A Brief Overview to Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation blog article on prosar.com - person pointing at backlit icons

Marketing automation, or inbound marketing, started taking hold about a decade ago and brought about a paradigm shift in how companies approach their target markets. It leverages the power of digital tools and online communication, and consumers’ growing appetite for information. It respects consumers’ greater control over the selling-buying process. And, rather than the traditional broadcast methods of pushing your message out to a general audience, inbound strategy attracts a receptive audience, nurtures a trusting relationship, and secures a loyal client. Here’s a brief marketing automation overview to help put it in perspective for you.

What started quite simply with the notion of attract traffic, nurture interest, convert leads has become more comprehensive and complex. Dynamic-based content allows you to create customized emails, web pages and forms for targeted market segments (personas) and even individuals. Tracking, reporting and analytics now play an important role in testing, measuring and improving deployment of the tactics. And the tools used to manage the process have become more sophisticated and powerful.

This greater complexity speaks to the larger role that marketing automation now plays and great potential that comes with it. It underlines the importance of developing a strategy and detailed planning to ensure your budget and efforts are directly wisely.

The Marketing Automation Process

The basic premise behind marketing automation is much like dating — make yourself known and attractive to those who are looking for what you have to offer. Once you have their attention, you work at proving your value with information and insight via content on your website and downloads. A progression of content and engagement keeps your prospect interested until you successfully build the case that they should purchase form you.

The starting point is to create an informative and inviting online environment, and downloadable content, that serves as a resource for those seeking your service or product. (Content generation is an important component, read Does Your Content Go the Distance? for some helpful tips) When their online searches (often aided by AdWords, social media and email campaigns) bring them to your website, the wealth of strategically written and presented information, calls-to-action (CTAs), landing pages, forms and automated workflows lead them through your marketing funnel, and hopefully to a purchase. The process can take months with many visits, email campaigns, information downloads and even phone calls.

A bonus is that these same tactics are then used to nurture an ongoing relationship. The intention is not simply to make the initial sale, but to cultivate an ongoing loyal customer. The marketing and sales processes can more easily be aligned and integrated to work seamlessly together forming a continuum of customer care.

Tactics Used in Marketing Automation

The primary objective is to convince your prospects that they should choose your organization. Educating your target market helps them appreciate your knowledge and understanding of their needs. Tools, tips and tidbits of information, either as blog articles, whitepapers, branded information pieces, apps, etc. provide evidence to your knowledge and understanding.

Marketing automation tactics include developing strategic content, social media promotion, focused SEO, targeted paid advertising (AdWords and online banners), creation of engaging, customized landing pages and emails, special offers promoted by effective CTAs, scheduled phone calls, chats or online presentations, and a structured plan that integrates all components to work together in an automated workflow. Tracking and analysis enables measurement at several different stages so that tactics and campaigns can be measured and tweaked for ongoing improvement.

If some of these tasks and terms are new to you, download the Ultimate Guide to Marketing Automation Terminology. A comprehensive PDF that explains all the lexicon.

You don’t need to employ all these tactics, but like any campaign with many moving parts, they are complementary and often prove to be more effective when used together. Whatever tactics you chose to implement, they need to be coordinated properly and consistent.

Marketing automation is a process. It takes time to create the content and components, and typically requires several months of applied and integrated effort before you start to see results. Once you have the system working, ongoing effort, trial and tweaking is necessary for ongoing success. Marketing automation improves sales and customer satisfaction, but it’s not a magic formula for instant success.

The Evolution of Smart Marketing

Developing a personalized dialogue to strengthen and maintain a feedback loop, repeat purchases and referrals is smart. Marketing automation simply uses modern tools and best practices to do what good businesses have always done: work strategically to attract prospects, demonstrate your knowledge for your product/service, listen to and look after your consumers.

