These last few years, new terms and new professions appears, putting words on problematic and expertises already existing. Thus, email marketing slowly leaves place to marketing automation and Growth hacking now replaces Sales-oriented marketing.

But, what all these new terms hide? Do we know what they really mean ?

In this article we’ll see in detail what is marketing automation all about, with first a marketing automation definition. Then we’ll dive into what is a marketing automation specialist , and what does a marketing automation specialist.

And when we’ll have a clearer vision on the topic, we’ll discuss marketing automation job description but also how you can become one by looking into the marketing automation certification and training courses.

What is marketing automation?

Like almost all notions in marketing, marketing automation starting point is a behavior. To be more precise we are here looking at an addition of behaviors as it is all based on journeys. With customers, readers, or users journeys, among others, we try to establish a pattern and look for similarities in our target behaviors. The goal is to identify a typical pattern that will apply to a majority of the target. When doing that we’ll come across some “hot points”.

Indeed, when analyzing our target journeys we’ll notice some important touch points and decisions phases. As we have learn at school, marketing is all about offering the right product, to the right person with the right message at the right moment. This is the moment. Theses “hot points” and key moment in our target journeys are worth an action.

If in marketing we’re always looking to identify the right moment with these hot points we’re also looking to do the right action. These actions that we choose to do, as they apply to a large part of our target lead us to do the same tasks over and over.

For example if you’re selling products online and try to analyze your customer purchase journey, you will identify some “hot points” such as “Add to cart” action. Some of your target abandoned their cart and you have identify there, an opportunity to get them back. So you decide to send an email to every person that have an abandoned cart.

Marketing automation

Now, you’ve already guess that to do that with all of your website visitors with an abandoned cart, if you have to do it one by one it is going to be pretty time consuming.

Here it is, you’ve figure it out, now you know what marketing automation is for!

Automation marketing definition

Now that you have a little context, you’re ready for a formal automation marketing definition. As Salesforce says:

“Marketing automation is the process of utilizing technology to streamline marketing efforts and make them more effective. Marketing automation is a technology that manages marketing processes and multi functional campaigns, across multiple channels, automatically. With marketing automation, businesses can target customers with automated messages across email, web, social, and text.

In other words, automation marketing gathers all the hacks and techniques that will allow you to reduce repetitive tasks using technology. The main goal of it is to be more productive and efficient and concentrate marketing time and energy on tasks with a high value.

Knowing that, you might wonder what’s new about it. Truth is we are already used to send personalized emails to a large target, using email marketing platforms, so you’re not wrong! But here is difference, it is all about the notion of “trigger”. See, you can of course send a thousand emails in one click, but you still need that click right? So it is still up to you to analyze and follow your target journey, identify, for each email the right step / moment to send it,  set up reminders or alerts for each “hot point” …etc. Marketing automation offers you the ability to define and identify theses moments only once, and then it will repeat the scenario you’ve describe/ created all on its own.

Let's get back to our “abandoned cart” example.

Without marketing automation you’ll have to watch all the “events” of your website and/or export a daily list of all the persons whit abandoned cart. Then you’ll have to use your “abandoned cart” email template and update contact list to send them your email. What’s repetitive about it, is that if you want to be reactive you’ll have to do this every day. By creating an automation here you’ll save some precious time and reduce your stress. Using automation platforms like Make (ex Integromat) or Zapier, you’ll be able to automatically export the data of your website event and send an automatic email.

email automation

What is a marketing automation specialist?

Assessing how valuable marketing automation can be for companies, a lot of people have developed marketing automation skills and became marketing automation expert.

Here again you might be wondering what is a marketing automation specialist? And since it is about using technology and setting up things that do themselves, why do we need an expert for that?

For every technology there is always a person behind the machine. This is why we have CRMs experts. indeed it can comes in handy to have in your team a person that understand perfectly the marketing automation tools while understanding also what’s at stake!

Taking a step back you’ll realize that a marketing automation expert does not only act at the operational level but also at the strategic level. In fact the major part of marketing automation skills is not only knowing how to automate the processes but mainly knowing what to automate or not. It is about being able to identify which tasks deserve to be automate and which tasks require human intervention. Sometimes you’ll have tasks that can seem repetitive but doing them manually is precisely what brings value to your target and gets you closer to your consumers.

Also note that a marketing automation specialist in addition of knowing which tasks to automate, also has a long term vision in the sense that he is also able to know when to automate them. Looking quickly at a company marketing process we, ourselves will be able to identify some tasks that can be automated and add productivity in a blink of an eye, but is it the right moment? The expert’s marketing automation skills also need to be aligned with the company’s development phase. Automation is a budget and not always a priority, so it is a skill in itself to have the wisdom to balance the strategic goals of the company, its development phase, the search for team productivity and the value brought to the final customer.

What does a marketing automation specialist do?

On a day-to-day basis a marketing automation expert does a lot of data analysis. The main goal of these analysis is to identify the marketing strategies that are working and the ones that are not and needs a particular attention. As we have seen before the marketing automation specialist job include different levels : strategic, operational, team work.

