Since Act-On was first founded back in 2008, we’ve learned there’s really no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. Your needs, initiatives, and objectives are going to vary by the size of your company, the industry in which you operate, the resources at your disposal, and your overall growth strategy. As a result, different companies are going to use different tools to help them maximize their ROI.
For many businesses, email service providers (ESPs) like MailChimp and Constant Contact help realize short-term marketing goals by pushing out marketing messages to blanket audiences. And that’s a great place to start! Marketers who are solely focused on email can get some good use out of these products.
For those who are ready to take that next step in their marketing journey, however, it might be time to delve into the world of marketing automation, which will allow you to consolidate and coordinate your omni-channel marketing campaigns into a single platform that seamlessly integrates with your CRM — simultaneously improving your marketing velocity and aligning marketing and sales teams into one cohesive and powerful unit.
If the limitations of your ESP are starting to hold you back from achieving your full marketing potential, it’s time to consider investing in a marketing automation platform like Act-On. Keep reading to learn more about key differentiators between email service providers and marketing automation platforms, as well as the advantages of marketing automation and a new service we’ve launched to ensure marketing automation excellence.
What’s the Difference Between an Email Service Provider and Marketing Automation?
There’s a common misconception that ESPs and marketing automation platforms are more similar than they are different. And while it’s true that both software applications are capable of sending marketing and sales emails en masse, that’s where the similarities end.
Email service providers, also commonly referred to as “email marketing software platforms,” can be defined as a solution that allows marketers to create and send emails to prospects and existing customers. The more advanced platforms have some list segmenting capabilities, but their main function is to fire off those emails — usually without a great deal of audience targeting.
Conversely, marketing automation platforms are more robust software applications that empower marketers to perform an array of marketing tasks within a single platform — including sending personalized emails to highly segmented lists, building and launching landing pages and contact forms, performing search engine optimization (SEO) audits, conducting digital marketing webinars, tracking website user behavior, and so much more.
The Advantages of Marketing Automation
So, as you can see, marketing automation platforms can serve as extremely powerful email service providers with dozens of additional marketing features, which allow you to create, launch, track, test, and optimize campaigns in a cohesive and coordinated way. Further, when you integrate your CRM with your new marketing automation software, you can seamlessly transfer qualified leads to your sales team the instant they’re captured. And when those leads aren’t quite sales-ready, you can place them in a highly segmented automated lead nurturing program to keep pushing your prospects and customers through the sales funnel.
In addition to the awesome capabilities of a marketing automation platform, one of its other principal benefits is how it allows marketers to conserve and reallocate valuable time and resources. By developing and launching effective campaigns faster, cheaper, and at greater scale, your marketing team is able to focus on improving the quality, depth, and breadth of their marketing efforts rather than executing the same or similar tasks over and over again. This keeps costs low and puts your staff in the best position to let their talent shine.
Making Marketing Automation a Reality
Despite the amazing benefits of marketing automation, many industries and companies have been slow to adopt, choosing instead to continue with their email service provider or conducting small-scale marketing operations without sophisticated software of any kind. Again, this makes sense — not every business (and certainly not every marketer) moves at the same pace. Companies need to do what’s best for them with the resources available.
Still, it’s a little surprising that, as of a 2017 report we conducted with Econsultancy, only 53% of respondents were using marketing automation. And while virtually all respondents agreed that effective marketing automation is critical to long-term business success, only 41% felt their business was using their platform to its full capacity. This is due to the challenges marketers often face when implementing their marketing automation platform and aligning it with their overall strategies, tactics, objectives, and goals, including:
- The need for a strategic approach
- The need to design the program before moving it to the publishing stage
- Focusing on the short-term rather than giving the program time to produce the anticipated results
- Honing in on only one or two channels (namely, email)
- Failure to look beyond automation and focus on personalization through segmentation and a well-developed and executed content marketing strategy
Act-On’s Marketing as a Service Solution Can Increase Your Marketing Velocity
In a vacuum, technology is powerless. If your business and marketing team isn’t prepared to commit to a new approach, investing in marketing automation before you’re ready will likely result in poor performance and declining ROI.
Thankfully, Act-On recently released our new end-to-end marketing as a service solution: Accelerate. Act-On solves for the main barriers to marketing automation success (lack of resources and lack of expertise) by providing strategic guidance and smart execution for long-term marketing automation success. So no matter where you’re at in your marketing journey, you can get the most out of our impressive marketing automation platform.
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Move to Omni-Channel Marketing with Act-On
Marketing made personal is more than just a tagline; it’s something we put into practice here at Act-On each and every day — with our customers and in our own marketing efforts. We believe in the power and convenience of our platform, which is why we use it to execute all of our marketing campaigns.
At the same time, we know that not everyone is in the position to take the next step in their marketing journey from their ESP to marketing automation. We respect that and actually help our prospects determine their best fit without pressuring them to purchase our platform. After all, we want our clients to succeed. If they don’t, they lose money and our reputation takes a hit. So honesty, trust, and transparency are extremely important to us.
If you’ve been evaluating your marketing efforts and feel it might be time to take a closer look at marketing automation, please download our free eBook “Making Marketing Automation a Reality” by clicking on the link below. This helpful resource lays out everything you need to know about marketing automation and provides critical information about whether to proceed with the investment.