If you ask CFOs about their system of record, they’ll point to an accounting or ERP system. If you ask sales VPs where their data sits, they’ll point to the SFA or CRM system. Likewise, a VP of human resources and a VP of support, as well as most other business executives, will all have their own systems that provide the definitive view of their data and support the key processes for which they are responsible. But if you ask the CMO at most companies about their system of record, they’ll probably mumble something about the CRM system, but ultimately point you to a variety of spreadsheets and ad hoc tools.
Over the past decade, more advanced marketing departments have begun to employ business applications called Marketing Automation, or MA. Marketing specialists use these applications to manage and automate the process of converting prospective customers into actual buyers. At its core, a Marketing Automation application is the system of record for early-stage leads, their profiles (job title, company size, etc.) and market-related behavior (website visits, tweets, e-mail clicks, etc.).
However, in addition to acting as the system of record for lead information, MA applications commonly include a wide array of other features and functions. Among them: