Marketing Articles

Marketing Automation Features Guide: Things to Look for When Choosing a Solution

by Deeksha Malik
Published on 3 August 2017

Marketing Automation Features Guide

A growing number of marketers nowadays are technology dependent. They are utilizing technology and software inside the organization and also externally to communicate with clients, customers, and vendors. If you have a marketing automation software, would you say that you are using all its functionalities? What if you're overlooking a valuable feature just because you don't know about it?

Don't fret: we're here to help. There are powerful marketing automation tools available on the market that can take care of your entire marketing activities, but there's no one-size-fits-all tool that you can simply buy. Each marketing automation tool offers some basic features as well as some niche features which can sometimes to be difficult to utilize.

To help with any questions you might have, we have come up with a marketing automation features guide that can help you understand what each feature does and how it can be helpful for your marketing team. For each feature we've included links to software solutions that support that feature, listed in the GetApp project management software directory

Core marketing automation features

Feature Description
Campaign management Helps you plan, execute, track, and analyze online marketing campaigns, covering the entire lifecycle of the campaign: beginning, launch, and post-launch.
Lead management Helps convert more leads into actual opportunities by extracting the most updated information about the prospect; assigns or automatically routes qualified leads to right sales reps by automatically categorizing every interaction; reveals each lead's event-based timeline such as past website visits, previous form submissions, and previous sales alerts.
Multi-channel marketing Helps marketers connect with their customers through numerous, selected channels like emails, email newsletters, social media platforms, website, text messaging, and a lot more.
Email marketing Helps promote a commercial message or marketing campaign to a group of people through email to convert a prospect into a customer, increase customer engagement, or simply share promotional materials. It automatically segments user lists to explicitly target subsets of the bigger client base.
Analysis & reporting Analytics features helps gather, modify, and analyze marketing data to suit organization's specific needs, giving marketers valuable insights into every marketing activity. Reporting features help generate comprehensive reports on everything related to marketing such as campaign reports, email reports, workflow reports, and web traffic reports.
Tracking & monitoring Allows marketers to determine the campaign quality by tracking necessary performance indicators and monitoring the campaign responses based on the various parameters.
Integrations Allows the marketing automation software to integrate with leading third-party applications like CRM, social media, eCommerce, email, while adding new capabilities to the integrated platform.

Campaign management functionalities

Before starting any good marketing campaign you need to understand the purpose of the campaign: whether it's for brand awareness, a new product launch, or to simply educate your customers. After that, you need to choose what marketing channels you will use to launch and promote your campaign. Thanks to campaign management tools, it's a lot easier for marketers to design, launch, and test their marketing campaigns efficiently. Below are some of the campaign management features that you can expect in marketing automation software.

Feature Description
A/B Testing Helps to compare a user's response to A versus B, enabling you to update your landing pages, emails, marketing content, etc. in light of user preferences and changing trends.
Campaign Analysis Tracks and analyzes all marketing campaigns including events, email, direct mail, and multi-channel campaigns, in a single application. Analyzes campaign statistics and return on investment (ROI) from the campaign start till the final order transaction.
Content library This feature helps store all the marketing content in a centralized location accessible to all.
Conversion optimization tools Provides concrete data around the customer engagement and campaign analysis, which help campaigners convert more leads into opportunities.
Customer segmentation Segments customers on the basis of several factors such as lead behavior, product preferences, customer satisfaction score, customer lifetime value, and the sales funnel stage.
Customizable templates Offers custom templates that are flexible and easy to modify to be able to meet organizational needs and maintain brand compliance. These personalized templates can be used to send bulk or individual emails, email marketing newsletters, online brochures.
Event triggered actions Allows marketers to automatically send personalized emails to customers at a time when it is most relevant to them, often tied to the user's activity.
WYSIWYG editor WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors let marketers easily edit websites, landing pages, and forms.

Lead management functionalities

You can't characterize your leads by a single parameter. Lots of factors, isolated or consolidated, can impact your leads' behavior, preferences, buying needs, and loyalty. Tracking all the aspects together is tough and chances are high you'll miss a crucial detail that could waste your entire time and effort spent on that lead. Lead management functionality can give you a keen understanding of a lead's needs and where they are in the sales process, helping you decide the most vital approach to manage them.

