The explosion in online business and the effectiveness of Software as a Service have created a new boom: Marketing Automation. This allows marketers to address prospective customers almost personally. But to do so in a way that scales with your business.
It sounds almost too good to be true. So, what is marketing automation, and how does it work?
Why do Marketers Need Automation?
If you search for Marketing on this blog, you’ll find we’ve written a lot about it over the years. And rightly so: it’s one of the engines that drives business, and so, as a manager, you need to understand it from multiple perspectives.
And under big ideas, we’ve recently covered Permission Marketing, Buyer Personas, and the Four Ps of the Marketing Mix. Perhaps the truly big idea is marketing itself. But that would be too big, I fear, for 600-1,000 words!
But wouldn’t it be great if you could automate all the marketing goodness?
A kind of done-once automation of the process that personalises your marketing messages to meet the individual needs of each customer persona. So you could set it up and leave it to generate leads and convert prospects into customers?
That’s the promise of Marketing Automation.
The purpose of Marketing Automation is to nurture, maintain, and deepen customer relationships. And the goal is to do so in a personalised way, without the overhead of dealing with each of many hundreds, thousands, or even millions of potential customers in a truly one-to-one manner.
So, marketing automation has the potential to generate significant revenue for businesses that use it well. So, despite the software cost and the costs of setting it up, it can give an excellent return on their investment (ROI).
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is software and a set of strategies for using it. They allow companies to nurture their prospects with highly personalized messages and serve them with useful content. These are calculated to convert prospects to customers and then to turn customers into loyal customers.
The main elements of marketing automation are:
- Lead generation – finding prospective customers
- Segmentation – understanding their needs and the messages that will appeal to them
- Lead nurturing – delivering those messages and moving the prospect towards a purchase
- Lead scoring – prioritising prospects according to their behaviours and responses to your messages
- Customer lifecycle marketing – building a sequence of tailored messages that adapt to the customer’s choices. These allow you to cross-sell and up-sell further products
- Customer service and retention – delivering the level of service that leads to customer loyalty and repeat business
- Measuring ROI – to evaluate your investment and assess the case for future marketing investments
How to Set-up Marketing Automation
Oh boy – that’s a big one. I have gone a lot of the way in my own online business (OnlinePMCourses.com) but am far from an expert.
Let’s just set aside strategic marketing activities like understanding buyer personas, and getting your marketing mix (product, price, promotion, and place) right. Some of the main things you need to set up in marketing automation include:
- Landing pages
- Lead capture
- Email message sequences
- Information gathering
- Tagging leads and the logic of what messages to send to whom
- Campaign management
- Lead scoring and behavioural prediction
- Lead management
- CRM integration
- Social marketing
- Behaviour tracking
- Marketing analytics
How to Get Marketing Automation Wrong
…or, a critique of its misuse.
The term ‘Marketing Automation’ has become something of a 20-teens buzz-word. Too many marketers and entrepreneurs believe it is the golden key to success. They naively believe that it contains every digital marketing tool they need for growth. They think it can do everything, to its own, from generating new leads to converting sales.
But it’s just another tool.
And a fool with a tool is just another fool.
You need to use marketing automation wisely, alongside other tools and in the context of a well-crafted marketing strategy.
Neither is Marketing Automation just a Fancy Name for Email Marketing
Lots of email marketing platforms are now describing themselves as marketing automation tools. In truth, all they offer is an auto-responder that can automate a static sequence of emails to a defined segment of subscribers. That’s a lot more capability than was available 20 years ago, but it isn’t true marketing automation.
Marketing automation co-ordinates a package of marketing activities across many channels. Potentially, these include:
- Direct email
- Direct mail
- Phone campaigns
- SMS messaging
- Tracking of interactions with websites
- Onsite chat
- Social media
- Social chat / messenger conversations
- and many more
Finally, it also integrates with your CRM and web analytics.
And please, please, please…
Marketing automation is not (NOT) just a sophisticated way to send out spam!
What is Your experience of Marketing Automation?
We’d love to hear your experiences, ideas, and questions. Please leave them in the comments below.