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Introduction to marketing automation and automation in marketing, sales and service

Definition Marketing Automation

Our topic Marketing Automation – a sub-discipline of Customer Relationship Management – describes all activities in connection with software solutions that automate processes in marketing – but also e.g. sales, service. They usually consist of the modules customer database, analytics and reporting (Business Intelligence), campaign management, workflow management, e-mail marketing as well as a synchronization to CRM or ERP.

The primary goal is to reduce or simplify the manual effort or to replace it completely by software. The so-called multi-channel campaigns or trigger campaigns should become manageable.

A further goal is to shorten the time between personal contacts through automated off- and online impulses or to trigger personal dialogue after digital contact. It is therefore not limited to e-mail dispatch, e-commerce, automated e-mails from the web shop or social media marketing.

Objectives in the CRM, marketing and sales language are e.g. more and better lead and opportunity generation, cross- and up-selling, after-sales offers, avoidance of cognitive dissonance, differentiation of messages per member in the buying center – and of course ongoing communication.

At its core, the topic is an important part of the digitalization in your company. Full integration into the IT landscape is a prerequisite for success.

Differentiation B2B/ B2C in the Marketing Automation Definition

In principle there are no major differences. The objectives are quite identical.

The points we raise in B2B also apply in B2C when it comes to products or capital goods that require explanation.

The somewhat different procedures in B2C also apply in B2B companies when it comes to „fast moving“ products, C-parts etc.


Marketing automation helps to maintain relationships at the various touchpoints along the lead or purchase process (see figure below). This includes, for example, sending automatic, personalized messages to potential customers and existing customers to guide them on their way from interest, through the negotiation phase, during the purchase or contract conclusion and within the after-sales phase. The idea is to remind the contact person again and again about his product or service, to draw attention to himself and to keep him busy (involvement) until he finally decides to make a purchase or to buy again.

In B2B it often concerns products or services that have a longer decision making process, therefore requiring a permanent, continuous involvement. For this reason, the focus here is on sending extensive content or relevant information such as videos, white papers, case studies and eBooks, which are usually sent to the recipients via e-mail marketing. This is called Lead Nurturing.

Special topic Buying Center or decision making body:

Decision-making processes in larger companies are usually carried out by a decision-making body. This means that several people are often involved in the decision-making process. Marketing Automation helps in the context of CRM measures to provide several people according to their function and the sales phase in parallel and with different information.


Picture: 1A RelationsDies ist eine beispielhafte Customer Journey. In der Realität gibt es sehr unterschiedliche Varianten. Selbst ein und derselbe Kunde durchläuft je nach Bedarf, emotionaler Situation und Vorerfahrung unterschiedliche Customer Journeys


The focus here is, for example, on cross-selling, brand building, the digital lead management process and, in principle, on keeping the customer relationship „going“ (loyalty). Thus, possible tasks of marketing automation in B2C companies are e.g. „reminder that there are still products in the shopping cart“, personalized, individualized product recommendations and offers tailored to the individual customer or congratulations on a birthday or name day.



Picture: 1A Relations


Examples, not only for digital marketing

The following B2C graphic illustrates how many starting points there are for using marketing automation during the customer journey. This allows you to „play“ customers in a very targeted manner.

Important here: The campaigns should be differentiated according to a) new b) active or loyal c) inactive or passive and d) the special target group that has just terminated customers.

Marketing Automation



However, the possibilities of marketing automation start much earlier – when the customer has not yet bought and is still in the decision phase. What do you offer the prospective customers to get their attention? Here, the range of options within CRM is huge.

Examples of possible contents and measures are:

Marketing Automation

Source: evalanche

So let’s go!

When can you start automated processes here? Only after you have turned the „unknown“ prospect into a „known“ prospect. To do this, he must have registered on your website, handed in a business card, filled out a form. Only then can you get in touch with him.

Still, beware:
Marketing Automation is not an IT project at first!


„A Fool with a Tool, remains a Fool“

Simple examples of marketing automation

Customer registrations:

Welcome new recipients who have registered for your service or your (online) shop via a form, e.g. with an additional offer, a welcome discount.

