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What is marketing automation? (Definition and examples)

What is marketing automation? (Definition and examples) Blog Feature

Liz Moorehead

Editorial Director, Speaker, Host of 'Content Lab' Podcast

November 4th, 2019 min read

Marketing automation is a digital marketing term that refers to the use of technology and software to automate marketing tasks that might otherwise be performed manually. 

Marketing automation is so critical to how digital marketers do their jobs, marketing automation software has become a booming marketing technology ("martech") industry segment.

Marketing automation activities

Some of the most common marketing automation activities include:

Marketing automation solutions

Why is marketing automation so important?

To be perfectly blunt, I can't imagine a world where I, as a digital marketer, could do my job without some sort of comprehensive marketing automation solution. (And I'm not just saying that because IMPACT is a HubSpot elite partner agency.)

Here's why:

  • The more pieces of your digital marketing that you have under one roof (blogging, email marketing, and so forth), the more powerful your lead intelligence will be. I've worked in places where we did our blogging through WordPress and our email marketing through Constant Contact, and it was almost virtually impossible to make integrations and reporting not a headache. 
  • I also can't imagine living in a world where I was not able to report on the ROI of my digital marketing strategy. And given how proving the return on a marketing strategy is one of the most pressing challenges for marketing leaders, I would imagine you agree.
  • Marketing automation platforms are progressively becoming more integrated with sales tools (e.g. CRM), making it even easier to report on the return of marketing efforts and facilitate a more seamless marketing-to-sales handoff. (Ever since we started using HubSpot's sales tools, in addition to the Marketing Hub, I can't even begin to list all of the things that have gotten better — from alignment and reporting, to lead generation and nurturing.)

Marketing automation success stories

Being a HubSpot agency ourselves, we have the most experience in seeing companies achieve remarkable results with HubSpot. 

However, even if HubSpot is not the right choice for company — whereas a different marketing automation platform might be — the following success story videos are watching for one simple reason:

The following results would not have been possible had each of these companies not invested in some sort of marketing automation solution:

Aquila Commercial (commercial real estate company)

Watch Aquila's story

Yale Appliance (small retail appliance)

Watch Yale Appliance's story

West Roofing Systems, Inc. (a commercial roofing company)

Watch West Roofing Systems' story

Again, keep in mind that we're not sharing the above success stories to make the case for HubSpot. (HubSpot isn't for everybody.)

Rather, my hope is that these show you how, when you don't have to worry about how digital marketing tasks will get done or how to report on the ROI of your strategy, the sky's the limit for your success.

What marketing automation can't do

One of the most common mistakes we see people make, when they adopt any marketing automation software for their company, is that they expect it to solve all of their problems

If you already have sales and marketing alignment problems, marketing automation can be a part of the solution, but it will not be the solution. If your digital marketing strategy is broken, a platform like HubSpot won't be able to fix it.

And on, and on. 

So, keep that in mind as you're making your marketing automation choices for your business. If there are underlying alignment issues around your digital strategy, you can't expect technology to be your savior. (Although it should certainly be a major part of the conversation.)

HubSpot Marketing Guide for Businesses

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