Dec 14, 2022

How to Implement Marketing Automation: Five Tiers and Where You Fit

Nicholas Loudermilk
Ward Rushton

Nicholas Loudermilk and Ward Rushton

 How to Implement Marketing Automation: Five Tiers and Where You Fit

Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, giving marketers the opportunity to operate more efficiently than ever before. Consider how cloud-based marketing software has impacted your team’s workweek throughout the last decade. Teams are more productive, running analytics is no longer a massive headache, and campaign personalization happens in a snap. The hours your team spends on well-defined, repeatable marketing activities can be significantly reduced, all thanks to marketing automation technology.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Sometimes referred to as marketing orchestration, marketing automation helps create seamless and highly personalized cross-channel experiences by delivering relevant and timely content to your customers, while also reducing the number of hours required by marketers to generate, approve, and publish these campaigns.

Salesforce explains Marketing Automation as the ability to “implement a digital marketing strategy without having to manually press “send” on each email, message, campaign, or post you create.” With marketing automation, time is distributed away from repetitive core tasks and toward creative, envisioning, or planning tasks. This additional capacity provides a competitive advantage for early adopters to tackle additional initiatives with the same workforce.

Imagine you are an online retailer and want to re-target your customers who abandon their cart at checkout. With marketing automation tools, you can create messages that trigger based on a set of instructions. Once your eCommerce platform tells your marketing automation software about an abandoned cart, dynamic rules kick in to determine what products should be displayed, what channels to deliver the message, and even the best time of day to send the message to each customer. Even simple journeys like welcoming new loyalty members or sending birthday offers can be made easier with marketing automation.

Today, marketing automation has penetrated the market enough to fall into the "early majority" phase of tech adoption. As adoption continues to increase, cultivating a marketing automation mindset will become increasingly necessary for modern marketing departments to stay abreast of their peers.

Marketing Automation Curve

Where Does Your Organization Fall?

To understand how your organization currently operates compared to competitors, the Credera team created five marketing automation tiers based on our experience in the marketplace. Using these personas, you can compare your own marketing department against industry standards and determine where marketing automation can best improve your workflows.


Tier 1 MarTech


Sending the same message to large groups is ineffective and leads to poor user experience and low retention rates. Triggered emails can yield anywhere between three to six times higher conversion rates. If your organization currently relies on batch-and-blast marketing, now is the perfect time to improve your digital marketing foundations by identifying the right marketing automation solutions. These solutions make your team more productive and enable you to create more personalized experiences with your audience.


Once your organization has carefully planned its goals and use cases for marketing automation, a great next step is to determine exactly which of your customers you want to engage and what data is necessary to engage them. By planning your data sources intentionally and building strong foundations within your MarTech stack, your organization will be better suited to advance to higher tiers quicker. You don’t have to be alone in this. Credera’s MarTech Reference Architecture is a great tool to navigate the MarTech puzzle end-to-end.


MarTech Tier 2


If your organization is only ankle-deep in marketing technologies, such as adding personalization based on static profile fields or using triggered campaigns it might be time to explore more strategic use cases that involve a form of marketing automation. Why? Personalizing and automating your emails can produce over 70% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates.


There are several types of triggered campaigns your organization can consider implementing at first, like welcome emails and re-engagement journeys. Even without a high level of personalization, these campaigns are a great entry point into marketing automation.

It’s never too late to catch up! In fact, almost 50% of organizations started using a marketing automation platform for the first time within the last four years.


MarTech Tier 3


“Frankenstein” marketers experience fatigue from a “junkyard” of unconnected or overlapping marketing tool capabilities. It’s important to note that organizations in this tier might be implementing marketing automation, but the “junkyard” makes it difficult, convoluted or produces unexpected results. For example, if a user updates their profile but a timely update isn’t made to the right tools, that user could be left with an email that is less relevant to them than a batch-and-blast. Rut-roh!

A stack of siloed technologies results in inefficient business processes. Data not being integrated across a MarTech stack is perceived as one of the biggest barriers to marketing automation success. If you feel like your MarTech stack is a ”Frankenstein”, it’s time to bridge the silos and integrate your systems and data.


One of the best activities an organization can do is evaluate their MarTech stack and ensure technologies are integrated and data is able to flow freely before looking to make any additional vendor decisions. Always keep your employees’ capacity for change in mind to avoid change fatigue as you progress out of this stage! Credera can help you complete a MarTech checkup to benchmark your organization against best practices and standards.


MarTech Tier 4


The “automation apprentice” represents a marketing department starting to take their automation to the next level by testing campaign and message variations within well-defined and understood segments. For example, if triggers are based off both online and offline behaviors, if messages are sent to the same guest across multiple channels, and if suppression rules are in place to ensure customers stop receiving messaging once an action is taken.

At this tier, we consider your organization ahead of the curve and an early adopter in marketing automation. However, Credera knows your organization has big dreams and goals. These industry-leading, out-of-the-box ideas about engaging customers in new, innovative ways are the perfect examples of where marketing teams go next.


It’s time to explore additional use cases for automation, such as manually running A/B testing for relevant variables, building a defined and streamlined measurement suite, and automating report delivery for continuous improvement. If your marketing automation tools and processes are not designed intentionally, no amount of innovative technology, such as AI or ML, will be able to meaningfully move the financial needle at your company.


MarTech Tier 5


The average marketing automation ROI is $5.44 per dollar spent. Tier five marketers know how to achieve this level of ROI through efficient marketing automation while focusing on more advanced use cases, such as predictive campaigns and successful omnichannel messaging. Marketers in this tier will often combine marketing automation with predictive suites, customer data platforms, and loyalty programs to create a more complete view of the customer and more efficiently and effectively market to them.

In a virtuous cycle, a better understanding of customer needs and a well-defined tech stack will ensure compliance with changing user data legislation can be updated rapidly with minimal manual processes.

Creating Efficiencies With Marketing Automation

To get the perspective from someone with boots on the ground, we spoke with Gabriella Biasiotta, a manager at Credera, who shared how marketing automation significantly improved her day-to-day experience when working as an account manager at a marketing agency. Gabriella discussed how marketing automation tools significantly sped up her operations in measurement, management, and approval workflows.

When measuring the success of a campaign, Gabriella noted that the process was highly manual, with teams spending over 20-30% of their normal week reviewing engagement metrics and creating related reports. There was little standardization and no automation.

“Everyone manually created their own tool to do what they needed it to do,” Gabriella said. This led to miscommunication and very little collaboration between parties within the marketing team. By implementing marketing automation tools that aggregated campaign success data and optimized campaigns automatically in response to this data, her team was able to be more productive and focus on what mattered.

Approval workflows were a similar story. Gabriella said that “miscommunication and low standardization led to a constant headache for the marketing team.” The brief process was “tedious” and required multiple cycles that often led to delays. This process was complicated by requiring multiple asset variations, multiple reviewers, and additional time spent delivering the final assets to the correct channels. It’s easy to see how these manual processes not only delayed entire campaigns but lead to rework and overall inefficiency. By integrating marketing automation tools to the approval workflows, the process was streamlined, and assets were able to move from idea to delivery in record speed.

How Do I Get Started?

With hundreds of marketing automation platforms available and the increasing macroeconomic needs to improve productivity and create leaner marketing departments, there’s never been a better time to invest in marketing automation.

Credera can help by understanding your company’s needs, identifying the best solution for your business, and implementing or optimizing the right marketing automation tools and processes to surpass your marketing objectives.

Learn more or reach out to to start a conversation today.

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