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Marketing Automation 101: What It Is and Why You Need It

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In 1912, assembling a car at Ford Motor Company took about 12 hours. By 1913, it took an hour and a half. What happened between 1912 and 1913?


Ford engineers developed an assembly line that used automated machines to put together cars rather than teams of skilled workers. Automation changed manufacturing. Today, it is changing marketing.

In the last six years, marketing automation has become a cornerstone of online marketing and customer engagement. The latest statistics report that 75% of marketers use marketing automation, and 48% say it’s one of the top four methods they use to create personalized experiences for their customers. The marketing automation software industry has grown about 20% annually since 2013 and is valued at $6.1 billion today.

This article gives you a basic understanding of what marketing automation is and how it can transform your marketing and sales.

So, what is marketing automation?

Essentially, it’s using software (like an assembly line) to automate your marketing efforts, namely in the areas of email and social media, but you can also use marketing automation software for messaging chatbots, PR outreach and more.

Marketing automation allows you to write and schedule content ahead of time that will respond to individual customers in a personalized way. For example, if a potential customer visits your website and downloads your eBook, you could set up an automated email that follows up with that customer, asking her if she enjoyed what she read and would like to learn more.


That’s a simplified example, but the idea is that marketing automation allows you to be closer and more consistent with potential leads, leading to more conversions and more sales.

48% of marketers say marketing automation is one of the top four methods they use to create personalized experiences for their customers.

With marketing automation, you can schedule out an entire year’s worth of social media content, follow up with media contacts about interviewing your client or featuring your latest product launch, and communicate with customers in real time.

You can also use automated marketing to keep track of every lead in your CRM, so you can easily keep track of new contacts. This is why marketing automation is often referred to as nurturing your leads, rather than marketing to them.

How is Marketing Automation Implemented?

As we mentioned, marketing automation software is a rapidly growing industry so your choices for software platforms are numerous. Hubspot, Marketo and Pardot top our list as far as marketing automation goes.

  • Hubspot is an all-encompassing marketing platform for inbound marketing as well as marketing automation systems. (And they're running some amazing end of decade discount programs for new clients if you're ready to try something new out. Let's chat today.)
  • Marketo is more focused on email automation and integrates well with Microsoft’s CRM product.
  • Pardot is Salesforce’s B2B marketing automation tool and an excellent option for sales-driven companies already utilizing Salesforce.

Which marketing automation software you use will depend on your business and marketing goals. But trust us, there is a solution for you out there. Hubspot, Pardot and Marketo are great places to start.

Get Started with Marketing Automation

What type of business would benefit from automated marketing?

The real answer is all businesses could benefit from automated at least some of their marketing efforts, but if you work in marketing in any of the following sectors, marketing automation should be a priority in your overall strategy if it isn’t already.

Small Businesses

As a marketer at a small business, you already wear a lot of hats. Following up with every lead that lands on your company’s site probably falls at the bottom of your to-do list, somewhere around daily posting on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You don’t have the resources to hire another team member. This is where marketing automation comes in. You develop the strategy and lay out the workflows; software executes it again and again as the prospect requests it.

According to VB Insight, 80% of marketers reported an increase in qualified sales leads after implementing marketing automation, and 77% saw an increase in conversions.

Marketing automation is also key to scaling your business. According to VB Insight, 80% of marketers reported an increase in leads after implementing marketing automation, and 77% saw an increase in qualified conversions. Marketing automation could be what takes your small business from this level to the next.

Membership Associations

For marketers in the membership association industry, marketing automation is especially crucial. Your customers have committed to you, they expect you to commit to them.

Marketing automation makes this possible with consistent content tailored to them, rather than the occasional mass marketing email about this year’s holiday special.


As a nonprofit professional, you know the key to growth is regular donations. Your monthly or annual givers are your bread and butter and staying close to them is essential. Touching base, reaching out, asking them questions, reminding them constantly that you are still here, and they are still valued by you—this will keep that database of regular donors robust. Additionally, marketing automation will become your new best friend when integrated with your CRM. You’ll never lose track of a donor again.

Event Managers

Event attendees can be very out-of-sight-out-of-mind in nature. Once your event has wrapped and they’ve left the convention center, they’re onto the next thing. They forget about early-bird registration for next year, and they forget to pencil you into their calendars.

With automated marketing, event marketers can do the work their attendees aren’t willing to do or forget too. Sending emails and posting social media updates about registration deadlines, keynote speakers, free registration giveaways, and travel recommendations will not only keep your event front-of-mind for these out-of-sight-out-of-mind customers, it will also keep their efforts minimal. The less work they have to do, the more likely they are to attend your event year after year.

How to Get Started with Marketing Automation

Marketing automation save you time and money. Like the Ford Motor Company assembly line, it can reduce a 12-hour task to a fraction of the time, making room for more strategy and development while also increasing leads and sales.

But even more importantly, marketing automation allows you to nurture your relationship with existing and potential customers. When they see that you care, they will too.

Get Started with Marketing Automation