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Marketing Automation

Łukasz Kosuniak
30 min read
Tags | Content Marketing, Marketing automation
Marketing automation is a marketing activity conducted using special software and tools that make it easier to reach potential users and generate sales leads.

From this guide you will learn:

🡵 What is Marketing Automation?

🡵 Why do you need Marketing Automation?

🡵 What are the benefits of using Marketing Automation tools?

🡵 Benefits for Marketers

🡵 Benefits for Salespeople

🡵 Benefits for Marketing and Sales Managers

🡵  Benefits for the Finance Department and CFO 

🡵 Marketing Automation and RODO

🡵 What are the key features and capabilities of Marketing Automation systems?

🡵 Other features that some Marketing Automation systems offer

🡵 Webinar: Efective Implementation of Marketing Automation (PL)

Marketing Automation systems are gaining popularity among marketers for a reason. B2B companies that have implemented and are using these systems tend to see increases in the quantity and quality of marketing leads generated, which translates into sales.

What is Marketing Automation?

Let's start with what marketing automation is. Contrary to the somewhat misleading name, it is not at all about replacing marketers and salespeople with automatons. Nor is the purpose of Marketing Automation to spam and mass generate content.

Marketing automation tools make it possible to analyze the characteristics and behavior of current and potential customers and tailor communication activities to them individually.

Based on the knowledge gathered in this way, we can communicate with our customers in a highly personalized yet automated way.

This paradox is made possible by the fact that the marketing automation system constantly collects information about potential customers and allows for a much deeper understanding of their needs than anonymous statistics. It is worth mentioning that the operation of such systems is always done with the consent of the customer.

Thus, for example, a customer who comes to your site for the first time will see different content than one who is here for the next time. The ultimate goal of using marketing automation methods and tools is to increase the number and quality of leads, i.e. potential customers ready to start the buying process.

Based on customer information, marketing automation tools create so-called digital body language (see  Digital body language, or "non-verbal" online behavior and purchasing decisions ) - customer profile, so you can, for example, figure out what information might be of value to the customer at different stages of the buying process and at what point to engage the sales department.

Why do you need Marketing Automation?

Learn 10 reasons why you should use marketing automation in your company.

1. The customer's buying process has digitized heavily

What this means. Gartner estimates that by the time the first meeting with a salesperson occurs, the customer is already halfway through the buying process. This means, in simple terms, that he has already acquired half of the information he needs, and if he wants to meet with a salesperson, it is not to hear from him what is published on the company website.

So if your company is not visible in the form of digital content, it will be increasingly difficult for your salespeople to make that meeting.

How can marketing automation help you with this? With such systems, you can contact customers at the early stages of the decision-making process and observe how potential customers consume your content. You can serve them better-tailored content, and automation tools will ensure that these activities do not generate excessive labor costs.

2. Before you acquire a lead, you need to provide some digital interactions

According to various estimates, in B2B companies, a content recipient needs 6 to 9 interactions with your content before becoming a lead. Importantly, for a customer to want to use more of your content, they must be satisfied with the quality of the content. This requires observing how customers use your content and developing new content that meets their needs. Marketing automation systems make it easy to analyze users' behavior, so you can gain knowledge about their information needs and content better suited to them. And this is a basic requirement for success in generating sales leads.

3. Customers expect personalization

In the age of being inundated with content and messages, simply producing another piece of content is no guarantee that someone will be interested in it. Customers expect content to address their specific needs and to be delivered in the way that is most convenient for them. Then there's a chance they'll share the data with you, come to the site once again and buy something from you in the future.

With marketing automation, you can deliver content to those customers who are really interested in your subject matter. This is because you can see if they have visited your pages, responded to your social media posts, opened specific newsletters, etc. Such tools provide knowledge about customer profiles and make it easier to reach a precisely defined group of customers with information.

4. Management expects concrete results

Marketers are increasingly under pressure to demonstrate concrete, that is, quantifiable results from their activities. Gone are the days when marketing was more of an art than a science, and at the moment everyone is looking at numbers. In such a situation, implementing marketing automation is a very good idea, because it allows you to track the effectiveness of your activities and, thanks to the integration of marketing automation with CRM, also their impact on sales. This is possible because well-implemented marketing automation systems track the activities of potential customers very early in their decision-making process and can determine the impact of these behaviors on generating a sales opportunity. This increases the role of marketers in the company.

