The Fundamentals of Marketing Automation

Ever get an email or have an ad pop up in your feed with an offer for what you were seeking or thinking about, perfectly timed with when you were thinking about it? That’s all due to the magic of marketing automation tools.

As a business owner, you already know every prospect and customer is unique, with different interests, preferences, and behaviors. Trying to engage them all individually, when they’re ready to engage, is extremely challenging.

Fortunately, with the right marketing automation tools, every business can make their marketing efforts smarter, more efficient, and personalized.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s involved:

  • Segmentation: Categorize your customers based on their behavior or characteristics. This is the foundation for sending them content or offers that match their interests, creating a more tailored experience.

  • Targeted Emails: When someone joins your mailing list or takes an action on your website, marketing automation tools can automatically send them relevant, action-oriented emails.

  • Lead Nurturing: If a potential customer shows interest, your marketing automation tools can send them a series of emails and offers that guide them through their decision-making process. It's like offering a helping hand without being pushy.

  • Personalization: Marketing automation allows you to address your customers by name, recommend products based on their previous purchases, and acknowledge special occasions. It's about making your customers feel seen and appreciated.

  • Analytics: It's not all about sending out messages; it's also about understanding how well your content and offers are performing. Marketing automation tracks the results, so you can make data-driven decisions.

What are the Best B2B Marketing Automation Tools?

  • HubSpot: A versatile, user-friendly platform that offers a suite of marketing, sales, and customer service tools. The perfect”all-in-one” marketing automation, sales and service CRM for startups and scaling businesses, many enterprises choose HubSpot specifically for its marketing automation capabilities.

  • Marketo: Known for lead management and email marketing capabilities, Marketo is a robust choice for larger enterprises with healthy marketing budgets.

  • Pardot: A Salesforce product, Pardot is a good choice for businesses already using Salesforce CRM.  

  • Eloqua: Oracle's Eloqua is an enterprise-grade platform known for its scalability and customization options.

  • ActiveCampaign: Offers user-friendly automation workflows, email marketing, and basic CRM features, suitable for small to mid-sized businesses with basic email marketing needs.

  • SharpSpring: A cost-effective tool with email marketing, basic CRM, and lightweight analytics features, often chosen by smaller businesses.

Getting Started With Marketing Automation Tools



Segmentation allows you to divide your audience into distinct groups based on various criteria, such as demographics, behavior, or engagement. By dividing them into segments, you can tailor your marketing efforts to suit their unique preferences and needs. Without consistently accurate audience segmentation, your marketing automation tools won’t deliver to their fullest capability.

Here's a snapshot of Segmentation basics:

Demographic Segmentation

In B2B marketing, categorize your target audience by industry, location,  job title or function, and buying role. In B2C marketing, age and gender can be important for your product fit. This will help you create aligned, smart content that connects and resonates with specific groups.

Behavioral Segmentation

Take a closer look at how your audience interacts with your content. Are they frequent website visitors, occasional email openers, or active social media followers? Segment your audience based on their behavior to send them content that matches their engagement level.

Lifecycle Stage

Consider where your leads are in the customer journey. Are they new prospects, existing customers, or somewhere in between? Tailor your messaging to their current stage in the buying process.

Identify Your Best Leads (Lead Scoring)

Not all leads are created equal. Some are more likely to convert into paying customers than others. This is where lead scoring comes in. Using a simple cumulative point system, you can easily assign each lead a “grade” based on their actions and engagement with your content.

Here's how to get started with lead scoring:

Define Criteria

Determine which actions and behaviors a lead may undertake that indicate clear interest in or intent to purchase from your business. For example, downloading a whitepaper might be worth more points than simply visiting your homepage.

Assign Scores

Create a scoring system and assign points to each action. As leads engage with your content and website, their scores will increase.

Set Thresholds

Establish thresholds that classify leads as "hot," "warm," or "cold." Hot leads are most likely to convert, while cold leads might need further nurturing.

Lead scoring helps your sales and marketing teams prioritize their efforts. Instead of casting a wide net, they can focus on qualified leads that are more likely to convert, saving time and resources.

Create Target Lists

Now that you've segmented your audience and identified your best leads, it's time to create target lists. These are groups of leads who share common characteristics, interests, lead scores, or behaviors. Target lists are the foundation for your marketing campaigns.

Here's how to create effective target lists:

Combine Segmentation and Lead Scoring

Use both segmentation and lead scoring to define the criteria for your target lists. For example, you might create a list of "Hot Leads Interested in HubSpot Support."

Content Mapping

Align your target lists with specific content or offers. Tailor your messaging to the needs and interests of each list.

Automation Rules

Set up automation rules to automatically add and remove leads from your target lists as they meet or no longer meet the criteria. This ensures your lists stay up-to-date.

Creating target lists enables you to send highly relevant content to specific groups of leads, increasing the chances of engagement and conversion.

