Marketing automation is quite a fancy term that you can spot almost everywhere these days. Be it a budding digital marketing blog or an established one, marketing automation seems to be the differentiating factor between a good digital marketer and an average one.
But what exactly is marketing automation? And, what do you mean when you say you have automated your marketing activities?
Does it mean that you don’t have to hire a marketing professional now? Or, does it mean that your business will have a sudden influx of leads from nowhere and your business revenue will shoot to the sky within days of implementing marketing automation?
Well, to put it simply, marketing automation is all about employing software to automate marketing activities. There are a lot of repetitive or recurring marketing activities that you let the software take care of – and that is what you roughly mean by marketing automation.
These repetitive tasks can be anything right from email marketing, social media posting to advertisement campaigns. A lot of people are under the misconception that marketing automation means sending automated emails with fancy flyers. However, that’s not the case.
Automating any marketing activity means that you have done marketing automation. And why do you do it? You do it not just for the sake of efficiency, but also to provide a rather more personalized experience to your customers.
Now that we have a context, let’s dig deeper into this and understand what is marketing automation, what difference does it make and how you can make the most out of it.
Marketing Automation Explained
Marketing Automation, in the most basic sense, is using software to automate certain marketing activities.
But, what if we tell you that marketing automation goes deeper than that?
Marketing, with changing times, has evolved a lot. It’s no longer just going out and requesting people to buy your products.
Because, why would they?
Your customers pretty much like you have certain pain points. And, when they buy a product, they actually buy a solution to that pain point.
If your marketing strategy is old school, let’s inform you that it may or may not bring your results.
But, if you see your customers at the center of everything you do, you must succeed. If you deeply care about your customers, you must succeed.
If your customers are convinced that you care about solving certain problems they have, they won’t hesitate to buy your products.
And, here is where marketing automation steps in. Marketing automation is all about providing a personalised experience to your customers based on how they responded to your previous attempts of selling.
Marketing automation plays a very important role when it comes to nurturing a relationship with your customers.
Be it drip campaigns or sending automated email responses at every step of the customer journey, marketing automation comes in handy and is rather very crucial.
What Exactly Should You Automate?
Now that we have understood that marketing automation is crucial to the business growth, the next question is what exactly should you automate?
A lot of marketers think that buying huge lists of prospects and shooting emails to them blindly does the job.
But, sorry to break it out to you, it doesn’t.
Because, back to the basics!
If your marketing activities are not guided by a marketing funnel, they are bound to fall flat.
Simple as that.
Buying lists of prospects and annoying them with overcrowded flyers is not the essence of marketing automation. In fact, that’s exactly what you should not do!
Can’t relate? How many times do you open random marketing emails that land in your inbox out of nowhere? And how often do you hit that “UNSUBSCRIBE” button at the bottom?
Marketing automation is more about providing a personalized customer experience and that begins with educating people about your product.
Good Versus Bad Marketing Automation
If you feel that marketing automation is plainly triggering emails based on time delays or actions such as email opens and email clicks, you are in for a ride.
What if someone opened your email, thanks to the clickbait subject line but hated it to the core? What if they hit the UNSUBSCRIBE button the next time you send a follow-up email?
Executing the rest of your email marketing strategy based on that one email click alone is a bad idea.
And, this is not how you execute a personalized lead nurturing strategy!
Marketing automation calls for context more than anything else.
For instance, if you sell your educational courses online, it’s crucial that rather than trying to sell the course in the first email, you understand what exactly your prospect is looking for!
Understand who your lead is and what they’re interested in.
That brings us to the next aspect of marketing automation.
A good marketing automation strategy must be backed by inbound marketing.
It may be hard to get, but marketing automation backed by inbound techniques works.
Marketing automation powered by inbound strategy is centered around the prospect and brings results that you crave and see other marketers boasting about.
Inbound marketing automation is all about understanding what drives your leads. It is all about using all the information available to see how your leads are responding to your products, where they are sourcing you from and what they are looking for.
This needs deep research and great observational skills because it’s more than writing an email and sending it to 10,000+ people.
The essence of marketing automation lies in collecting all the information possible and then using that information you have to create a marketing strategy and then automate it, so you deliver the information they need to make a purchase, exactly when and where they need it.
Marketing automation, contrary to the popular opinion, is not all about sending automated emails one after the other.
It’s more about understanding who your customers are and what they are looking for. Plus, it’s more about humanising the entire marketing approach rather than making the customer feel like they are receiving spam emails.
Take into account the evolving needs of your leads and you’d feel the difference yourself. And yes, rather than buying huge lists of prospects from various marketplaces, create those emails lists yourself.
Let people opt in themselves.
Try targeting top of the funnel leads through your emails. Establish a connection with them, nurture them gradually and provide value. Because when you overdeliver, you get returns!
Why Marketing Automation?
Now that we have seen what is marketing automation, what exactly should you automate when you do marketing automation, let’s have a quick look at how your business benefits from marketing automation.
Marketing automation is a great time saver.
Just imagine, would it be possible if you had to manually follow up with every marketing email that you send out?
Marketing automation allows you to put things on autopilot and focus! Focus on business development and other key areas that demand your attention.
Having said that, marketing automation also makes sure that your messages are delivered at the right time and right place.
For instance, if you have scheduled your LinkedIn posts for a weekend, chances are that your audience might not be that active.
It’s not a good idea to schedule your LinkedIn activity for a weekend. But, what if you have time on weekends only? That’s when you should consider using smart automations.
Top Marketing Automation Tools
What are the top marketing automation tools that every business must consider having?
Let’s have a quick look at what tools you must not skip out on.
A Tool to Automate Your Emails
An email marketing automation tool is an absolute must have for every business.
Target top-of-the-funnel leads and nurture middle-of-the-funnel leads with strategic email automation.
What are some good examples of email marketing tools? You may consider MailChimp, Aweber, Sendinblue, and Convert Kit.
A Tool to Schedule Your Social Media Posts
Once you are done creating the monthly social media content calendar, you should quickly schedule these for posting using a scheduling tool.
What are some good examples? We have Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Social Pilot, Buffer and many more.
Thus, this was a quick sneak peek into marketing automation.
Marketing automation is not this simple always though. At times, you may need help from a marketing automation expert to set up the entire system.
For instance, if you want the leads generated through Facebook advertisements directly in your CRM, you may need help.
How long have you been using marketing automation? How has your experience been with marketing automation?
Has it worked for you? What changes did it bring to your business?
We would love to hear your marketing automation story. Do leave your comments in the comments section below.