Will the promise of true marketing automation finally come true?

Around 2004, the marketing world was buzzing with a new trend: marketing automation. Robust new platforms have burst onto the scene, opening up a world of possibilities for marketers to get more done in less time.

What was the promise of this new category? This marketing automation would remove all the tedious and repetitive marketing tasks that marketers hated, freeing them to focus on more creative and strategic projects.

Fast forward 15 years and the result is…well, not quite that.

Marketing operations are still bogged down

“Today’s marketing automation platforms automate only a portion of marketing activities,” says Justin Norris, martech expert and senior director of solutions architecture at Perkuto, who spent the Last 15 years working and studying marketing automation. “Marketers (and marketing operations in particular) want to create great things, but they’re bogged down with excel sheet imports and data cleaning.”

I sat down with Justin and over “virtual coffee” as he shared with me some things he hated about the marketing automation industry – and what gets him out of bed in the morning.

In almost every industry, Justin has seen firsthand how marketing automation has failed to live up to its promise. “Marketing automation tools were meant to become our ever-working faithful servants. Then we discovered the truth: it was actually the other way around,” he laughed.

But there’s something new on the market that’s changing Justin’s tone. He said this new generation of technology made him feel as empowered as when he discovered marketing automation.

So what is it? This is a new layer placed on top of marketing automation called Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS). Let’s explore further.

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Finally out of spreadsheet hell?

Marketers and operations managers can take pride in being comfortable with Excel, but everyone will agree that cleaning up spreadsheets every day is a pain.

Why is this a thing? With today’s tiered martech stacks, marketers often pull data from one system and load it into another. A common example that makes me cringe is downloading event attendees from a webinar platform, cleaning and formatting the data, then importing that data into a management platform messaging or advertising. This whole process must be repeated for each campaign. So much for the “automation” of marketing.

But there is a new generation of platforms such as Workato, Mulesoft, Tray.io, Zapier and others that have been created to meet this challenge. These platforms fall into the category of IPaaS, and they can effortlessly and programmatically move data from one system to another without breaking a sweat. And that’s just the beginning. With the right coaching, some of these platforms can add prospects to the CRM with the right assignment, alert reps to slack, update registration data, use AI/ML to analyze customer information and categorize, automate a range of business activities such as HR, invoicing, etc.

“For employee onboarding, we used to enter the same information into at least 10 — and up to 50 different apps. Now it’s fully automated. online ordering for restaurants.

IPaaS has also been called workflow automation and business automation, and many marketers have sung its praises as the next generation of marketing technology. Some have even gone so far as to call it “marketing operations automation.”

True Automation Empowerment

Back to my conversation with Justin Norris – “I remember the first time I realized the power of marketing automation and what it could do. With a MAP synced with a CRM, I could automate points of customer contact, normalizing huge amounts of data, and pushing leads to the right salesperson, all programmatically. I had nothing to do. I felt like a builder, a creator, and I could use these tools to solve complex problems.”

As Justin’s experience grew and he began to tackle bigger issues for more mature companies, that sense of autonomy quickly ended. The cause? Unfortunately, the whole company does not operate in these two systems. Martech is myriad, containing data warehouses, analytics tools, event platforms and much more. Marketing automation can’t touch these systems without a fair amount of development work. And so, the manual work of exporting and importing data spreadsheets comes to the fore.

But it turns out that Justin’s sense of empowerment would come back years later when he started working with IPaaS.

But to understand exactly what feeling empowered is, we first need to look at what marketers love about traditional marketing automation in the first place.

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The key component is called a “workflow,” which allows a marketer to perform an action when certain conditions are met. Think of an “if-then statement” followed by an action. I personally felt the power of this feature when I realized that with just one workflow I could send emails, update any record in question or even delete the entire database .

Justin discovered that IPaaS took this workflow idea out of the marketing automation system and applied it across your entire tech stack.

“In Workato for example, these workflows are called ‘recipes,'” Justin explained, his voice excited, as he detailed a real passion. “These recipes allow you to listen for an event in one system and trigger an action in another system. Or even multiple systems. No programming required.

Here is an example to flesh out Justin’s statement. Suppose a prospect fills out one of your marketing forms on your website. With IPaaS, you can perform four distinct actions almost simultaneously. First, you can create the lead in Salesforce. Second, you can assign it to the correct seller. Third, you can add the lead to a sales cadence tool like Salesloft for ongoing tracking. And fourth, you can alert the salesperson in Slack that a lead is ready for their review. All without the need for a developer.

Read next: Darrell Alfonso on four disruptive, uncomfortable and inevitable marketing technology trends

What does this mean for the industry?

I posed this question to Justin, and how he thinks it will change the Martech landscape.

He told me: “I was able to save a lot of time for my customers with IPaaS. I can pull content from blog emails into a MAP and then personalize that email based on customer data. But it doesn’t really stop at marketing. You can apply it to HR processes, recruitment processes, all types of workflows. »

Hearing this, I am truly amazed at the possibilities that IPaaS can bring to the marketing ecosystem. The ability to save marketers time by skipping spreadsheets is great, but the really exciting part is allowing them to create solutions that were once impossible without engineering resources.

On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder how this sense of empowerment affects other areas of business, and if this is how large IT organizations have always operated.

If I felt incredible excitement at being able to automate repetitive but important parts of my job, why should it stop at marketing?


Overview: Marketing Automation

For today’s marketers, automation platforms are often at the center of the marketing stack. These aren’t shiny new technologies, but rather reliable mainstays marketers can count on to help them stand out in a cluttered inbox and on the web amid a deluge of content.

HubSpot noted late last year that marketing email volume was up 52% ​​from pre-COVID levels. And, thankfully, response rates also increased between 10% and 20% from their baseline.

To help marketers gain attention, marketing automation vendors have shifted from relying on static email campaigns to offering dynamic content deployment for emails, landing pages, and more. destination, mobiles and social networks. They’ve also incorporated features that rely on machine learning and artificial intelligence for functions like lead scoring, in addition to investing in user interface and scalability.

The growing popularity of account-based marketing has also influenced vendor roadmaps, as marketers seek to serve the buying group holistically, addressing all of its members and their different priorities. And, ideally, these tools allow marketers to send buyer insights through their tight integrations with CRMs, giving the sales team a head start when it comes to closing the deal. . Learn more here.

About the Author

Darrell is an award-winning marketer and Martech professional. He was named one of the Top Martech Marketers to Watch in 2020, won the Fearless Marketer Award in 2018, is a 2X Marketo Champion, and is a Certified Salesforce Administrator. He has consulted for several Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric and Abbott Laboratories, and currently leads marketing operations at Amazon Web Services, where he helps hundreds of marketers create world-class customer experiences. Darrell is a frequent speaker at martech events and regularly posts thought leadership content on Linkedin and Twitter.