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Which Comes First: Content or Marketing Automation Software?

by Katie Hollar  |  
July 31, 2013

For most software purchases, you identify a business process that could be accomplished more efficiently with the help of technology. Then you buy it. Then you use it. Then your life becomes easier.

For marketers, however, it's not that simple. (Of course not, we're marketers!)

Though marketing automation software can help you communicate more efficiently and effectively with your prospects, you still need a human to produce the content to engage with those prospects. Likewise, you need the content to pique the interest of your prospective customers, but you need marketing automation (MA) to deliver that content to them.

And by content, I mean everything from email copy to whitepapers, tweets, and blog posts.

So that raises the question, What should come first: The content or the software?

Finally, an Answer to the Classic Chicken and Egg Dilemma...

Fortunately, this one is easier to figure out than the origins of life. You will need some content before you buy marketing automation software, as well as a plan for what content you'll need to create after you buy. But you shouldn't wait to buy MA while you finish ALL of your content.

Building a robust library of content is an ongoing process, and it's something that can and should continue long after you've purchased marketing automation software. In fact, the MA's functionality can actually inspire new forms and uses for your content that you'd never thought of before.

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Katie Hollar is the marketing manager at Capterra, a free service that helps people find and compare business software. She blogs about B2B marketing and recently bought marketing automation software for Capterra and chronicled the process at

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  • by Julian Poulter Wed Jul 31, 2013 via web

    I think thats a fair assessment of when you should acquire Marketing Automation software and a good answer to the chicken and egg question! The process outlined is also clear and simple.
    Julian Poulter

  • by Randy Wed Jul 31, 2013 via web

    there would be nothing to automate without content!

  • by Brent White Wed Jul 31, 2013 via web

    Great information and love the format it's presented in. Very informative and educational for even the first time marketer.
    Brent White

  • by Gracious Store Wed Jul 31, 2013 via web

    Content and automation software are two faces of a coin, bott are necessary and should go hand in hand

  • by Tamar Thu Aug 1, 2013 via web

    Hi Katie, fantastic post and elaboration on problems that arise when considering marketing automation. Here's a contribution to your 4th point for the top funnel: Our customers have seen success in our mapping the digital customer decision journey by identifying location, organization, and digital behavior. I'm looking forward to reading your blog on marketing automation too!

  • by Tony Yang Mon Oct 14, 2013 via web

    Good post Katie. From my perspective, I think the key is to understand what gaps you need to fill in your lead nurturing funnel and then find ways to repurpose content in various formats to fully take advantage of content you already have.

    I wrote more about this in our post...would love to hear how other B2B marketers are approaching this!

  • by Mary Wallace Mon Nov 11, 2013 via web

    Hi Katie - What a great way to say content can't get to the audience without marketing automation, and marketing automation can't deliver on its value without the content. Clearly content is the gemstone marketing cant live without ( Together content and marketing automation are changing the face of marketing.

    Mary Wallace

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