Understanding the ‘Automation’ in Marketing Automation

marketing automation

Marketing automation platforms allow for one central place for all of your marketing activities. Marketing is the key to their survival and your understanding. So, where does the term ‘automation’ come into play? According to Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, automation is the technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum.

‘Automation’ in marketing automation doesn’t necessarily mean you get to sit back and relax while the platform does the work. The heavy lifting starts early on: interdepartmental decisions and alignment must take place prior to even starting your implementation. For your marketing automation to be successful, everyone must be on board, not only sales and marketing, but your IT, financial, and operational departments have to become marketing automation advocates.

Demystify what marketing automation means to every department involved.

64% of CMOs have either an informal or no process to manage their marketing automation (The Annuitas Group). This problem coincides with the fact that multiple departments are involved with marketing automation, and it holds a different meaning for each department. Determine the number of possible users you will need for your marketing automation to be successful. It’s likely you will have a segmented usage of your platform, which includes someone in graphic design, a writer, an analyst, etc. These roles should be defined clearly. Outline what each person will need to do with the platform and how marketing automation will help his or her department’s goals. This will be helpful when establishing user roles later on in implementation.

Start defining your customers’ purchase cycle and what qualifies a lead.

Marketing and sales alignment doesn’t happen overnight. It usually starts with understanding how each department handles leads; this can be answered with basic questions such as:

  • What happens to a lead when a form is filled out?
  • When is a lead pushed to sales?
  • Do you have a place for people who should not be marketed to? (i.e. competitors, employees, etc.)
  • What happens to a lead that’s disqualified?

These questions will map your buyer cycle and where marketing automation fits into each stage. Sales and marketing should be able to communicate the same idea for lead status definitions. Work together to define each stage in your cycle, from “anonymous” to “won.” An MQL (marketing-qualified lead) and “sales-ready” lead might have different meanings to someone on the marketing team than they would to someone in sales.

Decide what ‘success’ means to each marketing channel.

Understanding what deems a campaign successful will be instrumental in reporting ROI and attribution. While sales should continually be a part of the marketing automation conversation, this can vary within the marketing department as well. For example, let’s say you want to measure the success of content requests. One member of your team may define the success of this campaign as the number of people who fill out a form, while someone else may define it as the amount of people who actually downloaded and engaged with the content. Start by listing your marketing channels and steps that a potential customer may take within each one. Then, as a team, answer the question: What is our key metric that would make us consider a channel or campaign successful?

Internal processes and mutual understanding must be in place in order for marketing automation to be successful. Automation, in the case of implementation, means increasing human interaction (communication) to a maximum in order to make decisions. These decisions will drive efficiency and effectiveness across the organization.


Check out our helpful 14-pg. marketing automation primer.

The Case for MA

About Fathom Team Member

Leave a Reply