Material specific to marketing automation such as needs, best practices, lessons learned, and benefits of marketing automation.

Marketing Automation Challenges – Avoiding Status Quo

Marketing Automation Challenges Avoiding Status QuoMatt Smith, Executive VP and Co-Founder of 3forward, recently published an article on the MASG blog highlighting four roadblocks of marketing automation. Over the next few weeks we’ll issue four blog posts related to each obstacle. Each post will summarize the individual marketing automation challenges, include color commentary and provide additional recommendations.

Our first post pertains to Matt’s marketing automation challenge, “afraid of the water”. Here’s the premise; if companies maintain sales and marketing status quo and fail to keep up with new technology and process enhancements then they prohibit change. Most of the time change is good. I’ve always said the biggest risk is not knowing what your risk is. If your company seems to be off in their own world thinking their marketing processes and technology are just fine – to be blunt – it’s a bit ignorant.

In the post-Google and high tech era (year 2000 and beyond) change is inevitable. For example, sales and marketing processes have changed considerably. Buyers no longer opt to contact the vendor as their first step. Instead, they research solutions online and only contact the vendor when they’re ready. Check out our posts on B2B Buying Process and B2B Buyers to see how the sales and marketing landscape has changed. A growing number of businesses are adopting marketing automation or revenue generation software as we like to put it, to foster advancement and change in their sales and marketing processes. Revenue generation software increases leads, improves organizational efficiency, and produces higher quality leads. The benefits aren’t limited to these three things either. For example, revenue generation software provides vendors with valuable insight into a potential buyer’s interests and online behavior prior to vendor contact. For more information on how revenue generation helps marketers and sales click here: revenue generation for marketers, revenue generation for sales.

Before adopting marketing automation platforms companies need to avoid ignorance and embrace education. Matt recommends educating the entire C-Team on the new sales and marketing 2.0 environment (how marketing and sales should work together, what is marketing automation, how buyer’s buy, etc.). Once executives are up to speed it’s time to implement a plan. Matt suggests the head of marketing and sales mutually build a demand generation program. Finally, Matt suggests the CMO and CEO ask the rest of the organization to stay out of the way. Marketing will have their hands full adapting to sales and marketing 2.0.

Its clear avoiding status quo is a major obstacle to overcome when adopting marketing automation. Lead Liaison can help your organization get an education and design a plan. We can provide you with a complementary overview of the changing sales and marketing landscape and give you and/or your team an education on marketing automation. We also have a template to help you build and define your demand generation program. The template is called a Service Level Agreement (SLA), which is a contractual-style document between sales and marketing teams for sales and marketing teams. The SLA provides a framework for a company’s entire lead management process.

Feel free to contact us if you think Lead Liaison can help your company avoid status quo in route to adopting marketing automation and revenue generation solutions.

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Mitigate Email Unsubscribe

Mitigate Email UnsubscribeIn our post last week we talked about why people unsubscribe from emails. Essentially, unsubscribes can be boiled down to three factors. Abusing the recipients information, sending emails too frequently and sending content that’s not relevant or interesting. Fortunately, there’s a solution to mitigate email unsubscribe problems.

Solving Email Unsubscribe Issues

There are two solutions to the aforementioned problems. First, don’t share your customer’s data with anyone. Sharing recipients credentials is disrespectful of their privacy. We realize this is an obvious one and should go without saying; however, it’s important to always be cognizant of this. Make sure to have a privacy policy and abide by it. Second, adopt a revenue generation software platform which includes marketing automation and lead nurturing technology. These technologies automate marketing processes such as email marketing and build relationships with customers and prospects through relevant and timely communications.

