The concept is not new, but it is starting to gain momentum as more businesses turn towards new technologies to solve redundancy problems with which human employees just can’t cope.
But, in order to be efficient and produce the expected results, marketers need to understand automation’s smallest details.
What is Marketing Automation?
According to Drip’s guide on marketing automation, this is a process performed by software tools in order to reduce the time spent on redundant tasks.
An automation software will send emails to certain segments on your email list, will track users’ behavior, and will be a helpful tool in creating engaging email marketing campaigns that make customers and prospects feel special.
As you can imagine, these tools are effective in online marketing, but in today’s day and age, this is the main way to increase sales and develop a business.
Why Do Companies Use Automation Platforms?
The goal of every company is to optimize resources in order to get the highest ROI possible.
After all, no one goes into business to lose money, right?
So, by using automation platforms, companies save time and money by eliminating the human element from redundant tasks. They also reduce the risk factor associated with human work, especially when the job gets boring. Furthermore, when companies don’t use automation software, it’s easy to lose track of various communications, and this usually translates into lost leads and opportunities.
Finally, such a software will keep track of users’ behavior and gather valuable intelligence that can be later processed and used to nurture the people who get in contact with the business.
As you can see, companies benefit plenty from using marketing automation, and according to a recent Forrester report, the money spent by companies on such tools will increase in the foreseeable future (the market may reach about $25.1 billion per year by 2023).
Companies that Use Marketing Automation for Growth
According to the Salesforce State of Marketing report for 2017, 67% of companies that lead in their niche use an automation platform to keep track of their audience and nurture leads in various stages. But stats like this one can create the impression that only big brands can reap the benefits of automation tools (which is not true).
If you are in the right place in your marketing development, the size of your business does not matter. To support this claim, here are some companies, both big and small, that do a fantastic job using such tools:
Like most big car companies, part of their revenues comes from maintenance. But this activity is dependent on a customer’s willingness to follow through with the established maintenance schedule. Well, the guys at Nissan don’t leave this decision to chance!
The company records the date of purchase and contact information of the owner in a database, and the use this information to send out maintenance reminder emails using software automation. As a result, this activity (that requires no human employees to execute) generates new leads and nurtures the customers.
This is a great example of how automation marketing can be of help to any company offering a recurring service.
The place where most of us go to buy online tickets for Broadway shows has a very nice approach towards email automation. They will send a welcome email to any new subscriber with a discount for their first purchase on the site.
By doing so, the site doesn’t allow the subscriber to forget about their intent; they even push it a little further, offering a discount. So, the user is a lot more motivated to go to the site and make a purchase!
Everyone likes to feel special, but when you are loyal to a brand, being acknowledged by said brand is even more ego-stroking!
Sephora knows this, so they use email automation for customers who spend a certain amount on their products. This is called the VIB (Very Important Beauty) program and offers customers immediate access to new products, special discounts, and more.
As you can see, the methods used by these brands can be applied by anyone interested to increase engagement without spending their entire marketing budget on this task. Also, even if it seems most brands use email marketing to increase conversion, automation software can do a lot more.
Is Marketing Automation the Answer for Everything?
Put in a simplistic light, marketing automation is the process of nurturing leads to produce returning paying customers. But, when applied in practice, it’s easy to understand it won’t work under any circumstances.
For instance, if a marketer only automates the middle of their funnel without a plan that will generate new leads, the process will not work on an automatic loop. It may look easier to just buy email lists or use anything you have in your database, but without a healthy lead generation system, everything will come tumbling down.
So, if you’re only focusing your marketing efforts on the few existing customers you have, you’re missing out on the 99.99% of the market that’s left untapped. But even if you are the happy owner of a huge database of inbound leads, you still have to prepare for their annual 23% decay that happens through unsubscribe or old email addresses.
Considering this, it’s important to understand that automation can be used on other channels as well (not just email). Social media and search engines can also be used to get new leads and track behaviors so make sure not to limit your campaign to one channel only.
When Should You Invest in Marketing Automation?
Yes, using software and new technologies to reduce the amount of work you put in nurturing leads is effective, but only when your business reached a certain level of maturity. To this, we created a list with the easiest to notice signs that you are ready to invest in extra marketing tools:
- You are generating a steady flow of new leads
- The sales team doesn’t manage to cope with the number of quality leads they receive
- You have an effective content strategy and you understand how to approach different
types of customers
- You’re using all channels of communication, not just email
- You have a nurturing strategy in place that you’d like to scale.
As you can see, you need to have a solid basis for automation to work. So, if you already know the strategy to apply and have enough solid leads, it’s a good time to scale a tested process by adding automation software to your portfolio.
It’s crucial to understand that the software won’t do the job for you; it’s only designed to help grow your own genius marketing strategy!
The Future of Marketing Automation
Overall, marketing automation is a trend that’s here to stay. As marketers have access to more resources on the topic and software developers work harder in creating more advanced tools, it will become easier to get impressive results.
Finally, the automation of certain marketing processes inches towards creating a highly-personalized communication with leads and customers, which is quite a common complaint these days.
Joshua Laurel is a Marketing & SEO Analyst at Drip – a company that helps you see your customers in full color.