Empower your organization.
Many posts on our Insights blog describe developments in big data, data analytics, and other revolutionary IT capabilities. Increasingly sophisticated and accurate algorithms allow marketers to tailor their messaging to match a prospect’s psychological and demographic profile.
These breakthroughs have made marketing automation possible. Is your company already harnessing marketing automation software? If not, is it time to do so now?
What is marketing automation?
“Marketing automation is the use of software and Web-based services to execute, manage and automate marketing tasks and processes. It replaces manual and repetitive marketing processes with purpose-built software and applications geared toward performance. It is web-based and requires no software installation by the customer. Marketing automation is an integral component of customer relationship management (CRM).”
Marketing automation also incorporates the following-
- Customer segmentation, customer data integration, and campaign management.
- Targeted email marketing, social media messaging, website customer feedback, conversion rate optimization, and lead generation.
- A structured sales process that creates varied conversion strategies for individual demographic/psychographic groups.
- Tools designed to optimize marketing automation’s inbound focus (as opposed to conventional marketing department-initiated outbound ‘push’ campaigns).
According to Marketo, about 50% of leads in any system are not ready to buy, and nearly 80% of all new leads will never become sales. With marketing automation, those odds can be improved by giving people tailored information and incentives to encourage conversions.
Marketing automation’s distinct advantages
When a new product was introduced in the past, marketers lacked knowledge of their customers’ psychographic and demographic variables. So, marketing campaigns were broad brush, appealing to the widest possible audience.
Smaller companies may have the advantage of a sales staff familiar with the needs and preferences of individual customers. –But as a company expands, that 1:1 relationship with customers becomes impossible. Marketing automation has overcome that impasse by reaching out to individuals with messaging that is consistent with each customer’s profile.
Among the most important marketing automation metrics are (1) sent emails, (2) email messages opened, and (3) clickthroughs to the marketer’s website. People respond well to personalized emails that are well-written, entertaining, and engaging. They generate six times more revenue than non-personalized emails.
Companies that use marketing automation generate 50% more sales leads and higher conversion rates than outbound marketing for 30% less cost. Marketing automation also shortens the conversion process by about 70% and generates a revenue growth rate 3% higher than companies that don’t.
Marketing automation will empower your organization to do the following-
- Categorize customers and prospects by common behaviors, interests, and demographic details.
- Help your company test different variables like email send times, subject headings, and ideas for improving personalization.
- Track performance by season, month, and day of the week.
- Implement A/B testing to better pitch your messaging to subgroups to increase click-through rates back to your website.
- Develop a scoring algorithm which helps sales and marketing staff quickly identify the most promising prospects.
- Connect all touch points in the customer journey, including email marketing, social media, and content marketing. (It’s increasingly common for users to engage with your brands across channels – email, social, and content before deciding to purchase).
- Integrate marketing channels to deliver a comprehensive, omnichannel user experience.
- Nurture long-term prospects instead of focusing on immediate sales.
- Eliminate cold calling.
- Create templates, e-signatures, and message formats for email.
- Determine who among marketing and sales staff can use the software.
Marketing automation is inbound marketing
The terms “inbound marketing” and “content marketing” are frequently used interchangeably. They sharply contrast with the previously standard “outbound marketing.” –Outbound marketing is based on the strategy of attracting users by aggressively pushing adds on unsegmented groups with little if any granular information about potential customers. Common outbound marketing techniques include buying ads and email lists. Essentially, outbound automation is blasting audiences with advertising messages that can easily be experienced by users as spam.
CTAs and other incentives
Develop calls to action (CTAs) in your social media, blog, and website pages to gain the attention of prospects. These include things like email sign-ups, newsletter subscriptions, lead generation forms and purchase buttons. CTAs are critical for moving audiences through your conversion funnel to paying customers. Incentives aren’t necessarily directly sales-related but may include white papers, e-books, even free consultations.
With marketing automation, you get feedback as measured by open rates, clickthrough rates, and forwards to see how effective your marketing strategy has been. If your metrics don’t confirm that your content is engaging and of value to your customers, you can use that information to strategize a more effective approach.
There should be no element of hard sell or manipulation with marketing automation.
Marketing automation feedback allows you to guide people to the website page that is most consistent with their search pattern. For example, it’s best for a person with a search history of looking for specific products to be taken to a product page. On the other hand, someone who clicks on an ad and fills out a landing page form is probably going to search for more information before they make any decision.
Marketing automation allows a company to create baseline marketing messaging that promotes key values. Unlike outbound marketing, there should be no element of hard sell or manipulation with marketing automation. As businesses come to better understand the genuine needs of their customers, customer relations improve and helps shape future product and service development.
Hone your list
One of the key goals for marketing automation is to get your message to precisely the right people. Your metrics will help reveal your most qualified leads and eliminate the ones who are no longer responding. You’re much better off with a shorter list of highly qualified leads.
Avoid purchased lists
Outbound marketing campaigns often involve purchasing contact lists. Regardless of whether you are using a marketing automation platform or not, be aware that this tactic will work against you in the long term. –High-quality contact lists are seldom for sale. They are typically full of invalid and discarded email addresses. Even if a prospect on such a list sees your message, they are unlikely to do business with a company they are haven’t heard of. The result is a high bounce rate, low open rates, and a flood of abuse reports. –Also, email service providers seeing these metrics may label you as a spammer.
Marketing automation is a hands-on process
Marketing automation is anything but a hands-off process. It requires constant attention and improvement to ensure continued success. For example, companies use A/B testing of marketing automation software to run ongoing assessments of which sorts of content, subject lines, design variations, and CTAs different customer segments best respond to.
Marketing automation’s limitations
Research on marketing automation results confirms that for some companies marketing automation does not justify the investment of time and money it requires.
Problems often involve the following issues-
- Investing in marketing automation before building up a sufficient funnel of viewers and leads to automate. It’s best to grow your base of prospects before implementing marketing automation.
- Not having a blog, SEO, social media presence, or fully functional landing pages before implementing marketing automation.
Even more common are companies that buy marketing automation software but fail to use it fully. This is often the result of inadequate training. When marketing automation capabilities are limited to email functions (as is too often the case), it’s a missed opportunity. Bottom line– be careful not to buy more marketing automation features than you can use.
Is marketing automation for you?
Make sure you think through a marketing automation investment carefully. Here are some important questions to ask-
- Does your database contain all the customers you need to reach your sales revenue target? If your current customer database isn’t inclusive, you’re going to need new leads. Do you have a plan for generating them?
- What kind of marketing automation initiatives can your staff accommodate? Make sure your plans encompass the software setup, training, omnichannel integration, campaign planning, content development, and ongoing management required of any marketing automation platform.
Marketing Automation Software
The best Marketing Automation Software products are determined by customer satisfaction (based on user reviews) and scale (based on market share, vendor size, and social impact). Those with the highest customer satisfaction and strongest market presence include HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, Act-On, ActiveCampaign, Intercom, GetResponse, and Eloqua. You’ll need to investigate these and others to find the best fit for your marketing needs. Fortunately, most of these companies have free-trial options, so you can test them out before buying.
Amarketing automation platform comes with email, website visitor tracking, lead management, social media, CRM, reporting, and analytics. A core value proposition is that business owners can execute their marketing to (1) generate high-quality leads and (2) transform those leads into sales.
Any marketing automation system will be tailored to your company’s needs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. You need to carefully assess your objectives before choosing the targeting features and the analytic capabilities that will benefit you the most.