What is Marketing Automation?
You will find many descriptions for marketing automation. Yet, in simple terms, it is a set of software tools that helps you segment and nurture website visitors to provide them with personalised and useful content.
The aim is no different than traditional marketing – helping visitors to become customers or clients by seeing the value in buying either products or services from you and then becoming advocates.
What Marketing Automation is Not:
Click and Forget
A Marketing Silo
Spray & Pray Email Blasts
Confined to Email Only
How Does Marketing Automation Help?
Marketing automation can play a significant role in creating an efficient engine for growth. When implemented well, automation enables companies to streamline their marketing workflow by facilitating scalable and up-to-date marketing practices.
Typically, the benefits include:
- Improved Demand Generation through relevant Content Marketing
- Effective Lead Generation, segmentation, lead scoring and nurturing
- Marketing and Sales alignment, reducing silos via increased collaboration
- Improved Client and Customer communications
- Helps implement a personalised marketing strategy
- Replace tedious, repetitive manual tasks with scalable processes
. . . allowing time for more strategic, value-added tasks and projects for growth.
WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT IN A MARKETING AUTOMATION PLATFORM?
Behaviour Based Email
The last thing you want to do, is send every visitor exactly the same email.
Create personalised emails based on what you already know together with what you learn from a user’s journey. This helps increase engagement and also improve customer retention.
Dynamic Landing Pages
To be relevant, it’s essential that landing pages reflect your visitors’ expectations.
Creating landing pages using dynamic content allows you to swap images, headlines and body text – automatically adapted to individual users based on likes, website behaviour and more.
Dynamic Form Builder
Avoid creating siloed information with drag-and-drop forms that integrate directly with your CRM.
Using dynamic, autocomplete fields allows you to personalise form fields for known visitors. Match your existing branding with CSS to fully customise all your forms.
CRM & Sales Automation
In order to be really effective, your marketing automation system should be tightly integrated with your CRM, whether it is built-in or external.
The opportunty to share and sync all user activity data, leads, opportunities and other information, helps you enhance your sales enablement.
Drag & Drop Templates
You need to be able to design and easily re-purpose existing emails without relying upon a designer or developer for every campaign.
The flexibility to create and send personalised emails as part of an automated sequence or in response to specific action, is a key feature. This allows you to quickly create new email campaigns, constantly improving results.
Marketers need to understand the effectiveness of campaigns in order to improve ROI.
Track your website visitors’ engagement from their first visit. Having this ability helps you to make the necessary changes to all campaign messaging as well as your existing website content, based on data and insights.
Reporting & Analytics
Understanding what works and what does not is key to improving campaign efficiency and ROI.
Creating clear reports that everyone can easily understand is important. Being able to produce actionable visitor insights, helps to continually optimise all digital activities.
Social Media Integration
As an essential element of your online presence, all of your social activity, scheduled posts and emails should be synchronised.
Even better, a built-in social media management platform will enable you to share fresh and relevant content across all platforms and schedule future activities.
The benefit of marketing automation is to help automate repetitive marketing and sales tasks.
Automation workflows with branching logic, based on a visitor’s journey, helps to create tailored lead nurturing campaigns. Relevant messaging and contextual information is key.
Think of Marketing Automation as a Revenue Growth toolbox!
Let’s face it, people’s behaviour has changed. To a large degree, taking a traditional “Sales Funnel” approach is out of sync with today’s buyer journey. It’s no longer effective for companies, of any size, to keep turning the marketing lead-gen handle, pushing all “enquiries” to sales as marketing qualified leads (MQLs), saying “over to you – our job’s done!”
Investing in marketing automation in order to double or triple revenues is not a strategy. It’s what you do with the technology, i.e. the strategy behind it, that is the driver for growth. The marketing team is ever more responsible for designing and delivering exceptional customer experiences. However, the key to scalable growth is aligning the marketing and sales functions into a scalable growth engine. For that alignment to work, you need people, processes and technology working together with the same goals, rather than two disparate departments.
The Marketing Automation & Campaign/Lead Management section of Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2020):
It sounds obvious, but one of the biggest barriers to success is autonomous marketing automation and CRM systems. Having a single view of the customer, and prospective customer, enables your marketing and sales teams to manage every opportunity throughout its lifecycle. Additionally, it helps the sales team provide valuable and timely input to the marketing team which helps consistently improve both of their effectiveness.
With 1000+ marketing automation tools to choose from, it can be a daunting and bewildering task.
If you’re thinking of implementing marketing automation, or you simply need to improve the ROI of your current system:
Typical Marketing Automation Problems
Funnily enough, no matter how simple or sophisticated your marketing automation is, it will not improve bad marketing. There are problems with many marketing technology (MarTech) tools. Usually, they are made worse by wrong expectations, poor strategy and/or implementation.
Too often, marketing automation is seen as yet another golden bullet. However, without a) sufficient and relevant initial training and b) ongoing support and additional training, the outcome will almost definitely result in an underperforming platform.
For marketing automation to be effective, there needs to be a strong content strategy in place too. Worthwhile, quality content helps answer visitors questions and creates further, repeat visits. Simply setting up a few funnels and drip campaigns will soon result in disappointment
Aligning Marketing and Sales efforts is vitally important for all companies. For that to be as effective as possible it’s imperative to consider the two functional areas as an integrated process. That means ensuring the Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) and Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) are tightly integrated – ideally in the same platform. This will help to reduce silos via increased collaboration with a single view of the customer.
When implemented successfully, marketing automation should unify data through various integrated systems to create more relevant and engaging experiences for website visitors. By doing so, it helps to align campaigns and programmes, creating new levels of account intelligence for marketing, sales and customer success to act together and thus enhance customer experiences. Many brands buy into expensive systems which are rarely used. Make sure that your marketing automation strategy provides for both agility and flexibility in order to provide the best outcomes and help achieve business goals.