Despite the proliferation of spam, email marketing continues to be one of the cheapest and most effective ways to reach your audience. Because email is such a key tool for most marketers, there are literally thousands of solutions available that include an email marketing component. Many prospective customers ask what a marketing automation platform enables them to do that a CRM system and email marketing solution do not. To determine if marketing automation is a good fit for you, it’s important to identify your goals and understand the difference between each type of solution. Brent Mellow, Manticore Technology partner and owner of akaCRM, a professional services firm which provides comprehensive services for salesforce.com and the Force.com cloud platform, provides a high-level look at the difference between using the native capabilities of Salesforce CRM vs. using a specialized email marketing or marketing automation application in Email Marketing Solutions for Salesforce.com.
He offers a detailed list of what each solution enables you to do, the varying levels of sophistication, and the cost and choices among them. Mellow discusses the functionality and limitations of using Salesforce CRM email – pointing out that for some organizations, its functionality may be sufficient. He then discusses what ad-on marketing applications enable you to do and provides a detailed list of the differences and capabilities of each.
Regarding marketing automation, Mellow sums it up pretty well, when he states, “The differentiating feature of a marketing automation application vs. an email marketing application, is automation as the name implies.” He lists several features that provide advanced capabilities, such as:
- Campaign Automation - replicate successful multi-step marketing campaigns and have them run on auto-pilot. For example, set-up a campaign that will automatically send a save-a-date email 180 days before the event, invitation 90 days before event, reminder 30 days and 5 days before event, and sorry-we-missed-you and thanks for attending messages 1 day after the event. Campaign automation is the core functionality that differentiates Marketing Automation applications from Email Marketing applications.
- Dynamic Content - automatically provide alternative content based on segmentation parameters. For example, a recipient in California could receive content on events in California while a New York recipient could receive events in New York all through a single automated emailing.
- Lead Nurturing - ability to manage leads overtime that aren't ready to buy today and monitor for changes in interest.
- Lead Scoring - ability to apply formulas to leads based on behavior and visit patterns.
- Website Monitoring - enable your teams to see individual companies visiting the website, often in real-time. This is not the same thing as website analytics like Google Analytics. Some vendors refer to this as website caller ID.
In addition to providing a detailed list of capabilities for each category, Mellow also lists vendors, costs and other aspects to consider before a purchase. For marketers who need to think through which technology best supports their processes and marketing needs, the complete post is a must-read.
Brent Mellow, founder and principal of akaCRM, has more than 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, partner management, business finance and infrastructure. Brent completed his initial salesforce.com partner training in 2003 after having been a customer of salesforce.com for the two prior years. Brent is a certified salesforce.com administrator with nearly a decade of experience with salesforce.com and the Force.com cloud platform.