What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing Automation in a Nutshell

Marketing automation refers to software platforms that help businesses automate their marketing and sales engagement processes to generate more leads, convert more leads to sales, and optimize ROI. Marketing automation allows marketers to automate repetitive tasks such as sending emails, maintaining social media, tracking website interactions, and managing various other tasks. Marketing automation centralizes all of the features and functions that make up the marketer’s role in an organization. A marketing automation platform should have the ability to integrate with other sales & marketing tools (CMS, CRM, social media, meeting software, etc.) to provide a centralized platform for data management and analysis.

What Marketing Automation is Not

  • Spammy email marketing. Marketing automation is not meant to be used as a tool to spam your contacts. Not only is spamming a poor sending practice, it also acts as a detriment to your marketing efforts in general. Marketing automation is most successful when you’re using it to send personalized, relevant content to your contacts, not disruptive, spammy emails.
  • A tool with a single function. Marketing automation isn’t just a fancy word for email marketing. It encompasses a suite of tools to help marketers drive more leads, convert leads to sales and optimize spend. This includes features like landing page builder, built-in CRM, reporting capabilities, social media management and more.
  • “Set it and forget it” solution. Marketing automation is a remarkable tool that helps marketers achieve results. But those results don’t happen without a the right processes, strategy and effort set in place. Marketing automation is meant to enhance and support marketing and sales, NOT become a one-size-fits-all substitute. So don’t sit back and expect marketing automation to magically achieve goals without you.

What is the Value of Marketing

Marketing automation brings three major benefits to the table:

  1. Drive More Leads
  2. Convert More Leads to Sales
  3. Optimize Marketing Spend.


There is extensive evidence supporting the value that marketing can bring to marketers. According to a report by VB Insight, 80% of marketing automation users saw their number of leads increase, and 77% saw the number of conversions increase. Further, Companies using marketing automation see 53% higher conversion rates from initial response-to-MQL and a revenue growth rate that is 3.1% higher than non-users.

For marketing agencies, marketing automation comes with a special set of benefits, including:

  1. Create higher-value relationships.
  2. Generate monthly recurring revenue.
  3. Prove value to your clients.


Agencies can leverage marketing automation as a service offering for their clients, while also being able to prove their results. According to SharpSpring’s research, 45% of agencies rely on marketing automation platforms to show ROI and 42% of respondents noted client acquisition as a top objective in their marketing automation strategy.

Source: State of Marketing Automation for Agencies

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What are common marketing automation features?

  • Email Automation
  • Dynamic Form Builder
  • Built-In CRM
  • Landing Page Builder
  • Social Media Management
  • Anonymous Visitor Identification
  • Personas
  • Dynamic Emails & Landing Pages
  • Blog Builder
  • Dynamic Lists/Segmentation
  • Lead Scoring
  • Behavior Tracking
  • Sales Notifications
  • Campaign optimization
  • End-to-End Reporting & Analytics

Marketing Automation Blog Posts

Free Marketing Automation Resources

Good Marketing Automation vs. Bad Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is all about what you put into it. So there are tactics that work and tactics that fall short.

Bad Marketing Automation. What’s bad marketing automation? Bad marketing automation loses sight of your customers and prospects. Often, bad marketing automation involves sending non-targeted spammy messaging. Bad marketing automation fails to use all the customer data it’s collected to help create meaningful relationships and therefore, loses out on lots of potential conversions. All the most advanced marketing technology can’t help a cold,
disruptive marketing strategy.

Good Marketing Automation. Good marketing automation reaches its full potential when it helps move leads through the inbound marketing funnel. Your marketing automation should be dedicated to a central focus: your customers.

The best marketing automation works to capture leads and convert them through personalization. By paying attention to your engaged leads and their behaviors, you can craft targeted campaigns that meet their needs, and ultimately, captures conversions.

Maximize Marketing Automation Success

Your success with marketing automation depends on several things.

Strategy. Marketing automation can’t function alone. You need a strategy set in place. If you implement a marketing strategy supported by marketing automation, you will achieve results.

Personalization. Without personalized messaging, you’ll miss out on a significant number of conversions. Leverage marketing automation’s tracking capabilities to tailor your conversations with your contacts. Personalization works: 88% of U.S. marketers reported seeing measurable improvements due to personalization — with more than half reporting a lift greater than 10%.

