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Why is Marketing Automation a Big Deal?

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Marketing Automation (MA) is a hot topic. Numerous powerhouse companies are doing strategic mergers, expanding product-lines, and having conferences on the subject. So what is it and why is there all this activity now?

I am a contributor and advisor to an “Amazon Best Seller,” eBook, The Big Book of Content Marketing, by Andreas Ramos. The eBook is about proven, real-world strategies and tactics, with practical advice on how to measure and get results in marketing. I was curious about how MA may fit into our thinking, so I recently attended the “Modern Marketing Tour” conference sponsored by Oracle Marketing Cloud (formerly Eloqua) in Denver, Colorado.

What is the big deal about Marketing Automation (MA)? We already have decent business intelligence software, enterprise software, email automation, CRM software and numerous types of marketing software; these tend to be complex, more IT-centric, and map to existing corporate structures.

The key difference of MA over other types of software is that it has a razor sharp Customer-Focus that gives the C-levels (Chief Marketing Officer or CMO, CFO, CEO) much more visibility into the Customer Relationship. The Customer is the center of attention, not the company web site. The goal is having the ability to better control, make sense of and drive revenue using big data insights tracking wherever the customer goes. In other words, it is a better way for sales and marketing to watch interactions with potential and current customers, to sort them, and directly target & nurture their needs to increase profits and other business goals.

There are several MA products on the market, the key ones are Oracle Marketing Cloud (Eloqua), Marketo, and Loopfuse, but there are others popping up also.

Marketers know that in order to understand the value of, say, a campaign, they must identify, track, evaluate and then refine the metrics that provide the most insight and then decide what action to take, if any. This is especially important with the explosive growth in new and diverse social channels/platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Instagram, and so on) , MA tries to address the need to target and interact with customers on their most active channels, in addition to traditional shopping carts, email, or ad campaigns. Hence, the traditional the “buying funnel” or the multiple Excel spreadsheets cobbled together, though useful, can be jet propelled by more sophisticated and integrated MA tools.

It all sounds commendable and worth investigating. However, MA is a systematic mindset, a methodology and a set of tools–it also needs top-down exec support to bypass political hurtles, expert teams with can figure out the business and technical setup strategy, goals and tactics and implement it and ongoing monitoring and accountability, just to name a few areas.

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