Feature Description
Customer analysis Analyzes data related to customers and their behavior with an aim to offer powerful insights to marketers. These insights can help marketers make educated decisions, devise a powerful marketing strategy, and design compelling campaigns.
Customer Database Helps collect and store actionable customer data that can be used to improve marketing activities. It maintains a record of both present and potential customers, their personal details, buying preferences, last interaction with the organization, and more.
Customer history Helps store historical customer data such as order information, transaction history, and visits from a salesperson.
Lead assignment This feature automatically assigns high-quality leads to sales representatives, by territory, or any other terms set by the user.
Lead generation Automatically identifies anonymous website visitors and accumulates all the data (title, industry, location, size, revenue, email addresses, etc.) that the marketers would need to convert those visitors into leads.
Lead nurturing Allows marketers to build a relationship with the leads with targeted content and helps to sustain their interest until they reach sales readiness.
Lead scoring Helps marketers rank leads in order to determine their sales-readiness. Helps them understand whether the prospect needs to be fast-tracked to sales or developed with lead nurturing.
Pipeline management Helps consolidate marketing and sales data to allow businesses to make informed decisions and set objectives in view of income.

Multi-channel marketing functionalities

With the advent of the web and mobile apps, marketers today have multiple communication platforms to reach out to their customers: online advertising, social media, email newsletters, and text messaging. With so many opportunities, it becomes even more crucial to ensure that you're able to oversee it all together without losing your brand's voice. So how would you do it? An effective marketing automation tool with multi-channel marketing functionalities can help you here. Look underneath to see some of the multi-channel marketing features in a marketing automation tool.

Feature Description
SMS marketing Helps to automatically send personalized instant messages such as appointment reminders, coupon promotions, and contests.
Email marketing Allows marketers to create, outline, and send personalized emails to customers automatically based on a set schedule.
Social network marketing Helps marketers connect and interact with their target audience through various social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.
Multi-channel marketing Allows marketers to interact with their customers and new prospects by using indirect and direct communication channels like websites, online retail stores, mail order catalogs, direct mail, and mobile messaging. The aim is to influence the customer to buy their product or service using the channel of their choice.

Email marketing functionalities

Email marketing is no longer restricted to big businesses which have been using this medium to promote their products or services. Over the years startups, bloggers, and media companies have chosen email marketing to send newsletters and mass mailers for promotional purposes. To make your email marketing campaign a success, your emails should feel like one-on-one conversations with the audience and they should be scalable. Here are some common email marketing features you'll find in marketing automation tools that will help ensure you always build and run successful email marketing campaigns.

Feature Description
Auto-responders Automatically sends a series of interval-based emails to customers when they are added to a specific list.
Custom landing pages Helps marketers personalize landing pages based on visitor's name, device and browser, links clicked on, customer history, organization name and size, and department budget.
Custom forms Helps create custom forms by organizing questions you have to ask your customers, or structure diverse inquiries based on a website visitor's geographic location, the device used for browsing, referral source, and persona.
Drip email marketing Automatically sends a set of preset emails to a prospect or a customer when they complete a specific task.
Email templates Offers pre-designed customized formats which marketers can use to design attractive emails, email marketing campaigns, and newsletters.
Event triggered email Automatically sends emails to individual or groups of subscribers when a certain event takes place. For example welcome emails, new offers, discount coupons, or even special greetings on birthdays and anniversaries.
Mailing list management Lets users automatically add, store, and remove contacts in a centralized location. Allows users to view and alter each contact separately, as well as segment and group those contacts based on particular criteria for targeted marketing. In addition, this feature automatically updates duplicate and unsubscribed contacts.
Newsletter management Helps marketers design, customize, and share email newsletters to customers and mailing list subscribers.

Analysis & reporting functionalities

Customer data is a vital resource for marketing professionals. But what is important is the manner in which marketers can utilize this data to help characterize goals, audiences, campaigns, and strategy, as well as measure and analyze overall marketing performance. If you think it's high time you need to improve your marketing activities with a more data-driven, analytical approach, you should consider implementing a marketing automation software offering analysis and reporting functionalities.

Feature Description
Customizable reporting Offers pre-designed reports and the option to build custom reports via in-built designer. Automatically imports and collate data from various sources such as Google Analytics, AdWords, Facebook, and CSV files, into reporting templates for further use. In addition, marketers can customize these reports by adding company logo, comments, and consolidating data into a single widget.
Engagement analytics Helps marketers monitor and enhance customer engagement levels by measuring how engaged the online audience is with their brand. Different types of engagement analytics measures include conversion analytics, page engagement, customer journey or clickstream, on-site search, and digital campaign analytics.
Real-time analytics Real-time analytic tools help marketers gain insights about a campaign's performance in real-time by continuously monitoring essential indicators. This allows them to take necessary actions to ensure campaign success.
ROI analytics Return on Investment (ROI) feature offers tools to measure the contribution of a given marketing program on company revenue and profits. Identifies which media vehicles and campaigns are most effective at driving revenue. Helps optimize future marketing investments and drives growth in sales, profit and market share.
Social media metrics Helps marketers analyze data and statistics related to social media campaigns to gain insights into social media marketing performance. Measures social media parameters like the volume of people taking about a brand, reach of a social media campaign, and engagement metrics.
Web analytics Allows digital marketers to collect, analyze and report data regarding web traffic.

