The essence of marketing automation is multifold and ever expanding, but here are its essential elements:

  1. Create and distribute content across multiple channels.
  2. Capture and synthesize a broad range of digital marketing interactions of prospects and customers.
  3. Devise automated rules to quantitatively assess and score leads.
  4. Automatically distribute the most promising leads to salespeople so that they can spend time selling to receptive prospects versus prospecting.
  5. Construct automated workflows to nurture prospects with relevant content until such time as they either disengage or become qualified.

marketing automation features

Although functionality varies from platform to platform, the basic features of marketing automation software include the following:

Data Management:

Import, export, scrub, de-dupe, remove opt-outs, upload/download to CRM, and segment customer and prospect data records.

Email Marketing:

Create, test, schedule, send, and report on outbound email messages.

Landing Pages:

Literally, these are pages that we want prospects to “land” on. Marketing Automation software should streamline landing page production and report on interactions.

Lead Capture:

Streamline production of web forms to efficiently capture prospect and customer data.

Lead Nurturing:

Nurture programs combine behavioral and profile data with automated work flows to engage with selected prospects over time, in a way that is manageable and meaningful. Nurturing a prospect involves setting up an automated sequence of marketing steps based on a trigger event.

Lead Scoring:

Quantify lead quality based on both demographic criteria (e.g. industry, size, job title) and behavior (e.g., clicks, website visits, downloads, etc.). Both demographics and behavior are important. One way to think about the difference is that behavioral data of a prospect describes their interest in you while demographic data highlights your interest in the prospect. Configurable scoring rules include time-based scores for interactions—a page visit today is worth more than a page visit last week.

Lead Tracking & Reporting:

Track marketing activities such as website visits, campaign responses, downloads, and page views. Anonymous visitor tracking should be convertible to “known” leads based on certain conversion events such as a form completion or an email open. Even without a conversion event, leads (not individuals, but companies) can be identified using Reverse DNS Lookup (sometimes called Reverse IP Address Lookup). This is the determination of a domain name that is associated with a given IP address using the Domain Name System (DNS) of the Internet.

Lead Routing:

Route appropriate leads to nurture campaigns or to the sales organization and integrate with CRM systems based on digital interactions and lead scores.

Return on Marketing Analysis:

Tie the leads generated from forms, campaigns or other sources directly into your CRM opportunity management system in order to calculate an ROI from various marketing activities.

Additional Features

Marketing automation providers are continually adding to their mix of features. The following features are found in a growing number of platforms.

Social Media Integration:

Post messages to social media sites from within the marketing automation platform and provide streamlined ways to share content to social sites. Respond to and engage with leads and prospects who interact with you via social networks and posts.

Data Integration:

Identify contacts at prospect firms who have visited your website and landing pages, and import directly into your marketing platform.

Google AdWords and SEO Integration:

View Google AdWords campaigns and search engine optimization efforts from within the marketing automation platform, and tie revenue generation to inbound marketing efforts.