Deliberately present your entire product portfolio after the initial purchase through initial e-mail marketing initiatives

Most customers do not know how extensive their product range is. This is explanatory information about products and services such as „what does your company offer in particular? what distinguishes you from the competition? Marketing Automation can entertain the newly registered or new customers with exciting content for the first 3 months.

Thank them for the first purchase and the trust they have placed in us. Ask for the satisfaction or determine the Net Promotor Score (NPS).

Catch up on double opt-in:

If this does not happen immediately, immediately obtain advertising permission via Double-Opt-in (DOI).

An idea from FLYMINT: „FLYMINT (is a provider of Lead Management as a Service in B2B) uses marketing automation systems to control a campaign triggered by the sales staff of its customers. The „Manual DOI Mailing“, a one-step campaign that sends a time-controlled, sales employee-individual, personalized e-mail to the contact for consent (DOI) based on a real sales conversation. The probability of consent (DOI) is increased many times over, as there is a personal, context-related occasion.

Result: Across all customers: 40 – 75% DOI consent after telephone call from the sales department.

Seasonal or calendar impulses:

Automatically send an e-mail when, for example, a birthday, name day, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, anniversary of the customer relationship, another regular date or special holidays are due. This also includes measures for Halloween, Cyber Monday etc.

Concrete implementation of Apteco customer Prezzo(an Italian restaurant chain that is represented throughout the UK). The campaign: A guest’s birthday: a multi-stage e-mail program addresses those customers who have a birthday coming up. Objective: to celebrate the anniversary at Prezzo. The voucher can only be redeemed by the invited person.

After orders immediately become active:

Automatically send a confirmation email whenever a customer buys something in your online shop. Let them rate the shopping experience. If they are satisfied, ask them to recommend you. Depending on the value of the purchase, send them a small, value-based thank you. The company Opti Möbelhaus sends a valuable blanket for the sofa after a wardrobe purchase. La Vialla, the mail order company for Italian food culture, sends small samples of oil, sauces or pasta.

Typical B2C examples:

In the course of the Buyer’s Journey, certain actions can serve as triggers for an e-mail to be sent to the lead: For example, if a contact visits product page XY, he or she receives an e-mail the day after, offering a ten percent discount or a special bonus on the next purchase.

Other possibilities are: Was he on a landing page,

but without converting, he gets another gentle reminder etc. Once the mails have been prepared, they can be personalized with the appropriate tokens – not only with the correct salutation, but also in terms of content.

Automated tracking of shopping cart dropouts

Follow-up of aborted purchase processes or unfinished configurator compilations

More complex examples of Marketing Automation System

If… Then… -function:

Set up rules in your automation for processes that are triggered by the user behavior of the recipients. Does a reader open the mail! He will then receive a follow-up mail A. If he does not open the mail, he will receive another newsletter B. Defining clear rules helps enormously.

From single purchase to multiple purchase

After the 1st purchase, the knowledge the direct marketers must soon follow the 2nd purchase and the 3rd purchase. Only then you have really won the customer. Marketing Automation routes are suitable for this purpose, to quickly initiate sales promotion measures. A sample process can be the purchase patterns of the first 6 months of those customers who are now good customers.

Classical cross-selling questions are well known: Customers who bought X bought or used Y in the 2nd purchase.


If you use the if/then function, you can then assign properties to your readers via tagging („marking“).

E.g. trouser buyers: Using tagging you can, for example, send further information on trousers to all those recipients who clicked on an offer for trousers in the last mail.


Which subject line goes down better? Which content converts better? Test different wording and content of your newsletters against each other to find out what your readers react to most. Not only in B2C, but also in B2B should be tested.

An example from Apteco, a marketing automation system provider: „Fitness First (one of the leading fitness and health service providers in Germany) uses FastStats to control event-triggered campaigns.

„With so-called campaign routes, you can motivate a customer at certain points during the first 2 to 3 months of his membership via various mailings to stay on the ball and accompany the customer individually throughout his life cycle.

Another idea is the „ex-member mailing“, a multi-stage campaign triggered by the time span between the cancellation date and „today“. The channels e-mail, SMS, direct mail and lettershop are connected via the e-mail provider Optivo (…).“.

A very special marketing automation solution – especially for complex requirements – is available from BSI

You will find a very exciting application for process and marketing or sales automation here. The BSI team has created a very exciting application that can create a wonderful effect in many cases. The marketing team can let off steam with this marketing automation platform. It can store one definition of customer journeys after another in the system – just as the heart desires. The variability of sales and marketing campaigns is almost unlimited.

