The Year of Marketing Automation

Thursday, February 07, 2013 @ 04:00

By: Jordana Revella, Digital Marketing Strategist

I have unofficially deemed this year the Year of Marketing Automation. Why? It’s everywhere. According to Marketing Automation Times, there are at least 24 software-as-a service marketing automation providers, including Act-On Software, Eloqua, Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Marketo and Silverpop.

Beyond these SaaS providers, you can add content management systems like Sitecore to that list. Sitecore’s Digital Marketing System is a marketing automation and personalization system that leverages your entire website to perform A/B testing, trigger-based emails, list segmentation, personalization, lead scoring, and form development.

So, why is this the year? Because the technology is available and affordable. Because it can now be managed without ongoing IT assistance. Because marketers have a marketing mix that “doesn’t quit.” Because without it, it’s difficult to know which channels are performing best. Because marketers and their executives expect to have the insight available from these tools. And the list goes on…

If you read my guest blog post over at Design Room Creative, than you know my basic six steps for tackling marketing automation. And in this post, I want to continue the discussion on functionality. But before I do, here are my six steps for those of you who missed blog numero uno:

•             First. Discuss your company’s expectations for how marketing automation will support sales, service and marketing. What are you short-term and long-term goals? What is feasible, practical and affordable given your available resources?

•             Second. List out the products you’re interested in. Keep a master list of all features and functionality each provides.

•             Third. Make informed assumptions regarding how much time, money and personnel resources will be required for each solution and whether or not it requires assistance from an outside vendor.

•             Fourth. Map functionality to actual need.

•             Fifth. Make a decision and a timeline for how the product will be implemented.

•             Sixth. Get buy-in early and maintain buy-in throughout the entire process.

All of the items in the list above are essential. But for a moment, let’s dive into number four. Can anyone name all 50 features offered by marketing automation? What about each of the 50 feature’s prime advantages? Well, there aren't exactly 50, but you get my point. We’re not in school naming states and capitals, but when you’re comparing these products, you should know which products offer what functionality and how that functionality compares. It’s a lot to learn while continuing to perform daily tasks. 

So to help, here is a site I found that assesses marketing automation products:

While helpful and thorough, the site is not exactly up-to-date. So be sure to talk to a representative from each company before taking the information down as fact. It also doesn’t capture all of the products, but it has a few of the big ones.

And, to start, here is a list I recently compiled of the main and most important marketing automation features you can expect to see from SaaS providers and CMS providers (like Sitecore):

•             A/B Testing for Email Subject Lines

•             A/B testing for Landing Pages

•             A/B testing for Websites

•             Analytics, Reporting

•             Build Social Pages

•             Closed-Loop Reporting

•             Comprehensive Activity Tracking

•             Updates contact list automatically

•             CRM API Integration

•             Native CRM Push-Button Integration

•             Custom Development CRM Integration

•             Dynamic Email Content

•             Dynamic List Segmentation

•             Automatic Updating of Contact Lists

•             Add Social Buttons

•             Easy Lead scoring/lead management

•             Email marketing

•             Existing website integration

•             Forms

•             Forms in Email Message

•             Google Adword Integration

•             Landing pages

•             Responsive Design Landing Pages

•             Multivariate Testing

•             Professional Services

•             SEO assistance

•             Webinar integration

As always, I want to hear from you!

If you’re on Team Act-On or Team Sitecore – why? What aspects of these products influenced your decision? If you’re yet to join a team, what are the most appealing capabilities marketing automation can offer you?