The Car Dealership Example

If you recall from our post last week I talked about my experiences with the GMC dealership. Let’s focus on that experience and how the dealership could have kept me on their email list. If the dealership added my activities (online quote, test drive, need to sell two cars, etc.) to their database they could use these events as triggers which spawn relevant actions. For example, they knew I wanted an Acadia Denali from my online quote request. Perhaps they could have added me to a lead nurturing campaign that educated me about the features and benefits of the Acadia Denali model. Also, when I told them I needed to sell my two cars before buying they could have added me to a lead nurturing campaign that combined emails and phone calls to address my need. For example, they could have sent me emails • advising where I could sell the cars and • notifying me when their buyer is in the office so he could give me an estimate and • sending me to Kelley Blue Book to lookup the value of my vehicles and • providing tips on how to sell a car. Furthermore, when I test drove the vehicle they could have added me to a lead nurturing campaign that sent me a follow up email thanking me for the test drive. The campaign could have also scheduled a call for their sales person to ask for my feedback after the test drive. In summary, the dealership missed out on several opportunities to engage me with interesting and timely content. The point of lead nurturing in this example is to send relevant communications based on what I (the buyer) care about and to send those communications when I express particular behavior indicative of buying. They’ve lost my interest since I continue to get communications from them even after I stopped interacting. It seems they’ve forgotten my needs. My suggestion to all B2B or B2C sales and marketing people is to get your organization to adopt marketing automation and lead nurturing technology. Start listening to your buyers. Automation technology will engage and nurture leads to build stronger relationships. When you’re up and running you’ll wind up with more qualified leads that are ready to buy. What’s your feedback on how to mitigate email unsubscribes? To be alerted of future posts, please click on the RSS button.

Why People Unsubscribe from Emails

Unsubscribe from EmailsA recent report from MarketingSherpa shed some light on why people unsubscribe from emails. In this article we’ll discuss the top three reasons and incorporate personal experiences as examples. In a follow up article we’ll suggest a solution to eliminate these problems.

Top 3 Reasons Why People Unsubscribe

First, 53% of respondents unsubscribed from emails when content did not interest them. This reminds me of a personal situation I recently experienced. An email landed in my inbox inviting me to learn more about security firewalls. I’ve never expressed interest in these types of solutions nor have I ever researched them. I hit the unsubscribe button.

Second, staying on an email list results in more unsolicited spam. I’ll share another personal example. Although I can’t recall how, I must have signed up for a sales and marketing newsletter at some point. Time passed, I forgot who I signed up with. I’m convinced my information got passed out to a 3rd party who is now licensing it to others. Now, I get about 3-5 emails per week from list vendors trying to sell me contacts. It’s frustrating too; they don’t have a link for me to unsubscribe. I hit the spam button.

Third, people unsubscribe when they receive emails too often. Sure enough, I’ve got an example to use for this reason as well. The example also relates to the first point, sending irrelevant content. My wife and I were considering the purchase of a new car, an Acadia Denali to be exact. About one month back we decided to request a quote through a GMC dealership online. We got an email quote from the online manager moments later. A few days later the online manager called me up. I took about 15 minutes to explain our situation. We let him know we had a few cars we need to trade in first before we’re able to buy. The online manager committed to look into buying our cars. Everything was going great, at least it seemed that way.

5 days later we decided to go into the dealership to test drive the car for the first time. We were upfront with them and told them about our experience online and that we made contact with the online manager. Here’s the kicker. For the next three weeks following our in-person visit I received emails saying things like “what do we have to do to earn your business?” and another email offering me an opportunity to buy a bunch of other cars before they go to auction. My reply to that is “I already told you, I need to sell my cars and no, I’m only interested in the Acadia Denali”. It seems the dealership didn’t listen to my interests and failed to respond in relevant ways based on my interaction. Their communication was irrelevant and too frequent during this follow up period. I’ve since unsubscribed.

Why do you think people unsubscribe from emails?

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Why People Unsubscribe from Emails

Source: MarketingSherpa

Free Marketing Automation

Free Marketing AutomationAre you considering a free marketing automation system to power your sales and marketing efforts? In this article we’ll present ideas for consideration to help you make an educated decision.

Background on Free Marketing Automation

Free marketing automation systems were created as a way to “shake up” the industry. Some analysts and commentators have speculated a free marketing automation strategy was created as a “Hail Mary Pass” when no other business models were working. If this is true, it probably means the company providing free marketing automation could be struggling. It’s worthwhile to consider whether or not you want to place your bets on a struggling company who may not be around after a while.

