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Going for it: Marketing Automation 101

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As the space between PR and marketing continues to close, there’s big buzz about the value of marketing automation tools. Though not a new concept, marketing automation is growing in popularity, helping busy teams at even busier organizations save time, retain customers and reach new ones.

Marketing automation includes the automation of email marketing, lead generation and nurturing, reputation management (a.k.a. social media monitoring), and marketing analytics in addition to regular marketing activities. In essence, the automation process aims to attract potential customers via social media, SEO and PPC advertising. The campaign will then move to engage the audience with thought-leadership content before moving to convert the sale and nurture the relationship.

The business case for marketing automation is clear with users reporting an average of 13% increase in visitors and an average of 4.5X increase in leads per month. The only question is where to begin?

With more than 110 marketing automation vendors out there, start out by talking to your team. Gather information from marketers and sales reps to determine exactly what you’re looking to accomplish. Then, consider the benefits. Are you more interested in understanding your marketing efforts, monitoring your online presence or launching new campaigns? Knowing what you’re hoping to achieve can help narrow down your search to just a few marketing automation tools. Identify your target customer profile and compare it to your existing customer base.

Take a look at your current lists, AdWords and the like to find out which marketing automation tools will work with your existing solutions. Think about the size of your organization, feature and function requirements, tech-savvy, target buyers and other needs. Keep the sales force in the picture every step of the way to make sure that your chosen solution will support their efforts. Some 91% of top-performing companies boast marketing departments with a strong understanding of sales goals. Talk to a few marketing automation vendors to see how your goals and their solution match up before making your final decision.

And finally, institute a change management strategy before you press start.  Now go forth and prosper.