A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Marketing Automation

At its heart, marketing automation is a customer relationship management (CRM) solution that allows you to connect with new and existing customers on a personal level. Put like that, it can almost sound like some sort of Golden Fleece—better suited to the pages of Greek mythology than a serious marketing strategy. But the numbers don’t lie. Three years ago, only 25 percent of Fortune 500 companies were using marketing automation software. Today, it’s 59 percent.

To understand the true value of automated marketing strategies, we have to dig a little deeper than the statistics. So let’s take a look under the hood shall we?

What we’re really talking about when we say “marketing automation” is a single system that helps manage brands, nurture customer relationships and generate strong new leads, and contributes to increased sales. Even back in 2013, 78 percent of marketers reported that automation solutions were most responsible for improving their contribution to company revenue. Having a single view of the customer’s journey is key—otherwise, you could end up forwarding unready prospects to sales.

It all starts at the beginning: discovering and nurturing leads. A comprehensive automated solution gathers insights in a number of ways, then sends you data on prospective clients who have either joined your social media conversation, added items to their cart on your website, or who match what you’re looking for in a new customer through other interactions with your organization.

The system then begins qualifying these leads, discovering where customers are in the purchase process and what sort of aid they might like. By understanding the customer’s buying journey, you’ll also build a clear overview of which marketing channels are your top performers so you can optimize your campaigns to drive better conversion rates.

The process doesn’t stop when leads become customers. By storing each customer’s purchase history and preferred method of contact, your automated marketing solution can suggest complementary products to the right people at the right time. For instance, if you detect that a certain client purchases ceiling fans every month, your system might suggest that they look at a few of your new fan blade options a few days before they place their usual order.

These same customer insights can be shared with your sales department, allowing that team to add value and personalized attention to their time with customers. By constantly managing customer-specific data, automated marketing solutions give you the tools you need to treat each customer with individual care.

If you’d like to learn more about how automated marketing works its magic, take a gander at our Microsoft Dynamics Marketing datasheet.