WHAT EXACTLY IS MARKETING AUTOMATION?
Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed to enable marketing departments to operate more effectively across multiple channels, scale up marketing activity and automate more repetitive tasks.
Through marketing automation, marketing departments can specify criteria and create automated processes to make marketing activity more efficient and streamlined, as well as reduce human error in the process. With marketing automation handling the more routine and repetitive tasks, marketing departments can reallocate resources and focus on more critical elements of the marketing campaign.
In this article, we will discuss the seven benefits of marketing automation and how it can help to transform your business’ marketing activities.
1. IMPROVE MARKETING EFFICIENCY
Marketing automation, at its core, is all about refining, optimizing and streamlining your marketing operations, including lead generation, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and customer retention – and extends far beyond simply ‘automating more repetitive tasks’
As your business begins to scale and your database of contacts grows, manually interacting with each individual lead and handling every aspect of the marketing campaign is no longer a feasible or sustainable practice. At this point, incorporating technology which can automate parts of the marketing process, as well as nurture leads, engage with prospects, and provide existing customers with regular, high-quality content, is essential.
And marketing automation provides you with just that.
For any size business, marketing automation reduces the ‘heavy lifting’ in marketing activities, helping you not only with basic tasks, but more advanced ones such as lead management, nurturing, engagement and customer retention activity. In addition, it helps your marketing and sales teams to work as a single cohesive unit by aligning activities across a centralized platform – giving everyone visibility of the campaign.
But marketing automation is by no means a quick fix. To deliver excellent results through automation you need to develop an meticulous strategy which integrates the right elements of your campaign.
And, when properly integrated and deployed, marketing departments can save significant amounts of time and resource (especially for small businesses with limited resource) as their highly-targeted and personalized campaigns run on autopilot.
Marketing automation is much more than automatic task execution. When implemented and utilized with a clear marketing and sales strategy in mind, it can help businesses to generate high-quality leads more frequently, optimize resource, reduce costs and increase ROI.
2. INCREASE LEAD ENGAGEMENT
Typically, simple things such as keeping in touch with leads go overlooked, but with marketing automation you can reach every one of your unique customers, and provide them with valuable content, information or offers,
With certain automation platforms, you can quickly build lists based on interactions with your business, or a contact’s life cycle stage, allowing you to reach out to contacts when they express an interest in your business. Through automation, you can ensure that every interaction with your contacts is personalized and relevant to their interests – and helps you to push them down your sales funnel.
For example, a contact may have downloaded an eBook on your website, and through automation, you can regularly send that contact similar relevant information. This allows you to nurture them, keep them engaged with your business, and build your relationship through personalized actions.
And, as you continue to deliver timely and relevant content, offers and information to your contacts, their admiration for your business and the value you provide grows, which may lead to them referring you to their friends, colleagues or acquaintances, increasing your overall lead generation activity.
Through marketing automation every engagement is based on a contact’s life cycle stage and context; meaning more meaningful interactions. This way, marketers can provide a personalized experience to contacts on a large scale, resulting in greater customer satisfaction.
3. SCALE UP YOUR MARKETING
If you are active on social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter, manually posting to those groups on a regular basis is hardly practical – especially if you have a large and engaged social media following.
In these instances, human error may creep in: you may not remember to post, or be inundated with other work priorities, and as a result, your social media following gradually dwindles due to your inactivity.
An inactive and poorly managed social media account is a reflection of a business that cannot consistently manage its customer communication and engagement – or perhaps does not view this element of its marketing strategy as important. But it’s absolutely vital that a business has a presence on social media, after all, more and more of your prospects are using it.
However, with marketing automation tools, you can maintain consistency and regularly post and interact with your social media following, ensuring your business is front-of-mind and engaging with a wider audience.
Most marketing automation platforms will offer a social media management tool, which includes social media monitoring, publishing, scheduling, reporting, analytics and other settings to help you manage and assess your social media activity. With these tools, engaging with a large audience and providing personalized and targeted social content can be easily achieved.
But remember, regardless of how much you post, if your posts are not providing value or information to your social media following, you will not reap the benefits of automating your social media activity.
With marketing automation empowering social media activity, marketers can be more consistent, engage more frequently with their audience, and refine their social media campaigns based on analytics. However, even with the ability to post at volume, social media posts should always provide value!
4. BUILD ACCURATE ROI REPORTS
If you don’t have a set of tools to monitor, track and report on lead engagement, lead generation and activity, you might as well not be marketing at all.
How do you determine what is working from what is not if you don’t have the information available to tell you?
