What Is Marketing Automation (All You Need To Know)

What is marketing automation?

What are the benefits of marketing automation?

What type of marketing automation platforms are out there?

If you are looking to learn more about marketing automation, you are at the right place.

In this article, we will go over marketing automation in detail. What is the definition of marketing automation, its benefits, how you can benefit by using marketing automation for small businesses, the type of marketing automation strategy you can deploy and the type of marketing automation platforms available?

We have divided this article into the following sections for your ease of navigation:

Let’s get started!

Marketing automation definition

Marketing automation is defined to be a process where you use technology to automate repetitive tasks performed in your marketing operations and for your campaigns.

Marketing automation is a broad reference to different types of tools allowing marketing tasks to be automated such as inbound marketing tools and analysis.

Another way you can define marketing automation is to think of it as the reference to tools, platforms and software allowing marketers to plan, manage, execute and measure their marketing campaign efforts effectively and based on a defined strategy.

By defining specific criteria and outcomes, your marketing automation platform will execute the task in volume and with incredible accuracy.

Through the automation of marketing tasks that would have been manually handled otherwise, marketing professionals and teams can spend more time on creative thinking and strategizing as opposed to handling repetitive low-value tasks.

According to House of Marketing, 48% of marketers are using at least one marketing automation platform.

Marketing automation platforms are now tools essential to any marketing operation. 

Without it, you will be at a significant disadvantage compared to your competitors leveraging the powers of marketing automation to their benefit.

What are the benefits of marketing automation? 

Marketing automation benefits

The benefit of using marketing automation is that you can work on many marketing channels, handle a high volume of repetitive tasks and create a personalized experience for your customers.

You can segment and target your audience effectively, follow your prospect’s purchasing cycle and tailor your marketing efforts to really address the specific needs of your prospects at the right time.

Marketing automation platforms and software allow you to manage, nurture and generate leads aiming your target audience in a defined and strategic way.

The main benefit of using marketing automation is that your marketing professionals are able to dedicate most of their time to strategy and improve overall ROI as opposed to handling repetitive tasks for few customers and losing sight of the big picture.

According to eMarketer study, B2C marketers have reported seen conversion rates as high as 50%.

According to Nuclear Research, 95% of companies reported some benefits in using marketing automation.

Aside from increased ROI, you can find many other benefits such as:

  1. Reduce your marketing human resource costs
  2. Increase your average deal size
  3. Track the performance of your marketing teams
  4. Achieve greater operational efficiency between your marketing and sales teams
  5. Handle fewer repetitive tasks
  6. Better execute your marketing campaign efforts
  7. Target your audience through multiple channels
  8. Increase your chances of up-selling and cross-selling
  9. Schedule marketing activities based on events of pre-defined factors
  10. Monitor what’s working and what is not
  11. Execute better nurturing campaigns on your qualified leads
  12. Reduce your sale cycle timelines

Each business will find its own benefits in addition to any combination of the above.

The more you integrate your marketing automation platform with your other internal systems like your CRM, the more you can get benefits from marketing automation.

But to better understand what is marketing automation, let’s see what marketing automation is not.

Marketing automation: what it is not

Marketing automation is not a tool to help you do email marketing at large and send out spam.

Marketing automation is not intended for you to perform at mass ineffective and non-strategic marketing efforts.

Marketing automation is not a software that will magically generate leads and give you more business.

As the name suggests, marketing automation is an automation process for your entire marketing campaigns across all channels.

Marketing automation can benefit your marketing department but also your sales team as well provided you use it the right way.

Having a good marketing automation platform will allow you to automate and streamline lead generation, segmentation, lead nurturing, cross-sell and up-sell opportunities thereby improving your total ROI.

Marketing automation is not a software solution that you plug in and expect to see results without effort, if you ever find that type of marketing automation software, we would love to know about it!

With marketing automation, you will not press a button and sit back to surf the web.

Using marketing automation platforms, you can take your marketing strategy to the next level and handle volumes and processes that you were unable to successfully handle before.

You’ll need to plan out your marketing strategy, think about the different steps in generating leads, engaging with a prospect in your marketing flywheel, providing your prospects with valuable content, nurturing them until you close the deal.

You’ll need to work hard at it as a marketing automation software is a tool supporting your marketing activities, it will not represent your marketing strategy in of itself.

How can marketing automation be valuable for small businesses?

Marketing automation for small businesses

What value does marketing automation bring to small businesses?

