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Marketing Automation 101

Marketing Automation 101

You worked hard to build a beautiful website. You’re trying marketing tactics like social media, email and blogging to stay in touch with your customers and prospects.

Now you’re hearing buzz about even more marketing tools, but all that technology comes with a lot of questions. What is HubSpot? Do you need landing pages? How is email marketing different than marketing automation?

If you’re looking for answers about what marketing automation is and what it can do for your business, keep reading.

What Does Marketing Automation Do?

In the simplest terms, marketing automation tracks your audience’s behavior and syncs it with your marketing activity. Let’s say someone clicks a Facebook post, lands on your website, reads three blog posts and downloads an e-book. If you don’t have marketing automation, you might see that you got a new lead but you won’t understand how that person found you or what they read before they decided to download. If you’re using marketing automation properly, you can track that person all the way back to their initial Facebook click. Then you can stay in touch with them by sending them content similar to what they’ve already shown an interest in.

Susan Shoptaugh is a Louisiana-based marketing expert and director of digital automation and analytics at cj Advertising. She helps clients harness the power of marketing automation, and she explains it this way: Unlike traditional advertising like TV or radio, which push out one message to a wide audience, digital marketing powered by automation shares personalized messages based on someone’s unique behavior.

The result? “The company gets to share their message with an audience that’s interested in them, and the potential customer receives content that’s relevant to them as well,” she says.

What Are the Marketing Automation Tools Available?

You may have heard of HubSpot, which is one of the original marketing automation platforms. HubSpot is an example of an all-in-one platform. You can use HubSpot to build a website, write and publish blog posts, share downloadable e-books, schedule social media posts, send personalized marketing emails and even track your sales. Marketo is another all-in-one platform — one of HubSpot’s competitors.

While HubSpot and Marketo are consolidated, powerful, B2B-friendly solutions, they’re also expensive. Some B2B companies opt to build their own suite of specialized tools instead. For example, you might use WordPress to build your website, MailChimp to send marketing emails and a customer-relationship management tool like Pipedrive to track leads and sales. If you’re compiling your own suite of marketing automation tools, it’s important to make sure each tool talks to the others so you can see your contacts’ journey all the way through the process. Connectors like Zapier make that easier. In general, if you want to avoid the big marketing automation platforms and piece together your own, you’ll need some marketing know-how and basic tech skills.

How Can You Get Started?

The first step? Map out your strategy, then look for tools that can power your goals. If you keep your most basic needs in mind, you’ll avoid overbuying or buying the wrong kind of tools.

“Marketing automation platforms have a lot to offer and it’s easy to get swept away,” Shoptaugh says. “Make sure you continue to focus on the problem you’re trying to solve before you jump to the next cool feature the platform offers.”

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