Marketing automation is really only about two things:

  1. Identifying prospects in your database whose timing is changing to your advantage (i.e. they are getting closer to making a buying decision),
  2. Building a relationship with prospects who aren’t ready to buy yet.

(If you want to know more about marketing automation, check out our Marketing Automation 101 Guide.)

All the other stuff is fluff. Now, it can be usefull fluff – but a slick email builder isn’t what’s going to move the needle for your company. What is, is the two things I just outlined above.

Imagine knowing who in your database is starting to get to a place where they want to buy. Wouldn’t you want to alert your sales team to go after them? Wouldn’t that information put you ahead of the competition that isn’t paying attention?

And imagine that when those prospects are ready to buy, they will consider you. Why? Because in that time they weren’t ready to buy, you were sharing useful content. Helping them in their daily lives. Showing that your company gives, before it asks anything.

So, when it comes to those things, here are some crucial features that you should be looking for:

Identifying prospects whose timing is changing to your advantage

Functionality here should focus around being able to really zero in on certain behavior – and then act on it, fast!

  1. Instant alerts. Make sure you can get alerts out to users (also on the sales team!). In a good platform, these alerts will be highly customizable (in Net-Results, for example, alerts are powered by segments. You can segment on literally any datapoint, from website visits, to time spent on any particular page, clicking a particular link… whatever makes sense for your use case).
  2. Task scheduling. If you really want action, don’t rely on manual processes to set tasks. Make sure your marketing automation platform can reach into a sales team’s CRM and set them up for success.
  3. Lead scoring. Lead scoring is tricky and next to useless if you don’t have a lot of leads coming in. But in higher volumes, lead scoring can help you know when a prospect is gathering enough engagement points AND if they’re a good fit for your business (preventing sales from wasting time on the wrong leads).

Building a relationship with prospects whose timing is yet to change

What’s most important here is to ensure the right content reaches the right people at the right time.

  1. Lead nurturing. Actually, that’s not functionality. It’s the core philosophy behind this approach though: nurture leads over time, so they get to know you and are more likely to come back to you when it’s time to buy.
  2. Lead scoring. Also useful here. Scoring can help you identify where someone is in their process towards buying. It can thereby ensure you send them the right content for their current mindset.
  3. Segmentation. A robust segmentation engine should help you divvy up your database into groups of contacts that appreciate certain content. In Net-Results, the segmentation engine actually powers all other functionality, such as alerts, campaigns and even reports.
  4. CRM integration. The more data you have about customers, the better you know them and can be relevant to them. Current customer data helps you reverse engineer what future prospects might want to consume in terms of content.

And there you have it. These are the critical features that will help you get value out of marketing automation.

Net-Results (if you haven’t heard of us!) is purposely built to help you get value out of marketing automation ASAP – we tend to help customers get it about 3x faster than Marketo or Pardot (read more about that in our comparison report).

The platform is centered around the core tenets of identifying prospects whose timing is changing to your advantage, and building a relationship with people who aren’t yet ready to buy. On top of that, our team of digital marketing experts is available to all our customers to leverage – unlimited and free of charge, as long as they’re a Net-Results customer.

If you liked this post, I’d like to invite you to chat with one of our marketing automation experts – 2o minutes is all it takes to see if Net-Results can’t help you get to your goals faster.

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Henrik Becker

Marketing Automation Consultant