Marketing Automation: Benefits for Trade Associations

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 2067 |

Page: 1|

11 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2019

Words: 2067|Page: 1|11 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2019

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. How marketing automation works
  3. Marketing automation features
  4. Future development in marketing automation
  5. Marketing automation legal concerns
  6. References


Technology continues to change the way businesses is conducted around the world. By leveraging various technological systems, companies can increase efficiencies through streamlined operations, improve compliance with automated quality control systems, or leverage communications systems to find new ways to collaborate and launch new innovations. New best practices are born, and archaic systems are replaced with ones nimbler and more proactive. The marketing industry is no different.

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Over the past several years, with the massive shift to digital communication as well as access to artificial intelligence and big data, technology has the changed the way businesses address marketing as well as how consumers respond. Marketing strategies have shifted from massive paper mailings with blanket messaging to much more electronic methods such as personalized emails, custom website landing pages, mobile advertising, and targeted social media messages (O’Brien, n.d.). In today’s global economy where businesses around the world are all vying for the every-day consumer’s busy eye, having a solid marketing strategy that speaks to them in their language, is critical to success. Insert marketing automation software.

Marketing automation software programs are data-driven solutions designed to increase the operational efficiency of campaigns by streamlining, automating, and monitoring your marketing efforts. It is the missing link between a content management system (CMS), which personalizes browsing data, and an association’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, which creates personalization based on its stored member data. By leveraging marketing automation software, businesses can organize data they already have on a specific customer or prospect and use that data to automatically send a targeted message that will resonate with that individual, at the most opportune time, resulting in a much more profitable program. (Nutley & Gregoriadis, 2019). According to Forrester Marketing Automation Technology Forecast, spending for marketing automation software and tools may reach up to $25.1 billion annually by 2023, and 67% of market leaders are already using the technology accomplish their marketing goals.

Businesses of all sizes can leverage marketing automation to obtain more leads, improve customer engagement, and improve sales revenue by bringing together all digital marketing-related workflows and channels, including email, website content, social media, text messaging, and online advertising, into one centrally-managed place (Alexander, n.d.). This concept of personalized messaging marketing automation is particularly pertinent for trade associations. Often incorporated as a not-for-profit organization, a trade association typically relies on member-paid dues to fund its every-day business operations which include advocating on behalf of its members’ best interests as well as promoting and helping to develop opportunities for growth within that business segment. Therefore, a majority of trade association marketing efforts center around member recruitment, member retention, and event registration. As such, ensuring actionable messages reach the appropriate individual is critical in ensuring the viability of the organization. If members don’t believe they are receiving value for their membership dues, they will most likely discontinue their membership. Similarly, if a member receives communications that they feel are useful, relevant, and will help grow their business, they will continue to be an engaged member – opening emails, registering for training, and purchasing resources. According to Higher Logic’s 2018 State of Marketing Automation Association Benchmark Report, these outcomes were a driving force for associations when considering whether to adopt and implement marketing automation platforms (Wathen, 2018).

How marketing automation works

Marketing automation software can be a single program or suite of tools that work in tandem with other technology systems (through an Application Programming Interface or API) to allow businesses to create an automated marketing outreach campaign based on a consumer’s behavior such as clicking on a link in an email or visiting a webpage. By using the software in conjunction with data stored on the user, businesses can craft and send the “right” message at the “right” time to their target, boosting engagement, increasing leads, and ultimately, sales.

Think Amazon. After searching for a product on Amazon, a consumer may begin seeing advertisements related to that product on other websites they visit or on their own social media homepage. They may receive an email reminding them they haven’t completed their purchase or a notification that the original price of the product has gone down, prompting them to purchase the item right away. Product recommendations may be made based on the purchase patterns of consumers of a similar demographic to increase sales opportunities.

There are many different types of marketing automation solutions of varied prices within the marketplace, from basic tools to elaborate systems built upon and integrated with other technology systems. For example, some programs simply categorize information such as contact lists while other more robust systems allow organizations to automate all marketing-related tasks, conduct A/B campaign tests to compare which messages resulted in a better conversion rate, and create custom branding and landing pages.

Trade associations also have a choice, depending on the vendor, on how the software is installed. The most affordable plans are cloud-hosted and typically offer free basic plans, which is a great place for a marketer to try out the services. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) marketing automation systems are hosted on the vendor’s server; therefore, the association is not responsible for installing any updates or maintenance. Systems hosted on the association’s local service, known as an on-premise marketing automation system, is the most expensive due to the complex setup process, hardware installation, and updates required.

Marketing automation features

Marketing automation software features vary by platform and software provider. To ensure an association has the right tools to facilitate its marketing objectives, it is best to research and seek proposals from multiple service providers. Listed below are some of the most common features of marketing automation software (Grover, 2019).

