Marketing automation is the practice of using software to execute, manage and automate marketing tasks and processes.
Its story begins with the development of early CRM platforms in the 1980s, which were used to retrieve customer data to help create sales. With the birth of the internet, marketing automation software was created to help marketing teams schedule and track their campaigns, as well as relieve staff from carrying out repetitive tasks.
The original ideas behind marketing automation still hold true, but in 2019 there’s so much more that a sound strategy can help businesses achieve. Today you can use marketing automation to increase efficiency, drive business growth, release more relevant content and, most importantly, deliver a personalized experience to your customers.
What is Marketing Automation Software?
Marketing automation software is a kind of technology that businesses use to manage their marketing processes and campaigns across multiple channels. It also allows companies to contact prospects and customers with automatically delivered messages that are sent across email, web browser, or email.
No matter how busy they are, marketers can rely on marketing automation software to send personalized messages to the right prospects at the right time.
Marketing Automation Tools
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
No matter how many customers a company has, it can be tricky to manage them effectively without a bit of automated help. CRM software provides this by keeping hold of customer information and purchase history, as well as the interaction details between customer and business.
With access to this data, companies are able to further personalize the interactions that they have with customers and, ultimately, use this to help increase sales.
Email marketing is one of the oldest forms of digital marketing and is still going strong today. Not only is it the most popular type of marketing strategy, it also delivers the highest ROI for marketers. Rather than composing and sending out emails to individual customers, however, many businesses use email marketing to plan, implement, and monitor their campaigns.
Email marketing technology allows companies to automate messages and send them to customers once they have carried out a particular action online, or at a time of the company’s choice. Although they’re automated, emails can be personalized by most tools to target individual customers. Tools can also provide marketing teams with analytics that will help measure the effectiveness of their current strategies.
Social Media Marketing
This commonly used software is embraced by marketers in need of a tool that will allow them to schedule posts and manage their social networks. Social media is often used as a channel to drive engagement and showcase your brand’s personality, meaning it’s usually best to engage with your followers on a person-to-person basis and not automate your posts.
Some other clear benefits of this software include functions that provide context to customer interactions and measure the efficacy of your social media efforts in relation to other campaigns.
Analyzing the performance of your automation strategy is essential if you want to understand the impact it’s having on marketing ROI.
Analytics software provides some clarity for marketers by letting them track user data and gather insights on how individuals are interacting with your brand. This enables teams to compare their different marketing channels and subsequently shape strategies around what works.
Marketing Automation Platforms vs Tools
If you want a tool that will let you manage all of the above from one centralized location, then the classic marketing automation software is the solution for you. This all-in-one platform lets companies drive traffic to their website, manage day-to-day content, score leads, create landing pages, organize marketing automation strategies, and more.
Marketing automation software is also the most expensive and complicated piece of kit that you’ll be able to get your hands on, so make sure your company has a clear need for such comprehensive software before you take the plunge.
Why Use Marketing Automation?
Here are just a few of the reasons business owners & marketers turn to marketing automation.
By using marketing automation to gather information about leads as they navigate your website, you’re able to learn more about each individual prospect or customer. You can then tailor your follow-ups based on these insights.
Marketing automation software can also prioritize your leads by assigning them scores based on the estimated likelihood that they will make a purchase. This is done by taking into account data related to things such as demographics, company and industry type, email click-through rates, and social media interactions.
Many of your leads won’t be ready to buy right away, so it’s important to develop relationships with them and guide them through the buying process. 77% of customers want targeted content at each stage of their research, according to Pardot.
By tracking behavioral data like website visits and webinar participation, marketing automation streamlines the process of getting personalized content to your prospects at the right times.
Using marketing automation means that your company will gain a significant amount of time that was previously dedicated to carrying out menial tasks. This leaves more time for marketers to focus on strategy, solve problems, and generally be creative.
Unite Sales & Marketing Teams
Sales and marketing departments haven’t always been known for seeing eye to eye. Marketing automation can bring them together by increasing conversion rates, improving lead quality, and using data to direct sales teams to the right prospects.
Thinking a few steps ahead is vital in the world of business. Investing in marketing automation features that support both short and long-term growth will give you a secure platform that will help sustain your business well into the future.
