The simplicity of Marketing Automation & Big Data?
By Pete Winter

The simplicity of Marketing Automation & Big Data?

How modern marketers can achieve greater success today with the help of marketing automation

Today’s CMO faces a whole set of new challenges and opportunities. As the world of marketing increasingly turns onto the field of marketing automation, technical and strategic horizons are opening up.

But as is the case with any emerging technology, there are inevitably growing pains.

Marketing automation: What are the key pains?

Many marketing departments are struggling to keep pace with evolving marketing technology, which often demands new skill sets within teams.

The meteoric rise of data means that more analytical and technical talent is required. This may be missing from more traditional marketing teams, oriented towards creativity and research.

Departments can find themselves underserved due to lack of clarity over roles, while the perennial problem of interdepartmental alignment looms larger than ever. Effective marketing automation demands smooth cooperation and data sharing across sales, marketing, marketing operations and IT.

Big data is the key to simplifying marketing automation

Marketing automation tools simplify consumer-based marketing by aiding in the data analysis and customer management needed to track and manage different customer trends simultaneously.


Marketing automation is about more than just content distribution. While applications like automated emails and scheduled social media posts will allow you to reach more people more easily, the key is using big data to help you reach them more intelligently.

Marketing automation is a useful tool for analysing the behaviour of prospects, building a picture of who they are and using this information to better target and tailor your marketing activities.

Get to know your prospects

Modern marketers are turning away from the traditional approach of product-based marketing, in favour of a customer-focused strategy.

Instead of communicating the same blanket promotional messages to all, they are using data insights to see customers as individuals. Then they harness the technical capabilities of marketing automation to target them more intelligently.

A simple example of this is Amazon, the online retailer who more or less pioneered the “You may also like” suggested products feature. This uses algorithms to suggest items based on user’s past behaviours and perceived interests, increasing the likelihood of conversion by delivering more relevant marketing messages. This approach is followed both on the ecommerce site and in the tailored email campaigns delivered to segmented audience groups.

In today’s sophisticated world of big data, it’s not good enough to simply segment based on classic demographics like age, gender and location. You need to get much better acquainted with your prospects than that.

Neil Davey of MyCustomer identifies four key areas that need to be addressed for successful personalisation:

  1. Audience – Use insights from all customer touchpoints to segment by where they are in the buying cycle, interests expressed via website or email interactions, previous purchases and other behavioural indicators.
  2. Intent – Understanding a customer’s intent is crucial to being able to deliver personalised marketing.
  3. Relevance – Make the link between insights and information provided by the customer, and the message you present to them.
  4. Trust – Personalisation is a means of building trust and rapport with prospects. This is a way of involving your brand in the customer research and decision process.

Use workflows to predict behaviour

Once you have built an idea of who your different prospects are and what makes them tick, you can use different workflows to personalise not only what content they receive, but also the order and timing of delivery.

Marketing automation programmes like HubSpot facilitate this process by allowing content mapping and different workflows for different personas. By observing interactions and monitoring results, you can start to better predict customer behaviours and increase the chances of conversion.

Get sales and marketing on the same page

Companies that are best-in-class at aligning marketing and sales experienced an average of 20% growth in annual revenue.

Aberdeen Research

The holy grail of seamless marketing-sales integration is brought a step closer by marketing automation done well. Lead scoring is the process of assigning value to leads based on interactions and behaviours signalling greater or lesser readiness to convert.

This process can – you guessed it – be automated! Once you have built an idea of what a ‘qualified’ lead looks like (one that is ready for sales contact) they can be automatically passed to the sales department. This might be, for example, after signing up for an eguide, clicking on two emails and downloading a white paper. The specifics will vary and can be adjusted based on your ongoing observations and insights.

The ideal scenario is that your marketing funnels receives a flow of prospects, who are then nurtured by your automation workflows until their interaction levels reach a point at which they pass along to the sales department for conversion. Feedback from the sales team on readiness of those leads to convert will help to hone this process and make it even more effective and streamlined.

3 ways marketing automation makes marketing easier

Still not convinced about the benefits marketing automation can bring? Simply put, marketing automation makes your life as a marketer easier.

Here are three of the most important ways it achieves this:


In a survey of over 50,000 B2B marketers, the top benefit of marketing automation was cited as ‘the ability to generate more and better quality leads.’

By using marketing automation you will increase both the volume and relevance of the leads you generate, giving you a headstart on the road to conversion.


Nurturing leads towards conversion is a key aspect of marketing automation. Research by Annuitas Group found that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured ones.

What’s more, the time to conversion is lower. Thomson Reuters found that leads were converted 72% more quickly once marketing automation was deployed.


By automating many of the processes that would have to be done by a human previously, marketers can save on time and cost.

Gartner cites that 15% more of marketing budgets can be saved with automation. And research by Forrester found that automation produced 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% less cost.

The Last Word: Make Marketing Automation Work for You

Marketing automation is a boon for modern marketers. It presents more opportunities than ever before for getting to know our prospects and customers, listening to what they want and delivering the targeted and personalised marketing that gets high conversions and, ultimately, boosts ROI.

The key to unlocking these opportunities for growth is the data and insights now available. These must be harnessed to enhance and improve lead generation.


  • Marketing automation offers great opportunities but many departments are struggling to adjust to the new landscape
  • Using data insights to build accurate pictures of customers, their behaviours and buying intent is possibly the most vital feature of marketing automation
  • Personalising content and workflows helps to build trust and relevance by delivering what the prospect is truly interested in
  • Scoring and qualifying leads allows for marketing and sales to align as they move leads through the buying cycle
  • Marketing automation generates more and better leads and faster, higher-quality conversions. It also saves time and resources

Learn everything you need to become a marketing automation machine! Download The CMO’s Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation

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