Not even close. Like the term suggests, marketing automation encompasses marketing campaigns across all channels—from direct mail and phone campaigns to online, social and mobile initiatives. What’s more, it combines robust, insight-focused capabilities from your CRM, lead management system, web analytics platform, and other systems to create something that’s more than the sum of the parts.
Beyond terms and process, one of the best ways brands can align both sales and marketing is through shared programs such as account-based marketing (ABM) and lead nurturing. In 2018, Salesforce Research found high-performing marketing organizations to be 1.5x more likely to use ABM methods, and 1.9x more likely to use lead nurturing than underperforming marketing organizations. They are “shared programs” since both marketing and sales should work together to create them. Marketing handles the technology and setup while sales pick the targets and help create the content. Sharing in the creation of the programs allows sales to feel ownership of the programs, increasing their use and overall effectiveness.
Because of the popularity of marketing automation, a misconception has grown that marketing automation software can be a salve for any slowdowns in marketing growth -- including the need to generate new leads. This misconception leaves many marketers with sophisticated tools to automate the middle of their funnel, but no solution for generating new leads to nurture in the first place.
At the start of this article, I talked about making customers, not finding them, but you can only make customers out of leads. Because your sales funnel only works if you put people in the top, let’s look at some tips to help you find more leads. Not everything will work for every business. Choose the methods that work best for you in terms of your available resources and what works for your audience.

Email marketing is a great first step toward developing solid communications with your customers and prospects. But once you have moved past one-off messages and have decided to create prolonged, personalized messages powered by customer data, it's time to try marketing automation. No tools better exemplify the simplicity, effectiveness, and scalability of marketing automation software than two of our three Editors' Choice tools: HubSpot and Pardot.

You’ll want to use email, blogging, and social media tactics to increase brand awareness, cultivate a strong online community, and retain customer loyalty. Consider sending personalized emails to past customers to impress or inspire them -- for instance, you might send discounts based off what they’ve previously purchased, wish them a happy birthday, or remind them of upcoming events.

The final stage of the sales funnel is the action that you're intending them to perform. In most cases this is the purchase. Again, how well you move them through the various stages is going to set you up with a specific conversion for this action. For example, if 100 people click on your offer and 10 people enter your sales funnel but only purchase people purchase, then you have a 2 percent conversion. 
As search engines have become more prominent, some affiliate marketers have shifted from sending e-mail spam to creating automatically generated web pages that often contain product data feeds provided by merchants. The goal of such web pages is to manipulate the relevancy or prominence of resources indexed by a search engine, also known as spamdexing. Each page can be targeted to a different niche market through the use of specific keywords, with the result being a skewed form of search engine optimization.
Okay, so now that we’ve got the basics nailed down, let’s bring it all back together. Marketing automation is all about nurturing not selling. We avoid the hard-sell approach in favor of content that is personalized, relevant and aligns with what our customers and prospects are looking for. And what’s even better, by implementing a marketing automation software, this process gets a whole lot easier. We are able to quickly map the entire process back to our marketing goals.
^ Shashank SHEKHAR (2009-06-29). "Online Marketing System: Affiliate marketing". Feed Money.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2011-04-20. During November 1994, CDNOW released its BuyWeb program. With this program CDNOW was the first non-adult website to launch the concept of an affiliate or associate program with its idea of click-through purchasing.

