The Basics of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation tools have revolutionized the marketing industry and caused marketing leaders to reconsider their marketing technology software. Despite the variety of tools available to the modern day Marketer, 27% of companies still feel like they are “new” to marketing automation.

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation refers to the software tools and platforms available to marketers that simplify everyday tasks, like sending emails and scheduling social media blasts, to generating more leads and optimizing ROI. Let’s break down the difference between the associated tools versus platforms.

Marketing automation tools are fairly limited in their capabilities, often offering just one marketing automation for one service, such as email. For the most part, marketing automation tools are low cost and require little time to kickstart.

Platforms that perform marketing automation allows marketers to optimize their spend and sales teams to nurture highly engaged leads by providing insights on specific campaigns. A marketing automation platform combines the functionality of several marketing automation tools into a unified platform for both marketing and sales teams. With centralized data, teams are able to work together to maximize marketing budgets, nurture leads, create accurate projections and pipelines, and streamline execution.

Why Automation is Important

Marketing automation allows sales and marketing teams to work together to determine the most effective sales and marketing approach by using centralized data to optimize ROI and nurture highly engaged leads. Furthermore, comprehensive marketing automation platforms are able to automate marketing tasks based on the provided data (ex: email when lead score reaches 16), giving sales teams the time to focus and nurture leads who are showing engagement presently.

Marketing Automation Tools

Several marketing automation tools, such as Mailchimp and Hootsuite, are free and able to be implemented immediately to begin streamlining specific marketing processes. Mailchimp is a great way to start building a database of contacts and nurturing leads through automated emails. Similarly, Hootsuite enables teams to schedule social media posts across all platforms, combining cross network analytics into one place. Marketing automation tools greatly benefit smaller organizations looking to grow due to low cost and ease of use.

Marketing Automation Platforms

Though niche software provides unique features, it does not combine all marketing functions in one place, which is a service bigger companies might be looking for. Currently, several marketing automation platforms are being used by marketers and sales teams, including Pardot, Hubspot, Marketo, and SharpSpring. Though similar in functionality, these marketing automation platforms have differences that business decision-makers need to consider.

  • Pardot is a marketing automation platform that specializes in B2B marketing automation and is intended to directly integrate with a company’s existing SalesForce software. It is a sales focused platform that offers campaign reporting, email automation, revenue reporting and landing pages.

  • Hubspot is a marketing-focused automation platform that also serves as a one-stop-shop for businesses to manage both CRM and marketing execution. Hubspot includes sales tools such as creating lists, segmenting contacts and adding sales notes, and showing a history of how that contact has interacted with your marketing. Similarly, marketers are able to execute email and social media marketing campaigns, A/B test landing pages, and automate a variety of other marketing tasks.

  • Marketo is a standard marketing automation platform that offers tools including email marketing, landing page creation, lead scoring and more. Marketo offers enterprise-level solutions, with direct integrations to major CRMs, Dynamics and SugarCRM.

  • SharpSpring is an all-in-one sales and marketing automation platform that combines the functions of a typical CRM and everyday marketing execution. The software includes tools to execute email and social media marketing, analyze campaign performance, nurture leads, and report on revenue.

How to Get Started

Depending on resources and strategy, organizations may only need an email automation tool or other similar marketing automation tools to achieve their goals. Most automation services will offer free trials or demos on their website where companies are able to learn more and test the tool and get started easily and quickly.

On the other hand, the above-mentioned marketing automation platforms require a monthly commitment and take time to set up and learn for everyday use. It can be challenging and complex to navigate this decision, as well as implement and set up automation rules. In fact, in most cases when implementing Pardot or Sharpspring, it is highly encouraged to work with consultants to ensure a smooth integration.  

That’s why on May 23rd, at 2:00 PM, &Marketing and SharpSpring will be hosting a free online webinar to discuss marketing automation and the marketing automation tool sets provided by SharpSpring’s platform. For more information or to sign up for the webinar, use the link below.


&Marketing is a partner of SharpSpring, working together to provide small and medium size businesses with an all-in-one marketing automation platform. To help business owners understand the basics, &Marketing offers a free downloadable guide with tips to improve your lead generation and nurturing campaign. Download the marketing automation guide below.