Marketing Automation: It’s Not Magic, It’s Marketing

The marketing technology landscape is growing by the minute, especially when it comes to marketing automation.  While this offers a wealth of opportunity for marketers, it can also be easy to get lost in the excitement and possibilities. In other words, it can feel like a tornado of cutting edge technology and technical wizardry. And while marketing technology does unlock some promising potential, it’s important to recognize that the foundation is same as it’s always been – marketing.

This is the era of personalization, and I often work with clients who rightly have this top of mind. The trick—as it always is—is that we’re working to make the most impact with the least amount of resources. How can we prioritize, though, when everything is a priority?

Unfortunately, marketers often answer this question by making snap decisions about what our prospects want to see and how our database should be segmented. That approach typically leads to wasted resources and unwieldy strategic revisions as you search for just the right mix that will finally resonate with your audience.

Legendary market researcher Howard Moskowitz once said “The mind knows not what the tongue wants.” (TED) While Howard was referring to people’s taste in spaghetti sauce, the same applies to the value propositions and marketing appeals we shower our leads with. If our audience doesn’t truly know what they want if asked, how are we as marketers supposed to know?

This is one of the most powerful elements of a Marketing Hub such as Marketo. We are now able to see the full landscape of our leads’ digital footprints and connect that with the data points and actions found in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. We let their behavior show us the way, giving us the ability to rapidly prototype, test the right mix of marketing efforts, and optimize appropriately in all marketing channels.

Here are two quick tips to get started:

Mine your database

Database mining is one of my favorite tricks. No matter how long you’ve been up and running with your marketing automation platform, most businesses have a wealth of data living in their CRM.

In fact, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. With your portfolio of won deals, you already have a canvas of the types of prospects that are likely to work with your brand. Leverage this by canvassing all your data points for commonalities. Are there certain job titles you should be targeting? Geographic areas? Industries that result in higher MMR than others? What about close rates by those industries?

This data will start to paint a picture that will inform your digital strategy as well as your traditional marketing tactics. When you’re adopting a marketing automation platform, this also will help with prioritization. You want to personalize, right? Now you have a roadmap for where we should focus first. Personalization isn’t about John’s first name in the subject line of the email, it’s about knowing what a person like John is looking for and delivering him the right content at the right time. Data mining will give you the insight necessary to personalize at this level.

Measure, then accelerate

Don’t assume you need to start with customized messaging around every vertical in your business. Use digital behavior combined with the data mined from your database to identify the top market segments that are craving your messaging. I’ve had a lot of success with letting the data lead the way. Even simple email reports, which typically focus on vanity metrics, can be extremely insightful when you look at them as a measure of how an audience is reacting to particular messaging. Test your value propositions, discover what is resonating with your leads.

Additionally, you don’t want to treat everyone equal either. Identify who, through their behavior, presents the largest opportunity and then invest your marketing resources appropriately. When you hit a hot spot, turn it up to 10. Create custom content around that target market’s pain points. Align sales and marketing so that their journey is consistent and focused on their needs rather than a standardized list of your solutions. You’ll drive more impact in a shorter amount of time by phasing in your personalization efforts and supporting them with data than if you tried to tackle everything at the same time.

Combining the behavioral data in your marketing automation platform with the demographic data in your CRM can help you discover a customer segment you never knew you had, a need you didn’t know you were filling, or even an opportunity for expansion that you’ve never considered. It can correct faulty assumptions about your product or value prop mix. And, it can fundamentally change the direction of your marketing strategy.

Rinse, Use, Repeat – Achieving Long-Term Business Success With Marketing Automation

Use the above information to build your marketing strategy, and keep in mind that with digital marketing you have a low-risk method of testing new ways to reach your audience – as well as a platform that will give you an idea of the return you should expect to get in a relatively short time frame.

Marketing technology, while powerful on its own, still requires a savvy and analytical marketing mind to get the most out of it. As marketing evolves and becomes even more accountable for hard revenue numbers, remembering this arm us with the information needed to discover our audience’s true needs, leading to more impactful marketing campaigns that drive business results.


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About Jherod Bauders

Jherod graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Managerial Marketing. He currently leads the Nurture solution and marketing automation team. When Jherod isn't at Fathom, he enjoys a good book and a new adventure.


  • Claire says:

    Very informative! In fact it all starts with mining informations! This is marketing! An eternal question!

  • Jemma says:

    Thanks for a great post. We’ve recently started using marketing automation with GetResponse. At first, that’s a lot to take in. Marketing is complicated on its own, but online it can be more precise.

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