What is Marketing Automation?

It’s one of those terms you’ve heard before, but perhaps never really understood, at least we didn’t.  To get handle on the topic, we talked with the experts at McRae Marketing Automation, and left with a better understanding of what it is, and why every company should have it…big or small.

To get the concept of  what Marketing Automation is, you have to go back to the days when the sales department didn’t have computers.   Everything was a manual task.  Salespeople would make phone calls and in-person visits to cultivate leads, and the sales funnel was typically managed in a notebook or whiteboard.

And so, Marketing Automation is a combination of both automating those age old processes, and introducing new technology that can leverage the advantage of having all that data in one place.  For example, in the old days, individual sales representatives were extremely protective of their data, and, for the most part, would not share contacts with their peers.   With a layer of automation sitting on top of this data, the systems can encourage the right kind of sharing, while also allowing salespeople to maintain some level of privacy.   A good lead management package, for example, can tell salesperson ‘A’ that salesperson ‘B’ has an executive contact with a subsidiary company of the parent company he’s trying to make sale at.   And, it can do that, if configured, without directly sharing the contact data.

Another good example of Marketing Automation is to make a comparison between simple email list management, and true automation of the marketing to that same list.  Tools like MailChimp, which are simpler email management tools, do success at the goal of “keeping in touch” with potential customers.  More deeply integrated Marketing Automation tools, however, go a level deeper.  Instead of sending the same email to every customer,  a true MA solution will score and segment those customers, and start sending more personalized pitches to customers based on that scoring.   It’s like the difference between selling to a crowd and selling in a one-on-one setting.   The better systems can also integrate with external systems, like your CRM tool.  This allows for more advanced messaging that can recognize the difference between upselling an existing customer and selling to a brand new customer.