Understanding how campaigns, channels, and content work together is vital to your success. These components are the gears that drive your automated marketing efforts. Let's explore these key aspects of marketing automation in more detail.

Campaigns, Channels & Content in Marketing Automation


Set up Campaign Assets

In marketing automation, campaign assets are your foundational building blocks. They include various elements such as email templates, landing pages, ad creatives, and more, that are essential for crafting effective campaigns. Here's how to approach setting up campaign assets in the context of marketing automation:

Email Templates

Create email templates that are not only visually appealing but also optimized for automation. These templates should adapt to different audience segments and behaviors.

Landing Pages

Design landing pages that are seamlessly integrated with your automation platform. These pages should align with your campaign messaging and have forms for lead capture.

Ad Creatives

If you're running paid advertising as part of your automation strategy, ensure that your ad creatives are aligned with your brand style guide as well as your campaign's goals and messages. Automation can help you schedule and target ads effectively.

Dynamic Content

Leverage the power of dynamic content within your assets. This allows you to personalize the content experience for each lead, improving engagement and conversion rates.

Paid, Owned, and Earned Media in B2B Marketing Automation

Understanding how paid, owned, and earned media work in the context of marketing automation is a key part of your marketing automation strategy. Here's a closer look:

Paid Media

Use marketing automation to manage and optimize paid media campaigns, including PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising and sponsored content. Automation can help you target the right audience segments and efficiently track performance.

Owned Media

Your website, blog, social media profiles, and email lists are all part of your owned media. Automation can help you manage content distribution, lead nurturing, and customer engagement across these channels.

Earned Media

Automation can assist in monitoring and capitalizing on earned media. Track social shares, mentions, and reviews to identify opportunities for engagement and relationship-building with influencers and advocates in your industry.

By integrating these media types into your marketing automation strategy, you can create a cohesive and effective approach that leverages automation for maximum impact.

Content Types in Marketing Automation

Content plays a central role in marketing automation, and various content types can be effectively utilized in B2B marketing automation. Here's a breakdown of some content types and their role in marketing automation:

  • Email Content: Marketing automation enables you to send personalized and behavior-triggered emails, making email marketing highly effective in nurturing leads and driving conversions.

  • White Papers and Ebooks: These in-depth resources can be used as lead magnets. Automation helps in delivering them to leads based on their interests and behaviors.

  • Webinar Content: Marketing automation can streamline the registration process, reminders, and follow-ups for webinars, making it a valuable content type for lead engagement.

  • Dynamic Content: Automation allows for the creation of dynamic content that adapts to each lead's profile and behavior, enhancing the personalization of your messaging.

By incorporating these content types and leveraging marketing automation, you can create a dynamic and responsive content strategy that engages your audience and fills sales lead funnels faster.

Marketing Automation Analytics


Trigger Actions Based on Performance

One of the core strengths of marketing automation analytics is the ability to trigger actions based on performance data. By closely examining the performance of your marketing efforts, you can make informed decisions to optimize your campaigns. For instance, you can use data-driven insights to:

  • Initiate automated lead nurturing sequences triggered by specific lead behaviors or engagement levels.

  • Deliver personalized content and offers tailored to individual lead interests and interactions.

  • Assign lead scores and segment your audience based on their engagement, ensuring more targeted and relevant communications.

  • Apply successful strategies and tactics identified through analytics to optimize other aspects of your marketing campaigns.

Analyze, Report, and Optimize

Comprehensive analytics in marketing automation tools extend beyond basic metrics, providing in-depth insights for continuous improvement. You can:

  • Dive into content analysis to identify trends and preferences, informing your content creation and distribution strategies.

  • Monitor conversion rates to understand which elements of your campaigns drive the most conversions, allowing you to fine-tune your approach.

  • Utilize audience insights to craft more relevant and targeted content that resonates with your audience's demographics and interests.

  • Track traffic sources to identify the channels that are most effective in attracting new visitors, enabling you to allocate resources efficiently.

  • Continuously optimize your content, campaigns, and strategies based on these data-driven insights.

Retargeting with Marketing Automation Tools

Retargeting, a potent strategy in marketing automation, re-engages leads who've shown interest but haven't converted. Here's how:

  • Dynamic Segmentation: Use automation to segment leads based on past interactions, creating tailored retargeting campaigns for specific needs.

  • Behavior-Based Triggers: Automation responds to lead actions in real-time. For example, an abandoned cart action triggers a reminder email, enhancing conversion chances.

  • Personalized Content: Leverage lead data for personalized content and messaging, making your retargeting efforts more effective.

  • Multi-Channel Retargeting: Reach leads through multiple channels, including email and social media.

Harnessing the Power of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation isn't just about technology; it's about forging meaningful connections with your audience. If you’re a B2B marketer, it's a tool that propels growth and fosters effective engagement throughout the entire customer and buyer journey.