5. Quality of leads is increasingly important

Let's be honest. These days, providing a large number of leads can do more harm than good. This will happen if their quality is low. In such a situation, salespeople are inundated with contacts to people who, for example, have downloaded an e-book, but are not yet ready for a sales call. This wastes salespeople's valuable time and undermines their confidence in the quality of marketing's work.

Introducing a marketing automation system and scoring mechanisms will make it easier for you to assess the quality of leads (qualification) before they are passed on to the sales department. This means that salespeople will receive leads with a higher probability of selling and, in addition, they will be able to better prepare for the sales call, knowing whether the potential customer has browsed your website, participated in webinars, downloaded e-books, etc. Such knowledge is a powerful tool that salespeople will certainly appreciate.

6. Marketing and sales are one process

The division between marketing and sales in B2B is slowly blurring. It is up to the customer's preference how he or she will acquire information - whether on their own or through the content you provide them with. Therefore, marketing and sales activities should be treated as elements of the same process. What does this mean in practice? You should make contact with a potential customer as early as possible and nurture the lead so that its value from a sales perspective is maximized. Does this mean that a customer will no longer search for content on the Internet after meeting with a salesperson? Of course not. This is why marketing automation systems are so useful in supporting sales. They provide salespeople with invaluable knowledge about the online behavior of their prospective customers. As a result, salespeople can effectively conduct the sales process by taking into account not only the information they have obtained directly but also the data on the behavior of prospective customers provided by the marketing automation system.

7. Building contact lists is a must

There was a time when it seemed that the future of marketing was social networks and emailing would be a thing of the past. However, social media platforms are diminishing opportunities to reach customers through free means, steering us toward paid advertising. That's why more and more companies are appreciating the benefits of their own high-quality address base, which is not dependent on changes in advertising platforms' offerings. Marketing automation systems are perfect for building and using high-quality address bases of potential customers. They simplify the legitimate acquisition of data and contact consents, allow intelligent segmentation to deliver tailored content to recipients, and make it easier for us to convert a simple contact into a high-quality lead.

8. Combining multiple communication channels

It used to be a common belief that marketing automation systems could only be used if you wanted to send large volumes of emails to customers. This is not true. Modern marketing automation systems make it easy to manage multiple communication channels based on, among others, e-mailing, social networks, website communication, SMS and many others. Thanks to the fact that we manage several channels in one place, we can, for example, send an email sequence to people who responded to our advertisement on LinkedIn or confirm registration via SMS through a form on the website. Marketing automation makes it possible to plan marketing activities using several modes of communication and select those to which your customers respond best.

9. After-sales activities

More and more companies are offering products and services in renewable models - such as through subscriptions. This means that in these companies the sale never ends. So you have to make sure that the customer who bought our product fully learns and uses its capabilities. That way, when it comes time to renew, our salespeople won't have too much work.

This is also where a marketing automation system will work perfectly. With such tools, we can send highly personalized messages to users of our product to help them learn about the product. At the same time, the system will verify whether users actually use this content. In this way, you influence users' satisfaction and their knowledge of your product. And this is the best way to build a loyal customer base.

10. Protect your customers' privacy and data

It would seem that the entry into force of RODO could be a problem for marketers using marketing automation systems. Our experience is quite the opposite. Thanks to the communication rules encoded in marketing automation systems, we are assured that no unwanted communication will leave the company. We also know exactly who received communications from our company and when, so we reduce the risk of violating RODO regulations in this area. A well-chosen and implemented marketing automation system will therefore protect your customers' data and privacy and protect you from the risk of violating RODO.

We hope we have convinced you to take an interest in marketing automation tools. As you can see, they will benefit not only marketing, but also sales, customer service and even the CFO.

In the rest of our guide, you will learn what results come from using marketing automation.

Marketing automation is a brilliant tool. If the Nobel committee were awarding prizes in the marketing category, their creators would certainly be nominated. Keep in mind, however, that they won't solve all problems. If you don't have a consistent communications strategy, specific personas, or create valuable content - automation will only exacerbate these problems.

However, if you want to be seen as a provider of value rather than a cost to the company, you want to be a discussion partner with management, and you need tangible proof of marketing's contribution to company performance - don't delay implementation.