On a strategic level, the marketing automation expert, analyzes the efficiency of the different marketing operations and also its processes, in order to determine the actions that needs to be taken. He makes sure the automations in place align with the the company’s goals and development phase.

On an operational level, this expert is in charge of managing the automation platforms. Zapier, Make, Webflow, … . This includes being in charge of their integration, and efficiency (best practices and standards).

Conduct A/B Testings, talk conversation rates and ROI, have a coffee with the project manager to understand its difficulties, go to a meeting with the IT team to discuss platform integration, write recommendation for the marketing team on how to improve their campaigns and mostly report and analyze data are the tasks that constitute the day of an automation expert and that you can easily find in most of the marketing automation job description

The marketing automation expert is a team player as he needs to understand the challenges of each team in the Marketing department in order to help them make their job easier. He thus works with design, events and developers teams as well as project managers and Marketing analysts.

Number and results oriented the marketing automation expert has an analytic mind and good project management skills in addition of being able to multitask and a good communicant.

As an example, did you know that one of the most famous and rewarded marketing automation expert is Hubspot CMO Mike Volpe? He’s also one of the most popular CMOs on Twitter and host different podcasts in which he really shows the importance of marketing automation and the place it will have in the following years in the business world. One of his famous quote also points at the importance of number-oriented people in marketing automation:

Marketing quote
Mike Volpe CMO Hubspot

Marketing automation training courses

To become a marketing automation specialist there are 2 royal paths available to you. A master’s degree in computer science and a master in marketing will pave the way for marketing automation expert positions. The first will is more technical oriented and the second is more about marketing strategy but an understanding of both fields is necessary to be performant on this job.

Nowadays there is not a lot initial formation in marketing automation. Most of them require already having marketing notions or background. It is pretty hard to find a university that offers a master degree specialized in marketing automation or even online courses that teaches it to your from 0. One thing though, some of the Digital marketing degrees include an important part of marketing automation.

This void of existing formation has also created a business since several marketing agencies have entered this niche, offering marketing automation services (audit, analysis, recommendation) or even trainings for companies’ teams.

This is also on of the advantages of these new jobs, it can be self taught. A lot of people doing it right know have learned it on the spot, by doing what they can, reading or watching marketing automation tutorials.

Speaking of, the Internet is a gold mine to develop this speciality by yourself! In addition of marketing automation tutorials you can also find online a lot of marketing automation training courses. Most of them lasts between 6 weeks to 6 months.

Marketing automation training courses

Looking at theses search results we can see that there is a lot of offers. Famous business schools and universities offers online courses, but also marketing agencies, consulting firms and automation platforms (Salesforce, Clickfunnels)

Some of them are even free such as Hubspot, or Marketo !

In addition to that you can also learn from famous marketing automation experts. We talked earlier about Mike Volpe and its podcasts, but you can also read Russel Brunson’s book. Marketing expert and co-founder of click funnel he share a lot of its best practice in Dot com secrets .

The same goes for Frank Kern, that offers a lot of trainings online. He even has a mini-training program free and available on Youtube!

Marketing automation certifications

To acquire marketing automation skills, tutorials and online courses are very efficient as there is one for every level and every learning pace. But if you not only want to acquire some skills you can use on your daily work but really want to make a career change or have a promotion in sight you may need to have actual marketing automation certifications.

Here again Automation softwares & platforms are leading the market.

The Hubspot Academy proposes online training for Inbound Marketing certification courses. This training is well known and acknowledged by numerous marketing experts and companies and will open you a lot of doors. Only 5 hours long and very lead oriented, this class appears in the top 3 of almost every “best certifications ranking” you’ll find on the internet.

The Marketo University is the learning platform of Marketo (also an automation platform) also has a course named Marketo expert certification, that is exactly what we’re looking for here, as it is all about marketing automation and will give you strong technical skills.

Salesforce Pardot certified specialist is a training that you can take online or offline, remotely. Also very marketing automation-oriented, this certification always ranked quite well. Its only default may be its price and the fact that is very product-oriented as it is only valuable on Pardot.

In these top certifications ranking, we can also find big corporations:

The IBM Marketing Cloud Badge Workshops is a 499$ training that have really goods results and reviews. One of its best selling point is the 3 levels of trainings available (beginner, intermediate and professional) allowing anyone to start the course and have the appropriate and relevant content. Another differentiation point is that it is quite selective as they only take 20 students per season.

In a Nutshell, being a marketing automation expert offers promising careers and is a job on the rise. It is also mainly a self-taught job as you can learn and acquire certain marketing automation skills online, by yourself, watching marketing automation tutorials, inspiring from famous experts, or learning by doing. It requires more and more expertise and technical skills, so to add credibility to your resume and validate these skills you can also get marketing automation certifications. Having an understanding of both technical and digital marketing environment is key to succeed at this job, as well as a taste for data analytics and team work.