My 5 favourite features of marketing automation software

We’ve seen our fair share of marketing automation software and we’ve tested them to the limit. So after years of experimentation, here are our top 5 favourite features that we love about marketing automation software.

Deep personalisation

Forget the bog standard, “Hi [firstname]” at the beginning of every email, marketing automation opens up the ability to deliver a highly personalised email experience based on so much more than just first name / last name / company name.

Marketing automation software allows us to look beyond name and rank to see people’s behaviour and preferences. More importantly, it allows us to tailor our response based on those preferences. What are they interested in? What stage of the customer journey are they at? What type of content do they prefer? Are they easier to reach on Twitter, LinkedIn or via email? Should we show them the ‘Request a demo’ call to action or the ‘Contact sales’ call to action?

Marketing automation helps us to identify and personalise our responses to make them more meaningful for our prospects and customers.

Workflows and automation

If you talk about personalisation, you have to talk about workflows and automation. Yes, marketing automation shows us how people are interacting with our marketing efforts, but it also gives us the tools to intelligently move people forward (or back) along the customer journey.

For example, I’m sure you have a detailed list of qualifying criteria that identify a contact as a lead, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, customer or advocate. Marketing automation allows us to set up automated workflows that match our existing criteria, seamlessly moving contacts forward and along the customer journey.

Workflows are also a fantastic way to get the sales team on board with marketing automation. For example, would they like to receive a notification when one of their leads mentions a competitor on Twitter? It might be worth calling them to talk about other options. Would they like to automatically receive a list of their leads that have been active on your website or opened an email in the past week? We call it “the Monday morning call list”. Would they like to receive a list of contacts that filled out the ‘request a demo’ form, but didn’t click send? I think they’d be worth calling, too.

I know what you’re thinking. Cool, right? It’s so much more than cool. It’s freaking awesome.

Empower the sales team (CRM integration)

Speaking of the sales team, your marketing automation tool should integrate seamlessly with your CRM. It’s worth putting serious thought and time into the integration and getting it right, because it gives your sales team a wealth of extra data that will help them understand where to focus their efforts.

When CRM integration is done right, your sales team will be better prepared which means they’ll be able to respond in a more meaningful way. Armed with the granular level of detail that marketing automation and CRM integration can provide, they’ll have the tools they need to create more valuable opportunities. What’s more important though, is that the sales team is trained on how to understand the information presented and the opportunity that the information presents. If the sales guys are left to their own devices, then they simply won’t reap the benefit.

Desiloed data and data management

I wish I could say, hand on heart, that data silos were a thing of the past, but I can’t. However, it’s getting better. A lot better.

Marketing automation pulls together email, social and web data to give us a single view of someone’s activity. More importantly, it allows us to report on this activity without having to first marry up disparate data sources (sometimes an impossible task).

Anything that brings us closer to accurate reporting on marketing activity has to make my list.

Track pipeline and marketing ROI

The built-in tools still have a long way to go, but I cannot quite put in to words how much I love the insight we squeeze out of marketing automation data. Of course we can measure the basics such as email opens, clicks and social reach. However, the real value comes from measuring and optimising conversion rates between different stages of the customer journey and ultimately determining what drives the highest value sales.

So, if these are my five favourite features of marketing automation software, what are yours?

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