What exactly is a marketing automation tool? Is it the “go-to” tool for lead management, or will your Customer Relationship Management software suite suffice? If you have a CRM system, do you need an additional marketing application for lead generation? If you are strapped for cash, is this type of tool a ‘nice to have’ or a ‘need to have’? And how exactly does “marketing automation” fit within the notion of an integrated CRM solution anyway?


Now take the example of a much smaller company. The company’s 20 sales reps might have an on-demand sales force automation system, and the company might have one marketing rep who manually collects, scores and transfers leads. But as the leads grow or become more complex due to multiple products or sales regions, the marketer will need an automation platform from which to plan programs and execute campaigns. Again, the marketing automation system is the tool for the job.
Let’s think with our shopper brains for a moment. You’re shopping online, add some items to your shopping cart, and go to check out. As you enter your billing address, you realize that you left your credit card in the kitchen. It’s midnight and you’re exhausted. You decide to put off your purchase until tomorrow. Then you totally forget. You’ve contributed to the phenomenon that online merchants call “shopping cart abandonment.”

B2C companies, however, probably have the most to gain from marketing automation technologies, as they can reach larger segments of their customers with personalized messages than they could afford to without it. In the past, B2C brands may have sent the same email to all of their customers in regular intervals, which, at best, got a marginal return and, at worst, turned off otherwise loyal customers with off-topic communications.
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Once you have visitors on your website, the next step is to convert them. At the very least, you should start collecting their email addresses. Once you start building an organic email list, you can start reaching out to your customers and prospects so that you can re-engage them through your content: ebooks, whitepapers, and tip sheets. Here are the most important components of conversion optimization:
Adestra is a leading global provider of First-Person Marketing email and lifecycle marketing solutions for global and growing brands alike. The company's industry leading email marketing and automation platform provides marketers with a powerful infrastructure that helps them communicate more effectively with their customers and subscribers by providing hyper-relevant context. This proprietary technology also allows for automated email messaging and incorporates enterprise-class native functionality, which reduces implementations. Along with a superior platform to execute marketing automation, Adestra was founded on the principle that marketing success takes more than technology, which is why customer service is at the heart of our business. Adestra is more than software as a service. Adestra is Software AND a Service®.
I do find that Ontraport seems to have great pricing overall (and yes, a lot less functions you need to get a plugin or workaround for – I wonder when you have a platform you pay a lot for and then there is a big side industry of people doing training and also developing plug ins – I think if you pay for a product that product should really keep developing and adding those plugins ‘in product’ and I can see that Landon and his team are continuing to refine and add functionality that is requested, so I can’t fault their customer service).
Often, a brand will use multiple marketing automation tools, referred to as the marketing technology -- or martech -- stack. These marketing automation platforms assist in lead generation via email marketing, chatbots hosted on social media or websites, and other channels such as short message service (SMS) text. Marketing automation tools extend the reach of marketing campaigns, creating inbound marketing, a term some vendors use to refer to the strategy of finding prospects for top- to mid-funnel via personalization of pitches derived through analytics tools which segment customers into different groups for different approaches.
Marketing automation: HubSpot says that marketing automation is crucial to the ‘closing’ stage of marketing. We disagree. We think that marketing automation is more than just email and it spans the entire marketing lifecycle. It is, however, crucial to your company’s ability to close deals. You need to move customers through your sales conversion funnel – this process will be continuous and require some degree of nurturing, guiding, and even hand-holding. Marketing automation can help your company take the lead in guiding prospects through the sales conversion funnel.
Large enterprises have long found value in the technology, but marketing automation isn’t just for big companies. In fact, Small and Mid-Sized Businesses (SMBs) make up the largest growing segment in the space right now. And thousands of companies even smaller than that are using automation as well. Similarly, companies across all industries are using it. The early adopters were primarily in “business-to-business” (B2B) industries such as high-tech / software, manufacturing, and business services. But increasingly companies across all categories–including “business-to-consumer” (B2C) industries such as healthcare, financial services, media and entertainment, and retail–are adopting the software for its real-time, engagement-oriented approach to maintaining and extending customer relationships throughout the customer lifecycle.
The consequence is that marketers begin buying lists of email addresses to nurture instead of generating inbound leads. While it seems like a quick fix, it's not a long-term solution, nor does it create the fertile ground for a healthier, longer relationship with your future customers. In our plant analogy, it's sort of like using artificial chemicals or enhancers to make your plant grow faster. Sure, it seems like a good, quick fix--but it doesn't set you up for future, long-term success.  
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Gap Inc.’s  (No. 20) online reserve system has been disabled or limited today in some locations, likely due to the higher store traffic, making it harder to keep track of accurate inventory levels. On normal business days, consumers shopping online can find an item in their preferred size and see if it is available in a store near them to reserve and pick up.
To help entrepreneurs determine how successful their efforts have been, the brand delivers weekly reports and customized engagement scoring; it also spotlights the outcome of A/B tests. Delivra’s Drag & Drop Editor and Image Editor can lend a helping hand to less-than-artistic entrepreneurs who need to design and package their messaging. And for small businesses wanting to tie their marketing efforts directly to their e-commerce stores, Delivra integrates with multiple systems to enable small businesses to segment shoppers and re-engage them.

