How do you explain marketing automation?

You don’t – you demonstrate it!

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that marketing has its advantages. Implemented properly, a solid marketing automation campaign can be executed with precision, speak directly to your audience at just the right time in the buying decision process, and yield incredible results.

The Devil is in the Details

The challenge, of course, is to start with a solid strategy. Assuming that the strategy has been properly identified and articulated (a necessary assumption since the topic of this article is implementation and not strategy), the “marketing” piece is automated, right? I mean, it’s in the name.

Not so fast. Marketing automation requires meticulous front-end planning. With careful orchestration of your marketing communication components and messaging, as well as accurate sequencing of workflows, you can sit back and – push the button. It’s “automatic”.

Can’t Picture it?

Think about how exciting it would be to have a product that handled the front and back-end deployment of marketing automation powered by a team of experts to help plan and execute your campaign. You’d want to tell the world, or at least a few of your closest friends. But how to explain a relatively complex product capability? Put it into action!

That’s exactly what we did. At Total Spectrum, we developed an interactive demo targeted to an audience that we anticipated would be receptive to the idea of a new kind of marketing automation product + service. Because although the software can perform its’ function, if you don’t have the right thinking behind your communication, your efforts will be wasted.

Take It For A Test Drive

An interactive demo allows the audience to participate in an engaging “test drive” to experience, first-hand, how the product works. Based upon self-identifying with a set of criteria, the prospect is sent a series of emails that tailors the message to his/her specific interests. This is the core tenet of any successful digital campaign.

Gone are the days when a “passive” visual will attract attention and elicit a response. There’s too much competition for attention. See how the power of interactivity transforms a static communication into an interactive, immersive journey that communicates the power and possibilities of marketing automation.

Click Here To Go For A Spin

Marketing Automation: What is it and why you need it

If you’re in business, “Marketing Automation” is a term that has been getting tossed around A LOT lately. It sounds cool…especially the “automation” part – that has to be a good thing. But what does it really mean, and what does it do?

If you ask around, chances are you will probably get a bunch of circular marketing-speak that will shed little light on the situation, and more than likely confuse you more. To begin, let’s look at a few official definitions gleaned from key players in the MA industry and see if it helps.

“Official” Definitions:
This one is from Marketo, one of the top dogs:

“Marketing automation is a category of software that streamlines, automates, and measures marketing tasks and workflows so that companies like yours can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.”

That didn’t help at all. Sounds good; nice little sound bite, but it doesn’t tell us much – marketing speak for sure. Let’s look at another one:

“Marketing automation is the use of software to automate marketing processes such as customer segmentation, customer data integration, and campaign management. The use of marketing automation makes processes that would have otherwise been performed manually much more efficient, and makes new processes possible. Marketing automation is an integral component of customer relationship management.” SearchCRM

Good grief, that was longer but possibly even worse. I still don’t know what it really is. All either definition has told us is that marketing automation uses software to automate stuff and make it better. Let’s look at one more:
“At its best, marketing automation is software and tactics that allow companies to buy and sell like Amazon – that is, to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers. HubSpot

Now we are sort of getting somewhere. This has some meat on the bone because instead of circular marketing speak they give an example, Amazon. Still fuzzy, though.

Let’s see if we can nail this down a little better:

The Heart of the Matter
Marketing Automation apps and software do all the CMS tasks and processes as referenced in the above definitions (customer data, campaign management, etc.), but it it’s also a cross-functional marketing tool that connects multiple touch points and channels including email marketing, social media and content marketing. A key point of marketing automation is to “nurture” prospects for the long-term; in other words, concentrating on other goals beyond direct sales.

Now we are talking! That makes sense but “cross-functional marketing strategy” sounds a bit complicated to pull off. It CAN be at advanced levels, but the beauty of marketing automation is that is VERY scalable, and it really all starts with an email.

Yes, automated (but not necessarily impersonal) email. No one ever mentions that marketing automation is essentially email-based. That’s what all this talk of “nurturing” is all about. With marketing automation, there are a “whole lotta emails going on.”