Marketing automation raises the importance of the marketing department in the organization, because it allows you to communicate with the board of directors in the only language they understand - the poetry of rustling bills.


What are the benefits of using marketing automation tools?

Let's start with specifics. In this section, you will learn what specific benefits the implementation of Marketing Automation brings to a company. We will use proven sources for this purpose. Next, you will learn how marketing automation will benefit not only the marketing team but also sales, finance, IT and even management. This information can come in handy for you at the stage of educating the company and convincing the board to invest in marketing automation.

Effects of introducing Marketing Automation in a company

There is plenty of evidence of the effectiveness of Marketing Automation systems:

  • A study by SocialMediaToday shows that marketing automation increases sales effectiveness by 14.5% and saves 12% of marketing expenses.

  • Another study by  Annuitas Group  shows a huge (451%) increase in qualified leads in the SMB sector, thanks to the ability to automatically nurture (nurture) them for weeks or even months. Importantly, the value of these leads is also increasing - they are on average 47% higher than leads generated by traditional marketing methods.

  • Salesforce's research confirms and completes the list of specific benefits you'll get by implementing a marketing automation system. Here are the most important results from implementing Marketing Automation, according to Salesforce:
    • 27% more marketing leads
    • 30% more conversion of leads into sales
    • 25% greater marketing campaign return on investment (ROI)

These results make it worthwhile to learn more about the capabilities of marketing automation systems and the benefits that come with using them.

Of course, these results do not appear immediately. According to eConsultancy's research "Email Marketing Industy Census" (2017) - about 32% of companies see measurable sales effects 12 months after implementing marketing automation. That's why it's important to strategize and  plan so you're well prepared for the process.

How do companies achieve these results?

The increase in the quantity and quality of leads generated and their conversion to sales is made possible by the fact that we interact with the potential customer before we even engage salespeople in the process. This allows the customer to acquire knowledge about solutions or products on their own, at their own pace, and we gain knowledge about their behavior and needs in the meantime. This allows us to better choose when to move to the product sales phase or even convert the customer to an online transaction.

In this way, we can develop multiple action scenarios that the system will execute automatically based on our criteria and observed customer behavior.

Just preparing for the implementation of a marketing automation system works very well for marketers, as they have to perform many of the activities they have been guarding against. For example,  defining a content strategy or agreeing with the sales department on the precise definition of a lead and how to handle leads generated by marketing are activities that have value in themselves. Of course, the list of benefits of implementing marketing automation is much longer and it benefits more than just the marketing department.


Benefits for Marketers

After several years of implementing and using various marketing automation systems, we can say with certainty that the most important benefit these tools give marketers is the ability to prove the impact of marketing activities on sales. Marketers are often compared to salespeople who accurately report sales results. If you expect to increase your marketing budget, you need to demonstrate that this will translate into sales. Because marketing automation makes it easy to acquire leads and track their development, even after they have been passed on to sales, you can see how your efforts have translated into sales growth.

This is the most important - a strategic benefit, but there are more.

Another plus is the ability to plan multi-channel campaigns in advance, which then work for several months or even years. A well-designed campaign for generating leads through, for example, content sharing and participation in  webinars  can be used long-term with minor adjustments. This is a huge benefit of time and budget.

A marketing automation system also makes it easy to report on the results of activities. In fact, they can be said to be available on an ongoing basis, to anyone who has access to the system. This is another time-saver - especially in large organizations, reporting campaign results sometimes takes more time than preparing the campaign.

Many marketing automation systems greatly speed up the creation of emails, landing pages or forms, thanks to templates. You can quickly customize such templates to suit your needs and greatly reduce the time it takes to prepare an activity. For example, currently it takes us less than an hour to prepare a landing page, a registration form and 3 messages to communicate with participants, including testing, looking for typos in the description, etc. Without the tools and templates, this process would take days - we know, because we operated this way ourselves several years ago. This is just one example of how a marketing automation system saves marketers time, so you can focus on more creative or strategic tasks.

So let's summarize the benefits for Marketers:

  • Ability to prove real impact on sales through accurate lead tracking

  • Simplified reporting of activities without having to constantly create presentations

  • Saving time on creating marketing assets thanks to templates sewn into the systems

  • Increase qualified leads several-fold and increase sales process efficiency by more than 14%

[Marketing stats: an  Annuitas Group  study shows a huge (451%) increase in qualified leads in the SMB sector. Leads are on average 47% higher than leads generated by traditional marketing methods].