How complicated and how deep your campaigns run is determined by which vendor you choose. For example, HubSpot and Pardot both offer unlimited email and unlimited sequencing options. This means you can create a workflow with multiple branches for each stage of the sequence, and you can create an unlimited number of sequences (not that you would). Conversely, Zoho Campaigns is mostly designed for users who want to follow customary workflows that guide users on basic sequences. As a result, Zoho Campaigns doesn't offer unlimited sequencing or branching. This tool is perfectly suitable for marketers who just want to make an offer after a welcome email or for marketers who want to wish people a happy birthday once a year.
Meet Pardot: B2B marketing automation on the world's #1 CRM. Pardot empowers marketing and sales teams to work together to find and nurture leads, close more deals, and maximize return on investment. Pardot's lead management features CRM integration, email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and ROI reporting to help marketing and sales teams work together to generate and qualify sales leads, shorten sales cycles, and track marketing ROI. Track all prospect interactions on your site — from downloads to page views — then score prospects based on parameters you set. Put time back into your sales reps’ day with automated lead nurturing and real-time sales alerts, which allow reps to prioritize their time. Then, measure the true ROI of your marketing efforts with closed-loop reporting. Accelerate pipeline, drive revenue, and align marketing and sales with Pardot Marketing Automation. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/1yhEwPa

The HubSpot dashboard enables teams to immediately sort the contracts won (or not) and maintain a clear view of their performance toward their goals. HubSpot’s CRM automatically tracks customer touchpoints across different channels and keeps a timeline of all calls, emails, and meetings involving specific customers. The platform also helps create personalized paths to purchase and compile data showcasing how every marketing campaign contributed to sales.
Transactions on mobile devices were up 55.6 percent Cyber Monday from last year to reach $2.2 billion in sales, said Adobe, which tracks sales data from 80 of the top 100 internet retailers in the U.S., including Amazon and Walmart. More than half of shoppers' visits to retailers' websites Cyber Monday came from smartphones, with people making greater use of shipping options like buy online, pick up in store. So-called click-and-collect orders were up 65 percent this Cyber Monday from last year, Adobe said.
Now, with a little more than a month to go before the end of 2018, retailers will try to keep the momentum going, both online and in stores. Though many companies are expecting strong fourth quarters, there's some concern the sales growth won't be sustainable into 2019, especially if the U.S. economy's strength starts to fade or consumers lose confidence.
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Personalization As you build out your inbound marketing and marketing automation strategy, you will learn more about your leads. This learning process will empower your company to re-invest that data into refining your marketing strategy. Marketing automation software will help you streamline this process and build 1:1 connections with hundreds of thousands—and even millions—of users.
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Lead Liaison is a cloud-based sales and marketing automation solution that helps businesses accelerate sales by attracting, converting, closing and retaining more prospects. Filling a void in the small pool of marketing automation providers that focus on marketing-centric functionality, Lead Liaison gives equal focus to sales support with solutions such as a hot-lead dashboard, Buy Signals and a live ticker alert of businesses on the customer’s website. Lead Liaison blends ease-of-use, a flexible business model, deep external integration, marketing across social, web, mobile, email and offline channels and powerful functionality, all specifically tailored for small to mid-sized businesses, into a single platform, called Revenue Generation Software®. Lead Liaison offers clients the highest value per dollar of any industry provider. Additionally, Lead Liaison provides content creation services leveraged for communication vehicles such as press releases, blog posts, emails, and posts on social media platforms. Founded in 2013, Lead Liaison is headquartered in Allen, Texas, near Dallas, and employs 19 people. For more information, visit www.leadliaison.com or call 1-800-89-LEADS (895-3237).
Adestra is a leading global provider of First-Person Marketing email and lifecycle marketing solutions for global and growing brands alike. The company's industry leading email marketing and automation platform provides marketers with a powerful infrastructure that helps them communicate more effectively with their customers and subscribers by providing hyper-relevant context. This proprietary technology also allows for automated email messaging and incorporates enterprise-class native functionality, which reduces implementations. Along with a superior platform to execute marketing automation, Adestra was founded on the principle that marketing success takes more than technology, which is why customer service is at the heart of our business. Adestra is more than software as a service. Adestra is Software AND a Service®.
Lululemon Athletica Inc. (No. 90) faced a barrage of angry comments on Facebook late Thanksgiving evening, in which shoppers complained about the site being down or items disappearing from their shopping carts. It responded to multiple complaints and wrote, “Our team is working with all their might on sorting out this issue.” Lululemon.com is back up and running now.
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Customer.io is great for two kinds of uses: 1. Companies that are looking to get started with marketing automation and appreciate a lightweight UI (i.e. not your typical enterprise software) and 2. Companies that are looking for some more advanced functionality that requires flexibility and customization, and are willing to devote the developer resources to implement it. We happen to fall into the second category, which is why we chose Customer.io for our marketing automation needs at Woopra.

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1. Pricing – While SendinBlue is one of the most affordable email marketing tools currently available, you’ll need to be on their $49/month plan or above to access unlimited automation workflows. While not a major issue, this tends to rule out SendinBlue for me when recommending a marketing automation tool to a small business that’s new to automation. After all, ActiveCampaign starts at $9!
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