Search for marketing automation and you will find a slew of articles that explain what it is in very dry, boring terms with tons of research to back up the explanations. If bloggers throw one more Gartner or Forrester Research statistic at me, I’m going to fall asleep. Let me put things in terms that we can all appreciate and understand: Star Wars. Clearly this is the most logical parallel that can be drawn.

The email blast

What is marketing automation? Let’s get the dry explanation out of the way and then we’ll see how Star Wars can help us better understand it.

Marketing automation is a software platform that incorporates multiple technologies (typically a website, CRM and a tool like Marketo, Pardot or Act-On) designed to automate repetitive tasks performed by marketing departments AND sales departments, bridging the gap we often see between the two.

A marketing automation solution can engage a prospect, measure the response, segment prospects based on their behavior and repeat the process until the anonymous becomes a marketing-qualified lead and then a sales-qualified lead. Instead of a sales person working with an entire database of unqualified leads, he/she can focus on the prospects who have qualified themselves based on their own interactions within the automated system. Delivering the right message to the right prospect at the right time enables you to engage the most qualified prospects.

Curious how this process works? You’re ready for our Star Wars translation.














Step 1: An email blast goes out to your list and encourages recipients to visit your website and download a white paper.

Step 1 Star Wars translation: Princess Leia (the marketing department) begins a “campaign” to gain additional support for the Rebel Alliance in its struggle against the Empire. Her “CRM list” ultimately consists of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, Han Solo and Chewbacca. Her “email blast” is carried out by R2-D2 (when she uploaded the stolen plans for the Death Star). The content of the email or “call-to-action” is: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

Step 2: Some recipients respond. They visit the site, complete a form and download the whitepaper. Other recipients don’t respond … yet.

Step 2 Star Wars translation: Obi-Wan was all in – he responded immediately and positively to her request (hot lead) by wanting to help. Luke Skywalker was initially hesitant, but was soon convinced he needed to accompany Obi-Wan to Alderaan (warm lead). Han Solo and Chewbacca were not interested at all, but reluctantly agreed to take them to Alderaan (cold leads).

Step 3: The system tracks activity on the site, then scores and segments the leads into appropriate content flows. Now, your leads are automatically nurtured based on their scores. Leads only receive content that is relevant to where they are in the buying cycle.

Step 3 Star Wars translation: Obi-Wan identifies Luke as a warm lead and focuses his efforts on Skywalker by introducing him to the ways of the Force (lead-nurturing). This moves Luke further down path of the buying cycle (becoming warmer). Han Solo (remaining a cold lead) is still not convinced – “Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money.” – Han Solo to Princess Leia.

Step 4: The marketing automation system can now begin again with new content. Moving forward, your marketing automation tool will continue to score leads and segment them into your pre-determined content flows. Leads continue to qualify themselves by interacting with your content until they reach a score high enough to be considered a “sales-qualified” lead.

Step 4 Star Wars translation: Over the course of Episode IV (a vigorous lead-nurturing campaign), Han Solo was soon converted and decides to join forces with the Rebel Alliance (a cold lead that was nurtured all the way to a hot lead). Luke (warmer lead) becomes fully invested and ultimately decides he must train to become a Jedi (hot lead).

From a random website visitor to a known lead in the CRM, marketing automation allows you to manage your marketing efforts and customer engagement in ways many companies never could before.

We may not have a marketing spaceship with which to destroy the evil galactic empire, but we are strong with the ways of the Force, and can help you use a marketing automation tool to convert prospects into sales-qualified leads … even without the use of Jedi mind tricks.