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Marketing automation: what is it and how does it work?

Together with CRM, marketing automation is the cost-effective bridge between sales and marketing. But what exactly is marketing automation? Read here what it is, how it works and why you can’t live without it. 

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation software offers you a range of tools that allow you to optimise, streamline, measure and, of course, automate your campaigns. The goal? To make the operational part of your marketing department much more efficient so that your sales department can generate more sales.

You do this by automating the process by which you feed leads. And by using data you’ve collected. With marketing automation, leads are scored. This makes it easier to prioritize and nurture leads tailored specifically to the stage of the buyer journey they are in.

With marketing automation, you are able to follow up large quantities of incoming leads in a personalised and cost-efficient manner. In comparison, manual follow-up is nothing. In short: if your content strategy works, marketing automation is the only way to actually do something with the leads you receive.

The marketing automation software enables you to deliver more qualified leads to your sales department through the intensified connection thanks to in-depth analysis. This way, you realise more sales while lowering the cost per lead.

Still sound a bit vague and theoretical? Everything becomes clearer once you know how it works!

How does marketing automation work?

Now that you know what marketing automation is, it’s time to take a closer look at the how of marketing automation.


There is only one way to offer your website visitor content tailored to his needs: get to know him. The chance that you simply ask for his telephone number and then immediately schedule an introductory meeting is as good as non-existent. But even if that strategy had a chance of succeeding, it would still be impossible to do and unaffordable. In times of digitalization, it is better to let the system work for you, with tracking.

In this way, you can find out what your visitor does on your website in order to help him better. How? It all starts with assigning a VisitorID. You give this to a visitor whose personal details you have collected by having him register for a newsletter or an event, for example. This gives you a name and contact details and the visitor becomes a lead.

Whether this website visitor will ever actually become a customer with you cannot be predicted at this stage. However, a seed has been sown to follow the online behaviour of this lead and subsequently assign a lead score. Ultimately, you also succeed in categorising this website visitor according to buyer persona.

Collect data and create a progressive profile

Collecting information and data is one thing, but at the end of the day you also want to do something with it. You will therefore need more than just a name and an e-mail address. And the chance that a website visitor will give you more information on a first visit is small. You need a different plan and that is called a progressively built profile. This is what you do:

  • Create a master profile. This contains all the fields that you later want to see filled with the data of your website visitors. Obvious things like name and e-mail, but also geographical data, occupation, possibly age or company, etc.
  • Synchronise that profile continuously in your marketing automation package and your CRM.
  • Introduce smart forms. Your marketing automation tool ensures that your visitor doesn’t see the same CTA twice. Does he subscribe to a newsletter or want to download a white paper? Then you have the option of recording his name and e-mail address, for example. These data are sent to your CRM and stored in a cookie. So from now on you can perfectly follow the path that the visitor takes on your website. What’s more, a bit of a marketing automation tool even recovers from that cookie the route that this visitor took before he registered. Mautic for example – the partner of Dazzle for marketing automation – will in this way look at what this visitor has viewed in the past and count it in the lead score. Do you then invite that same visitor to a webinar? Then he will see a form in which the known data are already filled in, supplemented by one or two additional fields with which the profile can be further completed.

Start with lead scoring

Now that you know who you’re going to be visiting, you can – by combining the behaviour and profile – determine the score that will be assigned to your lead. Depending on what is important for your product or service, you determine the score you assign for each action your lead takes. For example, location is an important factor for some people, but not for others.

In many cases, the business function of your lead is important because it can be an indication of the extent to which he can make a decision about a purchase. In any case, your lead will receive a higher score if he clicks on the attachment of an e-mail than if he only opens the e-mail. Some pages on your website can also increase – or decrease – the score when they are visited. Think of bonus points for, say, a contact page or consulting your prices and a negative score for those who turn out to be looking for a job.

Segment your leads

By segmenting your leads, you can give them a platter for the next action. You can segment your leads based on various criteria, such as lead score, any actions taken, but also buyer persona or stage in the customer journey. Or you can go even deeper and combine elements.

For example, you can choose to target specific personas from a certain lead score upwards. Thanks to segmentation, the sales department can focus its energy on hot leads while the marketing people use the data for an optimal approach for a subsequent campaign.

digital marketing automation

An automated process

That is the beauty of marketing automation: it allows you to put your focus where it is needed most: on further optimizing existing campaigns and coming up with new, innovative ones. Because the time-consuming analysis of new leads – once set up – is done by your automation software.

Of course, initially you have to invest in setting up your new software. But that is also a good thinking exercise and analysis of your existing marketing processes and parameters. And once things are running smoothly, your lead gets to see a different CTA every time. Using the right workflows, you automatically send e-mails after certain actions have been taken and you run targeted campaigns for a segmented group instead of all your contacts.

In short, you are trying to help your leads as much as possible with information that is relevant to them. And that’s what content is needed for. No automation without content and no content without planning and without content strategy. And that’s when it comes in handy if you know a bit about inbound marketing. Or you just contact us.

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