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Marketing Automation: Your Secret Weapon: Page 2 of 2

There’s a wealth of marketing automation solutions to help you strategize, create content, plot and launch a campaign, and then learn from and act upon the results. By Ellen Muraskin
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Just like any marketing effort, marketing automation requires thoughtful planning, good offers, and good content.

With marketing automation, sequences of interactions can be designed in flowcharts or if-then-else scripts, as in, "If prospect has clicked on SMS message, send number to call center agents, else send e-book offer." Campaigns are preloaded with emailed or downloadable content, and executed at scale. They are also saved and copied, with changes, for subsequent product or service offers.

While marketers once segmented leads by self-reported characteristics like budget, authority, need, and timeline, today marketers can also profile by behavior. In the post-web, B2B marketplace, where prospects do 65 to 70 percent of their buying research before contacting vendors, they leave a trail of clicks, downloads, and timed page and video views. These are the observable online actions that allow automation solutions to draw profiles. And once that prospect fills in a form to download material, say, or register for a webinar, the solution puts an addressable name to this profile.

When you zero in on the profiles of your ideal buyer, "look-alike" modeling shows you where to advertise. With experience, you can score leads with better aim on likelihood to purchase, saving the highest scorers for your costliest, inside sales team.

If all this sounds like a full-time job, it often is. That's why marketers and writers have built whole consultancies supplying channel pros with strategy, content, and often execution, based on one or more marketing automation solutions. Herewith are five out of hundreds now available.

Act-On Software Inc.
Act-On, of Portland, Ore.,is a full-featured, midmarket, multichannel, automated SaaS solution with a drag-and-drop, flow-chart-style campaign designer and templated email designer that enables behavioral segmentation and lead scoring. Act-On also offers prebuilt integrations with Salesforce, NetSuite, Infor, SugarCRM, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Pricing starts at $600 a month for three marketing and 50 sales users, 1,000 active contacts, and 1,000 API calls per day. "Implementation" fees range from $500 to $2,500.

HubSpot Inc.
Cambridge, Mass.-based HubSpot is aimed at the SMB market. A $600 setup fee plus $200 per month earns you 100 contacts, a subset of email and social features, and analytics. The "pro" package is where campaign design and a lot of other automation features begin. The setup fee is $3,000 and 1,000 contacts are $800 a month. HubSpot offers web hosting and reporting for an additional $100 a month.

IBM Marketing Cloud
For midsize to enterprise companies, IBM Marketing Cloud (formerly Silverpop), of Sandy Springs, Ga., is comprehensive in multichannel automation abilities and reports. For example, it can observe a desktop site shopper looking for TVs who abandons the shopping cart and then enters a brick-and-mortar store (through beacons that pick up smartphone presence). It can resume the conversation by phone to remind the customer—who may have run in for batteries—that the TV he was looking at is in stock there. It includes multidimensional scoring and modeling, and ROI tracking per campaign. Pricing varies with professional services.

Infusionsoft, of Chandler, Ariz., introduces its small business users to a lot of best marketing practices. It also includes its own CRM; runs timed and triggered emails; has lead scoring, segmentation, web forms/landing pages for lead gen; and flows into Infusion's sales and e-commerce modules. Pricing starts at $199 a month for three users, 2,500 contacts, and 12,500 emails per month. Deluxe, for $299 per month, supports four users, 5,000 contacts, and 25,000 emails. Two more packages scale up to 100,000 contacts.
Acquired by, San Francisco-based Pardot (billed as “B2B marketing automation by Salesforce”), is email-centric but includes the landing pages and forms that capture and analyze leads, and the paid- and native-keyword tracking that analyzes performance and pay-per-click ROI. It also has the graphical campaign design and the behavioral profiling needed to personalize communications. In addition, the software features A/B testing and social media posting. Pricing can be $1,000, $2,000, or $3,000 per month, all supporting up to 10,000 contacts with a progressive range of analytics features, API calls, integrations, and support.

About the Author

Ellen Muraskin is a freelance writer based in Morris Plains, N.J.


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