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Marketing automation is a beast. Rare is the marketing executive who can clearly articulate what marketing automation is or how it works. Executives will budget for the monthly software fee without understanding that the software is the easy part.

But without content—reports, webinars, and follow-up emails—that expensive marketing automation software will be a big flop. Content is the fuel that makes any marketing automation system run.

From Stranger to Customer: Your Content's Purpose

Like it or not, marketing and sales is a self-service operation today. Buyers get an estimated 80% of the information they need online, well before they speak with a salesperson.

That information is what we loosely call "content," and it's the foundation of content marketing.

For marketers, the real purpose of content is to convert a complete stranger into a customer. Thus, the content you create follows the basic sales cycle.

Your content moves with prospects through the sales cycle. As people consume a piece of content, you use marketing automation software to simulate a person-to-person sale. You'll gain prospects' trust, determine their specific needs or interests, feed them the information they need to make an intelligent decision, and hand them the ideal solution on a silver platter.

Matching Content to the Sales Cycle and Marketing Automation

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Sid Smith is lead copywriter and marketing automation specialist for Albertson Performance Group. Sid has written on topics ranging from flex circuits to motherhood, but gets a real kick out of putting together the puzzle pieces of complex marketing automation strategies. Reach him via