Marketing automation is the automation of manual processes and work steps within marketing campaigns using marketing automation software.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is the software-supported management of customer-related business processes. Steps which were previously done individually within marketing campaigns run automatically. This is made possible by so-called marketing automation tools. These act as an interface between customer databases, CRM systems and the various communication channels of a company. The automation of marketing measures is data-supported and aims at need-based communication in which each customer is individually addressed at the right time via the appropriate channel.

How does marketing automation work?

With marketing automation tools, you only need to define the workflows in communication campaigns once. These strategies are then implemented without manual intervention, evaluated for efficiency and adjusted on the basis of newly acquired data.

Marketing automation goes beyond just automating standard processes. In online marketing in particular, web tracking provides you with tools which have an immense data basis that can be evaluated using data analysis, and used to optimize communication processes in customer relationship management and to personalize content and offers - for example within the framework of automated price optimization (dynamic pricing).

What can marketing automation do?

In practice, marketing automation is used, for example, in the context of automated sales funnels and as the technological basis for software-supported lead management. The following goals are in the foreground:

  • Generation of qualified interested parties (lead generation)
  • Further development from interested parties to buyers (lead nurturing)
  • Further development from existing customers to regular customers (up- and cross-selling)

Marketing automation tools offer customers and interested parties automatically selected marketing tools based on user profiles (usually in the form of content) in order to further develop them according to their individual requirements. The target is the buying customer or the repeat buying existing customer.

This is how you’ll benefit from marketing automation

Marketing automation aims to make sales processes such as lead generation or lead nurturing both more efficient and cost-effective through automated processes. Marketing automation tools combine user data from various sources (CRM, web analysis, customer service, etc.), structure them, create user profiles, evaluate users based on their activities - so-called lead scoring - and then enable an individual approach.

If a user lands on your website for the first time, the software automatically classifies them as a new customer and plays out your chosen marketing tools for lead generation - for example a white paper as a free download, new customer discount, or a call-to-action to register for the newsletter.

If the evaluation of the click behavior shows that the customer is interested in certain product groups, they will be offered corresponding offers or personalized prices on their next visit. All this is done automatically on the basis of a database managed by the marketing automation software, which is continuously updated according to user behavior.

Marketing automation also automatically records and evaluates the effectiveness of the marketing instruments used at any given time. The knowledge gained in this way is available to you for planning future marketing measures and the strategic orientation of your company.


Marketing automation software offers a degree of personalization of advertising measures, which would only be possible with a manual selection of marketing instruments for customer acquisition and development with a considerable personnel expenditure.

An overview of marketing automation software

Marketing automation tools are usually closely linked to CRM systems or provide corresponding functions. In addition, information from communication channels is evaluated and prepared for personalizing marketing features.

Common features of this kind of application are:

  • CRM Synchronization and CRM Integration
  • Web analytics
  • Workflow and process management
  • Lead management (especially lead nurturing and lead scoring)
  • Funnel management
  • Inbound marketing
  • Content management
  • Social publishing
  • Monitoring
  • E-mail marketing

Here are some of the best known marketing automation tools on the market:

  • HubSpot
  • keap (formerly Infusionsoft)
  • Act-On
  • Marketo
  • Oracle Eloqua
  • Adobe Marketing Cloud
  • IBM Watson Marketing (formerly Silverpop)
  • Net Results
  • iContact (formerly Outmarket)
  • Hatchbuck
  • Simplycast
  • aprimo
  • eTrigue
  • SalesTalk
  • Salesfusion
  • Salesforce Pardot

Pros and cons of marketing automation

In the following we have compared the advantages and disadvantages of a conversion to automated marketing processes.

Pros Cons
Routine tasks can be made more efficient through automation. The purchase of marketing automation tools involves additional costs.
Marketing automation makes it possible to measure and evaluate the success of marketing campaigns. Before sales processes can be automated, corresponding automatisms must be defined manually. This requires the necessary know-how.
Marketing automation tools make highly personalized communication possible with potential customers, provided there is sufficient data available. Marketing automation tools only work efficiently if they are integrated into all systems relevant to customer communication and can access a sufficiently large database.
By the continuous success measurement, marketing automation creates a good evaluation basis for the optimization of marketing campaigns. When using marketing automation tools, there is a risk that personal contact with the customer will be lost.
Marketing automation enables a lead management in your order of magnitude, which could not be mastered manually anymore. If errors occur in the database, there is a danger that these will run through all the processes based on it and thus falsify entire marketing campaigns.
Marketing automation offers marketers a good overview of the number and stage of all leads in the sales process and thus ensures transparency and planning security.  
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