At a recent workshop in our Academy programme, we asked the marketers ‘who is currently using marketing automation and lead scoring?’

The answer: not a single one.

Now, it wasn’t a large sample and we know from our own client work and benchmarking that some firms are really advanced in this area and seeing powerful engagement.

It does, though, raise the question: should firms be making the effort in terms of marketing automation? And if so, how should they go about establishing the capability?

I think the answer is yes and I offer my thoughts on the approach.

Why do marketing automation?

What is marketing automation?

  • Hubspot – Marketing automation is all about using software to automate marketing activities…
  • Salesforce – Marketing automation is the process of utilising technology to streamline marketing efforts and make them more effective…
  • Marketo – Marketing automation software enables you to streamline and measure your marketing workflows for new and existing leads…

In our world of investment management, marketing automation is typically a term that captures a number of elements:

  • An email marketing platform
  • An automation component
  • Lead scoring
  • Analytics
  • Integration


The foundation application that provides all the email functionality that you would expect, ranging from lists, templates, campaigns and reporting. You’re already using everything from Mailchimp to Pardot, and whilst they offer automation, chances are you may just be using as a pure email tool.


Automation adds the ability to build triggers and flows that allow you to offer personalised actions at scale. For example: you could build a nurturing flow that is triggered as prospects and clients open/read emails or pages. Or a prospecting flow that runs from a form on a page, offering a download in return for some information.

Lead scoring

By adding a tracking script to your website – essentially a piece of code you add to your website which lets you gather data – it enables you to track users’ actions across email and your website. As you capture the interactions, it builds lead scores. This is a powerful tool for bringing marketing and sales teams together: they can agree what qualifies as a lead and see what clients are engaging with.


As email continues its run as the primary channel for client communication, your email platform provides plenty of data around list performance and can help you build a profile around contacts. Marketing automation enriches that data with all the interactions that users have had on email and your website, and combines that with your segmentation data to build a complete profile.


This is important, as it allows your marketing automation solution to form part of your marketing technology ‘spine‘, alongside your customer relationship management (CRM) and content management system (CMS) – and all your other apps in your martech stack.

Smart marketing builds a stack that connects your apps vertically from infrastructure to user interfaces, and horizontally through the user experience – mapping data flows and integration touchpoints.

How to do marketing automation?

So, you’ve been convinced that marketing automation is a terrific idea. How, then, to make it happen?

Let me give you a step-by-step guide.

  • Plan – decide what your objectives are. No, not vague ‘increase awareness’ objectives. Objectives that you map from business > marketing > activities > measurement > data sources
  • Create stories – user stories are a great way to define requirements. For example: as a (sales) account owner, I want to drive investment consultant engagement with this page/form/thing, so I can contact qualified leads
  • Draw a picture – two reasons: (1) to map the journey you want to build and (2) to define your marketing tech stack, even if it’s just for the project/campaign you’re working on now
  • Hire skills or upskill – marketing automation isn’t the simplest thing to set up, particularly when it involves integration with a CRM and building complex flows. Maybe it’s a case of hiring skills, in addition to upskilling your team
  • Sort your data – none of this works if you don’t have clean and segmented data with no shortcuts. You can use third parties to clean the data, but you still need to address ownership and segmentation internally
  • Get buy-in – who owns your CRM/email data and who decides what marketing activities are undertaken? Best to find out and agree early
  • Buy your kit – this seems late in the process and you may already have what you need, but the point is that you should have a clear view of what you are really going to do before investing in expensive applications
  • Line up your content – automated email flows usually require front-loaded content so that you have all your emails/pages/forms ready at the beginning of the campaign
  • Set it up – you’ll need your skilled resources to configure your flows, marketing content, and creative assets
  • Press go – just get started. You don’t need to build a business case to implement across your entire database – choose a small segment and just start. You’ll learn more from this approach than reading posts about marketing automation….
  • Measure – generally marketing automation platforms do a good job of tracking and reporting on the activities you’ve set up. However, you may need to configure your Google Analytics or other systems
  • Rinse and repeat – you’ve run your first automated flow. Take a breath and start planning the next one, or better still: take the ‘always-on’ marketing approach and build flows that constantly nurture prospects and engage clients

That’s it. Marketing automation. If you’re not doing it, remember that some of your peers are already well down the road – building knowledge and data that will inform their marketing strategies.