Last updated: From then to ‘wow’: The evolution of marketing automation

From then to ‘wow’: The evolution of marketing automation


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The evolution of marketing automation has been rapid, to say the least. We know how rapidly marketing software is enhancing the customer experience, and how much chatter we hear in meetings about the “latest and greatest something or other” that will improve productivity and move us further along the sales cycle.

In all of that, it’s really easy to forget how far we’ve come in the past two decades with almost every aspect of marketing.

Flashback: The evolution of marketing automation

It’s no longer 1999, and we’re not sitting across from a terrifying boss who fully expects we’ll go through our company’s primeval database of clients to start the day cold-calling. Nobody is going to ask for some tri-fold brochures to be folded while spending the day hoofing it through industrial parks to get face time with decision makers. 

Are you grateful yet? (I’d bet absolutely! Personally, I was also pretty thrilled when the day arrived making seminars on the most effective way to use your Franklin Covey planner a thing of the past. You can really only spend so much of your day putting things into A, B, C priority.)

But wasn’t it cool when the very idea of proprietary software came along? Like, how big and powerful was your organization that they didn’t use some pat solution for CRM needs. They went off and doggone hired that work out so the platform was custom tailored to your industry. 

No denying it: Automation has become essential

Without a doubt, the automation of marketing processes has been a game changer. We talk all the time about the things marketing automation can do, and it’s all AWESOME. (Seriously! All caps awesome!) But one of the most exciting – and often overlooked – things is what these platforms can do to reduce the amount of oversight imposed on an employee, thereby empowering staff.  

Think about it: with many essential functions being native to a program or platform, you’re being guided by options designed to help you engineer your workflow. At your say so, processes are executed at intervals that you choose to meet your clients and prospects.

The built in guardrails in these programs help you stay on track and on top of the number and kinds of interactions you have with your target market, thus virtually eliminating the need for micromanaging team members. Can management run reports and get up to date analytics? Absolutely – and faster than ever. 

The modernization of marketing has something for everyone

There was a time when automated marketing functions were solidly the domain of large enterprises. In the beginning, you’d primarily see B2B industries – mostly manufacturing and tech companies – opting into platforms designed to streamline marketing functions. But now we see small and medium size operations, especially in B2C sectors, joining the party.

Why? It is clear that creating quality, customer centered experiences is what everyone wants whether they are B2B or B2C. From the first contact with a company to purchases to referrals, positive engagement-focused interaction is a must.

The beauty of marketing automation is that there’s a solution for a business of any size or budget. From free services to the most sophisticated platform, there’s absolutely no reason for an organization not to take advantage of cutting edge technology.

Sit back and relax? Not so fast – marketing automation requires strategy

As far as we’ve come with marketing automation technology, it’s still not a Crock Pot. You can’t purchase a service or platform, set it, and forget it.

To really make it work, you must set a comprehensive strategy with the team in place to implement the process. With expert utilization, your lead management system, CRM, analytics, email marketing, and other systems actually enhance marketing and sales division alignment.

This synchronicity, friends, is what ultimately increases revenue.

Make it work: Roll up your sleeves

You don’t have to put away your sticky notes and white boards. And, yes, there will still be meetings, because everyone knows there’s no great solution without putting forth great effort.

That said, marketing automation definitely brings incredible value to your various marketing efforts. One of the most meaningful byproducts of adopting this kind of technology is the ability to visualize the connections between the email you send, the leads you qualify, the efficacy of your social media campaigns, and ultimately the revenue your enterprise can anticipate seeing next quarter.

The evolution of marketing automation gives us the ability to take what we’ve always had in intellect and work product, and elevates it to the next level in a way that drives sales and streamlines productivity. 

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