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An overview of marketing automation

Carl Maerz is a co-founder of Rocket Referrals.

Are you familiar with marketing automation? It’s certainly been a buzzword in the business world for the last half decade as companies search for more efficient ways to communicate with their prospects and existing clients. Put loosely, marketing automation refers to software platforms aimed at automating communication on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automating repetitive tasks.

Over the last decade the term ‘marketing automation’ has stretched into a catchall for any software product that aids a business in communicating with, well … other people. And although the semantics have blurred, there are indeed stark differences between products that fall within this category. At Rocket Referrals we found that many people were confusing our software with other programs on the market by using this broad interpretation of marketing automation. Therefore, we grouped products into four different categories – allowing businesses to better choose the software that fits their business and specific objectives.

At the end of the day it’s important to have a clear goal in mind before settling on a marketing automation platform. Oftentimes companies attempt to shoehorn the wrong system to meet their objectives rather than taking time to understand the nuances between them. Choosing the right one will depend on your overarching goal, marketing know-how, time, industry and budget, to name a few.

Email marketing software

(MailChimp, ConstantContact)

Sending and tracking batch emails to segmented lists of contacts. Email marketing was originally created as an alternative to sending groups of contacts blind carbon copied emails (bcc). This, combined with more advanced segmenting tools, allowed businesses to increase the personalization of their email campaigns.

Prospect nurturing software

(Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign)

Automates regular communication to groups of prospects in effort to convert them into sales. In addition to simple lists, prospect nurturing software has a more proactive approach of collecting leads by way of web forms and landing pages. It also facilitates multiple communication paths for each prospect, based on measureable behavior to increase lead conversion rates.

Inbound marketing automation

(HubSpot, Marketo)

Generates top-of-funnel leads by distributing unique content across email, social media and websites – then nurtures the leads with tailored communication based on profiles formed by their interactions with the content (clicks, likes, etc.).

Relationship marketing automation

(Rocket Referrals)

Automates highly personalized and meaningful communication to increase referrals, retention and online visibility. This is done by first evaluating the loyalty of individual clients, and then using psychology-driven content to influence desired behavior. Additionally, touch points are sent to existing clients that both maintain personal relationships and leverage them to increase sales.

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