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Marketing Automation: Basics

Choosing the right platform for your business is half the battle. And, not all the bells and whistles of a solution intended for large enterprises such as Marketo or Eloqua are right for your small business. 

You want to consider marketing automation when that static web contact form just doesn't work for you anymore; or there are so many unqualified inquires that you need some other way (other than manual oversight by a human being) to follow-up with them all in a timely and reasonable manner. 

Here are some basic built-in features to look for in an entry-level marketing automation platform:

- customer segmentation
- lead scoring (critical for B2B; sometimes used for high end prosumer products)
- automated campaigns
- marketing and/or sales automation
- landing pages

Nearly all email marketing and marketing automation platforms have email marketing (basic and custom templates). integration or APIs with popular CRM tools, email/web/or social campaigns, and some form of web or campaign analytics.


Nice to have features include social media integration, e-commerce integration, affiliate or referral program support

There are really only three reasons why you'd go through the hassle of switching marketing platform vendors:

1. The product is rife with so many bugs that you are losing opportunities every time you use it;
2. The customer service blows - whether it's their technical support (see #1) or account management service (who you'd go to first to escalate support issues); or
3. The platform's features are no longer aligned with your marketing strategy - a common outcome for startups that switch their focus from B2C to B2B. 

You want to consider marketing automation when that static web contact form just doesn't work for you anymore; or there are so many unqualified inquires that you need some other way (other than manual oversight by a human being) to follow-up with them all in a timely and reasonable manner.

At the end of the day, you want the website experience to be as self-serviced as possible when it comes to consuming information on your site, be it downloading a whitepaper, making an order entry, building partnerships, or shopping for products and/or services.
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