The Difference Between Marketing Automation Systems And SEO

Blog Categories:  SEO  

What you will learn: Why marketing automation systems such as HubSpot and Marketo are not SEO, and not substitutes for SEO.

Who should read this article: Business and marketing leadership.

The Basic Difference

If you install Microsoft Word on your computer, this is a great platform for writing documents, but this platform doesn’t create fabulous content within those documents.

Marketing automation systems — HubSpot, Marketo and many others — and SEO have a similar relationship. These systems provide a software platform for a company’s marketing, but don’t provide the meat and potatoes of SEO. Without loading the system with SEO inputs and then layering SEO activities, the platforms alone won’t produce any SEO results.

Breaking It Down

A. Marketing Automation

More specifically, marketing automation tools offer companies a convenient set of software tools to bring efficiency and cohesion to their marketing efforts. Features of these systems include some or all of the following:

  • Ranking tools
  • Analytics tools
  • Split testing tools
  • Email management tools
  • Social media management tools
  • CMS software for websites and blogs

A valuable benefit of these tools is their ability to identify and track website visitors, so companies can then market to them based on their unique behavior on return visits to the website. For example, when a visitor returns to the website and visits the “Product A” page, the system launches an email with content specific to Product A.

There are pros and cons of working through a soup-to-nuts marketing automation system. Generally, systems like Marketo are used by large organizations and HubSpot focuses on smaller organizations. These systems can be used in their entirety or piecemeal, depending on the scope of a company’s need.


Using a marketing automation system does NOT give a company an SEO campaign — it only provides a launch pad for SEO. Whether or not a company uses a marketing automation tool, a professional SEO agency is still needed for a vast array of activities, including:

  • Properly configuring the website for SEO, including metadata and navigational structure setup.
  • Doing competitor research.
  • Doing a backlink audit.
  • Creating a long-term SEO strategy.
  • Reviewing results regularly to update the strategy.
  • Doing keyword research based on a number of criteria.
  • Creating strong SEO and user-centric content for the website.
  • Marketing off-site content to build the link profile and drive relevant traffic.
  • Earning links to build the link profile and drive relevant traffic.
  • Reviewing data and continuously improving SEO campaign performance.

How to Use SEO and Marketing Automation Systems

The decisions to use a marketing automation system and hire a company to manage your SEO are two entirely different things. Getting one does not get you the other.

A sales automation platform is a great option if you have limited internal resources for marketing, or if you see value in the convenience and simplicity of a single, integrated marketing software system.

SEO is a great option if you see value in obtaining sales leads or e-commerce revenue from organic search engine users. For many companies, organic search is too big a pool of prospects to ignore, which is why SEO is such a common (and successful) marketing activity.

Not sure what you need? Give us a call — we’d love to learn more about your situation and objectives.

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