Sunday, September 26, 2010

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a phrase that most small and medium sized businesses don’t use all that often. When thinking about automating your marketing functions, many things come to mind. What functions can I automate? What is the value of marketing automation? What does it cost? Where do I get started?

Having been in marketing leadership roles for over a decade and now running my own successful business, I know the value that marketing automation can bring. At the same time, I understand the challenges and concerns with the concept of automation.

Marketing automation is focused on lead generation with targeted marketing programs to create awareness and interest in a company's products and services. As individuals enter a lead funnel, automation helps to nurture leads throughout the purchase decision process.

Automation of marketing is commonly used in consumer businesses that have long sales cycles as well as by companies selling to other businesses. The great part about automating lead generation and management functions is that you can simultaneously manage multiple marketing threads with little overhead. Said another way, Marketing Automation includes multiple areas of marketing and brings together email marketing technology with a structured sales process, usually through a CRM program.

Effective marketing automation uses tools throughout your lead management process that assist you in identifying, qualifying, and distributing warm leads to your respective sales teams. These tools may include collateral, advertising, customer communications, and so on. When combined properly, leads can be scored and routed appropriately, prioritizing and optimizing your marketing initiatives.

The great news about marketing automation programs are that you can use as little or as much as you need to manage your programs. Plugins for online shopping carts like 1shopping cart, allow you to add a specific feature for affiliate marketing for example. You can also add features to your web sites or blogs such as an auto responder. This can help move prospects through your purchase process automatically.

More sophisticated automation exists as well. I recently read a new e-Guide to marketing automation solution that showcases the power of full automation. This advanced functionality allows users to develop and monitor tightly focused lead generation and nurturing campaigns. Once you know more about your prospects and their needs you can automate the delivery of relevant content within a sequence of messaging.

Not only does the advanced automation more effectively manage the sales cycle, it adds to your level of understanding of prospects, the purchase process for new prospects, and help you discover ways to shorten the sales process. Advanced automation is ideal when working with a large number of customer segments that may behave differently from one another.

Whether you are new to marketing automation or a seasoned veteran, one thing is sure. Automating pieces of the marketing and sales process can generate higher returns, improved market knowledge, and validation of marketing messages, processes, and outcomes.

For access to a free e-Guide on marketing automation,

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