Benefits for Salespeople

The aforementioned 14% increase in sales process efficiency is no accident.

If the marketing automation system is well implemented, better quality leads are delivered to salespeople . Sometimes these leads are said to be "better heated." This means that marketing has made sure that the lead , which goes to sales meets certain criteria. This allows salespeople to close sales opportunities faster. With access to the customer profile, or information from the marketing stage, salespeople can better understand the customer's needs and more effectively prepare for presentations and sales calls.

As with marketers, they can also use message templates while incorporating personalization. This allows them to serve their customers faster.

Thus, from a salesperson's point of view, the key benefits of using marketing automation will be:

  • Better quality of leads, which translates into higher sales effectiveness

  • Better access to customer information, making it easier to prepare for presentations, interviews and negotiations

  • Facilitated communication, with templates and ready-to-use materials

Benefits for Marketing and Sales Managers

Marketing and sales managers will also benefit from marketing automation systems.

For them, the readability of data will make it easier to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of individual campaigns or sales activities. By combining marketing automation and CRM systems, we can track the entire lead path - from early to advanced stages. By observing conversions between different stages of the sales funnel, we can draw conclusions and modify processes, resources or behaviors of team members. By working together on the data provided by the Marketing Automation system, marketing and sales teams better understand each other's needs and the needs and preferences of customers. And this translates into better cooperation between these teams and more effective sales processes.

Benefits for the Finance Department and CFO

There is another group that will gain a lot from data clarity and fast reporting. This is the finance department and the CFO. With data from CRM and Marketing Automation systems, the finance department can make decisions on the optimal return on investment and expenditures on sales and marketing activities. Keep this in mind if you want to convince your CFO to invest in marketing automation.

[Statistic for the CFO: Nucleus Research shows that marketing automation saves 12% of marketing expenditures].

The CFO cares about transparency and efficiency in the company's capital expenditures. A Marketing Automation system will help you convince the CFO that the marketing budget is being invested effectively and translates into important financial parameters such as sales, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

Marketing Automation and RODO

The precise data management and built-in privacy mechanisms you'll find in modern Marketing Automation systems should be of interest to those responsible for compliance with RODO regulations, or corporate data protection more broadly. Be sure to include them in the conversation by showing how a marketing automation system helps protect the data and privacy of a company's customers or partners.

The Marketing Automation system will act as a marketing data management center and, when properly configured, will make the risk of violating RODO regulations in marketing activities go down. This is because the system will automatically check that, for example, an email campaign only goes out to people who have given the appropriate consents. Marketing Automation systems also allow you to manage access to data. This way you can differentiate access to personal data based on role or position.

As you can see, the introduction of a marketing automation system, especially in combination with a CRM is a very tangible benefit not only for the marketing department. Sales and those responsible for finance, IT and data protection and compliance with RODO will also benefit.

What are the most important functions and capabilities of Marketing Automation systems?

In this section of the guide you will learn about the most important functions and capabilities of marketing automation systems. Remember that there are dozens of marketing automation tools on the market and their features vary. That's why we've compiled the most popular and useful features in our overview to give you an idea of what you can expect in such tools.


Marketing automation

Let's start with what makes us talk about marketing automation systems, or action automation schemes. In a nutshell, what we mean is that in marketing automation systems you can plan, program multi-threaded activities and campaigns that, so to speak, adapt to user behavior.

Although automation allows you to design very sophisticated actions, basically its scheme consists of three elements: trigger, condition, action.

A trigger is an event, or a feature of a contact, such as filling out a form or a location. That is, our action will cover all people, contacts, who filled out the form - this event, or who live, for example, in Warsaw.

The second element - condition, allows you to check additional elements before calling the action, such as whether the contact has agreed to receive communications.

The third element - action, can be, for example, sending an e-mail, moving a contact to another segment or assigning scoring points.

Fig. above - an example of a trigger , condition and action in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing.

In its entirety, but from the end, the scheme will look like this: we send an email (action) to all people who have filled out the registration form (trigger) and agreed to receive communications from us (condition). This is, of course, a very simple campaign, but through it you can see how you can build entire communication programs consisting of dozens of such simple actions. As you read our series, you will learn many examples of how automation can be applied in practice, today we discuss it in basic terms.