When researching the few companies providing free marketing automation look closely at the restrictions. My momma once told me “son, nothing in life is free”. One vendor clearly puts an asterisk next to “fully functional…account” and suggests reading the full terms and conditions. Without a doubt, offering a purely free marketing automation system is not a sustainable business model for the vendor. The marketing automation vendor’s sole purpose is to get you to upgrade and pay. That means limiting things like number of contacts, users, emails per month, page views per month and more. If you’re okay using a restricted version and have no plans to exceed these limitations then free marketing automation might be a good approach.

A Product, Not a Solution

Analysts have pointed out that a free marketing automation solution benefits the industry, not the customer. It creates more exposure and awareness of the capabilities and power of marketing automation; however, it doesn’t benefit the customer as the product is not the entire solution.

For this reason, probably the single most important item to consider with marketing automation is that it’s not an off the shelf solution and a technology anyone can just pick up and start using. It’s a high-value, strategic solution that requires long term commitment. Marketing automation should be a core strategy engrained in a company’s sales and marketing DNA.

Unfortunately, free marketing automation systems are typically a technology play only. The truth is, technology is only part of the equation. To be successful with marketing automation companies must choose the right vendor who can provide support, training and consultation, which isn’t free. Integrating, using, applying and adopting a free marketing automation system certainly will have its price without proper support, training and consultation. Make sure to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a free marketing automation system.

Other Items for Consideration

  • Will “Free” attract the wrong people and inundate a system with spam emails thereby affecting other accounts?
  • What happens when you need to upgrade? Will pricing change or go up?
  • Will community support be good enough for you?
  • Is it worthwhile to save money up front when it could cost you in the long run?
  • Are you a “one-man-shop” or do you have plans for growth and will you need help?

We found a quote from one of the leading analysts in the marketing automation space, Jep Castelein of LeadSloth, which sums this up:

If your company is looking to adopt Marketing Automation, count on paying for your Marketing Automation system. Either you will go over the limits of the free version, or you will require support. Instead of focusing on free or cheap, choose a vendor that you trust, that best meets your requirements, and that provides excellent support. – Jep Castelein, LeadSloth

At Lead Liaison, we consider marketing automation as a feature, not a solution. Our revenue generation software ties together sales prospecting, marketing automation and lead generation capabilities combined with best-in-breed support, training and consultation to help grow your company’s revenue. We look forward to hearing from you and getting the opportunity to work with you.

What’s your feedback on free marketing automation systems? We would love to hear it.

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Sales Pipeline Stages

Sales Pipeline StagesMarketers spend a lot of time on inbound marketing activities to drive traffic to their site; investing in SEO, thought leadership, trade shows, blogs, social media, and advertising are a few examples of inbound marketing. As awareness builds and new contacts enter the sales funnel it is important businesses define the right sales pipeline stages to manage, nurture, and distribute leads. Sales pipeline stages tend to vary across companies; however, we’ve established 6 sales pipeline stages appropriate for most businesses. Here at Lead Liaison, we use these exact stages to manage our business. Let’s explore how we’ve defined the 6 stages in the sales pipeline.

The 6 sales pipeline stages are

1. Just a Name

2. Engaged

3. Prospect

4. Marketing Qualified Lead

5. Sales Qualified Lead

6. Opportunity

Diagram of Sales Pipeline StagesPrior to adding a lead to your sales pipeline we suggest tracking the lead source. Marketing automation technology can help you identify whether the lead source is from a paid search, SEO, trade show, facebook, general website visit or other source. Lead tracking will help you report on marketing ROI down the road. Let’s briefly explain each of the sales pipeline stages.

Just a Name

As the name implies, these records are just a name. If you have the person’s name or email and no other insight they are simply a record, or a person, in your database. Often times marketing and sales have conflicting definitions of a lead. Separating these people from your marketing defined leads and sales defined leads helps avoid confusion over what is a lead and what is not a lead.


When a person finally responds to an inbound marketing program they are moved to the sales pipeline stage, Engaged. For example, the person could click a link in an email campaign or fill out a web form to become engaged. Please note that just because someone is in the engaged status does not mean they are a lead as there’s a good chance they’re not yet ready to speak with sales. We suggest using marketing automation technology to automatically respond to the person with a personalized message a few hours after they respond.


