All internet users must have experienced marketing automation, even if they are not aware of the term specifically. Think about Infusionsoft, Salesforce.com, Hubspot, MailChimp, Act-on, Marketo to name a few; these extremely popular services can be classified as examples of marketing automation.
Marketing automation, as the name implies, is the use of IT-based tools to automate aspects of marketing, such as e-mail campaigns, social media posts, polling contests, offers, etc. Automation tools can help you in lead management, conversions, retention and feedback as well as provide insights for evaluation and future planning.
Marketing automation services are plentiful! There exist offerings to suit
- All budgets- Services ranging from 100$ a month to 5000$ a month
- All marketing requirements- inbound, e-mail campaigns, social media
- All business sizes- serving a target base of a few hundred to a few hundred thousand customers
While it may appear to be the ultimate weapon in tackling all your online marketing woes, one needs to realize that it is simply the contemporary toolkit for a marketer functioning in the internet era. At its core, it still abides by fundamental marketing principles.
What do we mean by that? We mean that having an automation software alone will not help you in achieving your marketing goals. As a marketer, one needs to have a defined game plan, which can be accomplished with greater ease and effectiveness using a marketing software/service.
Remember, marketing automation is a mean and not an end!
What brought about the advent of marketing automation?
Tracing the evolution of the internet in a very general way, we can see why marketing automation became a norm, a necessity:
- The internet became a new landscape of interaction, with hitherto unseen capabilities that were bound to be leveraged by both producers and consumers.
- The ubiquity of the internet made it essential for brands to have an online avatar to remain credible.
- As it went from ‘a virtual place that we visited’ to ‘a virtual space we live in’, brands had to adopt social media and other interactive platforms to be where customers are.
- Extensive user behaviour tracking enabled greater insights and more sophisticated methods for conducting planned and targeted marketing activities.
With each step of the internet evolution, one can notice the corresponding evolution in the scope and focus of the marketing automation tools.
In fact, some companies in this space might object to their offerings being referred to as tools, and would be keen on emphasizing how they can be considered as platforms with comprehensive capabilities to execute marketing strategies, and not just complete marketing tasks.
What does marketing automation look like?
The best way to bring out the essence of marketing automation is to compare how a standard marketing objective would be accomplished with and without the use of an automation tool/platform.
|Targeting||Buying bulk e-mail lists-mail blasts and push strategy||Inbound marketing attracting the right audience through content, social media|
|Data Gathering||Unsystematic and infrequentUsers need to be pushed to provide data||Subtle and incentivized accumulation of dataSystematized and regular to enable analysis|
|Campaign tracking/management||Control predominantly over marketers actions without adequate information about the target’s response||Detailed behavioural information available, allowing for better analysis and modification if needed|
|Closing the sale||Strong and overt promptsMultiple calls to actionPushing for sale irrespective of the prospect’s level of readiness||A gentle experience with the prospect being taken through stages of awareness, persuasion and then a smart call to action|
|CR M||Feedback generated haphazardly follow on based on generic conventions (events/occasions)Prospect sees the effort as another sales tactic||Engaged customers (through a web portal, social media, etc.) who can be targeted based on insights to deliver customized messagesProspect sees effort as a value addition|
|Marketing integration||Extensive effort required to coordinate and synchronize multiple objectives and campaigns might result in a confusing clutter of activities||Automation services provide a wholistic perspective of the campaign and allow multiple activities/campaigns to be managed using a centralized system|
If you are still not sure about adopting marketing automation for your business, here are some statistics:
- According to Infusionsoft, nearly 80% of top companies have incorporated marketing automation in their business.
- Investing in conversion rate optimization (CRO) solutions are guaranteed to deliver high ROI, as much as 223.7 %, according to VentureBeat.
Arm yourself with the tools of today and guide your marketing the right way with marketing automation.