work if they never see it. Mobile marketing automation allows you to automate marketing to the one place that most people stare at most: their phone screen.

What is Multichannel Marketing?

Multichannel marketing is essential in today’s world. It involves sending marketing messages over several channels in order to increase both reach and frequency. Why is it so important? Two reasons: 1) not every channel is effective for marketing to every lead, and 2) your leads are more likely to convert if they’re exposed to your message in more than one place. Multichannel marketing commonly includes publishing a blog, posting to social media and sending emails. By combining all three, instead of just one, your chances of reaching and enticing leads to convert increase exponentially.

What Should You Integrate with Marketing Automation Software?

Integrating with your marketing automation software is a great way to streamline your marketing and sales processes, in particular the transition from marketing to sales. The most common integration is a CRM, because it helps create a cohesive database of marketing history, contact information and conversation history for your leads. This gives you a full picture of your leads and their behavior, and helps keep your salespeople in the loop as leads become more and more qualified. In addition, if your marketing automation vendor doesn’t have local or mobile marketing automation modules, integrating with standalone platforms creates a more robust automation solution.

What are the Top Marketing Automation Tools?

Because each company has its own unique needs, the most popular marketing automation vendors aren’t for everyone. But looking at the top solutions can oftentimes help inform you of what features and pricing to expect. So if you’re looking at adopting marketing automation software, here are five of the top-ranked solutions on our Marketing Automation Leaderboard:

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