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Marketing Automation
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A few basic thoughts on marketing automation



Definition of marketing automation

Our topic of marketing automation – a sub-discipline of customer relationship management – refers to all activities in connection with software solutions that automate processes in marketing – but also in sales and service, for example. They usually consist of the modules customer database, analysis and reporting (business intelligence), campaign management, workflow management, e-mail marketing and synchronization with CRM or ERP.

The primary aim is to reduce or simplify manual activities or replace them entirely with software. So-called multi-channel campaigns or trigger campaigns should become manageable.

Another goal is to use automated offline and online impulses to shorten the time between personal contacts or to trigger a personal dialog after a digital contact. It is therefore not limited to e-mail dispatch, e-commerce, automated e-mails from the web store or social media marketing.

The goals in CRM, marketing and sales language are, for example, more and better lead and opportunity generation, cross-selling and up-selling, after-sales offers, avoidance of cognitive dissonance, differentiation of messages per member in the buying center – and, of course, continuous communication.

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

An important guiding principle here:

Everything that is to be automated must be standardized.

This also requires a willingness to standardize. This is not always easy in marketing, sales and service. So where could standardization be helpful and useful?

Distinctions between B2B/B2C in the marketing automation definition

In principle, there are no major differences. The objectives are completely identical.

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

The slightly different processes in B2C also apply in B2B when it comes to “fast-moving items”, C-parts, etc.


Marketing automation helps with relationship management at the various touchpoints along the lead or purchase process (see illustration below). For example, personalized messages are automatically sent to prospective and existing customers to accompany them on their journey from interest through the negotiation phase to purchase or contract conclusion and in the after-sales phase. The aim is to keep reminding the person you are talking to about your product or service, to draw their attention to you and to keep them engaged (involvement) until they finally decide to make a purchase or buy again.

In the B2B sector, these are often products or services that have a longer decision-making process and therefore require long-term, continuous involvement. The focus here is therefore on sending extensive content or relevant information such as videos, whitepapers, case studies and e-books, which are usually sent to recipients via email marketing. This is known as 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. As part of CRM measures, marketing automation helps to provide several people with different information in parallel, depending on their function and sales phase.


Image: 1A Relations

This is an example of a customer journey. In reality, there are very different variants. Even the same customer goes through different customer journeys depending on their needs, emotional situation and previous experience


The focus here is, for example, on cross-selling, brand building, the digital lead management process and basically on “nurturing” the customer relationship (loyalty). Possible tasks of marketing automation in B2C companies are therefore, for example, “reminders that there are still products in the shopping basket”, personalized and individualized product recommendations and offers tailored to the individual customer, or birthday or name day wishes.


Image: 1A Relations

Examples, not just for digital marketing

The following B2C graphic shows how many starting points there are along the customer journey for the use of marketing automation. This allows customers to be targeted.

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

Marketing Automation


However, the possibilities of marketing automation start much earlier – when the customer has not yet made a purchase and is still in the decision-making phase. What do you offer the prospective customer so that they become aware of you? The range of options within CRM is huge.

Examples of possible content and measures are

Marketing Automation

Source: evalanche

So here we go!

When can you start using automated processes? Only after you have turned the “unknown” prospect into a “known” prospect. To do this, they must have registered on your website, provided a business card and filled out a form. Only then can you contact them directly.

But be careful:
Marketing automation is not initially an IT project!


“A Fool with a Tool, remains a Fool”,
i.e. software is only as good as those who use it.

Simple examples of marketing automation

Customer registrations:

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

After the initial purchase, consciously present your entire product portfolio with initial email marketing prompts

Most customers do not know how extensive your product range is. This is where explanatory information on products and services is needed, such as “What is special about your company? What sets you apart from the competition? Divided into several kick-off tidbits, Marketing Automation can entertain the new registrant or new customer with exciting content in the first 3 months.

Thank them for their initial purchase and their trust. Ask about satisfaction or determine the Net Promotor Score (NPS).

Obtain a double opt-in:

If not done immediately, obtain advertising permission right away via double opt-in (DOI).

An idea from FLYMINT: “FLYMINT (provider of lead management as a service in B2B) uses marketing automation systems to control a campaign that is triggered by its customers’ sales staff. The “manual DOI mailing”, a one-step campaign that sends a time-controlled, personalized email to the contact for consent (DOI) based on a real sales call. The probability of consent (DOI) is increased many times over as there is a personal, context-related reason.

