Back to Basics: What is Marketing Automation and Why Do I Need It Now?

Marketing Automation


Marketing automation is a must-have for a modern marketing team. But, even though you may have heard this fact or read about it, many marketers are still questioning the exact definition. What exactly is marketing automation and why do you need it? Sometimes at Marketo, we like to take a pause and get back to the basics.

What is marketing automation and why should you be interested in it? It’s pretty simple. Marketers who use marketing automation software tend to outperform marketers that don’t.

The Cold Hard Facts

According to the Aberdeen Group, Best-in-Class marketers are 67% more likely to use a marketing automation platform, with 87% of top-performing firms using this technology. Overall, best-in-class marketers contribute more to the sales pipeline, with 57% of sales-accepted leads converted to the sales-qualified pipeline, and the company as a whole sees 14% overall growth in marketing revenue. Pretty impressive, right?

So What Exactly is Marketing Automation?

Let’s start with our definition. Marketing automation is a software platform that streamlines, automates, and measures marketing tasks and workflows. This allows you to be more efficient, increase revenue and grow into a more powerful marketing team.

That’s the simple definition. But, what workflows are we talking about? Here are some of the things marketing automation allows you to do more effectively:

  • Email marketing
  • Landing page creation
  • Cross-channel marketing campaigns
  • Lead generation
  • Segmentation
  • Lead nurturing and scoring
  • Cross-sell and up-sell
  • Retention
  • Measuring ROI
  • Website personalization

These strategies should all be relatively familiar, but without the right equipment, they can be hard to accomplish. When your marketing team is growing, there comes a point at which you can no longer manage 1:1 connections with customers using the manual tools you have available. That’s when automation comes in handy.

When Do You Need Marketing Automation?

Here’s a quick test to give you an idea of what marketing automation can do for you. Answer the following questions honestly about your own organization:

  • Can you identify, track and, engage individual buyers online?
  • Can you look at a list of customers and prioritize them based on fit and likelihood to buy?
  • Are you filtering leads based on level of engagement and interest?
  • Can you measure the revenue contribution of every single one of your marketing campaigns?
  • Can you do all of these things without wanting to tear your hair out?

No? If you had marketing automation, you could.

What Marketing Automation Isn’t

There are some marketing automation myths floating around out there that need to be put to rest. First of all, it’s not a tool for pushing out spam, and it absolutely doesn’t replace your marketing team. Marketing automation platforms empower your team by allowing you to be more efficient. Marketing automation doesn’t write campaigns for you, but the technology does allow you to scale your marketing programs in a sustainable way.

Second of all, marketing automation isn’t just email. It encompasses all channels, from social media to direct mail. Email is just a small part of what the platform does. Maybe the biggest misconception about marketing automation is that it’s just for your marketing team, or that only the marketing team will benefit from it. Yes, your marketing team will use the software, but it has immense benefits for your sales department as well. Marketing automation makes sales reps’ lives easier by helping you define leads more effectively and lead a smoother transition to sales.

Why Marketing Automation, and Why Now?

The best marketing teams use marketing automation to make their campaigns more accurate and to empower their sales team with better leads, and achieve greater ROI.

So what sets those companies apart from the others? It’s not that they’re better, smarter, or more creative. They simply have the right tools—tools that give them greater insight into the entire sales funnel, tools that allow them to more effectively determine when leads are ready to buy. In the current marketing environment, these abilities are becoming absolutely essential

Using marketing automation, marketers are better able to qualify leads and pass them onto sales, resulting in higher revenue and greater growth.

In short, marketing automation allows departments to demonstrate the ROI of their campaigns. The ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of campaigns is helping marketing departments move from cost centers to revenue generators. When marketing teams are able to prove how their campaigns impact the bottom line, they continue to gain more budgeting for marketing programs. With more support for their marketing campaigns, marketers are better able to try things out, get creative, and execute new campaigns that will empower lead generation.

So, what is marketing automation? It’s the hub of the 21st century marketing department, allowing you to scale your campaigns, reach prospects more effectively, better qualify leads, and demonstrate ROI.