Disclaimer: we are NOT talking about SPAM or shady email marketing tactics which has given email marketing a very bad rap. More on that below…

But back on topic. Email is absolutely key to marketing automation. Email:

  • Allows you to directly reach audiences 1 on 1, and people tend keep their email addresses for years.
  • Now lets you connect with users regardless of what device they’re using. People generally use email addresses to create multiple accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and hopefully even your website.
  • Can help you jumpstart your company’s lead nurturing flow – which will also span multiple devices

Mini lecture: email lists and spam:
The best and really only way to determine your marketing automation strategy – and lead pipeline – is to build your database organically. It’s often tempting to just write the check and buy a list, but this is typically a waste of money, can make people mad, get you in trouble and possibly fined by the government – or all of the above.

Instead of buying an email list with recipients who have no idea who the heck you are, glean emails from your existing customer base, or try launching a blog to build your own list internally. Patience is essential.

Remember, when people sign up for your company’s email list on a website or landing page, they’re providing value with their contact information. To get value, you need to give them value – which requires you to make an investment upfront – by producing an ebook or case study, offering a promotion, or even hosting a contest or drawing. This is called Content Marketing. For more on content marketing, visit

Scalability – It’s easy to get started
As mentioned earlier, it all starts with an email, which can be created (along with a corresponding landing page to collect information), sent, tracked and analyzed within the marketing automation software or web-based app.

An excellent entry-level example would be a simple “Thank You” email that is automatically sent after a customer completes a purchase. The email could also have a link to a coupon or promo code for future purchases. This allows continued interaction with the customer beyond the sale…or “nurturing” if you will.

Or a marketing automation campaign can efficiently manage a complex, workflow-based campaign with multiple sales conversion funnels to automatically manage leads, deliver content and alert sales people of activity so they can instantly react or respond.

The point is marketing automation solutions are available for companies of any size. You don’t need huge revenues to get started. The key is to construct foundations early to help your company grow. It’s not a quick magic bullet.

Get help to do it right
It’s important to have a solid foundation in content marketing, brand-building and analytics – or partner with a marketing agency that does. Even though you’re deploying marketing messages, marketing automation is not a “push” mechanism. The most successful companies position their campaigns as “pull” mechanisms. The new paradigm is to draw people in with interesting or educational content, not relentlessly hammer them over the head with the usual sales materials.

One more thing…
It’s easy to start equating marketing automation with software. In reality however, marketing automation is not all about software. It’s also about psychology and the conversion funnel. But those are are topics for another article.

There is WAY more to tell. For more information, contact Jim Bogenreif at Total Spectrum, at 714.637.3600. He is a pretty affable fellow and can give you the 60 second “elevator speech”, a 20 minute overview or a 5 hour dissertation on marketing automation.

Learn More About Our Marketing Technology Solution, Spark

Marketing Automation vs. CRM

What’s The Difference and Who Wins?

The question is often asked, what’s the difference between marketing automation and a Customers Relationship Manager or CRM system? Which is superior? In this short article, we will compare and contrast marketing automation’s easy-to-learn functions with customer relationship management (CRM) software such as SalesForce or Zoho.

This no-nonsense comparison/throw-down will cover three key areas: lead generation, sales and return on investment or ROI. As you will see, the differences are quite stark.

Round I: Generating More Leads

As far as generating leads is concerned, CRM software can:

  • Import a CSV (Comma Separated Values) of leads

On the other hand, Marketing Automation functions and features include all of the following:

  • Import a CSV (Comma Separated Values) of leads
  • Visitor ID for identifying anonymous web traffic
  • Dynamic form fields for building complete leads profiles
  • Third-party and native-form integration
  • Tracking email communication with leads
  • Automatically connect on social media
  • Qualify leads based on position in sales cycle
  • Schedule an email to a lead for future delivery


That’s a whole lot of flexibility and functionality. Marketing Automation clearly wins that round, hands down.
Lead Generation Score: Marketing Automation 8, CRM 1


Round II: Driving Sales

Moving on to driving sales, CRM software can:

  • Score the leads based on engagement and sales-readiness

To compare, Marketing Automation offers the following sales-related features and benefits:

  • Score the leads based on engagement and sales-readiness
  • Valuable sales insights pertaining to a leads interests
  • Receive notifications when leads are sales ready
  • Automatically segment your leads based on their behavior
  • Targeted messages for near one-on-one communication
  • An illustrated time line of a leads activity with your website
  • Increased engagement with segmented messages

It’s clearly another blowout round for Marketing Automation.
Driving Sales Score: Marketing Automation 7, CRM 1


Round III: Proving ROI

Finally, let’s get down to brass tacks as they say. ROI is where the rubber really meets the road. Once again let’s compare. CRM software can:

  • Record deals won and deals lost

While Marketing Automation Software offers that and much more:

  • Record deals won and deals lost
  • Detailed email analytics
  • Eliminate wasteful marketing spends
  • Online and offline monitoring of leads activity
  • Automatic return on investment calculations

Once again, Marketing Automation dominates and takes the round handily.
Proving ROI Score: Marketing Automation 6, CRM 1

So our final score for this throw-down is Marketing Automation 21, CRM 3 – pretty much a blowout in favor of Marketing Automation. As mentioned earlier, the differences between the two is quite stark. CRM only offered one feature in each category. That’s not going to fly in today’s digital marketing world.


If you are interested in learning more about Marketing Automation, or have any questions about this article, call 714.637.3600 and speak with the specialists at Total Spectrum. Or email

Marketing Automation vs. ESP

What’s The Difference?

Marketing Automation vs. Email Service Providers (like MailChimp)

Another frequently asked question is “What’s the difference between marketing automation and an Email Service Provider, or ESP; don’t they do the same types of things?” In this short post, we will compare and contrast marketing automation’s intuitive, easy-to-learn functions with email service providers like MailChimp, ConstantContact and Vertical Response.

Let’s quickly look at three key major areas of interest and concern: generating more leads, driving new sales and return on investment, or ROI.

To have a little fun with this, a simple automotive analogy is in order: If Marketing Automation and Email Service Providers were new cars for sale at a car dealership, the window sticker that lists the various features and options of each would look quite different:

Window Sticker #1: Lead Generation

First, let’s take a look at the comprehensive range of tools marketing automation offers in the lead generation realm:

  • Importing lists of contacts
  • Visitor ID for identifying anonymous web traffic
  • Dynamic form fields for building complete contact profiles
  • Third-party and native-form integration
  • Simple CSS adoption to make your forms blend in
  • Automatically connect on social media
  • Qualify leads based on position in sales cycle
  • Schedule an email to a single contact for future delivery

Now for email service providers:

  • Importing lists of contacts

It’s fair to say that there isn’t much of a comparison here; but keep reading.

Window Sticker #2 Driving New Sales

With marketing automation, you have the following basic and advanced sales tools at your disposal:

  • CRM integrations
  • Easy-to-use email designer
  • Notification sent to sales team of a leads online activity
  • Automatically segment your leads based on their behavior
  • Targeted messages for near one-on-one communication
  • An illustrated timeline of all emails each contact received
  • Increased engagement with segmented messages

While ESPs offers only a couple tools:

  • CRM integrations
  • Easy-to-use email designer

Well, that’s a modest ESP improvement over their one “Lead Generation” category feature, but they are still wildly outnumbered by marketing automation. This is starting to look as bit like Custer’s last stand.

Window Sticker #3 Return on Investment (ROI)

Finally, let’s review what marketing automation has to offer in the world of ROI:

  • Open rate and click through rate tracking
  • Website behavior reports
  • Identification of contact’s position in sales process
  • Online and offline monitoring of leads activity
  • Automatic return on investment calculations

ESPs don’t offer much as far as ROI is concerned:

  • Open rate and click through rate tracking

In this final installment of our new car analogy, things clearly didn’t improve for ESPs at all. They are quickly becoming irrevelent and quite frankly getting their “doors blown off” by marketing automation technology.


If you interested in learning more about Marketing Automation, or have any questions about this article, call 714.637.3600 and speak with the specialists at Total Spectrum. Or email your questions to