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Quarta-feira, Novembro 30, 2022

What is marketing automation software?


Marketing automation software is designed to help marketers capture leads, develop relationships, and move prospects through the sales funnel at scale. This includes several categories of functionality: email, social media, web marketing, multi-channel marketing, and analytics. Marketing automation is an out-of-the-box method for harnessing customer data from multiple sources and developing marketing strategies and tactics that work across different mediums.

While marketing automation does automate some processes, this software doesn’t turn your brand into a robot. Marketing automation lets you scale your efforts to build relationships with multiple prospects across several different channels and provide them with a consistent experience despite their differing interests or needs. And when you properly segment your audience, this technology actually allows you to build more meaningful relationships with your prospects by providing them with content that’s relevant to their interests.

Best marketing automation software by company size

Enterprise SMB
Eloqua Infusionsoft
Marketo Hubspot
Pardot Salesfusion
Silverpop Act-On

Common marketing automation features

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While CRM and MA software are inherently different, they do share some features. MA software is essentially more specialized, but can appear as a subset of CRM platforms in certain cases.

Regardless, common features do exist for marketing automation tools, and can be classified in the following ways.

1. Email marketing

Email is one of the oldest forms of digital communication, but remains extremely effective. Although consumers have grown somewhat jaded to email marketing due to marketers’ past and continued abuse of the medium, email remains one of the most effective means of communicating with your audience. This makes it an excellent starting place for marketing automation.

Email functionality is one of the core components of what marketing automation vendors offer, and every decent platform should include features that allow you to send emails en mass to segmented audiences. More advanced platforms will send triggered emails after prospects take certain actions, such as filling out a form or downloading a piece of content. Marketers can also use these tools to create, edit, and embed forms on their website that they can use for lead generation and email outreach.

Basic marketing automation email features

These features should come standard with most solutions. Use them as a checklist when doing a basic marketing automation software comparison.

  • Segmentation and batch emails: All marketing automation vendors include platforms that allows users to send emails en mass to segmented groups of customers. Templates and a native email design are also common features. These functions make your marketing efforts more personal if you use them to send segmented and targeted emails.
    • By segmenting your prospects and communicating with each group in a way that’s relevant to their interests, you build trust. And as a key benefit, one Mailchimp study found that segmented campaigns had a 14 percent higher open rate than non-segmented campaigns.
  • Behavioral trigger emails: A behavioral trigger email sends designated content to prospects if they take an action on your site such as downloading content or completing a form. Follow up emails offer your audience reassurance by confirming that their action was noticed by your organization and that you are currently in the process of responding to their request. While most email marketing tools and MA platforms have the ability to trigger automatic emails, 43 percent of marketers don’t use these tools, which leaves a lot of room for newcomers to the tools to take advantage of their benefits.
  • Forms: A form creator gives you the freedom to build and edit your own email marketing forms. The tool provides code that you embed on your website pages, and the information the user enters will show up in the marketing automation tool. This code lets you collect email addresses and other lead data from visitors in exchange for content, promotions, or an email newsletter.
  • Mobile Optimization: Most people check email on their phone, so ensuring that your email content is readable and just as eye-catching on a phone as it is on desktop is essential. Most email and MA tools have made the switch to mobile optimization, letting you view an email in mobile and desktop view before sending.

Advanced email marketing features

These features offer users more advanced functions, and may not be found in every MA platform.

  • Dynamic Personalization: Personalization of marketing emails has come a long way since we first started making different lists for different types of customers. Using dynamic personalization, marketing automation tools can pull pretty much any type of customer information from your CRM or contact list to build a tailored email. These tools use dynamic tagging to select, match, and include content in the email. Marketing teams often use dynamic personalization to send mass emails while still keeping a personalized feel for the email.
  • Split Testing: Synonymous with A/B testing, this email tool lets you run different versions of the same email campaign to a test audience, analyze which version of your email has a better engagement rate, and even automatically send the best performer to the rest of your list. Teams often use split testing to find the best subject line, content, design, send time, or to test pretty much any element of the email you can change.

