Notes on Marketing Automation: What You Need to Know from a New User

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By: Luis Sevilla | 10.17.19


If you got here because you were scouring the web looking for resources, guides, and tips on what marketing automation is or how to use it best, well, I can empathize. I was in your shoes not too long ago.

I recently graduated from college a few months ago, and I was fortunate enough to land an internship here at Idealist Consulting as their digital marketing intern. I studied advertising in school, so I have a good grasp of marketing, advertising, and business concepts. What was very new to me coming into my internship was marketing automation and Pardot. At Idealist Consulting we provide Salesforce services to nonprofits and progressive businesses, and we use Salesforce ourselves. That includes using Pardot for our marketing purposes, and we try to use the tool to its maximum potential. So, I spent the start of the internship reading blogs, moving through Trailhead modules, and getting my hands on anything that would jumpstart my marketing automation journey.

I’ve been here for a while now and have taken a few notes. So let me give you a bird’s eye view of what marketing automation is from the perspective of someone who was new to it not too long ago.


What is Marketing Automation?

According to the Pardot website, marketing automation is “a software platform that helps you automate your marketing and sales engagement to generate more leads, close more deals, and accurately measure marketing success.”

If you’re like me, you might think that definition didn’t help wrap your head around the concept. To bring it closer to home, you can think of marketing automation like Netflix. Netflix recommends a steady stream of content tailored to you based on your past viewing behavior. They do this because the more relevant content you see, the more likely you’ll stay subscribed. Marketing automation kind of functions in the same way, but instead, your prospects will get a steady flow of your content that’s relevant to them. They’ll receive content through emails, blogs, whitepapers, etc., to prompt them to buy something (or donate, volunteer, or become a member if you’re a nonprofit). 

If you look at the bigger picture, what marketing automation software like Pardot helps you do is nurture a relationship through your communications.


What Marketing Automation is Not

Marketing automation is not a bandage that will solve problems overnight. It’s more of a next step after you reached the full potential of free/discounted marketing solutions. You can only get the results you want from marketing automation as long as you’re willing to put the planning, thinking, and resources into it.

At Idealist Consulting, I was fortunate to come into a place where processes are laid out, and people are creating great content. If best practices are not in place at your organization, it’s an opportunity to be creative. You can establish a voice and personality for your organization through content. Then, let marketing automation make sure the right people receive it at the right time.


Why It’s Great and Who It’s For

What’s great about marketing automation is in its name. It automates. It allows marketers to focus on fostering relationships with constituents instead of spending a considerable amount of time doing monotonous tasks. It creates time to dig into data to make sure that whoever interacts with it receives relevant and quality content. I also think it’s great because I get to use both sides of the brain. Pardot allows me to be creative with the marketing materials I design and requires that I use logic to set up automation.

Is marketing automation right for you and your organization? There are a few criteria that will help you understand what organizations are best suited for marketing automation. For example, we recommend that your organization has around 5,000 contacts, and at least 1-2 dedicated marketing staff. Most importantly, you know there’s a potential to do more and you’re starting to feel the limitations of your current solution.

There’s still a lot more for me to learn about Pardot, especially with new updates constantly bringing new features, but that is what I believe makes marketing automation exciting. I’m always learning something new, I have opportunities to try new ideas, and I can always find something to improve on. Plus, being at Idealist Consulting, I’m learning about the many ways Pardot is used, like fundraising. So, if you’re considering learning more about marketing automation and Pardot, you should. With the proper planning and resources, it’s a tool that is fun to use and can be beneficial to an organization.


Want to Know More?

Something that helped me learn more was whitepapers. Sign up to receive our upcoming one: Marketing Automation 101 for Nonprofits. Learn more about the fundamentals of marketing automation and how it works for a nonprofit.


Sign up to get the Whitepaper


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