We love marketing automation. We use it – in some form – for every client. It provides many more options with far less effort, and that translates into savings on multiple levels.

If you use a marketing automation platform in-house, you’re probably familiar with the range of tasks it offers (even if you’re still implementing the software, since the majority of companies, according to a recent report, take six months to do it).

If you don’t use marketing automation from companies like Marketo, Silverpop, Eloqua, Pardot, Act-On, Hubspot and others, you’re missing out on opportunities to put campaigns on auto-pilot and have the platform generate messages, responses to offers, follow-ups based on respondents’ activities, and more.

Yet MA software is like any other tool – more useful than it seems, more powerful than it is on its own, but not as multi-purpose as it could be. For controlling the flow and timing of information, it’s terrific. But… what is that information, how valuable is it to your prospects, and how do you determine when to make it available… and how?

For integration with other software and systems, some platforms are better than others.

Pardot, for instance, is now owned by Salesforce, and it’s likely that, over time, they’ll leverage each other’s capabilities. The same is true for Eloqua and Oracle, whose databases can slice and dice customer and prospect behavior into targeted lists. Yet, even with complementary and, potentially, additive functionality, there are limits to what marketing automation can accomplish “out of the box.”

All MA platforms are essentially cars, not drivers.

Knowing how to get where you’re going still takes human analysis and discretion. Knowing how to present persuasive marketing messages is also, despite the advances of certain artificial intelligence applications, a human endeavor. And knowing how to expand the range of tasks that each platform performs takes human technical skills.

Some organizations have all of those talents on staff.

Some outsource parts of them – the creative development or technology customization. Some outsource everything to agencies that specialize in lead generation and use their in-house MA tools for sending out corporate communications, newsletters, employee notices, and the like. The marketing automation pros can do it all – on premises or off. The amateurs use only the top-level functions, often because they don’t have the time, budget, or staff to learn the rest.

Our clients have relied on us for years to develop or tweak their creative work, program new capabilities to expand what their marketing automation software can do, and devise campaigns to put the right information in the hands of the right people at the right time. So we’re pretty sure that the potential of marketing automation – with the right human guidance – is limitless and, if you don’t feel the same way, let us know.

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