If the person meets the ideal profile of a buyer they become a prospect. Ideal profiles could be determined by demographics (location, job title) or firmographics (industry, company size, revenue). Again, we suggest using a marketing automation system to help qualify if someone should become a prospect. Lead scoring, a feature of most marketing automation systems, provides a mechanism to automatically qualify leads using an incremental scoring system. For example, add 10 points if their companies revenue is more than $50M and/or add 20 points if they are a Vice President. Conversely, scores can be decremented. For example, subtract 50 points if the person is a student.

Once the person becomes a prospect start lead nurturing. Lead nurturing is the process of creating meaningful dialogue with the prospect at each stage of the buying process. See the post under lead nurturing programs for 5 examples of this dialogue. The beauty of lead nurturing is that different lead nurturing “tracks” can kick in according to the prospects online activity and/or interaction with other marketing assets.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

We suggest using the score generated from your lead scoring programs to determine if a prospect makes it to the sales pipeline stage as a marketing qualified lead. Sales pipeline stages leading up to this point do not require human interaction; interaction has been personalized using lead nurturing technology. In our lead management model, we use a scoring threshold of 65 or higher. When the prospects lead score crosses that threshold we change the lead status to a marketing qualified lead.

At this stage in the sales pipeline, marketing will pass the lead over to sales. In some businesses marketing may have a sales development team or inside sales team manually qualify the lead further via a phone call or some other type of screening. At Lead Liaison, we do not change the status of the lead until sales accepts the lead and determines it’s qualified. A lead may also be put into the “Disqualified” status if there’s no match whatsoever.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

Once sales accepts a lead and deems it qualified the lead becomes a sales qualified lead. Leads at this stage typically require high-touch, personalized interaction. Sales will call the lead to further qualify them. At this point, sales can move the lead to one of three statuses: Deferred, Recycled, or Opportunity. If the lead is not quite ready to buy sales should recycle the lead. Recycling puts the lead back into a lead nurturing program managed by marketing until the lead is sales-ready. Alternatively, sales can move the lead to a Deferred status if no additional lead nurturing is warranted and there doesn’t appear to be an opportunity. If marketing, and the marketing automation system, has done its job the lead should be moved to the Opportunity status. When the lead becomes an opportunity it will have its own opportunity sales cycle.

This is the most important stage of all sales pipeline stages since quick response to hot leads must occur. We strongly recommend using an alert system to make sure marketing and the rest of the organization holds sales accountable for follow up. A marketing automation system will help you setup a closed-loop accountability process similar to the one below:

1. Send an alert via email to the responsible sales person.

2. If within 24 hours the lead status has not been changed send an alert reminder to the sales person.

3. If another 24 hours pass, send another alert reminder to sales and copy the sales person’s manager.

4. If another 24 hours pass, send the same alert to sales and the sales persons manager but this time copy a C-level executive.

This closed-loop process ensures no lead falls through the cracks while holding sales accountable for follow up and providing marketing peace of mind as the person seamlessly transitions from marketing responsibility to sales responsibility.


The Opportunity status is important for marketing to measure cost per conversion, cost per lead, and effectiveness of various lead sources. Today’s marketer is being measured on results, not activity (email opens, web visits). ROI analysis on a person’s path through the sales pipeline stages from Just a Name through to Opportunity then Customer is vital to keep a pulse on revenue generation.

Graveyard and Contact

At any of the sales pipeline stages a person can be moved to the Graveyard or Contact status. Graveyard status is a person record with a bad email or incorrect contact information. Usually, this occurs if the person has changed jobs. Contact status is when a person is converted out of the sales pipeline stages into a contact management database and is not a lead. This typically occurs when the person is a partner, reseller, or just a contact in your system that you never plan to sell to.

Contact Lead Liaison to see how our revenue generation software can help you setup your lead management process to distribute, qualify, and nurture leads through your sales pipeline stages.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What sales pipeline stages to you employ? How do you manage your stages?

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How to Make Marketing Automation Successful

How to Make Marketing Automation SuccessfulMarketing automation has been around for over a decade. However, it’s only recently that awareness and adoption of marketing automation has increased exponentially. In this article we’ll discuss one of the major issues facing marketers when adopting a marketing automation system. By reading this article you’ll get a better understanding of how to make marketing automation successful.

