What Is Marketing Automation?

A System To Better Manage Customer Engagements and Sales Leads

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is a form of CRM or customer relationship management. It is a software tool (typically cloud-based) that allows marketers to better manage their engagement with prospects and customers on communication channels such as: websites, e-mail, social media, online search, and advertising.

One of the core benefits of marketing automation is to automate communication with prospects and customers. This increases efficiency, and enables a company to engage people with relevant information or information that connects to a user's behavior.

Some of the functions that you can automate include manual tasks and multi-step processes involving:

  • Email marketing
  • Lead generation
  • Segmenting audiences
  • Lead nurturing and scoring
  • Cross-channel marketing campaigns
  • Cross-sell and up-sell
  • Retention campaigns
  • Abandoned shopping carts
  • Win-Back campaigns
  • Measuring ROI and analytics reports
  • Social media engagement
  • Personalized content and messaging

For example, by automating responses when people fill out forms, download documents, view videos, or take other action, you free-up people from having to perform those tasks.

Marketing Automation Diagram - Social Web Tactics

When someone indicates they are interested in a particular program, a marketing automation and CRM collects that information and notifies specific people. Your colleagues can then take action. Meanwhile, the automation system can send out a pre-programmed set of communications (typically linking to or including resources) that keep a prospective customer engaged.

Just imagine all the tasks you and your team are responsible for during the day. You have meetings, events to plan for, research, products and services to manage, and more. Do you have time to respond to every e-mail that comes in? Or send e-mails to people who download forms or register for events? Do you have time to assign new leads to team members, or categories? Or manage social media or advertising campaigns? Marketing automation helps to take on the more administrative tasks, and allow you and your team to be more productive.

What Are Some Of The Benefits of Marketing Automation?

  • Get more leads: B2C, B2B and B2G marketers are able to blend their content marketing strategy into an automation system, and generate more leads. Depending on how your content marketing is executed, and the sophistication of your automation software, you may be able to leverage the technology to improve lead quality as well.
  • Improve your operations: According to survey results, the biggest benefits of marketing automation for marketing professionals include - saving time (74%), higher customer engagement (68%), more relevant and timely communications (58%) and an increase in business opportunities (58%).
  • Integrate with existing software: New automation platforms are designed with integration in mind, while older systems have been updated to make third party software easier to integrate. This is important, because many companies use Google AdWords, LinkedIn, and Facebook for advertising, Salesforce for a CRM, and have a wide variety of content management systems, like Adobe Experience Manager, Drupal, or Wordpress. Marketing automation software that has an open API and established integrations is going to make adoption much easier for your business, government agency, or organization.
  • Track how your customers interact with your website and company: A good automation platform uses the records you add into the CRM to track your prospects and customers as they interact with your website. This is especially important because it tells you what pages or campaigns are driving leads, and it provides a clear ROI for marketing activities. What's more, you can learn which leads may be ready to act, or in need of more information to aid their decision-making process.
  • Manage your customer relationships: Integrating a CRM with your marketing automation software is crucial, because it allows you to communicate with contacts using the most current data. Dynamic updates to prospect and customer records will ensure that your communication will always be relevant. Whether it is an automated email, or outreach from a sales person, the combination of connected a marketing automation system with a CRM will save time, and improve responsiveness. 

What Marketing Automation Is Not

A person recently responded to a marketing automation thread by saying it did not work, and that it was all smoke and mirrors. Is that true?

Well, let us be clear about what marketing automation is not: It is NOT a set-it and forget-it solution, a silver bullet, or a magic pill that will immediately improve your bottom line, enhance customer service, and grow revenue. There is no magic. It is a sophisticated tool that will function as well as the data added to it, and as well as the team managing it executes on their marketing and sales responsibilities.

Some popular misconceptions about marketing automation:

  1. Marketing Automation is NOT E-mail Marketing
    E-mail is one piece of a marketing automation solution. The technology is designed to maximize the effectiveness of e-mail in conjunction with behavioral data collected on your contacts. It does this by automating functions. However, marketing automation solution handles more than just email. And it provides analytics on performance across all channels. 
  2. Marketing Automation Is NOT A License To Spam Prospects
    Just because you are gathering more data (in some cases, anonymous user data), it does not mean that spamming visitors to your website is a good idea. Not only do you risk damaging your domain, you also could put your contract with your automation provider at risk - or face service restrictions, such as a ban from using outbound email. This is why most marketing automation solutions have customization features that allow you to carefully manage who you communicate with, and when. As well as suppression lists and opt-out features. 
  3. Marketing Automation Is NOT An Effortless Process
    As we mentioned above, marketing automation is not a magic spell that immediately produces leads for your business. You need someone to help manage the system, as well as a compelling content marketing strategy to support it.

So... How Can You Get The Most From Marketing Automation?

That is an question that we can help you answer.

Over the years, we have worked with a wide variety of businesses and organizations. We know how to analyze your current needs, and find the best match for your business. All it takes is a short, 30 minute phone conversation to get the process underway.

If you are interested in talking about how Social Web Tactics can help your business, organization, or agency, please complete the form below. A member of our team with contact you as soon as possible.

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