What is Marketing Automation and Why Do You Need it?

Someone wise once said, “Beyond black magic, it’s just automation.”

Automation is equivalent to the discovery of fire by early man – and has a similar potential to fuel your business. 

Marketing automation is a software that manages, measures, and automates marketing activities and handles customer data at scale. With the right marketing automation software, you can now offload some of your most time-consuming tasks, and generate a priceless commodity: extra time to focus on other important tasks. This means increased sales & productivity, reduced costs, and the ability to scale your business with fewer people.

But don’t take our word for it. According to figures from Marketo, 76% of companies that implement marketing automation generate a return on their investment within the first year. Not only that, but 44% of them see a return within just six months.

According to Invespcro, 80% of companies saw an increase in leads thanks to marketing automation. Business2Community puts the average increase in qualified leads due to marketing automation at 451%.

A misconception associated with marketing automation is that all one has to do is buy email addresses list and spam customers with multiple ads. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, it is a solution to help generate leads and nurture customer relationships leading to higher lifetime customer value.

What can Marketing Automation do?

Marketing automation is a tool that makes the entire sales funnel more effective. It is sometimes mistakenly used as a substitute for email marketing, which is significantly underusing its potential. While marketing automation does automate emails, the difference lies in delivering targeted and personalized messages to nudge customers through the buying process – in essence; it goes much beyond email marketing automation.

Marketing automation software collects data from multiple sources like emails, website visits, social media usage, etc. It uses it to create a profile of each customer featuring their engagements with the business, preferences, and where they are in the sales cycle. Using these insights, one can craft targeted messaging that is delivered effectively through the appropriate medium with a few clicks. 

Marketing automation is valuable in implementing a consistent brand message across mediums and devising marketing campaigns. 

Let’s look at an example of an automated email workflow for an e-commerce store to understand this better:

Step 1: A customer was browsing through the website and has added a few items in the cart. They abandoned the shopping cart before checkout.

Step 2: The platform could be set up as behavior-based marketing automation to trigger an email targeted to the customer, reminding them of the items available for purchase.

Step 3: If, after a few days, the customer has still not made the purchase, an automated email is generated, offering a discount on the items.

marketing automation

Omnisend reported that sending three abandoned cart emails result in 69% more orders than a single email. Customers prefer targeted emails based on their behavior rather than mass emails without any differentiation. Similarly, workflows can be created to trigger welcome emails or a reminder of items on a customer’s wishlist, and even inform of activities happening at a store nearest to the customer. 

A study by DemandGen Report found that nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities compared to non-nurtured leads. By using a personalized workflow based on the preferences and interests of the customers, it creates positive behavior amongst customers.

Features of Marketing Automation software

  • Lead Capture and Nurturing

Businesses need to identify and collect prospects to convert them into paying customers eventually. Marketing automation can help set up landing pages to capture leads on the business website. 

Landing pages that offer a free ebook or whitepaper, or a discount in exchange for the prospect’s contact information can be used as an effective way to generate and capture leads. Once captured, the software can automate lead management and help identify promising leads and nurture them through drip campaigns, retargeting through ads on social media, SMS marketing, and various other techniques. 

marketing automation, lead capturing

Here’s a sample workflow you could set up using a marketing automation software to generate leads:

Step 1: A landing page offering a free ebook is created.

Step 2: Prospect enters his contact information on the landing page to receive a free ebook.

Step 3: The automated workflow sends a follow-up email a few days later, offering a demo of the software.

Workflows can be customized to nurture the prospect by directing them to the company’s blog for more information, setting up a call with a salesperson, or offering a product trial. 

The marketing automation system gathers data to qualify leads on how relevant it is, and how likely to close through a method called lead scoring. Lead scoring is assigning points to prospects based on their actions. For example, if a contact clicks on an email link, the workflow automatically assigns a score of 10. Once a set score threshold is reached, the automation system informs the team about possible conversion.

  • Campaign Management

Marketing automation software has resources to plan, strategize, and execute a marketing campaign. It can be integrated into the existing CRM software and map the campaigns which closed deals. These campaigns can be deployed across channels like SEO, email, social media, ads, landing pages, and even SMS. Tracking discrete information from different dashboards and measuring results is next to impossible without a robust marketing automation solution. 

For example, a multi-step campaign for each customer can be created for occasions like birthdays and anniversaries involving SMS, email, and social media. Showing personal attention and offering a discount according to Salesforce research showed that 75% of companies find such measures effective.

campaign management

  • Email Marketing

Email marketing still remains one of the most effective channels of communication for marketers. All marketing automation tools have email marketing as core functionality. 

One of the main tasks that can be automated here is the segmentation and the option to send batch emails to prospects based on their lead score. Like most email solutions, you have the option to optimize emails for mobile, and some design templates to make it more visually appealing to the audience. 

Marketing automation solutions add effectiveness to your existing email marketing strategy with advanced features like integrating multiple channels to focus on the customer journey. 

marketing automation, email marketing

 

  • Social Media

While social media automation apps are extremely popular, they exist in a silo. In contrast, marketing automation software offers multiple features under one umbrella to make it easier to view and get a complete perspective of all social media campaigns. 

