The digital marketing hub is the gravitational center to a constellation of digital marketing tools and applications.

Jake Sorofman, Research VP at Gartner

What is marketing automation all about?

Marketing automation is software that allows

  • to reduce the time spent on manual work and research
  • to automate repeated tasks, workflows and processes
  • to get the maximum out of digital marketing tactics

with the goal to

  • achieve marketing objectives more effectively
  • make use of marketing resources more efficiently

For the marketing team there will be a shift from performing technical assignments to tasks where focus on interpretation, creativity and management is needed. Thanks to marketing automation, there will be more rooms for team members to optimize the lead generation process, interpret analytics, highlight key messages, offer the right content to the right target audience, etc.

How marketing automation can help

Marketing automation can help in many digital marketing tactics.

  • Reaching your target audience
    By making use of marketing automation applications when performing SEO, sending emails or making use of social media, you will be able to reach your target audience better.
  • Stimulating website / mobile app interactions and conversions
    Marketing automation can enable personalization on your website or mobile app so the user receives relevant content taking his context into account.
  • Marketing qualification and reporting
    Marketing automation helps in qualifying leads better and to identify which campaigns and actions were the most successful.

Applications overload

There is a wide range of tools and applications available on the market which can support digital marketing activities. Scott Brinker, a marketing technologist, has made an effort to map all marketing related applications. The result is a real labyrinth which makes it for marketers an even more difficult job to purchase the right software.



It is notable that there are tools available that support a specific digital marketing tactic or a specific type of process. Think of MOZ which is an application specialized in SEO, or MailChimp for email marketing.

There are also all-in-one packages available such as HubSpot, Marketo, Salesforce Pardot These are called Marketing Clouds or Marketing Hubs. However, we have to be careful. Marketing Clouds cover a wide range of marketing automation features, but they do not cover everything.

Selecting the right tools

Jake Sorofman, Research VP at Gartner, says that a digital marketing hub is a design pattern rather than something you buy off the shelf. He sees the digital marketing hub as an interstellar junction, the connection point between content, data, rules and insights that inform the next best offer or experience delivered across virtually any channel. Jake has set up a Digital Marketing Transit Map to get an overview of all the different types of tasks and support categories in digital marketing. This map can help you to determine what you really need from marketing automation.



To select the right tools, it is important that you list your specific marketing automation requirements first. Just think where applications and tooling can make the difference in line with your (digital) marketing strategy.

Having a clear overview of your requirements and the processes in your organization allows you to make a choice better and challenge suppliers on their software’s features. After all, you have to make sure that the applications in which you are going to invest have to help you to achieve your marketing goals better. Have a look at some examples of key features of marketing automation tools in a B2B context.