How To Make Marketing Automation Work For You
Based on data collected through your interactions with prospects, marketing automation allows you to build a complete picture of your potential customers.
From there, you simply input some manual instructions and your software will do the rest. Possibilities include streamlining target processes to determine your correct audience and customizing messages to suit your individual customers.
Now that you know why you should be using marketing automation software, it’s time for you to make it a reality. Here are four steps you can take to ensure you start off on the right foot.
Determine Your Needs
Marketing automation provides you with many time-saving possibilities. But first you have to decide what exactly you want to accomplish – whether that’s generating new leads, producing email campaigns, or scheduling blog posts, If it’s something specific that you want help with, then a standalone automation tool will likely do the job.
On the other hand, if you want to manage all of your marketing activities from an integrated platform, then you’ll be better off with a more comprehensive solution.
Understand Your Audience
If you want to successfully target your audience then it’s vital that you understand them. By finding out the typical demographic profile, location, interests, and habits of your target audience, you will get a better idea of what tasks should be automated.
Choose The Right Platform
Following the first two steps will provide all the information you need to find the right platform for you. Check out the Marketing Automation Platforms and Tools section in this guide to learn more about the range of options.
Strategize & Implement
The creation of a sound strategy is essential when introducing marketing automation to your company. Just as important is a clear and committed implementation of this strategy.
This can be achieved by suitably designating roles before the implementation process begins, as well as ensuring there are open channels of communication throughout the team.
Marketing Automation Best Practices
Here are just a few marketing automation best practices.
Starting with the engagement of potential customers, workflows are a series of automated actions that are strategically designed to guide prospects through the buying process. Creating a workflow lays the foundation for everything that will be achieved through marketing automation, so they’re kind of important.
Don’t panic though. Just decide what action you want to be completed – this can range from sending out subscriber welcome emails to lead nurturing – and search for examples of appropriate workflows online.
Conversational marketing is the best way of connecting with your customers in an authentic, human way. Despite the fact that robots are sending out your messages, your content still needs to come across as personalized if you want your customers to feel appreciated.
Focus On Content Creation
Build a content library that speaks in your brand’s voice. By creating a bank of interesting, engaging, and relevant content that takes your customers into account, you will be able to use automation to effectively reach out to them throughout the buying process.
Get Everyone On Board
Multiple teams will be impacted by your marketing automation strategy, so it’s important to get everyone’s input before you begin. Some of your team may also feel threatened by the idea, so ensure them that automation will reduce menial tasks and help their talent to shine by letting them concentrate on what matters most.
Bots are going to play an increasingly prominent role in automating marketing. Having a chatbot welcome visitors to your webpage can improve the customer experience and help drive self-service. They can also be used to carry out tasks like sending confirmation emails, signing customers up for events, and chasing up invoices.
Marketing Funnel Automation
Inbound marketing involves creating high-quality content that is actively sought out by customers. While it’s great for creating brand awareness and generating leads, it doesn’t necessarily move prospects through the sales funnel. Using marketing automation, however, can help you reach out to customers by sending them content that is targeted to suit those at particular stages of the funnel.
Measure Your Progress
Monitor the results that your marketing automation strategy has had on your overall marketing efforts. Find out how your customers have been reacting by using a customer experience mapping tool. Use the data to modify your strategy accordingly and introduce new automations to improve the customer experience.
Marketing Automation Platforms
Marketing automation platforms offer complete solutions to companies that want software which allows them to oversee and manage their whole automation strategy. Platforms negate the need for synching information on multiple tools and make it easier for different departments to review the wider strategy. Here are some of the most popular all-in-one solutions on the market.
Marketo is a popular and powerful marketing automation platform that integrates well with Drift.
It essentially puts all of your software and services into one place, which helps to improve traffic and conversions. Marketo allows customers to easily set up marketing campaigns, design and alter websites, create forms, and build landing pages that are customized to suit a company’s particular visual style.
Holding close to a 20% market share, Salesforce is the most well-known and widely used customer relationship management (CRM) platform. It provides a single, shared view of each individual customer to every department, including marketing, sales, commerce, and service.
Salesforce is ideally suited to large businesses with diverse needs that require a high level of personalization and plenty of additional features that aren’t found on smaller platforms. Available functions include opportunity management and lead routing, which ensures that leads and the responsibility for engaging them is assigned to a relevant member of the sales team. You can learn more about our Salesforce integration here.