2. Lead Nurturing

Lead nurture is a feature offered by some of the best marketing automation software tools. It helps companies track, segment, and communicate with leads in order to convert them from a prospect to a paying customer. Here are the basic and advanced lead nurture functions found in marketing automation programs.

Basic lead nurturing features

  • Lead Database: Similar to a CRM database, a marketing automation lead database offers an in-depth perspective on prospect behavior. It tracks common data such as customer behavior on your website, engagement with your email campaigns, shares and likes on social media, and conversations with marketing, sales, and customer service. A lead database may also communicate with the company’s CRM and will share the lead score with relevant integrations.
  • Drip Campaigns: The main form of nurturing new leads toward a sale, drip campaigns send content to prospects to build trust in your organization, expand brand awareness, and offer right-time content. Set up a drip campaign by choosing the content pieces that move leads through the funnel, and the drip campaign will send that content to the lead based on time, lead actions, or other triggers.
    • The best drip campaigns are set up as a logical progression from one action to the next. Did your prospect download a content asset from your website? The next step in the drip campaign is to follow up with an offer regarding that type of product, or with even more content about that same technology.
    • The most common drip campaigns run through email, but many of today’s marketing automation tools can also incorporate social media and other channels.
  • Task and Alert Automation: Most SaaS products include task automation, alerts, and notifications as standard features. These tools cut down on the manual processes and amount of memory juggling that goes into paying personalized attention to leads. As automation becomes more commonplace, it becomes more widely used, helping teams complete more tasks in less time.

Advanced lead nurturing features

  • Segmentation: Quality segmentation that takes into account demographic information, professional details, and online behavior helps marketers deliver relevant content to each individual prospect. This feature relies heavily on lead score functionality. While list segmentation can still happen the old fashioned way via spreadsheet, lead segmentation tools will streamline the process and pull lead reports based on nearly any standard or custom information field or tag.
  • Lead Scoring: Lead scoring is a method of ranking prospective customers by their potential to convert into a lead. Each user’s score determines the type of communication they receive from the organization, the frequency of that communication, and the department from which that communication originates. Lead scoring often combines demographic information alongside behavioral information, such as website activity, past purchases, and social media actions.
    • Lead scoring plays a huge part in determining the way organizations interact with prospects. Advanced lead scoring features take into account recent behavior and adjust scores accordingly. A high lead score often indicates buying intention, which can help your sales team determine what type of offer to make.

3. Social media

While certain standalone applications like Hootsuite and Buffer could be considered marketing automation, larger platforms will include many of the same message-scheduling features found in these standalone platforms. MA software often features social analytics tools that allow you to track what your audience posts across social platforms, as well as who shares your content and with whom they share it.

Additional social capabilities of this technology include creating polls, sweepstakes, and referral programs using a tool built into the MA software. Event-triggered capabilities also let you prompt prospects to share content at precisely the right time while they engage with your content.

  • Posting and scheduling: Marketing automation tools that include social media management should primarily work to help teams post to all of their social media accounts from a single interface. These tools often have scheduling features where teams can set up posts weeks and months in advance, and scheduling posts can save teams up to 6 hours per week by one estimation. Social post scheduling is particularly useful for marketing teams with defined social media strategies and the content depth to repost evergreen content several times a month to capture new readers.
  • Social listening: Social media marketing isn’t just about posting into the void and hoping that you’ll catch a prospect with your amazing content (although that’s part of it). Social media marketing works best when it’s a conversation between you and potential or current customers. Social listening tools scour social media sites looking for mentions of your brand, product, service, or designated keywords, so you can stay up to date on the conversation.
  • Social interactions through messaging: To follow up on all of those new possible customers you find through your social listening tools, social media marketing automation tools will also provide an interface for you to send direct messages. These features help you to engage with new social media contacts, facilitate fast damage control (should you ever need it), and provide customer service directly to leads and prospects as well as current customers.

