What Is Marketing Automation and Why Does It Matter to You?

Marketing automation technology first appeared about 15 years ago to allow marketers to more effectively and efficiently accomplish tasks. Automation allows companies to analyze, standardize, and generally streamline a wide range of marketing tasks and workflows.

Companies that use marketing automation have a 107% better lead conversion rate and 40% greater average deal size, according to the Aberdeen Group.

How Do I Learn Marketing Automation?

The problem faced by many marketers looking to implement automation is that the topic seems too broad and technologically nuanced to tackle.

But, rest assured, that isn't so! All you need to get started with marketing technology are the right resources to move you from greenhorn to automation wizard.

Marketing Automation Reading Materials

Looking to start your journey with self-education? There is no shortage of guides, books, and articles online and in stores for marketers looking to get their hands on information about automation.

Marketing Automation for Dummies

Yes, it may sound cheesy, but the 2014 book, written by Pardot Marketing Automation Evangelist Mathew Sweezey, is an outstanding practical guide to implementing automation. It discusses working with the marketing lifecycle, evaluating your assets, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and applying automation to everything from social media to drip emails in the traditional Dummies format.

Marketing Automation Simplified: The Small Guide to Big Ideas

This Eloqua e-book breaks marketing automation down to examine the core elements of modern marketing strategy. You will gain insight into how to refine your targeting, engagement, analysis, and conversion methods while also learning about the role technology plays in achieving all that.

The Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation

This nine-part, hundred-page guide from Marketo covers numerous topics, including "common features in marketing automation" and "why is marketing automation so hot right now?" It is available to download for free from the company's site.

Chief Marketing Technologist Blog

The blog is written by Scott Brinker, president and CTO of Ion Interactive. He offers insights from his years of experience with marketing technology. The Chief Marketing Technologist Blog discusses marketing automation's impact on strategy, management, and culture.

Marketing Automation Certifications

One of the best ways to attain a thorough understanding of a subject is to become certified in it, and luckily that applies to automation. Here are just some of the online courses to marketers looking to gain expertise—and prove it.

HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification

As an inbound marketing giant, HubSpot is one of the best sources to look to for marketing courses of all kinds. Its basic inbound certification, which is free, covers all of the necessary basics you need to get started. The five-hour course is followed by a certification test, making for a valuable investment without an overwhelming time commitment.

Salesforce Pardot Certified Specialist

Salesforce Pardot's course is another good choice for automation certification in the context of more specific software. You can take the exam remotely or in one of Pardot's offline testing centers after using its knowledge base and study guide. Unlike some other certifications, this course is paid ($200), but it's worth the price for those marketers interested in becoming a Pardot specialist.

Marketo Certified Expert

This technical certification course from Marketo University is tailored to Marketo customers and partners, as it validates competency in the use of the company's software. Priced at $225, the certification is recommended for more seasoned marketers with 1-2 years of prior experience with both automation in general and Marketo itself.

User Groups

User groups, which are created by marketers with similar interests or goals, can be a great place to find mentors and other users willing to provide help. Some also provide free resources, including trainings and workshops. Some of the larger names are covered here.

Marketo User Groups

Join a group in one of 50+ cities globally, or find a virtual group online tailored to a particular subject, such as marketing automation. With monthly or quarterly meetings, you will have a support network at your fingertips in no time.

Local HubSpot Groups

Over 150 HUGs meet all over the world to discuss HubSpot and learn together. Discover HubSpot and inbound marketing best-practices, taught by other HubSpot users.

Eloqua User Groups

Likeminded marketers meet regionally to share expertise and gain knowledge related to the Eloqua platform and trends in marketing as a whole.

Salesforce Pardot Groups

Pardot's user groups are organized by region, industry, and product, as well as a couple of other specializations. You're sure to find your niche.

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups, such as Marketing Automation Software, Marketing Automation Experts, and Marketing Automation Network, are great places to seek information and get answers to your most pressing marketing automation questions.

Marketing Automation Experts

Here are a few of the leading voices in the field. Experience, curiosity, and quality content creation on marketing automation-related topics are what make these professionals stand out.

Eric Wittlake

Coming at marketing automation from a B2B perspective, Eric Wittlake provides valuable advice with his expertise in the technological side of marketing as well as direct strategic initiatives. He shares his knowledge at B2BDigital and on several marketing blogs, including the TOPO blog.

Lynette Young

Young heads the marketing and Web services side of ClaimWizard and is the founder of Purple Stripe Productions. Lynette works with brand agencies and in-house professionals with a special focus on digital media marketing. She is the author of the books Google+ for Small Businesses and The Most Important Content Marketing Question EVER.

Nicole Pereira

Pereira's ranking as a Top 10 HubSpot Power User and role as co-leader of the largest HubSpot User Group in the world has led her to be featured in CMS Wire and Bedrock Data's HubSpot Power User series, and as a Marketing Maestro for Synup. You can find Nicole on LinkedIn at one of the monthly events of her nonprofit SD Inbound Marketing.

Other Marketing Automation Resources

Here are a couple of free, miscellaneous supplementary resources.

Best Marketing Automation Software 2017 List

Capterra's annual rankings of the top automation software available, complete with starred reviews.

Marketing Over Coffee Podcast

The short weekly show hosted by John J. Wall and Christopher S. Penn at a local coffee shop covers the latest news, tips, and tricks in modern marketing, including automation.

The Internet Is Your Best Friend

Online resources are often more readily available than they may seem. Reaching out on a forum or simply googling a topic is often a viable solution for troubleshooting. Many marketers are in the same boat, and many more are willing to help others get onboard with automation.

If you would like more resources on marketing and sales technology, also check out The Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation.

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image of Tammy Duggan-Herd

Dr. Tammy Duggan-Herd is a researcher turned marketer. After attaining a PhD in Applied Social Psychology, she helped launch digital marketing agency Campaign Creators, where she now directs internal marketing strategy.

LinkedIn: Tamara Duggan-Herd, PhD

Twitter: @tammy_herd