TORONTO – If your marketing plan is akin to throwing everything at a wall and hoping something sticks, it may be time to get a little more sophisticated. And marketing automation tools can help.

Marketing automation software such as Pardot and Marketo can help you manage your marketing prospects as they move through the funnel, warm those prospects by delivering the right message to the right people at the right time, and automatically pass those qualified, ready to buy leads on to the sales team.

Ani Yildirim, marketing automation manager with Asigra, told attendees at the cloud backup and recovery vendor’s annual Summit conference that it’s all about engaging, and delivering the right message.

“If you don’t have the right tools not only won’t you be engaging your prospects, you won’t even know you have prospects,” said Yildirim. “And you can customize your message. Just throwing it out and hoping they get it and come to you doesn’t work anymore. You need to tailor your message to specific people at the right time.”

The right marketing automation platform will generate leads, improve conversions and return on investment and nurture relationships. If you’re going to grow your revenue, Yildirim said you need to improve your operational efficiency in order to generate the needed leads for sales to take and run with.

Tools such as Marketo, which Asigra uses in house, allow you to see who is visiting your website and where they go, so you can see what content is working and what subject areas are of interest to them. You can capture the contact info of visitors so you know their interests, what they want to learn more about and how much time they’re spending on the site, and you can even measure their stage in the buying process.

Yildirim said if you process leads from a conference by going straight to cold calls, it’s a hit or miss prospect that’s time-consuming for the sales team. Nurturing those leads within a marketing automation platform over time allows them to be qualified, and only passed to sales when they’re ready.

“If the lead is hot it’s passed to sales, and if it’s not it stays in nurture,” said Yildirim.

You can have different phases in the funnel with different messages being delivered at each stage, segmented further by company size, industry, and whatever metrics you choose. You can also track their activity across silos, from your web site and social media to webinars and blogs, having one unified view of each prospect and can market to them where they want to see it.

“It’s not a linear process anymore,” said Yildirim. “People are online all the time and you need to make sure you’re sending your messages wherever they are.”

When it comes to picking you marketing automation platform, Yildirim said you want to be clear on your business objectives up front. If you’re focused on social, ensure the platform has good social integration. Email marketing can be part of the platform, as can landing pages and forms, online behavior tracking, lead nurturing and scoring and CRM integration.

“Email marketing is the heart of your online marketing, so you need to make sure your platform can do that easy without you being an expert,” said Yildirim.

The ROI can be quick; Yildirim said companies that automate their lead generation usually see a 10 per cent revenue bump within six to nine months.

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