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Marketing Automation: Benefits, Trends & Challenges in 2024

Cem Dilmegani
Updated on Jan 12
5 min read

There are many ways and digital channels today to reach the customers, but it is not easy to utilize all these channels with the right messages for the right prospects at the right time. Marketing professionals can take advantage of using marketing automation tools to achieve their business goals.

Marketing automation simply means using software and digital platforms to automate repetitive and tedious processes of marketing such as e-mailing, management of social media accounts, etc. Marketing automation tools support businesses to send right messages to existing and potential clients and set up effective marketing campaigns which align with their sales and marketing strategies.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is a marketing technology, martech, solution area. These tools helps businesses to

  • improve and automate their marketing activities
  • evaluate the results and performance of their marketing activities to reach best operational efficiency

Marketing automation covers various marketing processes such as generating leads, making segmentation, scoring of the leads, and account-based marketing etc.

Why is marketing automation important now?

Marketing automation technology became popular after the middle of the 2000s with improvements in customer relationship management (CRM) and sales automation technology. Now, the value of global marketing automation market size was $18 billion last year and now it is expected to reach to 25 billion by the end of 2023.

This growth is because of the benefits of marketing automation tools. 68% of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) said that they would expect their marketing technology budget to increase by 2021 according to a Gartner survey.

What are the benefits of marketing automation?

Marketing automation technology has several benefits:

Improved marketing effectiveness:

  • Increasing productivity by automating repetitive manual tasks.
  • Having a centralized marketing database to analyze customer interactions

This improvement is reflected in produce higher quality leads and sales thanks to

  • Enhancing the performance of marketing campaigns by delivering relevant messages to the right customers at the right time
  • Supporting long-term customer relationships by tracking engagement and providing more targeted communications

All of these result in creating an effective environment for marketing and sales collaboration

What are the applications in marketing automation?

  • Channel marketing
    • Digital advertising covers advertising activities for products or services of a business by using multiple digital platforms such as social media accounts, apps, blogs and web browsers.
    • Programmatic advertising is used to buy right digital advertisements automatically from different platforms. First, the ad space which the publisher lists is analyzed and advertiser bids accordingly. According to the ad budget and targets, the best bid is selected by the exchange and the ad is displayed by the media company. This process takes milliseconds.
    • Social media management: It starts with building a social media strategy for social media audiences of the brand or business. The profiles of social media audiences are analyzed, the tailored content is created and social media performance is measured for continuous improvement.
    • Mobile marketing automation has the capabilities to provide automated marketing activities for the mobile domain. It can use real-time data to provide in- app messaging and wearable device notifications, SMS and MMS communication. This category also includes mobile advertising software.
    • Email automation: Automated messages are sent to existing customers and prospects with the right content and the right timing.
    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Numerous tools automate some SEO tasks for marketers such as site, rank or rivals monitoring.
    • Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing type, where partners promote products and services in exchange of fees. Affiliate automation tools allow marketers to collect and analyze real- time data of campaign performance data. Also, these tools facilitate payment and budget control activities.
  • Inboundmarketing
    • Landing pages and forms: Data from prospects is captured and sent to other marketing and sales systems to take actions or record information. Landing page builders make it easy to set up landing pages.
    • Personalization (Recommendation Engines) are used to suggest products or services based on historical users data in marketing and provide hyper-personalized experience to the customers.
  • Relationship management:
    • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) The primary target of CRM systems is management of existing and new customers relationship. Although CRM is a sales automation tool, it is supported by marketing automation tools to inform sales reps and improve sales success.
    • Lead management and scoring: Prospects are prioritized automatically based on set criteria and predetermined methodology at the lead management process. This allows businesses to focus on more valuable leads that are most likely to buy the product or service.
    • Account-based marketing (ABM) tools have abilities to build personalized buying experiences and help marketing and sales teams to focus on high-value accounts. ABM is integrated with marketing automation tools to manage marketing campaigns and create tailored contents for customers.
  • Supporting technologies:
    • Testing tools are used to test audiences’ response and reaction to marketing campaigns or other content automatically. Testing tools help marketers to increase the effectiveness  of marketing activities.
    • Analytics tools provide insights to the marketers to assess their marketing activities and improve their marketing strategy. The data is obtained from leads, digital marketing channels and other marketing platforms. This data is analyzed to find significant patterns and trends.
    • Data platforms
      • Customer Data Platform (CDP) systems collect customer data from various resources and create holistic customer profiles and single customer view of customer for sales and marketing teams. Marketing automation tools work with CDPs to create personalized content and data-driven insights for campaigns.
      • Data Management Platform (DMP) is used to manage customer data. DMPs support marketers to form target audiences from different sources by combining behaviors and interactions of customers.
    • Digital asset management:
      • Marketing Resource Management (MRM) helps marketers to organize and automate marketing tasks and assets. These tools generally apply in channel, budget and campaign planning processes.
      • Product Information Management (PIM) tools are for managing all product related information.
  • Machine learning / AI: Companies use machine learning technology to gather and analyze data about their customers. It enables to improve more effective marketing campaigns. For more, please see
  • Automation
    • Technologies like RPA which reduce the manual workload of marketing teams
    • Automated testing: Automated tests are becoming widespread and help improve marketing performance
  • Tools and platforms that provide data usage transparency are used to align with increased data protection regulations

What are the challenges of marketing automation?

There are hundreds of marketing software categories and thousands of marketing automation tools. As a result, it is becoming

  • hard to choose the right martech stack for your company
  • time consuming for the staff to get used to different tools
  • costly/slow to integrate different tools and get an overall view
  • expensive to have marketing automation due to subscription fees of numerous tools

A focus on increased automation and a well designed martech stack is diverting attention away from marketers’ core focus: Great content that resonates with their audience and compels them to act. So while the impact of automation on workload of the marketers can be easily measured, it is difficult to measure the impact on the revenue which depends on the company’s message.

What are the differences between marketing automation and sales automation?

Marketing automation is used to find potential customers and nurture leads (e.g. via webinars, followup emails or notifications). So, marketing automation sets up the client base.

Sales automation starts after customers engage with the sales personnel (e.g. during a demo). During the interaction, sales personnel confirm that the lead is a good fit for the company (i.e. sales qualified leads). After that sales automation starts to ensure that the sales is closed. For example, it helps automate followup communication.

Therefore, marketing automation is designed for top of the funnel (TOFU) communication. Sales automation is designed for bottom of the funnel (BOFU) contact.

Next steps

If you want to get started with automation in your marketing processes, feel free to check our data-driven list of marketing automation consultants.

If you need help in identifying marketing automation solutions for your business, we can help you get started:

Find the Right Vendors

This article was drafted by former AIMultiple industry analyst Ayşegül Takımoğlu.

Access Cem's 2 decades of B2B tech experience as a tech consultant, enterprise leader, startup entrepreneur & industry analyst. Leverage insights informing top Fortune 500 every month.
Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst
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Cem Dilmegani
Principal Analyst

Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.

Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.

Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.

He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.

Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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