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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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image of Katie Hollar

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 MarketingAutomationDiary.com.