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images(The Sales Lion, 2014)

 

Marketing Automation. Out of context and definition, it sounds like something that could replace all of us living, breathing marketing professionals, no?

In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Marketing Automation is in essence, powerful software that allows companies “to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers.” (HubSpot – www.hubspot.com) And while this new, fast growing technological tool can significantly improve a company’s bottom line, it must still be managed by top flight employees who can still generate leads, interpret data, and make strong recommendations to upper management about the most likely avenues for growth.

You Mon Tsang wrote in AdAge late last week about automation’s quick adoption by technology firms and Fortune 500s, yet its delay in implementation among midsize businesses. He cites the software’s increasing user-friendliness as a prime opportunity for these late-adopters to finally get in the automation game. And it seems that he may be right on target. VentureBeat ran a story yesterday about how quickly automation is gaining traction among local businesses looking to increase revenue by growing customer bases.

For all the tech talk, what stuck us most was that  the very introduction of marketing automation software to Main Street, required a bit of marketing in and of itself! ReachLocal, the company profiled in the article, called its automation product “smart sites” rather than “marketing automation.” That change seems to resonate with these businesses. It goes back to our little “out-of-context” statement at the start of this piece. To a tech firm that live and breathes this stuff on a daily basis, “Marketing Automation” sounds exciting and interesting. “Let’s open this thing up and see what it can do!” But to a local auto repair shop? Or doctor? These words might not carry the same meaning. In fact, they might not mean anything at all and if they don’t have meaning, how can they justify spending limited marketing dollars on an unknown system?

In the end, no matter who is running your company’s marketing and what tools they are using, intimate knowledge of the market is critical for success of any initiative. A comprehensive understanding of where to meet your customers, in what channels, and with what message is the driver of realizing any significant marketing ROI.