With seemingly never-ending options of new technology to choose from, digital marketing is an ever-changing landscape of options. Marketing automation platforms (MAPs) are quickly becoming the cornerstone of the modern B2B marketing technology stack because they are more efficient, more powerful, and more cost-effective than using a diverse set of point tools. Used well, marketing automation (MA) can tell the story of how your customers interact with your brand, your content, and the people in your company, throughout the entire customer journey.

Why add marketing automation into your stack?

A MAP can help you organize and manage those complex and time consuming tasks that need to be coordinated with each other, including:

  • Social media marketing and other early-funnel tactics to attract leads
  • Content marketing that help leads progress along the funnel and convert to sales
  • Email campaigns to generate engagement, nurture prospects, and onboard new customers
  • Asset creation, such as email and landing page templates
  • Forms and landing pages to capture lead data
  • Automated lead management, including qualification and hand-off to sales
  • List and data management, including segmentation for target marketing
  • Website analytics that reveal what people are interested in, and how they engage with your site
  • Campaign analytics that show which campaigns really work and which channels deliver
  • Search engine optimization, to ensure that your pages are the best answers to the questions your prospects ask
  • Coordination with sales, including sharing CRM data in marketing campaigns

Efficient alignment of your inbound and outbound marketing strategies, multiple platforms and channels, and programs and processes, is a monumental, manual, tedious, nearly impossible job without using a MAP. Implementing marketing automation can effectively bridge the gaps between the various technologies, and empower marketing and sales to work closely together.

Which MAP is the right MAP for you?

Integration should be seamless between a marketing automation platform, customer relationship management (CRM) platform, and a system that manages your content marketing program. Scott Brinker,  co-founder and CTO of Ion Interactive states, “If you don’t have those three capabilities well set, it’s hard even to build other things on top of that…That usually becomes the core — the triangle upon which modern B2B marketing techniques are based.”

Before moving forward with adding any new technology to your stack (including marketing automation), make a list of all your short- and long-term digital marketing goals, keeping in mind the strengths, flexibility, and limitations of any new tools you plan on integrating. Don’t feel pressed to go out and buy the biggest and best MAP that you can find, or get dazzled by all of the available cutting edge options, but rather define your needs before even investigating existing technologies to identify the one that is just the right fit for your organization’s goals.

“If you’re just getting started with this, I think the worst thing you can do is look at all these different capabilities and wonder: Could I use this? Could I use that? Instead, set aside that landscape and look at your needs in terms of how and why to communicate with your customers, understand your pipeline, and perform other critical tasks,” advises Brinker.

Future-Proof Your Marketing Technology Stack

What is an open market ecosystem and how can it help you plan for the future growth of your company? Platforms that allow for ease of integration between other technologies are called “open market ecosystems” or “open market technologies.” These enable an open digital environment where new services and platforms can be integrated and delivered quickly, easily and securely, including a wide range of business models and partners, and future options are not closed off.

“The pace of innovation in marketing technology will continue to accelerate. The tool you can’t live without next year may not have been created yet. If you choose a marketing automation platform that supports an open marketing ecosystem, you’ll have the flexibility to customize that platform to suit your own evolving needs as things change,” said Kevin Bobowski, VP of Demand Generation at Act-On Software. This philosophy has made Act-On Software one of the frontrunners among MAPs for its open market ecosystem and strong integration capabilities. In other words, it plays nicely with others. Any MAP you select should too.

Many companies have already implemented these robust marketing automation platforms into their marketing technology stack to gain efficacy in integrating, performing, and reporting on key marketing and sales objectives.  As you delve into the world of marketing automation, building a foundation with an open market ecosystem will allow for you to scale your marketing efforts as your company’s needs grow and evolve over time. Employed well, marketing automation can become a key tool for sales, marketing, account management, customer success managers, customer service, and other key stakeholders throughout your organization.

Karrie Sundbom