Marketing automation for small businesses and for any other type of business will drive value in five important ways:

  1. To improve marketing productivity
  2. To increase marketing campaign efficiency and ROI
  3. To personalize your marketing efforts
  4. To obtain real-time performance data 
  5. To increase customer acquisition and retention

Small businesses generally will have less manpower and human resources to efficiently handle their marketing efforts.

A marketing automation platform can be quite valuable to small businesses as they could plan, strategize and execute holistic marketing efforts with the same level of quality and efficiency as large companies.

Improve marketing productivity

As a small business, you can improve your marketing productivity by either reducing human effort in your marketing campaigns or do more with what you have while keeping them happy and motivated.

By freeing up your marketing teams to truly think about strategy and overall success of your marketing efforts, they will not be bogged down by handling repetitive tasks distracting them from the higher purpose.

With marketing automation, you will have your teams focus on what really matters and ensure your marketing efforts are successful.

Improve marketing ROI

Small businesses have limited resources and capital to invest in marketing compared to large enterprises.

We all want to get more with every dollar we spend.

Small businesses will want a higher return on investment for every marketing dollar spent.

That’s possible with marketing automation.

With marketing automation, you can improve your ROI.

You can execute an end-to-end marketing effort from generating a lead, segmenting your audience in your campaigns, having an effective lead nurturing strategy, improving your up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, closing your deals and tracking your marketing success.

You can keep your clients engaged and deliver value to them.

Your marketing teams will have the time and tools to track what is working for them and how they can work on marketing efforts offering you a higher return on your investment to your business.

Personalize marketing campaigns

Did you ever receive an email or a message that felt robotic and highly impersonal?

We all did.

What do we do?

We either ignore it and even get turned off by the company sending us that message.

We don’t feel valued. 

That crazy company did not even take a little bit of time to write something personalized. 

To those companies, personalizing marketing messages can go a long way.

However, it’s not practical for small businesses to personalize all their marketing messages to nurture their leads.

With marketing automation, you can!

You can segment your audience and leads in such a way that you create personalized and contextualized messages based on their needs and interest. 

Each of your audience segments can be delivered a slightly different message to different members of your audience.

You can differentiate yourself from other small businesses by targeting your audience personally and with a human touch.

Obtain real-time data

Marketing automation allows you to measure your marketing performance.

You need to measure all your marketing performance if you want to run a successful small business.

What is your real-time campaign performance?

How are we doing so far?

What is our click-through rate?

What is our conversion ration?

You want to make sure that as you are running your marketing campaign, you make modifications and tweaks to better optimize your strategy.

With real-time data, you will focus on what is actually working as opposed to spending time, effort and money on something that may not deliver the anticipated results.

Increase customer acquisition

As a small business, what you care about is booking deals with new customers.

What are you doing to ensure you have the best possible customer acquisition strategy?

With marketing automation, you can help improve your customer acquisition.

As you generate a lead, using marketing automation and a well-crafted marketing strategy, you can follow your lead’s journey from the moment they contact you for the first time all the way to them buying your products or services.

Marketing automation strategy

Businesses can devise their marketing campaigns based on a variety of strategies.

Implementing marketing automation software is a great way to maximize marketing conversions and ROI.

In 2017, a marketing automation statistics report showed that the marketing automation software business in the US was worth $3.3 billion and increasing at a rate of 30%.

With so many businesses and marketers using marketing automation software, you must get on the marketing automation bandwagon. 

If not, you will fall behind.

Your competitors will take your business and audience away from you!

Now that you know that marketing automation must be included in your marketing strategy, what are the actual marketing automation strategies that work?

The following marketing automation strategies are proven to be quite effective:

  1. Improve engagement with your audience with great content
  2. Well-structured drip campaigns
  3. Optimized ability to nurture leads
  4. Effective audience segmentation 
  5. Improve employee productivity and performance
  6. Centralized and holistic monitoring of marketing results

You will be surprised to see the results you’ll get using marketing automation. 

Look at your company, your industry, your audience and define the right marketing automation strategy to hit a home run!

Are there marketing automation examples that we know are effective?

Marketing automation examples

It’s always useful to understand a topic through examples.

Although there are many ways you can use marketing automation in your overall marketing efforts, we’ve compiled nine marketing automation examples for you to consider:

  1. Welcome email series
  2. Reminder emails
  3. Birthday or anniversary messages
  4. VIP programs
  5. Re-engagement 
  6. Surveys and feedback emails
  7. Reviews and testimonial emails
  8. Product updates and launches
  9. Newsletters

These are just some examples of marketing automation.