Figure above - an example diagram of an automated campaign in SalesForce Pardot.


Segmentation of contacts and organizations in the database

The second very useful function of marketing automation systems is segmentation, i.e. creating groups of contacts based on their characteristics. If we "manually" transfer contacts to a given group ourselves, we call it static segmentation, because without our action, no contact will end up in such a static segment. If, on the other hand, data are transferred to segments as a result of automatic system action, we will call such a segment dynamic.

How does this work in practice? You can design an automated campaign that will put all people registered for a particular webinar or meeting into a separate segment. This way you can, for example, quickly send a reminder or an invitation to the next webinar just to this dynamic segment created on the basis of the registration.

Some marketing automation systems allow you to combine static and dynamic segments. You can, for example, create a segment containing people registered for webinars (the dynamic part), and then apply an additional criterion, for example, in the form of a VIP customer segment, which you create yourself by transferring some records to it. This way, for example, an invitation to conferences will go out to people who are on the VIP list (static) and have participated in webinars organized by your company (dynamic segment).

Fig. above - an example of combining segments in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing . In this case, the segment contains a common part of two segments to which a third segment is attached (summed). This gives you the possibility of very flexible combining data from multiple segments using logical operators.

You can change the way segments are combined, for example, instead of "and" insert "or" - then for conferences you invite people who have participated in webinars or are on the VIP list, this way instead of the common part of segments you get their sum.

Segmentation seems like a very technical and somewhat boring task in digital marketing, but know that it is one of the most useful functions. With segmentation you can deliver the right information, to the right groups of customers. You can also select campaign target groups much faster.


E-mail automation

Sometimes I come across the claim that marketing automation systems are actually elaborate e-mailing systems. It is worth remembering that e-mailing, is only part of the functionality of a Marketing Automation system. Today, modern systems of this type allow for integrated, multi-channel activities combining e-mail, social networks, SMS, or website notifications.

E-mailng in marketing automation systems is not only the ability to send mass communication, but above all the appropriate selection of communication to the target group. E-mail messages in marketing automation systems are elements of automated campaigns. As a result, they are sent only to clearly identified contacts in the right context.

This can be, for example, a message that confirms registration for a conference. You don't have to check the list every now and then, because the system will do it for you and send a pre-prepared message immediately after registration.

The system can also send a whole series of messages that, in addition to confirming registration, will send reminders about the upcoming event. The same series - sequence can go on and send a message after the event with a survey, additional materials and an incentive to contact the sales department.

The system can also tailor messages to the recipient's behavior. If, for example, an email encourages registration for an event, the system will send a reminder to register only to those who have not yet done so. Those who have registered will receive other messages - such as the sequence of event reminders described above.


Landing Pages

Landing Pages are simple web pages usually designed for a specific purpose - such as registering for a conference, webinar, downloading an e-book, etc.

Most major marketing automation systems have this feature because it allows you to manage multiple activities in one place. For example, if your goal is to get contacts from people who have downloaded your e-book, then you need a place where that e-book can be downloaded. This will be precisely the landing page.

Marketing Automation systems allow you to quickly create such pages without involving web developers. With built-in templates, such a page can be up and running in minutes.

It is also worth noting additional features such as the ability to test several versions of the page, so that based on the behavior of your audience, for example, clicks on the "Download e-book" box, you can choose its most effective variant. Since the landing page is part of a marketing automation system, you can very quickly embed a form on it to facilitate quick and legitimate contact data acquisition.


Forms and data collection

Forms, are very effective tools for collecting data, especially personal data. Of course, you can embed a form on your page even if you don't use marketing automation, but once connected to such a system, you can take full advantage of the capabilities of this element.

Photo above - Landing Page with registration form m created in HubSpot system. Thanks to ready-made templates, creating a new page is a matter of minutes. No programming or graphic design knowledge is required.

Let's start with the fact that in the marketing automation system you can very quickly generate a landing page and embed a form on it, so you have a simple system for registering users or collecting leads in minutes.

