The age of integrated digital marketing and multichannel advertising has proven to be a double-edged sword for marketing agencies. Robust demographic and behavioral analytics gives agencies unprecedented access to relevant data in their clients’ target markets.This information, in conjunction with multiple, interconnected content channels (i.e. mobile, social, website, direct mail) means that savvy marketers have a world of possibilities open to them in terms of lead generation and lead nurturing.

However, despite all the positives of Marketing 2.0 – contemporary agencies face new challenges for delivering marketing ROI to their client base.

First of all, the average sales cycle has become longer. The reason for this is that increased access to information goes both ways. Long gone are the days when a solid pitch or cold call can effectively convert leads. Nobody wants to be pitched to these days, and everyone with Internet access can and will do their own research on a product or service. As you can see, the game is changing fast!

Another source of friction is the changing relationship between marketing and sales. The Consumer Executive Board states that today the average B2B buyer conducts over 60 percent of their research cycle without the help of a sales rep. What this means is that content is the new kid on the block; relevant and timely content can supplement growing gaps in the sales cycle. Content poses its own set of problems in the marketing landscape though – mainly due to the sheer volume of content churned out on a minute-to-minute basis.

With so many people engaging with so much content, it has become an obstacle for marketing agencies to identify sales qualified leads for their clients. So, what is the solution for contemporary marketing agencies? Marketing automation helps agencies navigate the wide ocean of digital content through the use of behavioral-based tracking.

A solid marketing automation platform (MAP) allows marketers to identify relevant leads based on consumer behavior (for example, how long did this lead spend on a particular web page). Once a lead has been identified, it can then be moved to an appropriate nurturing track, in which automated strategies such as drip campaigns ensure constant communication and time-appropriate content.

By automating outreach and relevant content channels, the modern marketer can effectively convert and move more leads into the sales pipeline. When it comes to effective marketing the issue of timeliness really can’t be overstated. Through continuous tracking and real-time notifications, marketing automation makes timely follow-ups for lead nurturing a reality. Finally, a good MAP can help address fundamental frictions with content distribution.

Advertising, social,and corporate content is quickly converging. Converged media happens when two or more channels of paid, earned, and owned media with the same storyline, look, and feel overlap. So while multiple channels increases marketing ROI, if the content channels are not appropriately synchronized, there is the risk of inconsistent branding and redundancy without genuine communication (Altimeter Group)

A MAP can address this issue by providing a centralized platform to run and track content distributed across multiple channels. It is often the case that new and improved technologies give birth to further technological innovation. Marketing automation is a natural evolution coming out of advancements in digital marketing and web analytics. Today’s marketing agencies can use marketing automation to effectively bridge the content gap, cultivate sales-ready leads,cut time spent on menial tasks, and improve overall marketing ROI for their clients.