It’s an exciting time to be alive in the marketing world. More glass ceilings of industry are broken every day, innovation has never been more prevalent, and with the new year coming in hot, the overarching goal is to keep the momentum going. With Q1 underway and a clean slate ahead, it’s the perfect time to consider goals and strategies that will add up to a profitable year.
That being said, no business plan is complete without the necessary tools. That’s where programs like marketing automation come into play—programs that give you a clearly defined course of action and a comprehensive strategy for creating powerhouse marketing campaigns. Here you will learn how to implement marketing automation to refine your processes, increase engagement, and garner leads, all while respecting your business’ bottom line.
What Is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is a tool that businesses can use to simplify and streamline marketing workflows and tasks. It provides a way to more effectively measure the success of your projects and campaigns by using an automated system that launches and maintains new ventures. Marketing automation is designed to reduce the amount of work your team invests in campaigns while still driving equal, if not better, results. This ultimately saves time and increases your business’ ROI.
The unique aspect of marketing automation is that its abilities are not limited to present endeavors. The whole idea is preparing future content, but marketing automation tools give you a 360-degree view of your workflows:Marketing automation is as diverse as it is effective. Typically, the first thing that comes to mind is the standard email campaign, but it extends further to a broad range of mediums. It encompasses everything from landing pages to social media to text message alerts to marketing analytics, eliminating the overwhelming task of manually creating and evaluating every campaign, large or small. Whatever your motives are, and whatever media channels you use, the goal of marketing automation is to simplify your processes so your content lands more of an impact.
- Analyze past data and target patterns and trends that are either working or can be improved.
- Schedule posts based on this data and develop new techniques for campaigns to come.
- Predict trends in future campaigns, accounting for data like demographics, click-through rates, customer engagement, and so much more.
With the right strategies in place, marketing automation can redefine your business. You’ll emerge from mild success to rubbing elbows with companies that have built and sustained household names. Think of how many people say “Can you pass me a Kleenex?” or use “Band-Aid” to describe all adhesive bandages. And at what point in time did lip balm become universally known as Chapstick? Since marketing made it so.
Your brand could be next.
How Does Marketing Automation Work?
Digital marketing is all about connection. Imagine a company is rolling out an exciting new product—for example, a shoe company releasing a brand-new running shoe. A customer comes along and fills out a form for more information. That day, they receive an email welcoming them and explaining a little bit more about the product and the company, with an option to click a link for more information or to visit their website.
A day or so after that, word comes of an exclusive sale happening only on the company’s website. If the customer doesn’t visit the site, a follow-up email about the sale is sent the next day, this time a little more urgently worded (“Act fast before it’s over!”). A few days after, the customer receives a newsletter highlighting local events and products offered in addition to shoes. The next day, the customer receives a video detailing the runner’s journey.
And on and on it goes. What makes this is a prime example of marketing automation? None of these emails or messages were scheduled or sent by an actual person. Yet the content is still engaging and tailored to be hyper-relevant to a customer—and every stage of the sales funnel is fulfilled. Most importantly: You’re still making that pivotal connection with your audience.
The trick to campaign success is determining what workflows are most suited to your purpose. You can choose from among the most assertive to the most subtle forms of marketing, such as:
- Welcome emails: Make your customers feel valued and excited by the prospect of receiving correspondence from you. Sweeten the deal with a special offer to welcome them aboard.
- Onboarding campaigns: Guide your customers through setting up their accounts, show them all of the features you offer, remind them to complete their profiles, and make that initial customer experience one they won’t forget.
- Follow-up email or message: Remind a customer they have something in their cart. Send a message asking how they’ve been and if they’re ready to pick things up where they left off.
- Lead scoring: Get a sense of who is visiting your website. Lead scoring allows you to target leads that are most likely to convert. This can be included in several other workflows, rather than just working on its own.
- Lead nurturing: Make an impression on your customers during each phase of their buying journey. Make your product stand out in their minds.
- Re-engagement/reactivation: “We haven’t seen you in a while! Stop by to see what’s new!” Get customers to come back after opting out or not engaging for a while.
The best part of this is that you can tailor your campaigns to reflect the flavor of your brand and the impact you want to make. That’s the difference between simply providing a service and delivering personalized experiences. Marketing automation enables you to get broader assessments of what your customers are looking for, and to react accordingly.
As with most modern technology, marketing automation will evolve and expand its capabilities over time, adapting to technological advancements and new strategic demands. As your business develops, so will the methods you implement to shape marketing automation success, which is exciting in its own right.
Tips and Tools of the Trade
If you’ve decided to give marketing automation a try, what comes next is the shop-around. Of course, the automation you choose should depend on your business’ situation. Certain aspects such as budget and current software features can carry a lot of weight when making the tough choice.