Because often, there’s no top-of-the-funnel foundation put in place to support middle-of-the-funnel marketing automation. Marketers won’t have the ingredients they need for effective marketing automation until they have a steady flow of leads. Too many marketers without inbound lead generation strategies spend their time figuring out how to take the tiny fraction of the market they already have in their database, and squeeze more out of them. While they’re doing that, their competition is figuring out how to get more out of the 99.99% of the market that’s still out there.
If your audience is looking to launch an online business, migrate their ecommerce platform, or simply interested in ecommerce content, we encourage you to apply for the BigCommerce affiliate program. Our team will carefully review your application. Once approved, you will receive access to support, tracking, reporting, payments, and have your own unique affiliate link to track every referral you generate. BigCommerce is committed to the success of our affiliate partners.
You need to understand your audience like you do your very own yourself. You are aware of your dislikes and likes, you know what problems you face and you know the sort of people you will let help with those problems. If you learn to know your audience in the same manner, the chances of you establishing a genuine connection increase vastly. You will also be able to guide more people through your sales funnel and get those coveted ‘closed-wons’.
Affiliate marketing overlaps with other Internet marketing methods to some degree because affiliates often use regular advertising methods. Those methods include organic search engine optimization (SEO), paid search engine marketing (PPC – Pay Per Click), e-mail marketing, content marketing, and (in some sense) display advertising. On the other hand, affiliates sometimes use less orthodox techniques, such as publishing reviews of products or services offered by a partner.[citation needed]
After you’ve mapped out your prospect’s experience, make sure they align with your team’s pipeline stages. You can do this on paper or in CRM software like Salesforce Essentials. Sales pipeline stages are stages in your sales process, while your sales funnel stages are the stages in your customer journey. Refer to our article on how to create an effective sales plan for more information about pipeline stages and how they relate to your sales strategy.
Forms of new media have also diversified how companies, brands, and ad networks serve ads to visitors. For instance, YouTube allows video-makers to embed advertisements through Google's affiliate network.[22][23] New developments have made it more difficult for unscrupulous affiliates to make money. Emerging black sheep are detected and made known to the affiliate marketing community with much greater speed and efficiency.[citation needed]
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations.
You’ll want to use email, blogging, and social media tactics to increase brand awareness, cultivate a strong online community, and retain customer loyalty. Consider sending personalized emails to past customers to impress or inspire them -- for instance, you might send discounts based off what they’ve previously purchased, wish them a happy birthday, or remind them of upcoming events.
Marketing automation offers a number of specific benefits for small and medium businesses (SMBs). First, it helps you monitor the effectiveness and ROI of your digital marketing campaigns, so you can find out what’s working and what’s not. Next, it automates many activities – like lead follow-up, email campaigns, list segmentation, lead scoring, etc. – saving you tons of time and effort. Marketing automation also has great tools to support drip marketing campaigns. It enables you to build quality emails and landing pages, and then track your campaigns from start to finish to see how leads are moving through your funnel.
In brief, we are inclined to go along with someone’s suggestion if we think that person is a credible expert (authority), if we regard him or her as a trusted friend (liking), if we feel we owe them one (reciprocity), or if doing so will be consistent with our beliefs or prior commitments (consistency). We are also inclined to make choices that we think are popular (consensus [social proof]), and that will net us a scarce commodity (scarcity).
It’s important to know where your traffic is coming from and the demographics of your audience. This will allow you to customize your messaging so that you can provide the best affiliate product recommendations. You shouldn’t just focus on the vertical you’re in, but on the traffic sources and audience that’s visiting your site. Traffic sources may include organic, paid, social media, referral, display, email, or direct traffic. You can view traffic source data in Google Analytics to view things such as time on page, bounce rate, geo location, age, gender, time of day, devices (mobile vs. desktop), and more so that you can focus your effort on the highest converting traffic. This analytics data is crucial to making informed decisions, increasing your conversion rates, and making more affiliate sales.

Closing: You’ve become a lead magnet, what comes next? Now, you need to seal the deal by triggering marketing messages that inspire users to take action. At this point of your marketing strategy, you need to transform leads into customers (and existing customers into repeat buyers). You should use techniques like lead scoring, lead nurturing, mapping the buying process, and classic sales tactics.
Deliver value no matter what: Regardless of who you are and what you're trying to promote, always deliver value, first and foremost. Go out of your way to help others by carefully curating information that will assist them in their journey. The more you focus on delivering value, the quicker you'll reach that proverbial tipping point when it comes to exploding your fans or followers.
Although I mentioned several times in this list the importance of participating in discussion rather than just dropping your links, that doesn’t mean you should never promote yourself. I like to use the 80/20 rule in this case. At least 80% of the time, you should be using social networks to share other people’s links and participate in conversation. You can share your own stuff about 20% of the time.
Marketing automation creates relevant content and messaging at scale across many channels. Send email messages with dynamic content that personalizes far beyond sticking a customer’s first name in the subject line. Integrate mobile messaging with your email and social campaigns through SMS/MMS, push notifications, and group messaging. Generate digital ads that appear for the right person at the right time. Plus, recommend the right products on your website for each individual user — automatically.
For example, in CRM tools, you can create cases from the cases section or from the contacts and opportunity sections of the CRM. You can also create cases from the global actions menu. Cases can be assigned and the details can be made accessible to the people who need to know about it and those actively working to resolve it. These features allow you to quickly handle issues so your customers are satisfied with your service.

In the Intent stage, your prospect has made a decision to buy from you, but the deal hasn’t closed yet. They plan to buy but want to make sure your quote or proposal encompass everything they need at a price they are willing to pay. Here, you are negotiating terms or finalizing your proposal. Objections around price and other key terms usually surface here.
Marketing Automation is a subset of customer relationship management (CRM) or customer experience management (CXM) that focuses on the definition, segmentation, scheduling and tracking of marketing campaigns. The use of marketing automation makes processes that would otherwise have been performed manually much more efficient and makes new processes possible. Marketing Automation can be defined as a process where technology is used to automate several repetitive tasks that are undertaken on a regular basis in a marketing campaign. A tool that allows an individual to design, execute and automate a time-bound marketing workflow can be called a Marketing Automation platform.[citation needed]

