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 those leads to sales and optimize ROI.

What are the marketing automation objectives? Marketing automation allows businesses to automate repetitive tasks such as sending emails, maintaining social media, tracking website interactions and handling 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 and marketing tools (CMS, CRM, social media, meeting software and more) to provide a streamlined 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 bad marketing form, but it can also impair your general marketing efforts. Marketing automation is most rewarding when you’re using it to send customized relevant content to your contacts, not annoying, spammy emails.

A Tool with a Singular Function

Marketing automation isn’t just a fancy word for email marketing. It encompasses an entire suite of tools to help companies drive more leads, convert those leads to sales, and maximize spend. This includes features like landing page builder, built-in CRM, reporting capabilities, social media management and so much more.

A “Set it and Forget it” Solution

Marketing automation is an incredible tool that helps businesses achieve real results. But those results don’t occur without the right processes, strategies, and efforts set in place. Marketing automation objectives are 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 reach your business goals without you.

What Does Marketing Automation Software Do?

Marketing automation brings three principal assets to the table:

Drive more leads

Convert leads into sales

Maximize marketing spend

There is considerable evidence supporting the value that marketing automation can bring to marketers. According to a report by VB Insight, 80% of automation users saw their amount of leads increase, and 77% saw their number of conversions increase. Furthermore, 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 distinct set of benefits, including:

Create higher-value relationships

Prove value to your clients

Generate monthly recurring revenue

Agencies can take advantage of 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, with 42% of respondents noting client acquisition as a top objective in their marketing automation strategy.

Agencies Have Their Eye on ROI

What are the most important objectives of a marketing automation strategy?

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What are Common Marketing Automation Features?

Email Automation

Built-In CRM

Social Media Management


Blog Builder

Lead Scoring

Sales Notifications

End-to-End Reporting & Analytics

Dynamic Form Builder

Landing Page Builder

Anonymous Visitor ID

Dynamic Emails & Landing Pages

Dynamic Lists/Segmentation

End-to-End Reporting & Analytics

Campaign Optimization

Good Marketing Automation vs. Bad Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is all about how much effort you put into it. So there are techniques that work and ones that don’t.

Bad Marketing Automation

Bad marketing automation loses sight of your customers and prospects. Often, it involves sending non-targeted spammy messages. Bad marketing automation fails to utilize all the customer data it has collected to create meaningful relationships and therefore, loses out on many 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 strategy should be dedicated to one central focus: Your customers.

How does marketing automation work?

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

How to Maximize Marketing Automation Success

Your success with marketing automation depends on several things.


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 see results.


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%.


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

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. Agency-focused features include agency support, joint sales calls, platform rebranding, white-labeling, shareable email templates, rebrandable sales materials, and a multi-client management console. The marketing automation console or dashboard is a platform interface to manage all of the agency’s marketing tasks in a single location. Other professional services that marketing automation offers to agencies include technical tasks such as HTML, CSS, development services, data restoration, import and sync services. Shareable email templates are pre-formatted with sample text for agency use. This eliminates the need to create new emails for each client communication.


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 campaign

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.
How can marketing automation help with social media?
One of the key features of marketing automation is its ability to link with many different social media platforms. Essentially, it integrates all social media accounts into a single platform for easier management. It can also help to increase conversion rates and boost engagement.
What is behavioral-based automation?
Behavioral-based automation is when marketing automation is used to track a lead’s online activity. This includes clicking on an email that kicks off an automated email campaign, visiting a website that puts that lead on a list, or filling out a form that triggers the release of certain content.
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 cost-efficient for you in the long run, as well as scalable, so it can grow in tandem with your business. Here are some resources to help you make your choice:
How do I choose the right marketing automation provider for my agency?
Marketing automation can eat up a significant portion of your client’s budget, 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. You will also want a marketing automation provider that offers a pricing model that is inclusive and simple. A solid pricing structure will enable you to bill your clients without interrupting the client-agency relationship. It also gives you the flexibility to choose your price points and bundle packages accordingly.

Ready to see marketing automation in action?

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