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Marketing Automation: A Stealth Weapon for Agencies and Clients

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by: Angela Brohman (@IBMforMarketing)
08 March 2012

Marketing is like life. It’s essential to take the long view, but battles for advantage are fought on a daily basis. Now, perhaps more than ever, agencies are driven to seek out the latest methods, ideas or tools to gain a competitive edge and boost revenue.

General broadcast emails are still a valuable tool in the broader marketing arsenal, but both agencies and clients need to get more personal and more sophisticated with their email campaigns. Marketers can no longer expect to get the results they need by simply creating a one-off email and hitting “send.”  Unfortunately, a majority of marketers and their agencies are still sending these generic, cookie-cutter email messages to every contact in their database.

And surprisingly, many marketers have not yet fully embraced marketing automation. A 2011 BtoB Magazine study shows that only 44 percent of B2B marketers have implemented at least some form of automated marketing, while just  5 percent use full-featured marketing automation solutions.

Customers are more social, more mobile and smarter than in the past, and they expect more than irrelevant and interruptive messages. As a result, the bar is higher than ever for relevant, timely content designed just for the customer. (Get 10 tips for delivering the right message at the right time.)

Marketing automation lets agencies fashion and automate campaigns based on customers’ own behaviors and preferences. A good behavior-driven campaign creates meaningful interactions, allowing an effective and personalized two-way dialogue that boosts customer and prospect engagement to higher levels. An agency that doesn’t look at the technology for its own use, as well as for clients, risks falling behind.

Marketing automation has grown and evolved right along with the customer. And today’s platforms offer agencies a range of perks, including:

  • Graphical campaign builders that help agencies’ clients visualize their digital marketing programs
  • Improved ability to scale initiatives with fewer concerns regarding platform stability and security
  • Enhanced reporting capabilities that enable agencies to better communicate campaign performance and demonstrate value
  • Lead management features that agencies can use for their own purposes to nurture prospective clients

Best of all, with automation marketers can stop “shouting” their messages to one huge database of contacts and start “listening.” It’s a matter of setting up “if-then” messaging that can zig or zag depending on the customer’s response and actions. A customer’s actions (or inaction) will determine when that person will receive an email and what its content will be. Just think of the potential of a triggered, perfectly timed follow-up message sent after a contact downloads a whitepaper or fails to complete a buying process.

Of course, there’s another advantage to automation. It can free up valuable time for agencies to focus on other bigger-picture tactics. And behavior-driven triggered messages (such as welcome programs, post-demo nurture emails and upsell messages) typically deliver significantly high ROI despite their relatively low volume, compared to the old model of impersonal email marketing blasts. Once these types of automated messages are set up, they basically run by themselves. That’s a higher ROI brought about with less time and manpower.

Marketing automation can offer a daily advantage by enabling agencies to spend more time focusing on strategy and creative and less on software. And by enabling agencies to craft programs to send more personalized and engaging content, it’s also a stealth weapon for helping drive revenue and improving the bottom line over time. In the long term, well-orchestrated, automated campaigns will lead to better responses, better sales and improved brand loyalty for the customer—and happy clients for the agency.


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