Marketing automation has come a long way since the inception of product promotion, advertising, and cultivating customer relationships. For digital practitioners and tech-savvy professionals, are we not all aware of how marketing automation isn’t a new thing that has only popped up all of a sudden?
From the rolodexes of clients and collections of business cards in the 80s and early 90s, to the early iterations of email marketing automation systems in the late 90s, and its subsequent development in the early 2000s, we now enjoy a wide range of software as a service (SaaS) systems for a variety of customer relationship management (CRM) and customer data platforms (CDP).
A quick look at marketing automation today
Marketing automation emerged with the advancement of technological capabilities and the demand for integrated tools, such as data analytics, email, and marketing management. At its core, these automation tools were focused on email marketing as its medium in reaching and engaging customers. But with the fast-paced growth of digital, it didn’t take too long before the industry started innovating, and we soon found ourselves with SaaS solutions offering all-in-one, cloud-based marketing and sales automation platforms.
In fact, per Emailmonday.com, an average of 51 percent of companies in the US have been utilizing marketing automation, with 58 percent of B2B companies looking to implement some form of automated marketing tech, as well. The industry’s trajectory is looking positive, as it is expected to grow up to 6.4-billion USD by 2024, which is well-evidenced by the numbers—75 percent of marketers claim to use marketing automation in one way or another.
Should we be surprised at how impactful marketing automation is at the moment? Not really—especially when you’ve been immersed in the industry for a considerable amount of time, and know how the craft has transformed over the years. That being said, given its prevalence and benefits, the concern for the uninitiated still bears asking: “Why do you need marketing automation?”
5 benefits of marketing automation
Integrated sales and marketing automation software introduces a suite of tools and features, which basically serves to make marketing tasks—whether online or offline—easier through more efficient processes. These tasks can include setting up customer lists, organizing a client database, carrying out audience segmentation, planning marketing campaigns, and blasting out emails, newsletters, promos, and updates, among many others. And with the many marketing automation tools out there, here are five benefits that may probably convince you it’s more than worth it:
1. It efficiently enables sales and marketing alignment
With the amount of time you’ll save through effective automation, your business gets to reduce staffing costs and reallocate more bandwidth towards the high-impact work that matters, such as strategizing and aligning sales and marketing goals.
Take, for example, how you—as a digital marketer—can do away with the manual posting of marketing collateral for a social media campaign, because of automated, scheduled posts. And it doesn’t stop there, as you get to save more time by having the capability to come up with content like blog posts and landing pages, all while running several other marketing campaigns. With streamlined sales and marketing objectives, your business has better chances of hitting your company goals.
Ayat Shukairy of Invesp cites the pertinent figures: on the average, marketing automation enables the increase of up to 14.5 percent in sales productivity and the 12.2 percent decrease in marketing overhead costs.
2. It enables the execution of tailored marketing strategies
With more bandwidth in your staff freed up by automation, your marketing team will have more time to create more personalized marketing strategies. This can involve having more time to study the brand and figure out its nuances in developing its buyer persona, creating audience lists, or executing omni-channel marketing campaigns.
For instance, through digital marketing for e-Commerce, you can develop automated ad campaigns that target your audience at every stage of the sales funnel; whether it’s in the awareness, interest, desire, or action stage. Set up your campaign’s budget, schedule, and audience list, then wait for the leads to pour in. Monitor the results and make the necessary adjustments that fit the business’ branding and effectively reach your target audience.
3. It can handle high volumes of data storage and management for reporting and analytics
Given the significance of user data in today’s digital sphere, most marketing automation platforms will have the capacity to keep and update web data, such as leads, traffic, and any type of engagement on your business site or e-Commerce store. With easily accessible data, you can generate automated reports that simplify what used to be a time-consuming collection of separate tasks.
This also means that not only do you get an accurate source of truth when it comes to data, but your business is provided an overview of all the figures that can influence your business goals, processes, and campaign strategies. Do the numbers show where the leads start to taper off? At what point does sales slow down? These are just a few questions that analytics can shed some light on, so leverage these information.
