Most people have heard of marketing automation, but sifting between myth and truth is another thing altogether. Part of the issue is the name; it is not as easy to say as paid search, it is not as ubiquitous as SEO, and the 'automation' turns some people off immediately.
So what is it? First, let's talk about what it is not‚ email marketing. Many people, even marketers, frequently use 'marketing automation' interchangeably with 'email marketing'. This is not accurate. Email is but one component of marketing automation, but they are absolutely not the same thing. Let's break it down further by first looking at the two words.
Marketing - the essential component of a company's relationship with people or brands before they become customers (or leads). For some companies, especially the ones that have larger potential customer base, the possibility of maintaining constant interaction with each and every person is quite overwhelming.
Automation - the use of tools within a system to send personalized, targeted messages across multiple channels in an efficient and scalable fashion.
Now we can define marketing automation as an interconnected system of people, software, strategy, and tactics to replace manual, repetitive or inefficient marketing tasks & processes, the goal of which is to interact with prospects in a personalized, scalable, and profitable manner.'
Based on our exploration of the two words it is easy to see that marketing automation is a comprehensive solution. As such, it can and should be utilized to achieve the following for your business:
- Message Tailoring: target prospects based on the actions they've performed on your website. Knowing how they browse your site tells you what they are interested in. Use this to your advantage.
- Customer Segmentation: group, or segment prospective customers by their interests, behavior, and sometimes, even demographics. Your prospects should receive messages that are relevant to their needs, not yours!
- Communication Consistency: uniform, optimized, on-brand delivery of any marketing messages or communication across all channels and touch points. Your company's brand and voice should be reflected everywhere.
- Actionable Insight: detailed reporting on each campaign or channel to allow for for easily digestible data, statistics, or graphs to further improve future marketing efforts. Optimize all the things.
"Your prospects should receive messages that are relevant to their needs, not yours!" (CLICK TO TWEET)
It should be pointed out just how hard it would be to generate and maintain a truly effective marketing campaign for a high volume of contacts. With the ability to automate your programs, you plan out the logic once. Then the system can manage most of it on its own. These kinds of tailored programs are critical to nurturing your contact relationships proactively (not reactively), while retaining control over the flow of information.
Why Is Marketing Automation Better?
Marketing automation is very distinct from the auto responder tools that many businesses typically use. When used properly, marketing automation can all but guarantee that prospective customers receive narrowly targeted, highly relevant, marketing messages at exactly the correct time.
This ability for targeted messaging is radically different from traditional email marketing blasts. Basic email delivery services frequently are only able to send non-targeted email "blasts" to a large group of recipients in a one-to-many fashion. Frequently, this un-targeted approach is viewed, albeit sometimes incorrectly, as spam.
In direct contrast to plain email marketing blasts, marketing automation leverages behavioral-based targeting and communication. Using marketing automation, a company can automatically send a new prospect just starting their online research some high-level information that is relevant to their exact topic. Conversely, if (or when) a prospective customer is ready to buy, they can be sent purchase-related messages. At the same time, the marketing automation platform could be configured to send a notification to sales or account staff, and recommend contacting the lead. Leads looking at one product on the website can be sent information about that specific product, without a salesperson having to ask the lead anything.
As you can see an automated program that schedules targeted and personalized messages to specific customers, rather than a one-size-fits-all campaign, will generate higher conversions and more revenue.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
A word of caution…the value and success of any marketing automation implementation is relative to your business' needs. In most cases, this would be heavily influenced by how well your content marketing initiatives are performing. Thus, if your content marketing isn't working, then marketing automation will not provide the desired fix.
Otherwise the outcome of a successful implementation will result in an increased operational efficiency and reaction to prospects' behavior and communication when they are ready, increases in revenue, and predictable activities and accurate sales forecasting.
Go forth and automate!