CTA graphic with link to download the Ultimate Guide to Marketing Automation Terminology PDF


How to avoid the junk mail folder- 3 important tips when launching email marketing

It’s our morning routine – waking up to check our inboxes only to find a long series of email prompts of “SALES NOW!” or “SAVE for a limited time only.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who ignores these emails or relegates them to the junk folder. Heck, as a marketer myself I’ve probably sent a couple annoying sales pitch emails. To be fair, creating effective promotional emails that stand out from all the clutter is not as easy as it sounds.

So, when it comes to creating successful promotional emails that will actually be opened, read and acted upon, what’s the secret? Here are three important tips when launching email marketing.


Why do so many businesses use email marketing? Because it’s a great way to stay connected to your audience and nurture their interest. With automation software, email content can be personalized for  specific lead personas, creating a dynamic email with customized content based on your customer’s interests and where they are in the sales cycle. But, as great as automation is when it comes to emails, it won’t magically make clients open them. It’s up to you to use convincing language and good email tactics to drive that success.


  1. Keep email subject lines catchy and brief

To get your customers to actually open an email, you need to engage them with the first thing that catches their eye the subject line. To create subject lines that stand out, consider the audience that’s receiving the email. Are you sending them a Follow-up email? Then make it sound like you’re carrying on the last conversation you had with them, try using their name or try putting a question in the subject line; these tactics engage and provide the promise that there is something worth reading in the body of the email.

As more and more people check their inboxes via their smartphone, it’s becoming all the more important that your subject line is not just catchy, but that it’s also brief, as few as 3- 4 words to ensure that it can fit on any screen.

To show that you are legit and to  their attention, we recommend that your subject lines:

  • Avoid long sentences
  • Keep all first text headers in black
  • Avoid CAPS and too many exclamation points!!!
  • avoid being all lower case


  1. There’s such a thing as TOO much email content

When it comes to upselling your business to people, believe me, I know that it’s easy to get carried away, but it’s important to remember: now that you’ve got your clients to open the email do not overwhelm them or bore themwith too much content.

Whether it’s a Thank you or a Follow up email, we recommend that you stick to three or four paragraphs. You can provide a more pleasing flow, and a more appealing email body, with a longer head in the middle of your email and shorter headlines at the start and end of the email.

Other important tips on email content:

  • If your email body is primarily text, use short paragraphs (approx. 50-130 words).
  • Use simple and clear language and try personalizing and making it sound conversational.
  • If you plan on using images to emphasize your message (e.g.  promotional banners), use multiple images instead of one big image. Spam readers tend to flag emails that use one big image.
  • Have one call to action button and personalize it with your company name, instead of “Download now!” say “Download PROSAR’s Email Whitepaper”.


  1. Timing is everything

Email frequency is always a concern for marketers; send too many and customers will probably choose to opt-out of your services. The key is to be there when your prospect feels they need you. That requires consistency, but optimum frequency varies depending on where they are in the sales cycle.

Obviously, email marketing should not involve indiscriminate sending (check out our Canadian Anti-Span Law Compliance blog if you’re worried about this), it’s about using automation software responsibly and effectively to engage your audience.

With automation you can set online touchpoints that trigger a previously prepared email. For example, if a customer visits a product page three times, an email can be sent out automatically, providing more details or benefits for that product, or notifying them when it is on sale, or even featuring recommendations for similar products. This type of dynamic email helps to ensure that your customers’ needs are being considered and that a sales opportunity is not lost.

Other tips on email frequency:

  • Prompt the audience on social media before you send out a new email campaign
  • Take advantage of time-off, like holidays, or downtime, like noon, to connect with your audience
  • Ask customers when they would like to hear from you, and how often


Email marketing is a communication and sales tactic that has been proven to convert leads.

Automation software, like SharpSpring, assist greatly in implementing, monitoring, measuring and fine-tuning your email strategy.  Whether you use software or not, heed these three tips and take advantage of the strengths of email marketing.


Photo credit: Busakorn Pongparnit / gettyimages