Other ideas are:

Increase your response rates for „offline mailings“ very significantly by using handwritten letters (e.g. from Pensaki)

Enter a personal URL (PURL),

to bring your prospects into the online world with offline mailings, here are some examples


Advantages of marketing automation – not only for the marketer:

Similar to the Olympic Games motto „faster, higher, further“, we can summarize the benefits of marketing automation for the entire company with „faster, cheaper, better“.

Marketing and sales automation needs standards! Agility can be a hindrance here.

The agility in marketing and sales, which is often propagated at the moment, is rather a hindrance when it comes to standards. The savings effect in your company through automation will only be achieved if fundamental changes are not constantly made.

Most important is the anticipation of customer reactions in the inbound marketing process. The focus is on call-to-action. Adjustments through learning are of course allowed.

Why faster?

Due to the immediate processing of interested parties, the time until the first personal contact (e.g. business card trade fair to telephone call) is significantly reduced.

Due to the immediate start of the lead-nurturing process and the lead qualification after the successful lead generation, you know faster how good or less important the (potential) customer is

An old rule in mail order business (today multi-channel commerce) is the faster you send me the right offer after his last purchase, the faster the next purchase will take place.

Why less expensive? Through

… the release of sales and marketing resources for other tasks

… the reduction of redundant process steps or non-circular workflows

… Standards keep process costs low


why better? Because…

… higher conversion rates after lead generation

… the quality of the degrees

… operative relief

… less time pressure

… less stress on the team

… through better cooperation between sales, marketing and customer service

… Increasing the campaign impact, also in social media


How to start? Define goals, make preparations, analyze processes

Start the consideration from an entrepreneurial point of view. Formulate your goals. Very pragmatic goals with the use of marketing automation can be:

  • simplify and optimize your marketing and sales processes and minimize complex procedures
  • Make the most of your tight marketing budget
  • Improve collaboration between your marketing, sales and customer service staff, bringing departments closer together.

In this context, segmentation and lead scoring of interested parties can already make sense here – because not all interested parties are necessarily the same in terms of quality. As a rule, the lead database is a mix of potential customers,

  • who are likely to buy
  • who are looking for a suitable solution,
  • who are at first just curious and
  • those that will never convert.

Individualize, personalize through automation

It is therefore not possible to send messages to the complete lead database, as there are so many different lead types in the database. One possibility is to rate the interested parties. This way you can quickly find out which leads still need to be maintained and which ones can be passed on to the sales team. e.g. 25% of the leads are sales-ready leads, 25% of the leads are scrap.

The interactions with the content and at the same time the actions with the website give information about how ready a lead is to convert. A lead that has looked at prices is more likely to buy than someone who has read a simple blog post. The Marketing Automation software allows you to assign a specific scoring to certain actions. A marketing automation tool with BI functions then allows you to segment the database so that only prospects with a high score receive certain messages.

Important tip: Create active content in your company and not passive content. Active content encourages interaction and promotes involvement.

Example: B2B

A marketer wants to send an email to people with a specific job title and company size.

Example: B2C

A salesperson wants to segment the list of all persons in such a way that only persons who have bought goods of a certain value receive an e-mail with special offers.


Once you have formulated the goals, you should work with marketing, sales and customer service to consider which processes could be automated. You will find that not all processes can be automated or there are processes where automation makes no sense at all.


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Don’t forget to build a certain emotionality into the contact points of the Customer Journey! Why? Because…


Excursus: Definition of Buyer Personas

Buyer Personas help you to get to know your target group and to better understand your desired customers. You learn how your potential customers make decisions, so that you can align all your marketing and communication activities accordingly. Especially the development of a content marketing strategy is simply not possible if you do not know what your customers want. Your Buyer Personas ensure that the topics you deal with actually match the potential customers and help you to create attractive offers. In the end, this leads to more conversions, more new customers – more sales.

But: target group selections according to precisely defined buyer persona criteria are virtually impossible in reality. It looks more like you can select according to 3-5 criteria – most customer databases don’t give more than that.

