According to Wikipedia, marketing automation is a term that describes software solutions that enable the automation of marketing processes. I would see the term Marketing Automation rather as an overall concept how to automate processes / tasks / procedures, so that time and money can be saved in the company. Besides, quite boring tasks can be reduced and copy & paste errors can be avoided. For automation there are of course countless tools that help, so the term is probably mostly equated 1:1 with tools. One of these tools is Zapier, for which I have outlined some examples of marketing automation in this blog post.
How does Marketing Automation work?
As already mentioned, software tools play a major role in automating processes / tasks. Basically, you first have to find the processes in the marketing or marketing and sales funnel that are repeated again and again and have high potential for automation. Especially if the process of a task is the same every time, the chance is very high that you can automate it. So the procedure to implement it is:
- Detect and analyze repetitive processes
- Select marketing automation tools and “rebuild” the process in them
- Let the tools work and watch how everything runs faster :)
Basically, marketing automation can be thought of as the reduction of manual work that has also taken place in factories. Instead of laboriously assembling parts of a product by hand, machines took over this work.
For digital marketing, this principle of automation can be done the same way. Instead of manually sending a collection of the latest blogposts to newsletter subscribers every month, a marketing automation tool can also perform this task fully automatically.
Why do you need Marketing Automation?
In the B2B sector, one of the most important reasons is probably to get the data flow and information from marketing leads to sales as quickly and error-free as possible. But also to bring within the “marketing customer journey” fast, fully automated playout of tailored activities to the potential lead. Fully automated nurturing of potential leads is also a major advantage of marketing automation, or was only made possible by the automation options in the tools. This functionality is also strongly applied in the B2C area. A very good example is the “fully automated tracking” of potential customers through ads over the entire Internet once you have looked at a shoe in the online store :). This means that the entire re-marketing machinery is based on many fully automated rules in the background.
Marketing Automation plays a role in new customer acquisition as well as in existing customer care. Depending on the system and setup, it can be used purely in marketing or be a valuable bridge to the sales team in the data transfer of leads.
What is the benefit of marketing automation?
Short answer: Since many processes run in the background and are fully automated after the setup is done, you save a lot of time and money.
Marketing automation tools are either often easily connectable to a CRM or already contain the CRM itself. This makes it easy to access a lot of data, because a cookie tracking of the CRM is usually also implemented on the website so that the potential customer / lead can also be observed during the activities on the website.
When this visitor comes to the company website for the first time, a cookie is set and, depending on the activity and number of activities, certain tailored fully automatic steps and measures can be initiated. Let’s sketch an example: The visitor jumps after the start page to the newsletter page and registers there, furthermore he visits the “price” page and stays there for a few minutes to read everything in detail. These actions could be an indicator or “trigger” that triggers the marketing automation tool to send a certain prepared email with specific content about pricing to the visitor, or perhaps the visitor is already invited to a demo with a calendar link to simply book an appointment with the sales team.
Here you would have a fully automated process that sends very targeted information to the lead and thus takes away a lot of manual work and serves the lead very well. The research of the lead is thus “facilitated” by reacting to its activities. Furthermore, a tedious back and forth between the sales team and the potential customer (prospect) is immediately minimized.
Based on certain segments and categories with which content on the website and in e-mails is classified / marked, the leads can also be targeted with the appropriate content which fits their customer journey via e-mail or even via dynamically updated web pages on their next visit.
This can be developed and built with the now very powerful marketing automation tools.
So, in a nutshell, marketing automation offers:
- Time saving
- Money saving
- Tailored content for every step in the user journey of your prospect
- Avoidance of copy & paste errors in manual activities (list transfer from webinar for example)
- Enables a complete analysis of the customer life cycle
- Competitive advantage over competitors who do not use marketing automation
- Shortening of sales cycles
What marketing automation tools are there?
There is a wide range of tools to perform marketing automation. They range from free and suitable for small startups and 1-person companies to CRM integrated solutions for global corporations.
My first contact with marketing automation was through email systems like Mailchimp. Here, as mentioned above, content such as the new blogposts of the current month could be sent fully automatically to all newsletter subscribers.
Many email marketing systems already have CRM and marketing automation functionality integrated in the free version. Therefore, this would be the easy start, so to speak. To list a few of them:
In the upper league are systems that were often already designed as CRM and then got the marketing automation and e-mail functionality afterwards. Here are the big marketing automation players:
It should be mentioned that Pardot was bought and integrated by Salesforce. And of course there are hundreds more of these tools, but in my opinion, these are currently the largest and most important that you should have on your radar when deciding on a tool.
Marketing Automation is a very big topic that you should definitely have on your radar as a digital marketer. For years it is getting bigger and bigger and I think the more time you invest here the more effective digital marketing and growth can be implemented in every company. In further blogposts I will go into more detail about Marketing Automation especially in the B2C and B2B area with many examples and ideas for setups. Stay tuned :)