To help you get started, we’ve created a sales funnel template you can use to create something that works for your business. It’s a PowerPoint document with prompts that you can customize based on the specific stages you feel are the best fit for your customers. This template will help you think of each stage in your customer’s journey and what should happen in each stage. It will also help you map out your own sales funnel stages unique to your business.
Once you’ve collected leads, it’s time to segment, which essentially means that your splitting the list of names into smaller lists. The first an most obvious split to make is into prospects (people who might buy) and non-prospects (people who won’t buy). After that, though, you might still have a huge list of leads that never make their way down your sales funnel. Why? You aren’t segmenting!
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. This type of marketing automation typically generates significant new revenue for companies, and provides an excellent return on the investment required. – Hubspot
No matter how good your marketing skills are, you’ll make less money on a bad product than you will on a valuable one. Take the time to study the demand for a product before promoting it. Make sure to research the seller with care before teaming up. Your time is worth a lot, and you want to be sure you’re spending it on a product that is profitable and a seller you can believe in.
By offering marketing automation and related services, you’ll become an integrated and indispensable partner to your clients. This helps you move from unpredictable project work to retainer-based relationships, helping you grow your agency and boost your monthly recurring revenue. Marketing automation also provides you with comprehensive reporting and analytics, so you can prove the value of your services to your existing clients as well as prospective ones. Some marketing automation platforms are built specifically for marketing agencies, so there are some important things to look out for, including flexible agency pricing, a rebrandable interface and domain, and much more.
Much of this is steeped in buyer psychology. The best marketers in the world know that there is a psychological process that must occur for prospects to whip out those credit cards and turn into buyers or even hyper-active buyers. One such person whose perfected this process is Russell Brunson, an "underground entrepreneur" who founded a company called ClickFunnels, a sales funnel SaaS business that empowers marketers from around the world to build marketing automation without all the hassle. 
Think about that the next time you're building out a sales funnel. This complex and intricate concept in business can literally take you from a complete unknown to a global powerhouse quickly through the art of scaling out a highly-converting offer. Don't try to take shortcuts or implement hacks, and put in the time if you're looking to eventually reap the benefits and results.
However, the best part about this, and the most powerful route that entrepreneurs take to scale their businesses, is that if you know that sending 100 people to your site costs you $200, for example, but you get two people to convert at $300 each, then you have a $600 return on $200 invested (300 percent). When you know that, that's when the entire game changes and you can infinitely scale your offers.
Use marketing automation to trigger messaging automatically based on a central hub of your customer data. That’s because your customer should see the same brand identity from all of your teams. With marketing automation, your business can better bring together marketing, sales, and customer service to create one seamless customer experience across your brand. 
Writing blog posts is especially effective for providing different opportunities to land on page one of search engines -- for instance, maybe your eyeglass store’s website is on page three of Google for “eyeglasses,” but your “Best Sunglasses of 2018” blog post is on page one, pulling in an impressive amount of traffic (over time, that blog post could also boost your overall website to page one).
Individual sellers and companies offering products or services have to deal with their consumers and ensure they are satisfied with what they have purchased. Thanks to the affiliate marketing structure, you’ll never have to be concerned with customer support or customer satisfaction. The entire job of the affiliate marketer is to link the seller with the consumer. The seller deals with any consumer complaints after you receive your commission from the sale.
Merchants receiving a large percentage of their revenue from the affiliate channel can become reliant on their affiliate partners. This can lead to affiliate marketers leveraging their important status to receive higher commissions and better deals with their advertisers. Whether it’s CPA, CPL, or CPC commission structures, there are a lot of high paying affiliate programs and affiliate marketers are in the driver’s seat.

Disney initially stated they wouldn’t exceed one million in donations, but ended up donating two million after the campaign blew up. #ShareYourEars campaign garnered 420 million social media impressions, and increased Make-A-Wish’s social media reach by 330%. The campaign is a powerful example of using an internet marketing strategy for a good cause. #ShareYourEars raised brand awareness, cultivated a connected online community, and positively affected Disney’s brand image.
The concept of “creating customers” may at first seem to be an odd one. Don’t you find customers, not make them? Well, yes and no. While it is extremely hard to turn someone into a customer if they have no interest in your product/service or don’t have the money to make the purchase, with a proper sales funnel, can can create fans out of people who never even knew you existed (or at least never realized how much they needed whatever you’re selling). A sales funnel can also turn an “on the fence” customer into a raving fan who refers even more people to you!
Depending on your business and industry, you could have 1,000 prospects at the top of your funnel. However, towards the end of your funnel, you may have 25 qualified leads. While these 25 prospects are more likely to convert than the ones at the top of the sales funnel, at the very end, there may only be five customers who make a purchase and only two that go on to become repeat customers.
In the last 10 years, ShoutMeLoud has inspired millions of lives around the globe to help them earn passive income via affiliate marketing.  It would not have been possible if I had not quite my call-center job to pursue my passion. When I think about this, I find it amazing as for how my life unfolded when I took the courage of starting something of my own.
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