Although adoption is skyrocketing, analyst data suggests marketers still face some of the problems which marketing automation solves.

Analysts take on challenges facing marketers:

In 2010 Marketing Sherpa conducted a survey that showed 78% of marketers list generating a high quality lead as their top challenge

In 2010 Frost & Sullivan reported 44% of those who own marketing automation said that insufficient processes was an obstacle to success

Furthermore, Jonathan Block of Serius Decisions provided research in December 2010 that compared companies using marketing automation with a process in place vs. those that did not have a process in place. The results are astonishing. Companies that had a process in place yielded the following benefits:

  • A 366% increase in sales accepted leads
  • A 416% increase in closed deals
  • $570,000 in more revenue

Our take away from this data is that marketing automation cannot stand alone without a proper process supporting it. You can buy the nicest sewing machine on the market but you’ll never make the best clothes unless you learn how to use the sewing machine and have a design, implementation and execution plan in place. The sewing machine will not sew the clothes for you without proper training and management. Similarly, marketing automation will not automate marketing for you. Don’t fire your marketing staff quite yet.

Three steps to marketing automation success

What process should companies follow? It’s really quite simple actually and can be accomplished in three steps.

First, companies must understand what processes they currently have and, more importantly, do not have. Conduct an audit on your organization to better understand your lead management process. Document your findings. Focus on how leads enter and exit the sales funnel.

Second, define your new and improved process in a document. We suggest creating a Service Level Agreement, or SLA, to accomplish this. The SLA is a single document that governs the lead management process established for your business.

Depending on the scope of your business and needs, the SLA might include ideal customer profiles, definitions of a lead, lead scoring models, how to respond to a lead, how to distribute a lead, lead nurturing programs, metrics to measure, and sales and marketing responsibilities. Your SLA should serve as a working foundation for your sales and marketing process and be approved/supported by your executive team.

Finally, adopt a Revenue Generation Framework that delivers solutions to satisfy your process. Lead Liaison’s provides Revenue Generation Software that accomplishes just that. The Software includes the following solutions:

  • Sales Prospecting
  • Database Segmentation
  • Lead Tracking
  • Lead Qualification
  • Lead Distribution
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Inbound Marketing
  • Metrics

By leveraging a revenue generation system such as Lead Liaison to provide the proper framework and adhering to the policies defined in your SLA you’ll make marketing automation successful.

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Lessons Learned from Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation Lessons LearnedIn a series of three posts we share feedback from other senior-level marketers on why marketing automation is needed, benefits of marketing automation, and highlight their lessons learned from using marketing automation. This post covers the lessons learned from marketing automation.

Forrester Consulting interviewed 15 senior level marketers who use marketing automation. The data below shows the percentage of marketers surveyed who provided the answer. When marketers were asked about the lessons learned from marketing automation, here’s what they had to say:

Lessons Learned from Marketing Automation

Lessons learned from marketing automation – key takeaways and recommendations:

1. As mentioned above, a SLA will help you define your process and plan while revenue generation software will help you execute that plan.

2. When it’s time to get buy-in from sales and executives it’s important to convey the benefits of using marketing automation technology to each respective group. This data is a true testament from other marketers. Additionally, we wrote this article which talks about the benefits of sales and marketing alignment, which executives will like. The broad benefit of this technology will not only help executives but will help sales and marketing as well. See our article on revenue generation for marketers and revenue generation for sales to learn more. The reason we don’t call it marketing automation software and instead use revenue generation software is because this technology helps multiple teams. At the end of the day, what is important is revenue generation, something all teams care about – or should.

3. When working with a vendor to integrate marketing automation technology, make sure you get good, intimate support to help with training and overall adoption. Adoption is an iterative process as features are consumed over time.

4. When finding the right set of features to use, don’t be overwhelmed. There are a lot of capabilities within marketing automation. It’s vital to start small and think big. For example, start with a simple demographic lead scoring campaign. Alternatively, start by using lead distribution or lead response features to automatically deliver leads to sales and respond to inquiries. Next, progress to advanced nurturing campaigns that trigger off of changes in a lead’s activity and interest.