An essential element of social media automation tools is the ability to schedule and post to all the social media accounts from a single platform. The automation system can handle the entire process from submitting the content to its approval by the respective team leads and then posting/re-posting of content. Other than helping the company be active on social media, it allows one the option to conduct customer service through direct messages directly from the application. 

This facilitates a fast course of action and speedy damage control, if needed and resolve customer queries for additional goodwill for the brand. It also helps the servicing team in delighting the customers, and scores all customer interactions in one place, which can help in subsequent communication with them.

Brands need to not only post content online but also have a keen ear towards the conversations happening amongst the audience. Social listening tools can help brands identify all mentions of the company and its products to help initiate conversations with potential customers.

social media automation applications

 

  • Analytics and Reporting

One of the main features of marketing automation platforms is the extensive analytics and data one can acquire. With custom-built dashboards and an intuitive UI, all the KPIs are displayed for easy understanding. Organizations generally must dedicate resources to compile the data and create reports on a daily basis. Using these tools makes it convenient as it is available at your fingertips with visualizations. It can analyze the information and give in-depth insights on the following channels:

  • Website traffic 
  • Social media 
  • Email marketing 
  • PPC and retargeting campaigns for search and display ads
  • Owned and earned media

It also allows marketers to track marketing spend, analyze conversion rates, revenue generated by each asset, and the total effect on profits due to marketing campaigns. This helps the marketing team in better planning and budgeting and increases the effectiveness of campaigns.

marketing automation analysis

  • Performance Marketing

Marketing automation tools can help marketers run paid advertising campaigns and generate reports on their ROI. It can analyze your target keywords and give an overview of the metrics for organic and paid search, especially in comparison to your competitors. 

One can build multiple custom website landing pages and lead capture forms that generate leads and can help customize your ads based on them. You can A/B test landing pages and see which one is performing better. Again, you can track the purchase journey of a lead that comes into your system through an ad, until they close the deal, and even beyond. 

Using website data and tracking leads, you can create targeted advertisements across channels to grow engagement. You can also set up retargeting campaigns to nurture and build trust amongst customers.

marketing automation dashboard

When is the right time to invest in Marketing Automation?

Every company has unique needs when it comes to marketing, thereby requiring one to understand when the right time is to invest in scaling your marketing automation investment. Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you’re considering investing a marketing automation software:

  • Is your website regularly generating new leads?
  • Do you have a content strategy for different buyer personas?
  • Are there multiple repetitive, time-consuming tasks that require hiring more staff?
  • Do you have a comprehensive view of all customer data in one place?
  • Do you use multiple marketing software for different functions?
  • Are you able to communicate with customers across all channels effectively?
  • Can your current marketing strategies be scaled for an increasing number of prospects?
  • Are you able to filter and segment leads based on behavior?

These are signs that it might be time to invest in a marketing automation platform to streamline the marketing process and generate revenue for your business. According to the State of Marketing report, 67% of marketing leaders currently use a marketing automation platform and 21% plan to in the next two years. Organizations will implement marketing automation to stay ahead of their competitors.

The best marketing teams use marketing automation, which can help you scale your marketing efforts successfully, thus setting them apart from their competition. According to a Lenskold Group report, 80% of marketers credit automation as one of the biggest contributors to their success. Once you have decided to buy marketing automation, the next step is figuring out the right software for your organization.

How to choose the best Marketing Automation solution for your business?

There are many marketing automation software at different price ranges, and there are multiple factors that determine the right solution for your organization. Here are a few considerations to factor while making the decision.

  • Pricing: Pricing structures vary from platform to platform, but mostly it is determined based on the number of contacts. Certain platforms have segments based on the features and understand which ones are better suited for the goals of the company.
  • Ease of use: Platforms with multiple features and lots of customizations require training before implementation. Software with a simple UI is easy to understand and set up, reducing effort and time taken.
  • Integrations: Systems that can natively be integrated into your existing technology stack will make it easier to import data and launch campaigns. Also, integrations that help the entire marketing and sales team view data in one place will simplify coordination across departments.
  • Features: Each business needs certain features based on their specific requirements. A B2C company and B2B company have very different factors to be considered while automating their systems and will have to take that into account while choosing the best platform.

Other considerations to factor in before purchasing include customer support, data security, scalability, and any maintenance cost/upgrades. For SMB companies, ActiveCampaign and Hubspot are great options with multiple features at a very affordable price range, while Marketo and Eloqua are suitable for enterprise-level businesses. To know more in detail about the marketing automation platform for your company, read our in-depth feature here.

Conclusion

Choosing the best marketing automation platform for your organization can be difficult. Yet, automation is the need of the hour to generate better leads, personalize the customer journey, and to utilize data for smart decision-making that directly affects the bottom line.

Good marketing automation is based on the evolving needs of the audience and the interactions they have with the brand across all marketing mediums. Functional marketing automation is not only useful in communicating with customers, but also makes the tasks of the marketing team simpler by automating repetitive tasks and providing data. 

Contact us for an in-depth discussion on how to invest and implement the right marketing automation software for your business. 

Share
Mayank Gulati

Unhappy with the concept of 5 working days a week, Mayank Gulati started his own Marketing Communications firm. He now works 7 days a week, where he wears many, many hats (and a neck brace). An unfortunate engineer, he founded a med-tech startup that was inducted into Nasscom 10k. He’s now decided to stop asking people to invest in his company, and get them to invest in their own.