Link Tip: Guide to the creation of Buyer Personas from IONOS

Listbroking comes before marketing automation:

For lead generation, list broking and the use of print advertising media are also experiencing a renaissance. We have a guest article on this topic, which you can find here.

Marketing Automation Tools and their different areas of application

A basic distinction is made between

  • Tools that only use the e-mail channel (e-mail marketing automation) and
  • Tools that can handle multi-, cross- or omni-channel,

Channels used include physical locations, FAQ websites, social media, live web chats, mobile applications and telephone communications. (Source: Wikipedia)

Another distinction is how the software is embedded in the system landscape. Is it isolated without interfaces or intertwined with the possibility for real-time measures (real-time means within < 5 min).

A first overview of the individual software solutions and software platforms can be found on our provider comparison. The Deutsche Marketing Automation Landscape, which we created, also gives you an initial orientation of the possible providers.

If you have any questions regarding neutral advice – please contact us.

Special features, do’s and don’t or what are best practices

What should be considered when using marketing automation? Here we would like to give you a small list.

  • „from small to large“ – don’t think at first about the complex, multi-stage processes. Start with simple, manageable processes, use proven, relevant content and observe the results. Optimize these processes, so that you are constantly learning,
  • it’s possible to get started without Big Data. With 5 variables alone the user can do great things.
  • „don’t oversize the tool“ – get a tool that fits you and your requirements. The range of the tools offered is huge – very quickly you buy functionalities that you would like to use, but which you realistically cannot use at all in the foreseeable future. Perhaps the best way to start is with e-mail automation and e-mail campaigns.
  • „Test, test, test“ – a marketing automation tool only makes sense if the expected benefit (see „faster, cheaper, better“) is actually achieved. For this you have to test!
  • „Marketing Automation is not only a marketing task“ – don’t think only in the marketing category – automation can take place in sales, customer service, technical service, workshop, manufacturing, etc.

Further helpful support and consulting

you will find on one of our favourite pages of Karl Kratz about dynamic landing page as well as creation of a landing page or in the article the 6 myths about marketing automation in our exclusive article for the Marketing-Börse.

What do you need for employee skills?

The topic is not just a pure online marketing topic, it usually requires new employees. Rarely are such competencies available in the company. If so, good for you. If not, you should define in time, what should the „egg-laying wool-milk sow“ look like? What can you get on the market in the first step? What else can a service provider take over at the beginning? In the long term, this is a core competence that belongs in the company.

What does this change in the company?

There is much less thinking in silos. Because marketing automation only works across silo or departmental boundaries. Responsibilities must be redistributed. This is where the type of „process manager“ or „customer-journey or customer-experience manager“ comes into play.

Scott Brinker has had some general thoughts on this. We do not find everything good. But the important thing is that he once defined a playing field. Every company can define its own requirements and types.

One thing is certain: your employees have more time for the creative work. Not right from the start, but after 4-6 months you have the tool and the data under control, then the freestyle begins.

Summary: Successful Marketing Automation – What would we like to recommend to you?

  • Ensure good address and data quality!
  • Think not only in the category online marketing. The benefits go much, much further.
  • Start with about 10 variables. These should be of high quality and accuracy.
  • Think beyond silo and function boundaries!
  • Enable skills and understanding for marketing automation!
  • Simplify processes!
  • Create relevant, personalized content
  • Build up standards!
  • Create a bi-directional connection to the CRM system
  • Create trust through emotional communication with active content.

    We are happy to support you – call us at 0800-330 4430 or send us an email.

What can Marketing Automation NOT do?

To deliver the message at the right time or at the right moment. But the chance of hitting this optimal point in time will be much better. Analysis – also by artificial intelligence – is very helpful in this respect.

A little preview of what’s to come:

  • Does this require marketing resource management or artificial intelligence?
  • Automation via marketing and sales networks the whole company and creates many more advantages
  • In which higher-level process does one embed marketing automation? e.g. in budget planning, campaign planning, content plan, content creation, content distribution, defining standards and variants, which tests should be done.
  • What is the added value of a marketing automation tool including a BI solution?
  • How does this change the marketing mix and the sales funnel?
  • What must a marketing automation software be able to do?


Note: This is a machine translation. It is neither 100% complete nor 100% correct. We can therefore not guarantee the result.

Do you need help or do you still have open questions?

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