Until recently, the term “marketing automation” had grown slowly in popularity, becoming common corporate parlance only among a small group of SaaS developers in select parts of India and Silicon Valley. But during the past 3 months, “marketing automation” and “marketing automation software” have shot up Google’s search trend ranking, totaling nearly 200,000 search queries in the U.S. in August alone. Suddenly, it seems that the names of marketing solution companies such as Eloqua and Marketo are on the lips of half the enterprise-level boardrooms in America.
Just what those terms mean differs greatly depending on who you ask.
We see marketing automation as a technology that allows marketers to automate a number of high-impact tasks that are typically manual and repetitive. These solutions are not a replacement for sophisticated marketing managers, rather they allow marketing professionals to be far more effective and influential in driving sales.
Furthermore, marketing automation tools are typically based in the cloud, and are often interoperable with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. However, marketing automation systems can also be a replacement for other types of marketing suits, such as cloud-based email marketing services, analytics, page testing and Web site development tools. For example, within an automation suite, companies can build entire Web sites, test and optimize customer response to those sites, launch related email marketing campaigns, create automated drip campaigns to prospects and manage invitations to Webinars.
That’s really just a small slice of what’s possible. What we’re witnessing is a sea-change: a small handful of companies are bringing together a multitude of services that have been incredibly fragmented for more than a decade. It also give you a sense of why the term “marketing automation” is so clunky – it’s really impossible to describe all the things these services can do in an eloquent manner.
As evidence-based marketers, we love these systems precisely because they make it possible to track nearly every relevant response by a prospect or customer within a campaign. They also make it possible to execute extremely sophisitaced marketing strategies within (or mostly within) a single solution.