  • Email Marketing – Compile lists from multiple sources to send targeted messaging.
  • Online Marketing – Produce, analyze, and optimize personalized marketing campaigns via multiple channels.
  • Lead Scoring – Identify marketing sweet spots and create messaging to automatically generate and cultivate leads.
  • Social Marketing – Generate ROI with specialized social media outreach.
  • A/B Testing – Segment, compare, and analyze alternative marketing strategies.
  • Analytics and Reports – Set key metrics and performance indicators to prioritize tasks, resources, and create marketing campaigns.
  • API Technology – Easily integrate with your existing infrastructure by leveraging API technology.

Future development in marketing automation

Technological advances are constantly emerging, expanding the marketing outreach of firms every day. Citing The State of Salesforce report, Strorozhkova (2018) indicates Artificial Intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics will thrust marketing automation programs into the future. Insights from the report as explained by Strorozhkova (2018) indicate 33% of marketing organizations are increasing their investment in AI within the next 12 months, and 43% of B2B companies are investing in predictive analytics. The use of AI will enable associations to reach even further into personalization than ever before by not only indicating which messages to send, at the most opportune time and communication channel. Utilizing machine learning, predictive analytics will allow associations to improve their lead scoring efforts, segment them based on the best performing marketing challenges, and adjust marketing strategies even further by tracking how members react to each action they have with your communications be it email, website, chat, or social media (Strorozhkova, 2018). By adding AI and predictive analytics into marketing automation, associations will be able to expand beyond sending targeted messages to large data sets and truly focus on creating content drilled down to a level that hasn’t ever been possible such as the IP address of a website visitor. Marketing automation is certainly here to stay but will adapt, becoming increasingly more intelligent, targeted, and personalized.

By integrating other systems into marketing automation platforms through bridges and APIs, associations will also be able to improve their targeted outreach even beyond the contacts in their system to individuals or companies with whom they don’t have an established relationship before they even visit their site. For example, by employing account-based marketing (ABM) platforms, associations will be able to direct individuals or companies to a customized content and a landing page that is most likely to engage them (Dickey, 2018). In addition, integrating additional social media automation platforms that use AI, associations can create filters that will automatically search for leads and instruct the software to follow, like, comment and unfollow accounts to help grow their social network organically. This could prove particularly fruitful when considering that a social buying study from International Data Corporation (2014), indicated 84% of executive-level business professionals use social media to support their purchasing decisions. Marketing automation software enhanced with AI can therefore help associations improve their outreach by disseminating their most valuable content to the most appropriate audience.

Marketing automation legal concerns

It goes without saying that data is the lifeblood of any organization and its marketing automation platform because without data, how does an association marketer know who to contact, with what message, and when? By leveraging various technologies company now can track and store our habits, interests, demographics, locations, relationships, and more to customize their outreach efforts. However, as data privacy and data security concerns continue to be a hot button for consumers, regulators, and businesses alike, it is imperative for associations to keep their fingers on the pulse of the latest privacy developments and enact internal controls to meet their regulatory obligations concerning the tracking, storage, and use of their data. Numerous laws and regulations exist such as anti-spam and data acquisition laws that dictate the minimum requirements for sending marketing materials to contacts and the storage of personal information.

As a sender of marketing materials, it is imperative that associations ensure their marketing automation software and service providers adhere to their respective regulatory requirements to avoid costly fines or embarrassing public relations issues. The sticky part is knowing which regulations apply to whom in your system; therefore, some associations take on a more conservative approach of addressing the strictest of data acquisition and retention restrictions. Depending on your association’s outreach, main regulations you may need to address include the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the United States’ Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2013 (CAN-SPAM), and Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) also known as the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act. Each regulation has its own set of rules and minimum standards for sending marketing materials to contacts, including specific consent requirements, opt-in, and unsubscribe requirements, parameters regarding the subject line, sending address, and email campaign content, and such data storage guidelines as the ability for contacts to correct inaccurate personal data, to request their data be erased, and to restrict how their data is processed (Grim, 2018).

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The major struggle for associations right now is complying with GDPR stipulations. Though a year has passed since the implementation of GDPR, most organizations in 2019 are less confident about their compliance abilities than they were in 2018. According to Lauchlan (2019), a mere 28 percent of businesses indicate they are GDPR compliant which fell dramatically from 78 percent confidence the year prior. Given the increased attention to data security and the exorbitant fines that can be imposed under GDPR - up to 4 percent of annual global turnover or 20 million euros (whichever is greater) – associations must have a firm grip on how they obtain, retain, and utilize contact data. Thankfully, by offering email solicitation and data storage functionality, most marketing automation software companies have tools that associations can implement to help meet their compliance obligations.


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  11. Storozhkova, E. (2018, October 1). The future of marketing automation: Top marketing automation trends to follow. Retrieved from
  12. Wathen, G. (2018, June 21). [ROUNDUP] 2018 state of marketing automation association benchmark report [Blog post]. Retrieved from
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The Future of Marketing Automation. (2022, December 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 16, 2024, from
“The Future of Marketing Automation.” GradesFixer, 27 Dec. 2022,
The Future of Marketing Automation. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 Jul. 2024].
The Future of Marketing Automation [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2024 Jul 16]. Available from:
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