We hope this data on the needs, benefits and lessons learned of marketing automation were helpful. If you’re interested to hear how you can better align sales and marketing teams, gain control over marketing programs, measure marketing effectiveness, and strengthen your sales pipeline contact Lead Liaison. Our revenue generation software includes marketing automation as well as lead generation and sales prospecting technology to help your business.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What lessons have you learned from using marketing automation? To be alerted of future posts, please click on the RSS button. Feel free to read part one, need for marketing automation, and part two, benefits of marketing automation.

Benefits of Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation BenefitsIn a series of three posts we share feedback from other senior-level marketers on why marketing automation is needed, benefits of marketing automation, and highlight their lessons learned from using marketing automation. This post covers the benefits of marketing automation.

Forrester Consulting interviewed 15 senior level marketers who use marketing automation. The data below shows the percentage of marketers surveyed who provided the answer. When marketers were asked about the benefit of marketing automation, here’s what they had to say:

Benefits of Marketing Automation

Benefits of marketing automation – key takeaways and recommendations:

“In my view, the primary benefits of B2B marketing automation are:

1) It allows marketers to accomplish more, usually at a lower cost, than they can get done manually;

2) It facilitates continuous improvement by allowing marketers to track and measure the results of their campaigns, then make necessary adjustments, in near real-time.”

Mac McIntosh,

1. The number one benefit of marketing automation is better leads/more robust pipeline. Marketing automation improves the quality of leads handed to sales, increases opportunity to pipeline conversion, and accelerates a prospects time to revenue. As discussed, lead scoring delivers better leads to sales. In addition to lead scoring, marketing automation provides lead nurturing to build relationships with new leads and your existing database. Businesses will increase opportunities and lower cost per lead resulting in higher margins and a “fatter” forecast.

2. Almost half of participants agreed that marketing automation provides better customer insight/data. Lead tracking helps sales and marketers identify what a prospect is truly interested in by logging pages viewed, search terms used, time on site, emails opened, and more. It’s like turning your website into a sales person. Sales can easily identify when a prospect is thinking about your solutions and what they care about, allowing sales to optimize their “pitch”.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. How have you benefited from marketing automation? To be alerted of future posts, please click on the RSS button. Feel free to read part one, need for marketing automation, and part three, lessons learned from marketing automation.

Need for Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation is NeededMarketing automation is gaining wide adoption as a standard technology used by sales and marketing teams of all sizes. A sea change in how B2B buyers buy and marketers market requires a new look at techniques to better align sales and marketing teams, gain control over marketing programs, measure marketing effectiveness, and strengthen the sales pipeline. In a series of three posts we’ll share feedback from other senior-level marketers on why there is a need for marketing automation, benefits of marketing automation, and highlight their lessons learned from using marketing automation. This post covers the need for marketing automation.

Before diving into the data, let’s first clarify some definitions. LMA stands for “Lead Management Automation”, which is an industry name for technology in the marketing automation space. At Lead Liaison we believe marketing automation is a feature of an overall solution. We use this feature to deliver a wide array of benefits as part of our revenue generation software (the solution).

Forrester Consulting interviewed 15 senior level marketers who use marketing automation. The data below shows the percentage of marketers surveyed who provided the answer. Forrester first asked what problems the marketers were looking to solve. Here are the results of the marketer’s pain points:

Need for Marketing Automation

Need for marketing automation – key takeaways and recommendations:

1. The top two pain points revolve around how sales and marketing interface. To improve collaboration between sales and marketing teams start by creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA) then procure a marketing automation software solution. A SLA is an agreement between sales and marketing which defines how the two teams work together to leverage marketing automation technology. It’s a blueprint for success.

2. The number one problem is lead qualification. Marketing automation delivers lead scoring, which is an automated way to objectively qualify leads using technology. Without this technology the definition of a lead is purely subjective and will vary between sales and marketing. Define the universal definition of a lead in the SLA and use lead scoring to establish a point system for qualifying a lead against your criteria and lead definition. Lead scoring will assign points based on a leads activity and demographics to score the lead until they are qualified and ready for sales.

We welcome your feedback, comments and suggestions. What is your need for marketing automation? To be alerted of future posts, please click on the RSS button. Feel free to read part two, benefits of marketing automation, and part three, lessons learned from marketing automation.