4. It allows for scalability
Marketing automation may not have the capacity to replace the human mind at the workplace, but it does have the tireless capability to execute repetitive tasks without fail, which makes it the perfect tool for expanding operations on demand. So, when there is a need for your business to scale up or utilize bandwidth for more critical tasks and time-consuming processes, automation tools exist to offer your business an opportunity.
5. It empowers lead nurturing and increased conversion rates
Marketing automation platforms enable and empower you to nurture leads and help improve conversions. From email campaigns to tracking ads and monitoring their performance, having a one-stop automation shop makes it easier and more effective to reach your target audience and potential customers. With powerful CRMs and marketing automation software, you can track leads and launch remarketing campaigns to improve your conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Marketing automation essentially provides you with the tools and frees up bandwidth for your marketing team to study the data and implement these campaigns.
5 things you can do right now
An awareness of the opportunity in marketing automation can open up mounds of discoveries in your operations. That being said, if your business has yet to take the leap, and you’re still hesitant about fully committing to any marketing automation software, here are five things you can do:
1. Check out the best marketing automation tools in the market
With a quick Google search of “the best marketing automation software,” you’re likely going to find an extensive list of tools with a diverse set of key features, leaving you confused over which one to choose for your business. Reading reviews and watching demos will help you narrow down your choices and find the best fit for your needs. CMS Wire lists down five of the industry’s giants according to market share as of May 2021:
- Hubspot (29.51 percent)
- Adobe Experience Cloud (12.11 percent)
- Oracle Marketing Cloud (8.63 percent)
- Active Campaign (8.01 percent)
- Salseforce Pardot (4.89 percent)
2. Create personalized content
The consumer of today has become more scrutinizing of hard sell advertising and increasingly averse to anything that tries to sell them irrelevant products and services. Context is everything and personalized, targeted content creation can go a long way in making your business’ target audience feel seen, appreciated, and welcomed.
Use the various marketing tools at your disposal, such as social listening, audience segmentation, the buyer persona, and the marketing funnel, among others, to effectively tap into your customer base. Content, after all, remains to be king.
3. Integrate chatbots in your customer service platforms
AI chatbots are an example of marketing automation via personalized customer service, and through its implementation into your platforms such as your business site or social media page, you can provide value to your customers 24/7.
In fact, Webengage.com cites how 60 percent of Facebook Users engaged a Chatbot via Facebook Messenger. And with a massive 2.5 billion messaging app users expected to be active in this year alone, can you imagine how many micro-moments have the potential to turn into sales? Chatbots can help make transform these slivers of engagement into valuable conversations between your brand and your consumers.
4. Utilize social media marketing and automation together
Social media marketing is no longer confined to B2C businesses, as B2B companies can take a slice or two from the freshly baked and piping-hot pie that is social. Through automated social media marketing platforms, such as Facebook Ads, you can reach the right audience at the right time and through the right places. With a comprehensive social strategy and in-depth understanding of your brand, audience targeting can become the most effective automation tool in casting a wide net over your potential customers.
5. Prioritize customer retention
With the advent of digital, customer experience has permeated into the entire buyer’s journey—from awareness and all the way down the funnel to conversion—which has prompted other iterations of the model to include post-sales engagement and customer nurturing campaigns.
Apart from new acquisitions, customer retention is becoming the go-to priority for many brands, and for good reason, too. Client retention not only offers the potential of repeat purchases, but it also emphasizes the impact of brand loyalty, which can return more long-term value as opposed to acquisitions. It’s no secret that it usually costs more to acquire new customers than to retain your existing customer base, so by keeping your current buyers happy and satisfied, you can expect more new customers to start coming onboard willingly.
Remember that today’s consumer trusts peer reviews and online recommendations, which will be accessible to your potential buyers, so it will be to your business’ advantage to focus on building and strengthening customer experience and retention. There are marketing automation tools to help you make this happen.
Conclusion: Is marketing automation the future?
It cannot be denied that automation is indeed shaping industry processes and innovating the way marketers used to do things, but every marketing campaign will still require the involvement of a unique human element in analyzing and strategizing. So, to wrap this up, marketing automation truly is the future. As evidenced by the development of marketing and automation over decades ago, industry demand and the evolution of various technologies can only continue to usher in more creative ways in effectively catering to a need. Depending on the size of your business, marketing automation can be the boon that takes your business to the next level.
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