Since any acquisition of personal data is governed by regulations, you need to take care of appropriate consents for acquisition, processing and use. In Marketing Automation, such consents are described in one place, so that anyone who creates a new form will use the existing module. This speeds things up a lot and reduces the risk of violating RODO regulations. Filling out a form can be the beginning of a process - e.g., registration, complaint submission, newsletter signup, etc. By integrating the form with a marketing automation system, you can plan such a process very quickly. Data from users will go to the right people, and people filling out the form will be served in a very personalized but nevertheless automated way.


Surveys and collecting customer feedback

Surveys are technically forms. In practice, surveys are designed to collect the opinions of many people and do not necessarily obtain personal information. Surveys can be used, for example, to study customer satisfaction. What does combining surveys with Marketing Automation offer? You can, for example, send each person who attended a conference or webinar a satisfaction survey. Since the whole process is automated, you don't have to remember each mailing. You can also greatly speed up the preparation of such a survey by using built-in templates. We, for example, quite often use a pre-created NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey template, thanks to which we create a new survey in a dozen seconds, but also have constant access to professionally presented results, which makes it easier to interpret them.

Fig. above - the powerful survey module (Forms Pro) in Microsoft Dynamics for Marketing allows not only quick creation of surveys and quizzes, but also analysis according to high methodological standards. Example - analysis of Net Promoter Score survey results.


Lead Scoring - analysis of customer readiness to sell

Thanks to the ability to observe the behavior and characteristics of leads, we can assign them weights that make it easier, for example, to estimate the chance of a sale. Integration of the Marketing Automation System allows seamless transfer of marketing leads to the sales department, but also allows tracking the fate of these leads and calculating the return on marketing investment.

Figure above - an example of a lead scoring matrix in Oracle Marketing Cloud (Eloqua). Points are awarded based on behavior - interaction with content and for professional profile data.

Modern marketing automation systems make it possible not only to collect data but also to automatically evaluate it. This function is often called Lead Scoring. It allows you to evaluate the behavior and characteristics of leads and assign appropriate weights to them. E.g. a person who downloads an e-book on our site already shows a certain interest - we can assign him, for example, 10 points. If the same person spends an hour attending a webinar, we will assign him more, say 30 points. In this way, we value the behavior - the engagement of the lead. The more high-scoring behaviors, the statistically higher the chance of starting the sales process. The second dimension of scoring is the characteristics of the leads. E.g. we will value participation in a webinar by a director higher than by a serial employee - of course, this is just a general example, in reality it can be the other way around. Thus, we assign points to a lead for his behavior - 30 for webinar participation and 30 for a high position. Using this data, we can, for example, decide on certain actions towards our leads. E.g., all leads that have more than 100 points are sent to the sales department.

In practice, the scoring criteria - i.e. how many points we assign to which behaviors or characteristics of leads must be very precisely defined together with the sales department, because it is the salespeople who will be the main beneficiaries of scoring.  They will receive better quality leads as a result.


Integration with CRM - ROI calculation and sales support

Anyone who is serious about using marketing automation for customer acquisition should start by integrating this system with the CRM.

Marketing automation systems have a built-in CRM module or allow integration with external sales support systems.


Return on investment

Marketers, thanks to the integration of their activities with the sales system, have the ability to track what happens to leads passed on to sales. Leads , which eventually turn into won sales increase ROI, the return on investment in marketing. Knowing how much revenue our marketing activities generate, we can calculate their exact effectiveness and justify increasing the marketing budget for the following months.


Nurturing the lead

The integration between Marketing Automation and CRM also comes in handy when sales rejects a lead submitted by marketing. Sometimes this happens because after a qualifying call, it turns out that the customer will be ready for a sales call in several months. For most salespeople, that's too long, but the marketing department can cover such a contact with a long-term campaign focused on warming up an otherwise nurturing lead just using marketing automation.


Access to information about lead activity

Salespeople are sure to appreciate the additional information about leads that a marketing automation system provides. When preparing for a sales call, we can, for example, check whether our caller has browsed our pages, downloaded e-books, participated in webinars, subscribed to newsletters and so on. This gives the salesperson very valuable context and potential topics for conversation. Importantly, thanks to the integration of CRM and Marketing Automation, salespeople can see this data without the need for new applications - they have it at their disposal in their familiar CRM system.