Result: Across all customers: 40 – 75 % DOI consent after being contacted by sales by telephone.

Seasonal or calendar impulses:

Automatically send an email when a birthday, name day, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, customer relationship anniversary, other regular date or special holiday is coming up, for example. This also includes promotions for Halloween, Cyber Monday, etc.

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

Become active immediately after ordering: Seasonal or calendar impulses

Automatically send a confirmation email as soon as a customer makes a purchase in your online store. Ask the customer to rate the shopping experience. If they are satisfied, ask them to recommend you to others.

Depending on the purchase value, send them a small, value-based thank you. The furniture store Opti sends a high-quality blanket for the sofa after the purchase of a closet. 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 lead to the lead receiving an email: For example, if a contact visits product page XY, they will receive an email a day later offering them a ten percent discount or a special gift with their next purchase.

Other possibilities are: If the prospective customer was on a landing page,

but without converting, they receive a gentle reminder, etc. Once the emails have been prepared, they can be personalized using appropriate tokens – not only with the correct salutation, but also in terms of content.

Automated follow-up of shopping cart abandoners

Follow-up of abandoned purchase processes or unfinished configurator compilations

More complex examples of marketing automation systems

If … Then … function:

Define rules in your automation for processes that are triggered by the recipient’s user behavior. When a reader opens the mail! Then they will receive a follow-up mail A. If they do not open the mail, they will receive another newsletter B. Defining clear rules helps enormously here.

From a single purchase to multiple purchases

Direct marketers know that after the first purchase, the second and third must soon follow. Only then have you really won over the customer. Marketing automation paths are suitable for quickly initiating sales-promoting measures. A sample process can be the purchasing behavior of the first 6 months of customers who have since become good customers.

Classic cross-selling questions are well known: Customers who bought X bought or used Y on their 2nd purchase.


If you use the if/then function, you can assign properties to your readers via tagging.

Example trouser buyers: With the help of tagging, you can, for example, send further information about pants to all recipients who clicked on an offer for pants in the last mail.

A/B test:

Which subject line is better received? Which content converts better? Test different formulations and contents of your newsletter against each other to find out what your readers respond to best. Test not only in B2C, but also in B2B.

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 their membership via various mailings to stay on the ball and accompany the customer individually throughout their life cycle.

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

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

You can find a very exciting application for process, marketing and sales automation here. The BSI team has developed a very exciting application that can achieve wonderful effects in many cases. With this marketing automation platform, the marketing team can really let off steam. They can store one definition of the customer journey after another in the system – just as the heart desires. There are virtually no limits to the variability of sales and marketing campaigns.

Other ideas are:

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

Use a personal URL (PURL),

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

Advantages of marketing automation – not just for the marketer:

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

Marketing and sales automation needs standards! Agility, freedom and individuality can certainly be a hindrance here.

The agility in marketing and sales that is currently often propagated tends to be a hindrance when it comes to standards. The savings effect in the company through automation can only be achieved if fundamental things are not constantly changed.

The most important thing is to anticipate customer reactions in the inbound marketing process. The focus is on the call to action. Adjustments through learning are of course permitted.

Why faster?

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

By immediately starting the lead-nurturing process and lead qualification after successful lead generation, you know more quickly how good or less important the (potential) customer is.

An old rule in mail order (now multi-channel commerce) is: the faster you make a suitable offer after the last purchase, the faster the next purchase will be made.

Why cheaper? Through

… freeing up sales and marketing resources for other tasks

… reducing redundant process steps and unclear workflows

… standards keep process costs low

why better? Through …

… higher conversion rates after lead generation

… the quality of the deals

… operational relief

… less time pressure

… less stress in the team

… better cooperation between sales, marketing and customer service

… increase in the number of campaign hits, also in social media

How to get started? Define goals, make preparations, analyze processes

Start thinking from the company’s perspective. 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 workflows

Make optimal use of your tight marketing budget

Improve collaboration between your marketing, sales and customer service employees and thus bring the departments closer together.

In this context, segmentation and lead scoring of interested parties can already be useful – because not all interested parties are of the same 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,

those who are simply curious at first and

those who will never convert.