Drift Automation is like cloning your best SDR so they can greet every visitor on your website. It does this in 3 steps:
- We analyze your conversations – Our AI analyzes your previous conversations and the bot starts to understand your business. So instead of just being able to ask questions, it can answer them too. It’s also trained on what a good lead looks like for your sales team.
- Our Annotation Team trains the bot – Our team reviews the bot with you, perfecting its answers and then is tested with a small audience on your website. It scales infinitely: the more it works, the more it learns and the better it gets.
- Automate chat on your website – Meanwhile your buyer is getting their questions answered any time of day or night by a bot you didn’t have to build or optimize yourself and is always getting smarter.
Pardot is an advanced marketing automation solution that’s built on Salesforce’s CRM platform. It’s tailored to meet the needs of B2B marketing companies, while its main features include tools that help turn leads into customers. CRM, email marketing, and ROI reporting are also integrated.
The platform’s lead scoring tool is especially useful in helping marketers prioritize leads based on how they respond to emails or interact with your website. By lead scoring effectively, companies are more likely to increase sales. You can learn more about our Pardot integration here.
Marketing Automation Tools
Marketing automation tools are more specialized types of software that allow marketing teams to focus on one or two particular features of their automation strategy. Here are some of the main types of tools, complete with example products.
Email Automation Tools
Email marketing automation tools are certainly one of the most popular types of standalone tools. Common functions include automated campaign builders, audience segmentation features, and the sending of triggered emails.
Built for subscription businesses, Customer.io makes it easy to send personalized emails to customers throughout every stage of their life cycle. By integrating with company websites and mobile apps, Customer.io gathers customer data in real time that is subsequently used to trigger and send emails based on predefined workflows.
We also recommend you use Siftrock, which helps you manage email replies at scale.
Social Media Automation Tools
Manually updating multiple accounts can be tedious work if your brand has an active presence on social media. That’s why many companies opt for a tool that lets them automate some of the more mechanical aspects of social media marketing, such as publishing content and analyzing data.
Hootsuite is a comprehensive tool that allows companies to carry out social media marketing campaigns, identify and grow their audience, and send targeted messages across multiple channels. A centralized base from which to manage all of your social media accounts, Hootsuite also offers features that help with scheduling content and monitoring conversations about your brand and industry.
Customer Experience Automation Tools
Customer experience automation tools are all about helping companies to enhance their lead generation, lead scoring, and lead nurturing. Also known as customer journey automation, this kind of software is used to improve interactions with customers by assisting them with common tasks. A typical example of this kind of tool is a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to engage with customers.
Leadfeeder is a tool that tracks visitors to a company’s website and uses that information to score and filter leads based on the marketing team’s preferred criteria. Leads are then assembled into custom feeds which can be assessed by marketing and sales teams in order to take the next step.
Marketing Automation Jobs
Plenty of companies will want expert help implementing a marketing automation strategy. Processes will need to be put in place and organizational changes will need to occur in both sales and marketing. Here are some job roles that will help to make marketing automation a reality for your business.
Marketing Automation Specialist
Marketing automation specialists are mainly responsible for deciding which tools are needed to execute complex campaigns, how data generated by these campaigns will be used, and how the performance of these campaigns should be tracked by analytics.
It’s also important that a marketing automation specialist has a broad understanding of marketing and proficiency in creating workflows for processes such as lead scoring, lead nurturing, and customer segmentation. And a good candidate will be able to empower others to use marketing automation to do their jobs more efficiently and independently.
Content Marketing Manager
Companies with an inbound marketing strategy that want to use automation to move customers along the sales funnel will need to hire people that are able to create dynamic content. After all, marketing automation alone will not produce the insightful blogs and videos that draws customers to your business in the first place.
Social Media Marketing Manager
As mentioned above, it’s essential for social media communications to display your brand’s personality in the most personable way possible. That’s why social media marketers are needed to provide a human touch to the posts that marketing automation can help you schedule and analyze.
Take Your Marketing Automation To The Next Level
Now that you’ve learned the basics of marketing automation, you might be interested in learning more about email marketing automation, which is still a huge piece of how we generate demand in today’s marketing automation world. You can download our free guide by clicking below.