What is Marketing Automation?
Let’s look at some factors to help you determine when and how your company should take the plunge into marketing automation.
Marketing automation is a buzzword you probably hear at every conference and seminar. You may know that marketing automation holds great potential for increasing your marketing success and growing your business. However, it’s okay if you’re
still a little fuzzy on the meaning. As with terms like “machine learning” and “AI,” it’s frequently used but often misunderstood.
It’s hard to say exactly when and where marketing automation became “a thing,” but it gained traction in the mid 2000s with HubSpot and other CRM platforms promising to make marketers’ lives easier. As technology grows it allows marketers to segment their customers and learn what makes them tick--pretty standard marketing stuff, actually--but on a much larger scale than previously possible.
Today, using a marketing automation platform, you can gather useful information about leads and customers as they interact with your digital presence. For example, you might learn which pages of your website they visit or which links they click in an e-newsletter. Then, you can send them information that you tailor to their exact interests and behavior… automatically.
relies on “if, then” logic. If a prospect does x, your platform sends them y.
Technology sometimes seems to create more work for marketers--such as by offering more and more new channels to test for lead gen--but ultimately, it should reduce the workload. Or, at least, it should shift your focus onto more meaningful marketing work and away from repetitive, inefficient tactics. Marketing once involved a certain element of “throwing it at the wall and seeing what sticks.” Marketing automation, if nothing else, will keep your walls a lot cleaner.
HubSpot reported that, in 2019, slightly more than half of marketers were using automation. However, even those using it currently may not be using it to its full potential. Many people associate it only with lead generation. And while it is certainly a powerful lead gen tool, that is only one use for it.
Examples of How Companies Use Marketing Automation
- Nurture campaigns: Walk a warm lead through the sales funnel, demonstrating exactly what your product can do for them, so they almost can’t help but convert.
- Abandoned cart strategies: Re-engage those shoppers who disappeared and get them to convert to delighted customers.
- Personalized offers: Send a lead just the right coupon or incentive, at just the right time, to tip them into making a purchase.
- Product demo scheduling: Let interested people select a time to see a product demo, without having to do anything on your end. Follow up automatically after the demo.
- A/B testing of messages: Automate the comparison of headlines, subject lines, offers, days of the week, and any other factors that affect buyer decisions.
- Lead scoring: Know which leads are worth your sales team’s time and which are going to cost you.
- Reporting: Produce robust reports about how visitors are interacting with your website and other digital communication channels, with information you can use to refine your strategy.
How you use marketing automation depends entirely on your goals. Let’s look at some factors to help you determine when and how your company should take the plunge into marketing automation.
Determining if You're Ready for Marketing Automation
The best approach to marketing automation is to use it to amplify what already works for your company. If nothing seems to be working right now, you might need to take a step back and consider other issues. Evaluate your content strategy and ensure that
your website meets current best practices.
To succeed with marketing automation, you also need a steady supply of leads. Too often, marketers try to skip this top-of-the-funnel step. Buying a list of leads might seem like a quick fix, but this practice usually yields extremely low ROI. An inbound marketing strategy is the most productive way to attract leads.
Once you’re certain you can provide a positive user experience, and you have leads rolling in, consider the following list.
Sure signs you’re ready for marketing automation
- Your sales team wastes a tremendous amount of time chasing down unqualified leads
- You’ve worked to boost your search engine ranking or otherwise increase website traffic, but the new traffic doesn’t convert
- Your current lead nurturing strategy works, but it’s not scalable
- Your current emails have a low open and click-through rate, indicating that you’re targeting too broad an audience, or the wrong one entirely
- Visitors frequently add items on your site to their cart without completing a purchase
- You have marketing personas, but if you’re being honest, you don’t really know who your customers are and what they want
If anything on this list rings true for your company, next consider your capacity to run a successful marketing automation campaign.