4. Analytics and reporting

The greatest benefit of automating your marketing efforts—after scaling personalized marketing to larger audiences—is getting in-depth analytics. Most marketing automation tools look a lot like business intelligence software with dashboards that display the company’s most important marketing KPIs in easy-to-understand visualizations.

  • Website analytics: Most companies analyze their website traffic through Google Analytics (because it’s free and powerful) or another on-site analytics tool. Make sure that your marketing automation software can integrate with your website analytics tool, so you can see all of your website traffic information in a single place. Integrated website analytics tools will let you see the full scope of your marketing efforts and how your campaigns affect your website traffic, conversions, and ultimately the ROI of your marketing efforts.
    • Advanced website analytics features will help marketers understand the impact of keyword targeting, SEO changes to website content, and may possibly include individual website rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Multi-channel analytics: Your website isn’t the only marketing channel that must connect with your marketing automation software. While most marketing automation platforms provide analysis for email and content marketing, you will want to analyze all your campaigns in a single platform. When researching a marketing automation tool, check to make sure you can connect to data from these sources:
    • PPC and retargeting campaigns for search and display ads
    • Social media
    • Ecommerce platforms
    • Direct mail
    • Call metrics
    • Traditional media (TV, radio, billboards)
    • Online directories (Yelp, Yext,
  • Lead funnels: Marketing automation and analytics have turned marketing from an art into a science. Marketers now rely on detailed open, click, and engagement metrics to understand how customers interact with their content all throughout the sales funnel. This has come a long way since the days of using gut feeling to know when a lead should be passed to sales.
    • By aggregating data from across your marketing efforts, you can get a clearer picture of your funnels and the success of your campaigns. That includes providing insight into:
      • Which types of content nurtures or closes leads
      • Which types of content hold your leads back from buying or progressing down your funnel
      • Where leads fall out of the funnel most quickly
      • When your team should act quickly on hot leads to close the deal
    • Most marketing automation tools will provide visual dashboards of aggregated lead data and funnel visualizations to help your team better understand your lead funnels and find the bottlenecks.
  • Conversion rates & ROI: One of the most concrete metrics available for marketers to report on the success of their campaigns is the measurement of conversions and return on investment (ROI). Modern marketing automation tools allow marketers to track their spend, attribute revenue, analyze conversion rates for individual assets and channels, and report these figures to C-levels and stakeholders.

5. SEO, paid media, and digital advertising

Mostly found in enterprise marketing automation tools, SEO, paid media, and digital advertising features help marketers run their paid campaigns from the centralized marketing tool where most other marketing campaigns live. SMBs may find that managing these campaigns in free or best of breed tools is sufficient, but it doesn’t hurt to have all that data consolidated in a single interface for analytics.

  • Personalized customer targeting: Companies who do not work to make their marketing more personalized to the individual wants and needs of consumers will find themselves left in the proverbial dust of their competitors. Marketers find increasing success with personalization through retargeting campaigns, detailed audience targeting for ads, and multi-channel nurture campaigns that make use of all the places where customers spend their time. Teams that run these types of campaigns in a marketing automation tool can draw upon multi-channel data for specific customers and leads to build their targeting and segments.
  • Account-based marketing: Although the buzz about account based marketing (ABM) has died down a bit since its height in 2016, many companies still use this marketing technique to increase revenue and ROI. ABM tools in marketing automation software help companies run multi-channel engagement campaigns that target specific companies.
  • Organic and paid search: Understanding how your website stacks up against your competitors and placing your site where you’ll get the most clicks on the search engine results pages (SERPs) is a full-time job. Gathering your website analytics, ad campaign metrics, and digital display targeting into a single interface can both make that job simpler and give your team maximum insight into campaign success.
  • Custom website landing pages and lead capture forms: Paid search and display media rely on an agreement between keywords, the ad, and the landing page. Most marketing automation tools will provide you with customized landing page builders and lead capture forms that teams can customize to fit your online ads to drive lead captures and provide immediate value to customers.

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