You may be using a variety of tools to measure the efficacy of your marketing activities across the board, but with multiple solutions all measuring different aspects of your campaign, it will be incredibly difficult to condense all of that information into a single report which clearly shows the ROI of your activities.
With a marketing automation platform however, you have all of that information centralized in one place
Most sophisticated marketing automation platforms, come with various options to measure your marketing activities, from conception to completion. Marketers can analyse their efforts across channels, determine attribution paths and attribution models, monitor engagement, measure and map the customer journey, calculate their ROI, assess the marketing funnel, compile detailed reports based on data available and much, much more. With these tools, marketers can develop data-driven insights and begin to accurately predict activity at every stage of a marketing campaign, allowing them to focus on the areas that generate the most value.
Today’s digital landscape is complex – and continues to evolve. Customers can interact with a business through a variety of channels. Having the right tools to measure those interactions across those channels is essential if marketers are to determine what works and what does not. Marketing automation platforms provide marketers with a full stack of tools – all operating together – giving them a clear indication of how their campaigns are being interacted with and how they are performing overall.
5. BUILD, REFINE AND MANAGE
In the digitally connected and ‘always-on’ era we live in, your customers are everywhere. The digital world has changed the way in which customers interact with brands and businesses. Social media, email, search, PPC, offline activity, blogs and other channels allow customers and brands to reach each other wherever, whenever. Therefore, for your business to get maximum coverage and reach these potential customers, it’s vital that you have a presence on the necessary channels and promote your business, ensuring that customers can find it as and when they need to.
For a small business, with limited marketing resource, promoting the brand across multiple marketing channels and assessing and tracking the customer journey across those platforms is highly impractical – there is simply far too much data for manual activity.
But with marketing automation, you can conduct your marketing activities across multiple channels, scale up your operations, and build a truly multi-channel marketing strategy.
Utilizing the data available, the most sophisticated automation platforms will provide you with the means to build attribution reports which allow you to understand the journey a customer takes from the first time they visit to your website, to when they become a customer.
Furthermore, marketing automation tools can deliver, with incredible detail, the information which will enable you to identify which channels drove the most lead generation activity, as well as how customers interacted with those channels, and what channel was directly (or most) responsible for the final sale.
There are numerous channels through which customers can engage with businesses. Manually conducting activities across these channels is highly impractical and inefficient – and will only waste resource and time. Marketing automation enables marketers to deploy campaigns across multiple channels and manage them from one centralized platform, amplifying the reach of their activities.
6. GENERATE HIGH QUALITY LEADS
When it comes to lead nurturing, it’s important to appreciate that not all prospects will be ready to engage with your business. Successful lead nurturing relies on marketing automation and trigger-based marketing; i.e. the execution of timely and relevant actions based on a user’s context and where they are in the buyer’s journey. This level of precision can be achieved through workflows, which engage with customers based on their behaviors and life-cycle stage.
With workflows, you can refine and enhance your lead nurturing processes significantly to get the most out of your contacts. Workflows utilize branch logic and ‘if/then’ branches to provide contacts with relevant material depending on the actions they have taken. This takes the heavy lifting out of lead nurturing and enables businesses to engage with all of their contacts, regardless of where they are in the sales cycle.
Marketing automation tools that provide sophisticated lead nurture and workflow functionality take the ‘heavy lifting’ out of lead engagement activity. Utilised correctly, marketing automation tools can nurture leads more effectively over time, delivering sales qualified leads and helping marketing and sales to identify the leads most likely to engage.
7. STREAMLINE OPERATIONS
By using marketing automation to streamline operations, businesses can redirect resource to other critical areas and focus on sales lead generation, nurturing and other activities that increase business revenue. Over time, with the more ‘basic’ and perhaps even, more ‘advanced’ tasks are being comprehensively handled by the marketing automation platform, costs will gradually go down whilst ROI and lead generation increases.
Marketing automation is much more than automating less ‘meaningful’ tasks. It helps businesses to align their efforts and identify which activities generate the most value and revenue. Marketing automation is not a means to an end, but a supporting element in the business’ overall marketing and sales activity.
WHAT MARKETING AUTOMATION IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Now that we’ve outlined the seven benefits of marketing automation, you may be wondering what marketing automation platform is right for your business.
There are numerous platforms out there – many of which offer the whole suite of digital marketing tools, but you don’t want just any marketing automation platform, you need one which will meet the demands of your business’ marketing and sales activity and can scale as and when you need it to.
With this in mind, we conducted a thorough analysis of the top marketing automation platforms, eventually identifying three main contenders which every business should consider, they are: HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot.