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What Is Marketing Automation, and Why Does It Matter to You?

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Today, most companies use some kind of online marketing—via a website, email marketing, a customer relationship management (CRM) system, or search advertising.

Recently, a new type of online marketing system, marketing automation, has become popular. What is it, how does it work, and should you adopt it?

What Is Marketing Automation?

A marketing automation system helps you manage your leads, which is different from lead generation. The goal of lead generation is to get more names in your database; the goal of marketing automation is to transform raw leads into Sales-ready leads.

Marketing automation bridges the gap between lead-generation activities and follow-up by Sales. Because Sales will get better-educated leads who are ready to talk to a salesperson, it removes the main cause for tension between Sales and Marketing: low-quality leads.



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Jep Castelein is the founder of LeadSloth (www.leadsloth.com), a marketing-automation consulting firm that focuses on making B2B marketing more effective and more accountable. Follow him on Twitter (@jepc), or contact him via jep@leadsloth.com.

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  • by Parker Trewin Tue May 11, 2010 via web

    Jep, Nice overview of marketing automation. I would take issue with one statement: "Marketing automation is to marketers what CRM is to salespeople." The problem that many sales people have with CRM is the information is often inputted for the manager's benefit versus the rep's benefit. They don't see CRM as driving their business. They see it as helping their manager's keep track of their pipeline. Marketing automation, however, not only automates the handling of leads but qualifies them as they progress, ultimately providing "sales ready leads" to sales - which are actionable. And marketing gets the credit for handing them over.

  • by Jason Kort Tue May 11, 2010 via web

    Great post! Marketing automation is often interchanged with CRM and it is really a separate business process. Marketing automation is centered around lead management, cultivation, and conversion.

  • by Mac McIntosh Wed May 12, 2010 via web

    Useful stuff, Jep.

    There's more on the subject of what is "marketing automation" at www.sales-lead-insights.com/2010/b2b-marketing-automation-definition/

    -Mac
    mcintosh at sales-lead-experts dot com

  • by Jeff Chamberlain Sun May 16, 2010 via web

    Nice summary of lead management solutions. I would challenge you to consider marketing automation in a broader context. There's a tremendous amount that happens before and outside of lead management and web capture of leads in marketing. To equate marketing automation with lead management discounts the planning, creation, collaboration and coordination that goes on in marketing and between marketing and other departments outside of the lead handling process. Aprimo has had a broader view of marketing since our inception 12 years. Consider Spend Management, Workflow & Project Management, Brand Management, Campaign Management, Social Marketing, Email Marketing, Event Management and Performance Analysis in addition to Lead Management - www.aprimo.com.

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