Adapting. The beauty of marketing automation is its ability to inform you as to what’s working and what’s not. To maximize your success, be sure to make adjustments as needed based on the data you collect. This way, you can focus on the marketing tactics that work.

When is the Right Time to Invest in Marketing Automation?

When you think of adopting marketing automation for your business, it’s helpful to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have an inbound marketing strategy set in place?
  • Is my sales team having trouble keeping track of all our leads?
  • Do the marketing and sales teams sometimes feel disjointed?
  • Is it a challenge to discover hot prospects and quality leads?
  • Do I have clear visibility into how effective my marketing and sales
    strategy is?
  • Am I currently using a stack of disparate apps and software to help meet
    my marketing and sales goals?
  • Could I benefit from driving more leads, converting more leads to sales
    and optimizing my spend?

These questions help highlight just a handful of the many ways marketing automation can help your business grow.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who can use marketing automation?

    Marketing automation is truly for everyone. Companies of all sizes can benefit from a marketing automation platform, and marketing agencies in particular find value.

    • Marketing Agencies

      By offering marketing automation and related services, you’ll become an integrated and indispensable partner to your clients. This helps you move from unpredictable project work to retainer-based relationships, helping you grow your agency and boost your monthly recurring revenue. Marketing automation also provides you with comprehensive reporting and analytics, so you can prove the value of your services to your existing clients as well as prospective ones. Some marketing automation platforms are built specifically for marketing agencies, so there are some important things to look out for, including flexible agency pricing, a rebrandable interface and domain, and much more.

    • Startups/Micro-Businesses

      If your company has a small, in-house marketing team, don’t let resource constraints prohibit you from getting the most out of your marketing efforts. Marketing automation is great for growing your contact base and managing email campaigns. Comprehensive reporting and analytics help you improve the effectiveness of all your marketing campaigns, meaning more opens, clicks, shares, etc. Some platforms have flexible and affordable pricing models to help companies with restrictive budgets grow at their own pace. Also, if the platform is too much to handle in house, don’t worry – there are many marketing agencies that specialize in automation that can help you maximize your return. Make sure you choose a platform that agencies embrace, so you can get assistance beyond the vendor’s own onboarding program and have an ongoing resource to guide you through campaigns.

    • Small & Medium Businesses

      Marketing automation offers a number of specific benefits for small and medium businesses (SMBs). First, it helps you monitor the effectiveness and ROI of your digital marketing campaigns, so you can find out what’s working and what’s not. Next, it automates many activities – like lead follow-up, email campaigns, list segmentation, lead scoring, etc. – saving you tons of time and effort. Marketing automation also has great tools to support drip marketing campaigns. It enables you to build quality emails and landing pages, and then track your campaigns from start to finish to see how leads are moving through your funnel.

    • Large Companies

      If you are running a larger business, chances are you already have a sizeable database of contacts. A marketing automation platform can connect with your CRM to streamline your data and eliminate any cold contacts from your email marketing process. Similarly, if you’re already managing multiple campaigns and websites, automation software can provide you with powerful data on which landing pages are converting the most, which emails and posts are working best, and which content is getting the most downloads. Automated segmentation is also a helpful tool to ensure that you’re sending relevant content to your leads, especially if you provide different services or operate in different countries.

  2. How do I choose the right marketing automation provider for my business?

    When you’re considering marketing automation platforms, you need to find the provider that best meets your specific goals and business needs. While it’s important to consider individual features and functionalities, your focus should be on finding a platform that is affordable for you in the long term, as well as scalable so it can grow with your business.

    Here are some resources to help you make your choice:

  3. How do I choose the right marketing automation provider for my agency?

    Marketing automation can eat up a significant portion of your clients’ budgets, leaving less room for your agency’s retainer. (Psst...SharpSpring’s agency pricing model is as little as 1/10th to 1/20th the cost of others.) You’ll want a platform built around the needs of agencies to help you create higher-value relationships, generate monthly recurring revenue, and prove your ROI. Look for a provider that lets you reinforce your brand by rebranding the platform interface, domain, login screen and notifications. The vendor should treat you like a partner, including sending you new business referrals.

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