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Three Good Reasons for Marketing Automation (and Three Bad Ones)

by Jep Castelein  |  
July 13, 2010

Marketing automation—one of the new buzzwords in marketing—bridges the gap between lead generation and the sales force.

In the past, any lead was passed over to Sales, making the follow-up frustrating: Most of the time, sales reps wasted time on lousy leads.

The goal of marketing automation is to improve Sales and Marketing alignment by passing over only sales-ready leads.

But why would you be interested in marketing automation? In this article, I present three good reasons (and three bad ones) to adopt marketing automation.

Three Good Reasons

1. Fix follow-up failure

In the sales funnel, there is a big gap between generation of raw leads and personal follow-up by sales.

Lead generation is a well-understood area, but a "lead" is defined as any name you add to the database, regardless of whether the prospect is ready or qualified to talk to a salesperson.

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Jep Castelein is the founder of LeadSloth (, 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

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  • by Scott Mersy Tue Jul 13, 2010 via web

    Good stuff. Your comment #2 on "bad reasons" is further evidence of confusion in terminology across "Lead Management", "Marketing Automation", and "Demand Generation." A marketing automation system without the capability to help marketers gather more leads and better track the campaigns that are generating them is a handicapped one.

    Strong demand generation capabilities (which should include tracking any online campaign, including Social Media activities, along with forms to capture the leads from those campaigns) should be inherent to a good marketing system and can indeed be a very good reason to buy.

    I do agree, however, that if lead generation is the primary goal, going all the way to a marketing automation system may be too much of a leap right off the bat. That's why Genius recently launched our Demand Generation product, which is many find to be the right next-step up from email marketing without the added complexity of marketing automation.

    Scott Mersy
    VP of Marketing INc

  • by Doug Bowker Tue Jul 13, 2010 via web

    Good points, and definitely worth keeping in mind. However it seems to me to be a bit of a narrow definition of Marketing and Marketing automation. As both a former Marketing executive (VP at a $200 milion firm) and a now Marketing services provider, Marketing does not start with a bucket full of leads to nurture, it includes generating those leads. That same scope shoud apply to Marketing automation. In my opinion a Marketing automation strategy and solution should both generate and nurture leads; otherwise as defined in the blog above it is only a lead nurturing automation solution.

  • by Paul Markun Tue Jul 13, 2010 via web

    Jep- you are right, buying for the wrong reasons increases ones chances of buying the wrong stuff!

    To expand on your Good Reasons:
    1. Fix follow-up failure
    In addition to Email Campaigns, make sure your website itself is sending sales qualified leads over to sales, even before (and as) you nurture.

    2. Make campaigns buyer-centric
    A great way to do this is to segment their interests on your website as well, by listening and watching to their interests interactively.

    3. Make marketing's contribution to the pipeline measurable
    We also ask the sales team to provide feedback on what helped close each deal, to build buy-in and credibility.

    Summary- include your website and the sales team too!
    cheers- Paul Markun
    VP Marketing

  • by Jep Castelein Wed Jul 14, 2010 via web

    To Scott & Doug: I agree mostly with both of you, so let me clarify Bad Reason #2: I've worked with companies who have few leads in their database (or the wrong leads), but they still wanted to use marketing automation. Instead, I recommend that they first focus on growing their lead database through SEO, search advertising, social media, website conversion optimization, online events, list building, etc. Marketing Automation helps you optimize your lead generation strategies, but it doesn't actually do it for you. So with Bad Reason #2 I just meant that you shouldn't get a marketing automation system primarily for lead gen.

    @ Paul: great tips, especially "fixing follow-up failure" and "measurable marketing" (also nice alliterations :-)

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