A: The first component a marketing automation product needs is a database of leads and current customers. You can’t do anything else until you have a list of people that you can market to.
The second thing you need is closely related to data. Once you have your database full of people, you need to figure out what messages you’re going to send them, and which channels you’re going to use. Usually when you're thinking about marketing, you have to do some segmentation of this giant database of your audience and do some targeting. And marketing automation provides a lot of capabilities to do that. It can look at a user’s demographics as well as their behavior, like what content they’ve interacted with and what product they’ve shown interest in.
After you’ve segmented your audience and identified who you want to target, you need to create and deliver personalized content to the right channels. One of the great things about marketing automation is that it can enable the entire buyer lifecycle. It allows you to keep an eye on a lead, understand what they need, communicate with them using the channels that they like to use, and help them through the journey.
Marketing automation software allows you to set up a lead management campaign in the system that uses logic to automatically take the next step. If a prospective customer interacts with the company through search or a display ad, the next step might be that the software starts an email campaign. All that logic is set up in the system in a dynamic way that reacts to what the buyer is doing in real time.
That's really the core of what marketing automation is — the ability to automate that engagement and to do it at scale with thousands, tens of thousands, or millions of buyers at the same time. After the marketer gets the program set up, it runs by itself.
The words you often hear with marketing automation are “triggers” and “filters.” Triggers are the different types of activities or things that change that can lead to the next step in the process. Filters allow certain actions to be taken based on the labels used to define audiences. For example, a filter could be set up to deliver a specific piece of content to anyone with the job title CMO. And new AI-driven filters are much more complex. The ability to put together a really sophisticated sequence of logic that is automated and handles all this engagement is probably the most important thing in marketing automation.
The ability for marketing and sales to talk to each other throughout the customer journey is another important feature of marketing automation systems. When the next step is for a potential buyer to talk to a salesperson, the marketing automation platform can integrate with the CRM system to let sales know what’s going on. By using marketing automation software, the marketer can show sales all the engagement they’ve had with the customer and provide sales with prebuilt campaigns for them to reach out and communicate with buyers. Marketing now is still controlling the messaging and the content.
The last core thing is marketing analytics. A marketing automation solution needs to be able to measure which campaigns are working, what content is working, and if the company is managing the leads effectively. These could be standard reports that a marketer runs or dashboards that marketers monitor to make sure their demand funnel is healthy.