Individualize, personalize through automation

It is therefore not possible to send messages to the entire prospect database, as the database contains too many different types of prospects. One option is to rate the prospects. This allows you to quickly find out which prospects need further processing and which can be passed on to sales. e.g. 25% of leads are sales-ready leads, 25% of leads are scrap.

“The interactions with the content and at the same time the actions on the website provide information about how ready a lead is to convert. A prospect who has looked at the prices is more likely to buy than someone who has read a simple blog post. Marketing automation software makes it possible to assign a specific scoring to certain actions. A marketing automation tool with BI functionality then makes it possible to segment the database so that only prospects with a high scoring receive certain messages.” Source checked on 05.05.2024

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 certain job title and a certain company size.

Example: B2C

A salesperson wants to segment the list of all people so that only people who have purchased goods of a certain value receive an email with special offers.

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


Don’t forget to incorporate a certain emotionality into the contact points of the customer journey!

Excursus: Definition of buyer personas

Buyer personas help you to get to know your target group and better understand your ideal customers. You learn how your potential customers make decisions and can align all your marketing and communication measures accordingly. In particular, developing a content marketing strategy is not possible if you do not know what your customers want. Your buyer personas ensure that the topics you cover actually match your potential customers and help you to create attractive offers. This ultimately leads to more conversions, more new customers – more sales.

However, target group selections based on precisely defined buyer persona criteria are hardly possible in reality. It is more likely that selections can be made according to 3-5 criteria – most customer databases do not provide more.

Link tip: Guide to creating buyer personas from IONOS (checked on 05.05.2024)

List broking comes before marketing automation:

For lead acquisition, list broking and the use of print advertising materials are also enjoying a renaissance. We have a guest article on this that you can find here.

Marketing automation tools and their different areas of application

A basic distinction is made between

Tools that only use the email channel (email marketing automation) and

tools that master multi-, cross- or omni-channel,

where channels include physical locations, FAQ websites, social media, live web chats, mobile applications and telephone communication. (Source: Wikipedia)

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

You can find an initial overview of individual software solutions and software platforms in our provider comparison. The German Marketing Automation Landscape we have created also gives you an initial overview of possible providers.

If you have any questions about neutral advice, please contact us.

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

What needs to be considered when using marketing automation? We would like to provide you with a short list here.

From small to large” – don’t think about complex, multi-stage processes at first. Start with simple, straightforward processes, use proven, relevant content and monitor the results. Optimize these processes so that you are constantly learning,

In the beginning, you can do without big data. The user can achieve a great deal with just 5 variables.

“Don’t oversize the tool” – get a tool that suits you and your requirements. The range of tools on offer is huge – it is very easy to buy functionalities that you would like to use but will not realistically be able to use in the foreseeable future. It may be better to start with email automation and email campaigns.

“Test, test, test” – a marketing automation tool only makes sense if the expected benefits (see “faster, cheaper, better”) actually materialize. This requires testing!

“Marketing automation is not just a marketing task” – don’t just think in terms of the marketing category – automation can take place in sales, customer service, technical service, the workshop, production, etc.

Further helpful support and consulting

can be found on one of our favorite pages by Karl Kratz on the topic of dynamic landing pages and creating a landing page or in the article the 6 myths about marketing automation in our exclusive article for the Marketing Exchange.

What employee skills do you need?

The topic is not just an online marketing topic, but usually also requires new employees. These skills are rarely available in the company. If so, good for you. If not, you should define in good time what the “jack of all trades” should look like. What can you procure on the market as a first step? What can a service provider take on 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. Marketing automation only works across silos and departmental boundaries. Responsibilities need to be redistributed. This is where the type of “process owner” or “customer journey or customer experience manager” comes into play.

Scott Brinker has some general thoughts on this. We don’t agree with everything. But the important thing is that he has defined a playing field. In which every company can define its own requirements and types.

One thing is certain: employees have more time for 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!

Don’t just think in terms of online marketing. The benefits go much, much further.

Start with around 10 variables. These should be of high quality.

Think beyond silos and functional boundaries!

Enable skills and understanding for marketing automation!

Simplify processes!

Create relevant, personalized content

Build standards!

Create a bi-directional connection to the CRM system

Create trust through emotional communication with active content.

We would be happy to support you – just send us an email.

What can marketing automation NOT do?

Always get the message out at the right time. But the chance of hitting this optimum time is increasing all the time. Analyses – also using artificial intelligence – are very helpful here.


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