You can do more.

These are different examples we’re using to show how your business can stay engaged with a lead moving them through your marketing funnel.

The messages and content sent to your prospects should be personalized and contextual for best results.

With marketing automation, you can manage the content you send to your leads.

Marketing automation platforms

To better understand marketing automation platforms, we’ll need to look at their common features and the types of marketing automation platforms available.

Marketing automation platform categories

There are three categories of marketing automation platforms, marketing intelligence, marketing automation and workflow automation.

Marketing intelligence is your ability to track your users’ behaviour on social media, email and website in order to define the level of your users’ purchase intent and engagement.

Marketing automation is how you will focus on your prospects moving them from the top of your marketing funnel all the way to the bottom where you hand over the lead to your sales team for closing.

Workflow automation is the automation of internal processes such as budgeting, planning, approvals, scheduling, collaboration, digital asset creation and management.

Marketing automation platform common features

Marketing automation platforms typically should have some common features enabling you to succeed in your marketing.

What are some of the most common marketing automation platform features?

Some common features of marketing automation platforms are:

  1. Email marketing automation
  2. Landing page creation
  3. Campaign management 
  4. Lead scoring and predictions
  5. Lead management
  6. CRM integration
  7. Social media marketing
  8. Marketing analytics

With email marketing automation, you are able to send personalized emails to your leads and subscribers based on a nurturing campaign that you’ve implemented.

You can manage your marketing campaigns across all channels whether online or offline, from direct mail to phone campaigns, social media to mobile campaigns.

Now let’s look at what types of marketing automation platforms are out there.

Marketing automation software types

Each marketing automation software types out there will focus on a different area of your marketing strategy.

You’ll need to understand the different types of marketing automation software to see what’s best for you.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

A customer relationship management system or CRM is a hub where you store and track all your customers’ information and history.

You can get purchase history, contact names, regions, how they’ve interacted with you and so on.

Marketing automation platforms will connect to your CRM system so you can retrieve customer data and history so you can better define your customers’ needs and interests in the context of your marketing efforts.

Email marketing

Email marketing is one important task marketers automate with marketing automation software tools.

Depending on how sophisticated you want this to be, you can go from sending personalized email messages to your leads all the way to scheduling email triggers based on events or a combination of factors you consider relevant.

You can send email marketing campaigns to your leads based on where they are situated in your marketing funnel.

Email marketing is quite effective, so handling this the right way with a marketing automation tool can produce great results.

Lead management

Lead management is quite useful if you are selling a product or a service that has a long sale cycle.

In this context, your marketing automation software can help you classify your lead and score them from the moment they get in touch with you all the way to when you transfer the lead to your sales team for closing the deal.

With lead management capabilities, you’ll know where your customer is sitting in its purchasing journey, whether or not you should continue nurturing the lead and when to start taking active steps in making the sale.

Audience segmentation 

Audience segmentation is the ability to segment your audience based on their interests, behaviour, common factors and demographics.

Properly segmenting your audience will help you target each segment with content and material most valuable to them.

You will execute a more contextualized marketing effort to help move your segmented audience through your marketing funnel.

Social media posting 

Social media marketing and strategy is valuable for all businesses.

However, it can take a lot of effort to manage each social media account, publish posts on each platform and manage the social interactions.

Marketing automation tools can provide you with one comprehensive dashboard where you can manage all your social media profiles from the same central hub.

You will also get analytics and performance data tracking your social media engagement and effectiveness. 

Digital ads and retargeting 

Digital ads and retargeting can be centrally managed with marketing automation software.

You can serve digital ads on search engines, social mediate sites and ad networks where you either manually manage them or do it programmatically.

Marketing automation tools will help you centrally define and execute your digital ad strategy across multiple channels and platforms.

Takeaways

If you are involved with your company’s marketing efforts, you can attest to the fact that you have a lot on your plate.

You need to plan your campaigns, do your market research, execute your marketing campaigns on multiple channels and monitor all the results.

Oh, make sure you don’t forget about social media and so on and so forth!

It takes a lot of effort and time to orchestrate an effective marketing strategy for your company.

This is where marketing automation comes into play.

With marketing automation, you will effectively automate your marketing tasks allowing you to plan, manage, execute and measure their marketing campaign efforts.

With marketing automation, you can better target your audience, provide them a personalized experience, effectively nurture your leads and ultimately improve your chances of selling your products and services.

In this article, we’ve discussed what you need to know about marketing automation, its definition, strategies, types of platforms and so on.