Here are some things to keep in mind when considering marketing automation for your business:
Cost. Cost will likely be at the top of your priority list when searching for marketing automation software. And that’s as it should be; it’s important to adhere to your business’ budget and maintain that bottom line. Software cost can fluctuate depending on the quality of technology and features, but less doesn’t necessarily mean less. If you’re confident in your business plan, investing in marketing automation will only help you move forward, and that’s worth every penny.
Ease of use. The whole point of marketing automation is to simplify your processes. You should not have to struggle with your software. To avoid frustration, you can perform a 30-day trial to see how well that particular program works for you. A trial also helps you measure how long onboarding will take, and the steps involved. Software that is inconvenient or time-consuming often hurts more than it helps, and you’ve got no time for that.
Software integration. Depending on the services your business provides, you likely use certain programs and applications regularly. It’s imperative that the automation program you use is compatible with these applications. It’s more than likely that your automation software will be subject to updates and enhancements down the road, so having the bandwidth to support changes is crucial as well.
Features. It’s always best not to bite off more than you can chew with software. You don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles, but you should absolutely get the features your business needs. And there are plenty of them: CRM integration, lead management, lead scoring, visitor tracking, analytics and reporting, security, platforms for email and social marketing, and so much more.
Choosing software has the potential to change the face of your business, so do your research and don’t just get the first thing that comes along. The level of software you have or need works hand in hand with your business dynamic and reflects your goals and what you have to offer. And on the upside, there are plenty of options out there; one of them is bound to fit like a glove. Solid marketing automation examples include brands such as Hubspot, Infusionsoft, and ActiveCampaign.
Getting That Bang for Your Buck
The benefits of marketing automation are vast and varied, and the overall objective is to create a pathway to success and prosperity. But what is not initially apparent is that you’re reaping so many more rewards than this—assets that come together to meet that lasting end goal. Marketing automation is about more than making money. It’s also about making a statement within your industry and improving efficiency as a whole.
Investing in marketing automation software is the first rung on a stepladder that leads to increased sales and revenue and lasting effect on customers and partners. Below are a few of the ways it can benefit your business:
Save time. Time management is crucial to the success of any business. No one likes busywork; it clogs up productivity and completely wastes your valuable time. Handing off menial tasks such as creating and scheduling content frees up space for you and your team to focus on other important tasks. That’s not to say what you’re sending out to potential leads isn’t important or worth your time—quite the opposite. Marketing automation cuts wasted time, removing the micromanaging factor out of the process and out of your responsibilities. More time in your pocket means more freedom to gather prospects into your pipeline and promote sales.
Help to better scale your business. Your business always has room to grow. The trick is staying ahead of the curve and managing that growth. Luckily, marketing automation removes the pressure of constantly maintaining the steam that’s building, allowing you to step back and balance all of that new growth. Reporting and analytics deliver a firsthand account of what’s increasing profitability and what’s not, so you can set short- and long-term goals and accommodate expansion. Marketing automation lays the foundation of success for years.
Become more cost-effective. If you’re like most businesses, you’re going into the new year with a locked-and-loaded budget. If a portion of that budget is reserved for marketing, you’ll likely see a return on your efforts, given that you’re investing in the right tools. Marketing automation scales back the time you and your team spend manually launching campaigns, which reduces staffing costs and allows you to invest money elsewhere. As the steps of your campaigns deepen and you reach more people, your revenue will deepen, too.
Increase your business’s influence and effectiveness. You have the chance to zero in on customer intent with hyper-relevant content, customizing campaigns to directly target potential customers and generate far more leads. You could easily extend your customer lifespan by improving upselling and cross-selling, and automated services let you think outside the box and develop creative campaigns. What’s more, you can personalize your messages significantly by sending different variations to different customer types based on information gathered through marketing automation analytics engines.
Marketing Automation Is Poised to Help Your Business Thrive in 2019
This is the year to make things happen for your business. You have the exciting prospect of cultivating a thriving, successful business landscape, and the tools to help you do it are well within reach. Marketing automation is the tool that will that help your business grow at a rapid pace. Keep in mind that marketing automation, when implemented properly, will accomplish three things:
- Eliminate and streamline marketer’s repetitive tasks.
- Develop personalized and hyper-relevant content experiences based on prospects behavior and deploy that experience in the exact right time and place.
- Assess data and results in real time of marketing and sales campaigns.
Marketing Automation is continually evolving and companies at the forefront are seeing unparalleled growth. Every business has one thing in common: they want to achieve higher revenue at a faster pace. Marketing automation is the software and strategy to reach new heights of success in today’s competitive and fast -paced marketing landscape.