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Marketing Automation: The Need for a Behavior-Based Program

by Ellen Valentine  |  
June 13, 2013

Marketers, consider this your wake up call. Now, more than ever, buyers have more control over the sales cycle. Many prospects are anywhere from 54% to 80% of the way through the buying cycle (PDF) before they're even comfortable inviting a sales rep into their evaluation process.

Marketers must therefore evolve with the buying cycle and find some new ways to own the early part of the sales process. How? Well, by incorporating recipient behaviors into their marketing strategy.

Change can be a bit scary. But considering that the goal of every marketing department is to deliver awesome experiences that encourage consumers to partner with and develop relationships with your brand, focusing on recipient behaviors should already be second nature, especially as data collection processes have improved over time.

For those marketers still using old-school processes that may not be incorporating buyer behavior, marketing automation technologies can help you make that transition. Marketing automation is commonly viewed as a time-saving, efficiency tool for marketers. But automation also enables greater possibilities when you use buyer data.

Here are a few steps in the journey toward a buyer-centric automation strategy, which I like to call "behavioral marketing automation."

Segmenting, and Sending Messages, Based on Behavior

The first step of behavioral marketing automation is to determine which target audiences exhibit similar characteristics. Upon identifying clusters, you can send those groups relevant messages based on shared characteristics. Harnessing other factors related to context, like timeframe, can also boost the marketing relevance of your messages.

Though a simple drip nurture program—sending something periodically to everyone not ready yet to buy—is always a good place to start with automation, shifting your marketing automation into a second, more focused (and so more appealing) behavior-driven gear can really afford you greater influence over the sales cycle.

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Ellen Valentine is evangelist at Silverpop, where she focuses on coaching and mentoring clients. She has more than 20 years of experience as vice-president of marketing/CMO for various technology companies, with expertise in launching new products, evaluating product and market positions, designing go-to-market strategy, and managing digital marketing initiatives.

Twitter: @EllenValentine

LinkedIn: Ellen Valentine

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  • by Ritchie Thu Jun 13, 2013 via web

    I definitely think there is value in Marketing Automation, but mainly from a B2B standpoint. Marketing Automation is all about capturing vital information (email address) and building a persona as the person revisits your website (name, phone, company, etc.) - its almost like building a relationship over time where you slowly get to know someone. We have a cheat sheet on Do's and Don't of Marketing Automation on our website that I encourage you to check out: (

  • by Keely Thu Jun 13, 2013 via web

    What automation tools or services would you recommend other than Hubspot or Infusionsoft?

  • by Tyler Fri Jun 14, 2013 via web

    Working off Ritchie's comment below I think it is easier to see the benefits of marketing automation within a B2B environment because of the more complex sales cycle. However, B2C marketers can gain more from marketing automation faster, especially in retail, hospitality and entertainment. Having the ability to re-message a customer who has abandoned their e-cart in real time asking them if they need help from a live agent at your company or if they are looking for a different type of product is very valuable. Also working of past purchasing history to re-message customers for repeat business is critical. For instance we have a client who crafted a marketing campaign of the birth of their client's child, thus over the first year of that client being a parent they would receive email tips on products that could make their job easier at the specific point of their child's development. For example: Best baby recipes/baby food in month one, and then in month 8 the top 10 strollers on the market, etc. This was pretty powerful, and our client achieved Total Cost of Ownership ROI within the first few months of their utilizing our marketing automation platform. That's just one example of B2C success we have.

  • by JonL Wed Jun 19, 2013 via web

    @Keely - you can find more options here other than HubSpot and Infusionsoft.

    Found that list shared over on Facebook recently so I think it's worth sharing it to you as well.

  • by Email Monks Wed Jul 17, 2013 via web

    Behavioural Data is the core of marketing automation! Automation rules will rely heavily on the past behaviour of the subscribers. Right offer, right person, right time and right channel will become the game changer. Marketing automation with a better behavioural database will also help marketers to specifically do user activity testing than the normal subject line testing and email testing.

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