Automatic lead generation

Another example of the benefits of integrating CRM with Marketing Automation is informing salespeople of specific situations that may indicate sales potential. When, for example, our lead visits a page with a specific product for the umpteenth time this week and before that participated in a webinar on that topic, we can notify salespeople through Marketing Automation systems. This can be done through an alert - the merchant will receive a corresponding email with details, or create a task, in which case the merchant will see this action in a task list, such as in his calendar. This allows us to communicate potential sales opportunities very quickly without having to write a message. Everything happens automatically based on predetermined rules - such as scoring rules.

In this way, we have come full circle - from scoring, to lead generation and ROI calculation. All this is possible thanks to the integration of marketing automation and CRM systems. We know from experience that connecting these systems is not just a technical issue. The ability to share data improves cooperation between marketing and sales departments, which in turn means more quantity and quality of leads. Because, after all, at the end of the day, it's all about sales.


Integration with social media activities and publication planning

Increasingly, marketing automation systems allow us to run integrated campaigns across multiple channels, including social networks. We can, for example, target a LinkedIn or Facebook campaign to a group - a segment created in the marketing automation system, containing data of customers who have not yet responded to email marketing communications. With the campaign managed in one place, we can see exactly which channels and activities have produced the best results.

Figure above - scheduling social media publications in HubSpot. You can schedule publications for several channels in one place and then analyze detailed statistics.

In the case of campaigns or sponsored posts that include a form, we can redirect data from the form directly to the marketing automation system and cover people who filled out the form with an additional email campaign. This allows us to respond in a personalized way to each request, while not burdening the sales and marketing department.


Engaging visitors to company websites

Modern Marketing Automation systems allow us to increase the engagement of people who visit company pages, thanks to tools such as modals, chat windows, or chatbots. Such features used skillfully allow you to increase the conversion of visits to leads and additionally speed up the time it takes for a customer to find information.

Since overuse of such features can be annoying for the audience, marketing automation systems allow intelligent control of how they are presented. For example, you can decide that a pop-up will appear a few seconds after opening a given page and will not be displayed to people who return to our site.

Fig - An example of a window containing a call to action (Call to Action), appears after 7 seconds on the page or after scrolling halfway down the page.

Chat windows allow a site visitor to quickly communicate with a company representative. In this way, we can help the visitor find information faster or encourage a conversation with a consultant.

In some systems, it is possible to create chat-bots that fully or partially automate the conversation with the site visitor. Below is an example of a simple chat-bot that encourages a quiz on Social Selling and checks the correctness of the answers.

Such a chat-bot can be partially automated and in some cases redirect the conversation to a person - a consultant. In this way, we pre-filter the traffic and reduce the burden on the sales or customer service department.

All interactions and data left during such a call are added to the customer profile, which can later be used by salespeople preparing for a sales meeting.

Other features that some Marketing Automation systems offer


Integration with webinars

This allows you to automate the entire process of promotion, registration and follow up after a webinar and run it with a marketing automation system. Some tools even allow you to analyze survey responses while conducting a webinar and segment customers based on those responses.


Publication calendars

Make it easy to schedule articles, blog posts and social media posts. This allows us to plan social media activities in advance and, in addition, precisely analyze the effectiveness of posts based on the number of clicks or interactions.

Fig. above - the content calendar allows you to schedule publications on pages, emails and social networks. In one place, we can see content already published and those scheduled.


SEO tools

Some marketing automation tools make it easier to optimize the content you create by automatically analyzing it for SEO. As a result, they can suggest how to optimize a headline or how to describe graphics to make our content more visible to search engines. The systems also help to properly plan the topic of the publication by referring to the popularity of key phrases or entire thematic issues. This way we know that the topic of our publication is popular with our target audience and gives us a chance for high reach and engagement.


Spam risk analysis of sent messages

Marketing automation systems are increasingly using machine learning algorithms, sometimes called Artificial Intelligence, which is excellent at finding patterns or data anomalies. With these capabilities, a marketing automation system can assess the risk of whether your message will fall into SPAM before you even send it. Here's what this feature looks like in  Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing.

The list of capabilities of marketing automation systems is much longer and growing. System manufacturers make sure to add new features on a regular basis. Here we've listed the ones we think are most useful for B2B marketing.

Łukasz Kosuniak
CEO Grow Consulting
B2B marketing practitioner and consultant with 20 years of business experience.