Tracking & monitoring functionalities

After you've launched your marketing program, the next step is to track and monitor your campaign performance. Obviously, you would want to see how your audiences react, engage, and take some kind of action after looking at your campaign. With advanced marketing automation tools, you can capture campaign metrics, from click to conversion, to check whether you've accomplished your goals or not. Look below to explore some of the tracking and monitoring functionalities which a good marketing automation tool offers.

Feature Description
Activity tracking Lets marketers track customer activity and follow-up tasks, track completed activity by a contact, plan future tasks, send dashboard updates for upcoming activities, and more.
Conversion tracking Helps marketers track website clicks, online ads, landing pages, keywords, and offers, to understand what aspects of advertising and website design are working and what ones aren't.
Email tracking Helps marketers automatically track and confirm that the email was delivered to intended recipients, it was clicked, and all the campaign materials were delivered. Some tools also reveal the exact time when the recipient received and opened the email. In addition, marketers can track and flag invalid email addresses automatically.
Event tracking Ability to track key customers actions taken during a lead conversion process. An event can be a website visit, a click on the Call-to-Action (CTA) button, the number of videos watched, a link shared, or forms filled.
Visitor tracking Helps marketers automatically track visitor traffic to their website, average time spent during website browsing, mouse heat maps, and bounce rates, in real-time.

Integration functionalities

Before you decide to pick a tool for your business, take a back seat and think if it integrates with your existing software stack. A lot of marketing automation tools integrate with other solutions such as CRM, email, and eCommerce, facilitating seamless data sharing between apps. The following are a few features that will help guarantee your marketing automation solution integrates well with your existing software stack.

Feature Description
API API (or Application Programming Interface) allows users to integrate the marketing automation software with other supporting services such as CRM and BI to add new capabilities and enhance the overall functionality of the combined business platform.
CRM integration This feature supports the integration of marketing and CRM tasks like automated lead qualification and assignment to the sales team, directly sending targeted email marketing campaigns to CRM contacts, and tracking landing pages to identify a prospect on a company's website. It gives the sales team a better picture of each prospect, helping them alter their messaging accordingly. While the marketing team gets information about later stages of sales cycle which they can use for future campaigns.
Data import/export Allows marketers to import and export marketing data and information in various desired formats like Excel, CSV, and XLS.
eCommerce integration Helps users capture marketing data to identify most qualified leads as well as create strategic promotional campaigns to nurture those leads. The integration also helps minimize shopping cart abandonment activity by sending emails that offer discounts when a shopper leaves the cart without making a purchase.
Email integration Helps marketers create personalized emails that get sent automatically when a certain event happens like when a contact gets added to a list, submits a form, clicks a link in an email, views a page on the company blog, or clicks on AdWords ads.
Mobile integration Allows marketers to access campaign data on their smartphones through native mobile apps or mobile web browsers. Helps in-team collaboration as well as sending marketing campaigns through push notifications, mobile-optimized email, and other mobile channels.
Social media integration Supports integration with social media marketing software to help marketers manage, schedule, track, and control social media content and activities across all social media profiles from a single interface.

Additional features

In addition to the key features listed above, there are a lot of other specific functionalities that you can find in a marketing automation tool. Below are some additional features that you can consider:

Feature Description
Customizable branding This feature allows marketers to customize a company logo, corporate themes, company websites, externally shared links, notification emails, and more.
Knowledge base A self-serve online data library containing frequently asked questions (FAQs) and other information that are helpful internally and to the customers.
Permission management This feature allows administrators to set different levels of access rights to different sets of people within an organization.
Widgets Allows marketers to share content from their website and social media platforms to other websites as widgets can be embedded on others' sites and services.

Next steps

Hopefully the above descriptions have given you some idea on what features to look for and test before you end up choosing a marketing automation solution for your business. Here are some handy GetApp resources to help you with your marketing automation tool selection: