The concept of Marketing Automation, its advantages, and tools

Digital Marketing

2015 is becoming the year of the launch of Marketing Automation. Even though it is a concept that originates from years back, and some brands such as Amazon, have already been using it very effectively for years to deliver great customer experiences, the emergence of new tools and cloud services is facilitating the adoption of these technologies in all types of businesses and contributing to their growth.

With the proliferation of technology and new channels, points of contact are increasing and expanding, making it such that data is no longer in one single place, and making it difficult to obtain a complete view of each customer. Without this vision, it is difficult to deliver content that is both relevant and delivered through each customer’s preferred channel in real time.

In addition, many of the systems that store this data are beyond the control of marketing departments, as they are the property of other departments, thus making it difficult to access them. In order overcome these obstacles and eliminate dependence on the IT department, Marketing Automation platforms have come to be; they help marketing departments to plan, coordinate, manage, and measure all of their online and offline campaigns.

Marketing Automation consists of using technology to manage and automate conversion processes, recording and exploiting all defined points of contact in a customer journey, from acquisition to final purchase. For this, different technology platforms are used to enable the automation of the various tasks and workflows involved in customer acquisition, lead management and generation of customized communications across multiple online channels (email, social networks, websites, mobile devices are used etc.). This allows for shorter sales cycles, increases in revenues, and ensures greater ROI for each marketing action.

Until a few years ago, Marketing Automation used to be considered as a form of technology that allowed the possibility to capture leads through online forms, and to send out scheduled bulk emails in a simple way. However, today, the concept has evolved, and current platforms (all in the “Software as a Service” model) allow for more complex actions. The explosion of channels and social media networks; real-time communications; and the need to reduce the sales cycle have resulted in today’s tools incorporating new features that are aimed at solving this need to respond quickly to customers and in a personalized way. 

Marketing data centered on lead management

In today’s age, it all begins with the data. Information is knowledge and these tools allow companies to have a centralized place where all interactions and communications with customers and prospects are stored. Additionally, it creates the possibility to identify and assess which users are prepared to, and intend to make a purchase through systems of auto categorization by lead scoring.

By unifying the customer and knowing all their interactions, many of these tools enable companies to automate campaigns by sending relevant messages over time, based on customer behavior; in addition, they can enable lead nurturing as a strategy applied to inbound marketing (Article in Spanish).

Today’s automated communications go beyond simply sending out emails. Through behavioral marketing, we can know each and every one of the interactions that customers have in our channels. Thus, different triggers can be set to deliver a personalized message to each customer, based on their channel preferences and the relevance of the content. In this way, we can communicate with customers through new channels using PUSH notifications, social interactions, or by making various sections on our websites more dynamic, in order to increase engagement with each customer.

Comparison of tools

Marketo

Advantages: It is among the most highly valued in the B2B sector. It has an aggressive pricing policy and comprehensive training services. In addition, it is made up of a structure of partners and agencies, and is rapidly adapting to the email and B2C context.

Disadvantages: They spend an enormous effort, possibly unbalanced, on sales and marketing, leaving other aspects somewhat neglected. For example, the integration of clients with SFDC is not available.

IBM Silverpop

Advantages: It captures customer behavior through email, mobile applications, web and social environments.

It offers the possibility to easily create landing pages, mail marketing and web forms; to send messages through different channels and to optimize the most suitable. It also has the ability to create custom and automated marketing campaigns, and to create customer-scoring models through their behaviors. You can generate dynamic content based on navigation, to know the route through which each client becomes sold or persuaded by what is being offered, and integrate this with CRM (Microsoft Dynamics) and with available API. It has ability to identify the customer individually, regardless of the channel, and to communicate using different technologies, setting a visual workflow of every touch point along the customer journey.

Disadvantages: There is poor integration with paid media. In its future roadmap however, it appears that this functionality will eventually be integrated, and they already have agreements with Facebook and Twitter.

Oracle (Eloqua)

Advantages: It offers good lead management in multiple channels and in a sophisticated manner. Their earnings reports are the most comprehensive, and additionally, it offers the possibility to integrate SFDC and MSD.

Disadvantages: It is not scalable, from a point where the volume of emails is too large and is somewhat too complex to make the most use out of.

Oracle (Responsys)

Advantages: This is a service specialized in retail, with a very good reputation in the industry. It has very highly established email capabilities, especially in terms of delivery and scalability. It also has the ability to help with the creation of display adverts.

Disadvantages: Its cost is usually very high and needs of various services for proper and adequate functioning. We identified a lack of support for complex data queries in this tool, and moreover, its operation requires advanced knowledge of SQL programming.

Experian/Cheetahmail

Advantages: This is the leader in high-end retail sector, with strong services and the possibility to choose each one separately. It also offers robust SMS-integrated functionality.

Disadvantages: Its weak point, when focused more on customer service and expertise, is technology: compared with other solutions, it is less flexible and has a lower level of sophistication. In addition, its integration with CRM is not sufficiently robust.

Adobe Neolane

Advantages: It has hosted and on-premise solutions, with a very strong presence in Europe. Usually, it is implemented in business and has both B2B, B2C and positioning services.

Disadvantages: The different solutions are purchased separately, so it has very high prices. Moreover, its partners network is underdeveloped and its integration with CRM is not very robust.

Salesforce.com (Pardot)

Advantages: It offers native integration with SFCD, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, NetSuite and SugarCRM. Its lead management product has powerful features for the sector in which it is found (small to medium size). It is a good choice for not very large; B2B companies; or those that have SFDC.

Disadvantages: It is positioned more as sales service than as a marketing tool; it does not have enough email functionality and scalability. It is primarily focused on small and medium enterprises.

Salesforce.com (ExactTarget)

Advantages: It has powerful email capabilities, ability to perform A/B testing, excellent deliverability, and is scalable. It possesses the capabilities to create SMS messages and mobile notifications (push), has SFDC resources, campaign management features, and finally, has a good customer base and global presence.

Disadvantages: The initial integration with SFCD is not very solid; its services are acquired in a modular way, so that what they teach is sometimes not included in the price. Recently, they have had some complaints about their service and support. They do not offer a complete management of leads or a rating system, and can be complicated to use.

Automate judiciously and you will grow

At Territorio creativo, we believe that the incorporation of these sorts of platforms in the day-to-day functioning of a marketing department is a key factor in developing any business, be it B2B or B2C. Do not forget that technology alone will not improve our conversions, therefore, good analysis, the perfect definition of the customer journey, and good content and creativity in our communications, will be the key factors with which the use of Marketing Automation becomes an important competitive advantage.

 

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