How does marketing automation work?


Marketing automation is no longer a buzzword that you can pretend to know a great deal about, but not understand completely. Its far-reaching benefits have convinced companies from all over the globe to invest in it. By automating repetitive marketing workflows and tasks like lead scoring, lead-based personalisation, and buying recommendations, marketing automation tools have allowed companies to enrich customer experience and enhance productivity.

But what goes on under the hood?

We know that marketing automation does all the dirty work for us. It saves us from tracking leads manually, and segments the customer base for us, but how does it manage all this? What happens behind the scenes?

If you want to break down everything that marketing automation tools do into five functions, you could have lead scoring, segmentation, intelligent profiling, interaction tracking, and workflow automation. Let’s take a deeper look at each one.

Lead Scoring

Arguably the one thing that makes everything tick is lead scoring. Depending on whether a lead’s score is high or low, you determine where your sales energy should be directed. However, what separates a good lead from a bad one?

You are the one who decides. Set the criterion against which you want to assign scores to your leads, and let the tool do the rest. For example, if a potential lead is from, say, New York, you automatically give them a +5. Other possible metrics could be:

  • Website activity: Which page is the user spending the most time on? Customer testimonials? +2. About Us? +1. Pricing or Products page? +4. The careers page? -1.
  • Designation/Experience: Is the person a stakeholder of an emerging startup, or are they an undergrad student researching different marketing automation tools?


Unapologetically blasting emails to your entire customer base is a thing of the past. Nowadays, to really bring your marketing efforts to fruition, segmentation is necessary. Marketing automation tools allow you to define customer segments based on any criterion, ranging from lead score to purchase history to the sales pipeline stage. This makes targeted marketing a-go, and maximum customer satisfaction, a reality.

Intelligent/Progressive Profiling

When you push your urge to obtain lead information a bit too far, you run the risk of losing the lead altogether. The art of data acquisition dictates that you request for information incrementally; marketing automation helps with that. For example, at your landing page, when a customer registers, you only ask for their email and name. That’s not a lot to live on, but that should do for now.

Later on, when they accept the invite to your webinar, you add a few more fields to the form e.g. age, occupation and company etc. and auto-fill the name and email. This way, you slowly and gradually learn more and more about your prospect by defining cheeky but effective call-to-actions. Progressive profiling enables lead prioritisation. The best part about this is that all you have to do is define CTAs once, and the tool keeps track of the rest!

Interaction Tracking

Marketing automation tools track all interactions made by all customers, across all touchpoints. You can know how much time a lead spent on your pricing page, and you can know which people abandoned a cart this week. You can even know when last an ex-customer visited your website. All these insights can do your marketing and sales teams a world of good, and the best part is, they are just a few clicks away!

Workflow Automation:

The final piece of the puzzle is workflow automation. You have gathered information regarding your leads, assigned scores to them, tracked their activities, and even segmented them; now is where you decide how and when to take action. This is where the real automation comes into play.

All you have to do is think of the workflow logic, use simple drag-and-drop to create a workflow diagram, and then press play. The automated workflow can nurture all leads on its own, without any manual intervention. This can include sending personalised emails at different buying stages, following up periodically, and forwarding hot leads to sales teams (and discarding the cold, rotten ones).

Marketing automation tools take the burden of repetition off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on what matters more.


Marketing Automation Ebook