An introduction to Marketing Automation Platforms: advantages and features

We want this introduction to Marketing Automation platforms to answer two main questions. The first one is related to the advantages these platforms bring marketing departments, and the second one is about the specific features we can come across while using these technologies. 

Advantages of Marketing Automation platforms

Marketing departments, especially in B2B businesses, are undergoing a critical transformation process due to the fact that their audience is characterized for interacting with the brand through multiple channels, both on and off-line, and for becoming more and more independent in the purchase decision-making process (the customers have at their disposal many tools to help them search, consider and evaluate the different providers).

As a result, marketing is adopting new strategies aimed at “listening to” and “qualifying” leads on a large scale by optimizing the sales coordination processes.

In such a context, the main advantages Marketing Automation platforms can bring to marketing professional are the following:

  • Process efficiency increase: the automation of tasks related to content creation and distribution, message personalization, campaign programming and execution, or lead treatment and qualification drastically reduces the time invested in these areas. This translates into higher efficiency and productivity. 
  • Increase in lead quantity and quality: This is due to the possibility of automatingprocesses of Data Management at Scale, including sociodemographic, profile, and behavioral (page views, downloads, opening and clicks on emails, etc.) data, combined with lead qualification through scoring systems.
  • A multichannel view of prospect behavior: marketing automation platforms integrate multiple channels and devices, including social media and mobile devices, which gives us a much more comprehensive and integrated view of the prospects. 
  • Better alignment of sales and marketing objectives: thanks to the improvement in lead qualification, sales managers can appreciate a quality increase in the leads they receive. The existing tension regarding the relation quantity-quality of the opportunities generated through marketing decreases and, instead, the sales department’s productivity increases. 

Marketing Automation platforms’ features

There are some standard features that define this group within the MarTech field. 

  • Email Marketing campaign management.
  • Landing pages management.
  • Lead management (capturing, nurturing, and scoring).
  • Email Marketing campaign and landing page conversion reports.

The different providers have added other improvements to this set of features that significantly increase these tools’ potential. These are the main ones: 

  • Personalization based on dynamic content management: Some platforms have developed systems that automate content in emails, landing pages, and even webpages, once the user has been identified. Others will require you to use a separate landing page builders to use dynamic content, as they don’t have this function included. This feature is more frequently seen in the email field, as dynamic content management has been part of this industry’s standards for a long time. The main advantage of this feature is the automation and scalability of a large number of versions in real-time.
  • Lead Management: The most advanced platforms allow the integration of lead capturing from different sources (web visits, landing pages and forms, paid advertising campaigns, CRM, or social media). Once we have that lead in our centralized database, the combination of the profile (sociodemographic and psychographic), behavior (based on recency, frequency), and the content with which it interacts (clicks on email campaigns, content downloads, survey participation, etc.), will determine it’s scoring. The more data we have on the user, the more precise the score and, therefore, the higher the quality of the lead sent to the sales department. 
  • Account-Based Marketing (ABM): The application of Marketing Automation to Inbound Marketing strategies has proved highly effective in optimizing the conversion funnel. In the face of this, the natural evolution has been to optimize processes by adapting them to B2B complex sales contexts. That is, adapting Inbound Marketing techniques to the reality of selling to big corporations, a long process in which several people intervene in the purchase decision-making. In these cases, marketing’s strategic goal isn’t the lead (the person interested in our products or services) but the account (the whole of the people involved in a company purchase decision process). The focus has changed, and so have the Marketing Automation tools, adapting data modeling and its management to the “account” instead of the “lead.” ABM specifications deserve separate considerations, which we will not discuss here. 
  • Social Media Integration: Many Marketing Automation platforms help post, share, and track content on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram). This is relevant because it allows, on the one hand, to take advantage of the information-spreading opportunities these networks present and, on the other hand, the detection of profiles interested in our published content. In fact, another element that can be used in lead scoring is the engagement with the brand through social media. 
  • CRM Integrations: The most basic tool of a sales department is CRM. This is where we can add records and their attributes, hence the importance of having Marketing Automation integrated solutions. The aim of these integrations is none other than automatically informing CRM, in the least amount of time possible, of the relevant information recorded by Marketing Automation (for example, the transformation of an MGL – Marketing Qualifies Lead – into an SQL – Sales Qualified Lead). It also works the other way around, when a salesperson updates CRM data obtained through an off-line event (sales convention, for example). Most Marketing Automation platforms have native integrations with Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce, Oracle Netsuite, and SugarCRM.