Posted October 24, 2011 11:14 am by with 3 comments

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Marketing is undergoing a major change. Inbound marketing and the shift to online is forcing marketers make changes to their marketing infrastructure.  This means a reduction in agency design fees and trade publication advertisements in favor of marketing software to boost lead generation and lead management.

Marketing Automation tools should be part or a larger inbound marketing tools set. When looking specifically at marketing automation features, marketers should keep these five key features top of mind.

5 Essential Features Of A Marketing Automation Platform

1. Click Tracking – It may seem simple but one of the core functions of a great marketing automation system is click tracking. As a marketer you need to understand the click-through rate for the links in your marketing automation campaigns. More importantly you need the conversion events attributed to marketing automation campaigns if they triggered the conversion as oppose to another source like direct traffic.  

2. Landing Page Tool – A way to generate and reconvert leads is critical. The method for doing that today on the web is landing pages. As a marketer you must be able to easily create landing pages. having to depend on an agency or the IT department is not an option. Software that lets you easily create landing pages provides the opportunity for more targeted landing pages. When landing pages are hard to create and expensive it causes general landing pages that have lower conversion rates.

3. Closed Loop Analytics –  Marketing strategies should be aligned with the entire marketing funnel. Knowing you visitor to lead rate is not enough. You need analytics for your entire marketing funnel from visitor to customer. Make sure that your marketing automation software system integrates with your customer relationship management software (CRM) to ensure that you can tie closed sales deals to marketing campaigns.

4. Behavior-Based Triggers – Context is king in an inbound marketing world. So much content exists on the web today that recipients of a marketing message instantly ask themselves “What is in it for me?”.  As a marketer you need to be able to send a targeted email to a lead the second they look at your product page. This is called behavior-based triggering. It uses the actions a lead takes a the trigger to send a specific message and it is critical for increasing conversion rates.

5. Custom Segmentation – Behavior-based triggers aren’t the only way to have contextual communications. As a marketer you understand your target customer and have a significant amount of data about them. You marketing automation system you allow you to segment and organize your leads by any of the data fields that you have.  Creating custom list for specific lead nurturing campaigns will help drive stronger lead to customer conversions.

What do you look for in an marketing automation platform? How would you like to see platform evolve in the future?

  • I think there’s one huge one missing from your list = data capture. Without a healthy data capture feature, analytics, segmentation and behavior-based triggers aren’t possible. There needs to be a means of capturing registration or user data, such as a form builder that allows for opt-in email, downloads, demo registration or even purchases.

  • I understand you are referring to the features of the marketing automation toolset and as such, the list is a reasonable take on what’s needed. But to make any marketing automation solution work, you will also need, at minimum:
    1) A Marketing Strategy. Automation does not reduce the need for one, and automating without one is like putting a fast, powerful fool in charge and stepping back… You must know what you’re trying to accomplish with the system and to do that using Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation, or what we call Inbound Marketing Automation (IMA), you need to formulate: The usual five “Ps” of Product, Pitch, Price, Place and Position, plus a Keyword Strategy for SEO, Content Rules and Policies for Social Media activities, and of course the metrics/objectives you will use to gauge success or failure.
    2) Content. This, in our dealings with clients, is the biggest impediment to success and one of the hardest parts to get right. You need different kinds of content to provide to the different kinds of people who visit your site (the so-called Personas). To design and then create this content, you have to formulate the Persona Definitions, decipher their buying-cycle stages, draw up a Content Map to identify which pieces go to whom, and then of course, create the pieces themselves.
    3) Expertise. Avoid the fool with a tool problem by getting some real training or hiring some external help.

  • This is a lot to take in, though I still prefer traditional marketing like referral marketing. I’m able to connect with my customers through this marketing campaign more which I believe is more effective.