There are a ton of marketing automation platforms out there. I don’t see that minimizing any time soon.

Each time a new one pops up it seems to offer something different that the other tools seem to lack. This works to the detriment of business owners who lack focus because it keeps them chasing the “next best thing”.

Only to find that the new tool was just as flawed, if not more, than the tool they already owned.

But when it comes to marketing automation I have found that there are 3 core capabilities every single platform should be able to perform. Every tool that you put under consideration should be able the do the following 3 things and do them well.

They are what I refer to as The Fundamentals of Marketing Automation.

Fundamental #1 – Know where they came from

Tracking the source of your contacts is critical when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your marketing across multiple channels. You’re marketing automation platform can provide you this information in the following ways:

  1. Lead Source tracking. The ability to set a field value once that can never be overwritten. Preferably this value should be able to be tied to a revenue value.
  2. Web analytics. To track any other pages they may have viewed before opting in
  3. Webform Custom Fields. Most of the time these are hidden fields that will be pre-populated when a form is submitted. The more custom field formats your platform makes available to you the more powerful your automation will be.

Fundamental #2 – Know where to send them

The decision making process on where to send your new leads depends on the ability of your marketing automation platform to calculate logic effectively and take the necessary actions in a timely manner. It can provide you this ability in the following ways:

  1. If/Else conditions. All of your decision making will be automatically executed by way of if and else statements. The more conditions your platform allows you to make the more advanced you will be able to get in your automation. Some commonly used if/else statements are:
    1. IF contact filled out a form send them the LeadMagnet, ELSE do nothing…
    2. IF downloaded LeadMagnet send them follow up emails. ELSE send them a reminder…
    3. IF purchased a product stop sending follow up emails. ELSE continue sending them.
  2. Timers. Timing is everything in marketing automation. In order to automate your marketing you will need to ability to dynamically determine and send out communication with pinpoint precision regarding timing. The more flexible the timers the powerful your marketing will be.

Fundamental #3 – Know what they did

Now they are on your list and placed in the appropriate follow up sequence, you should be able to grouping them based on their actions. A key indicator of what they want can be extracted from what they did. This is called segmentation. Keeping track of their every step they take through your funnel will enable you to be more targeted with your marketing. This can be achieved with some of the following:

  1. Tags. These serve as the footprints of your contacts
  2. Opens and Clicks. Help you determine their interests and level of engagement.
  3. Custom Field Values. You can set and read these depending on which actions they take
  4. Web analytics. To track any other pages they may have viewed after opting in

With these 3 fundamentals in place you will be able to sell your products more easily by using the information provided about by each fundamental. No more trying to sell dog food to cat owners.

These fundamentals set the foundation for you to be able to generate quality leads, follow up with them intelligently, and accurately segment them by interests.

Any platform incapable of doing these fundamentals in a straight forward manner you should stay away from. No matter the cost, amount of gurus that swear by it, or its looks. Stay true to these fundamentals in your marketing automation journey and they will reward you greatly.

How do you feel about these fundamentals? Is there anything you would add or take away? Let’s use the comments section below to talk about it…

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