It’s the first full week of January and, as we discussed last week, the resolutions are hanging in there. I still have to wait for a treadmill at the gym and yesterday Trader Joe’s was completely out of kale. Hold on strong resolutioniers!

The time has come to look to the future. It’s month one, quarter one, assignment one for the marketing department. Trade show season is upon us and content is flowing. Your marketing automation software should keep your overstuffed calendar humming.

In 2014, your marketing automation software will be more important than ever. Keeping the system filled, organized, and updated will simplify your workday, lead generation, and customer information.

Here’s our list of 14 marketing automation software benefits for 2014:

  1. Lead scoring: Leads and prospects are automatically scored based on their email and website activity. Those that are most actively engaged with your campaigns and events receive the highest scores.
  2. Lead nurturing: To keep those lead scores hotter and hotter, we must nurture leads with content and engagement opportunities. Use your marketing automation software to deliver event invitations, educational materials, and product information to leads.
  3. Online forms: In order to email a lead we must first have – you guessed it – their email address. Inside your MA software you can design these information capture forms and even embed them right onto your site, so visitors aren’t taken to a seemingly sketchy new page that wants their personal information.
  4. Cost reduction: This is what drew most of us to MA software in the first place. A decrease in labor head starts a decrease in marketing costs as design, email delivery, and lead management become more automated.
  5. Customizable content: Adding dynamic content to emails such as recipient name, company, or title, shows leads and customers that you care about their business and have established a personal connection. Of course, we don’t want to abuse this feature with too much customization, that just makes you sound desperate.
  6. Less stress on design: Your poor design department has to create web pages, emails, infographics, etc. And that’s just what they do for Marketing. Uploading and storing images and templates inside your MA system allows designers to tweak and edit past projects instead of starting from scratch each time.
  7. Social media integration: Gone are the days where social media presence is just another marketing option. Now it’s a necessity. One benefit you’ll see is MA software’s ability to tie your social profiles into emails and website pages, increasing traffic to these sites and allowing you to track customer and lead engagement.
  8. Added benefits from CRM: On its own, your CRM is worth its weight in gold – filled with key lead and customer information that can’t be lost for fear of impending doom. Find a MA software that integrates with your CRM system, pulling and pushing data back and forth between the systems for email campaigns, event invitations, and product updates.
  9. Event management: Event planning can be a nightmare. MA software alleviates some of the terror by aligning invites, locations, responses, and feedback into one area of the system – guests can even check in through the software, ensuring you know who showed up and who didn’t!
  10. Web analytics: As fellow marketers, I’m sure you get the same joy as I do monitoring your corporate website and seeing statistics pour in. Web analytics allows you to obsess over statistics like, top pages, keywords that bring people to your site, duration of visit, etc.
  11. Website visitor tracking (WVT): Along the same line as web analytics, WVT software monitors site visitors at the individual level. Once we’ve captured a visitor’s information, most notably their email address, we can associate their previous web activity and have sales contact them at the appropriate time.
  12. Shortened sales cycles: All these built-out and automated processes come together to close deals faster – making sure sales is devoting their time to qualified leads who are ready to purchase.
  13. Align sales and marketing departments: There are lots of rivalry jokes between sales and  marketing, but the underlying bitterness stems from miscommunication and varying definitions of leads and content. Working together to establish a lead scoring model takes the guess work out of defining hot leads.
  14. Your customers will love you for it: They may not knowingly attribute their love to your organized marketing automation software, but they’ll appreciate its benefits. Increased engagement opportunities, touch points with sales, educational material, and company updates keeps customers happy, trusting, and involved.

Marketing automation makes selling easier because it makes buying easier. Leads have the information they need about your company and don’t have to feel stressed, plagued with questions, or like nothing more than another monthly check. When marketers have enough time to connect with their market, buyers will have enough resources to become customers.