As a marketer with more than 15 years of experience, the idea of marketing automation was a bit foreign to me, and even seemed slightly out of reach. In fact, it wasn’t even a blip on my radar until last year, as I started to become more entrenched in learning the Salesforce CRM platform. I was aware of Marketing Technology and knew there were different ways of marketing … different from what I had practiced as a brand/product/marketing manager up until 2018. And yes, over the years there were elements of email and social media experiences woven into my more “traditional” marketing training. But after seeing how tech-infused marketing had become and how companies and customers relate as a result of this change, I became eager to learn more.
What is marketing automation?
Essentially, it is technology that automatically manages several marketing processes and campaigns creating efficiencies for a business, as well as greater levels of personalization and engagement for its customers. For example, I remember the early days of email marketing, where messages were sent out simply as batches and everyone received the same message. Now, with automation platforms, not only can a business connect with customers via automated email messages, but those messages can be more tailored to a customer’s interests, as well as actions.
Why would I want to learn or implement a marketing automation platform?
From a business standpoint, marketing automation is often seen as a way to save time and money, while increasing sales and enhancing the customer experience/connection with a company. Professionally — as a marketer who believes in lifelong learning and enjoys technology — it is a way to adjust to industry changes and remain relevant in the marketing landscape. Nothing stays the same in any industry, so why not skill up on what’s new?
My first experience with working in a marketing automation platform took place at the Salesforce Connections 2019 Conference, an annual event that focuses on digital marketing, commerce, and service areas. I took a HOT (hands-on-training) Marketing Cloud class that focused on Email Studio and I must admit I was completely hooked after creating my first email in the platform using Content Builder. It was like the clouds parted ways and a chorus started to sing “ahhhhhh” against the background of a clear blue sky! At that point I had little idea of how robust Marketing Cloud, which is typically used for B2C marketing, truly is. Fast-forward a year later and I am now Email Specialist certified — a first-level Salesforce Marketing Cloud certification.
A Marketing Automation Crossroads
As I continued down the path of wanting to learn all that I could about Marketing Cloud, another Salesforce marketing automation platform caught my eye, named Pardot (pronounced “ParDOT” — just in case you weren’t sure). Often considered more suited for B2B use, lead management and nurturing, I learned from colleagues that there was a strong need for marketers with Pardot skills, so I was curious to give it a try and learn more marketing automation via this platform.
Luckily, as a current Hiring Our Heroes Salesforce Fellow I’ve had the chance to obtain some hands-on training in Pardot with my host company, MK Partners. Creating landing pages, understanding form design, preparing email campaigns and tracking the analytics behind sent emails are among the experiences I’ve had in the platform, providing a taste of what Pardot has to offer. As a result, I opted to take on more formal class training to complement the practical received during the fellowship.
The automation journey continues
I’ve truly enjoyed learning both Marketing Cloud and Pardot platforms, and have been very lucky and thankful to have had the opportunity to try my hand at both. I can’t say I prefer one vs. the other, as I see value in each platform depending on the use case. When it comes to learning something new, why just pick one? Whether it is through the generosity of Salesforce ecosystem community-led webinars, or access to official Salesforce training through organizations like Merivis, I plan to continue learning both platforms, as well as preparing for the Marketing Cloud Administrator and Pardot Specialist exams. Looking forward to adding these certifications to my list of Salesforce-related accomplishments!