What is digital marketing automation?
Digital marketing automation has its roots in email marketing. Typically it is software or software as service (Saas) that allows you to automate repetitive tasks, reduce human error, manage complexity and measure and optimize your efforts.
Marketing automation has been a hot topic, on the minds of most marketers around the world, for some time now. Many of them still think of it as a tool reserved for big companies, huge marketing budgets, and advanced marketers.
However there are tool’s out there that are flexible enough for the needs of new or experienced marketing automation users and scalable to the size of your business.
But first, some facts
The internet is full of stats on marketing automation adoption, its effectiveness, and marketers’ expectations. Let’s just take a few examples:
- According to Dave Chaffey of Smart Insights, and a poll he did last year, marketing automation is one of the biggest trends for businesses this year, following content marketing and big data.
- And according to Salesforce, 67% of marketing automation-users listed this technology as “very effective/effective”.
The list goes on and on, and those that have had the chance to use marketing automation probably don’t need to be convinced of its benefits. What they need is a tool that would meet their expectations and help them achieve their goals.
What do you as a marketer expect of a marketing automation tool?
The latest Ascend2 “Marketing Automation Trends Survey” (2016) lists the most important strategic goals of a marketing automation strategy, including increasing lead generation (61%), lead nurturing (57%), and sales revenue (47%), followed by improving customer engagement (36%), marketing productivity (29%), improving measurability (28%), and campaign targeting (22%).
This shows how wide a variety of marketing goals can be achieved through a marketing automation tool. A great marketing automation tool will help you connect all the dots, collect detailed data for your customers, and build it into a complex picture where all elements are interrelated, working smoothly as a perfect machine to increase conversion, whatever yours may be.
Sounds convincing enough? We thought so.
So what should the perfect marketing automation tool be like?
Let’s focus on a few key things:
Well, first, a great marketing automation tool will allow you to build much more detailed subscriber profiles so you can really get to know them better. It’ll help you change the way you see your email list, and focus on individual subscribers, sending them relevant communication based on their history, actions, and preferences.
Perhaps you’ve been thinking of using marketing automation but you’re worried that it’s too complicated. How about a tool that’s flexible enough to let you adapt it to your needs – and grow with you as they expand? A tool that lets you start with a very simple workflow – as simple as assigning a tag to a subscriber. And then, taking small steps, growing into a complex graph that will map the whole of your customer’s journey.
Or you can just start with something much more advanced from the very beginning – this is completely up to you.
Marketers are different when it comes to the level of knowledge and experience, but they also have different business needs and work styles. A great marketing automation tool will give you countless possibilities, allowing you to carry out one scenario in many ways, just the way you yourself imagine it.
A great marketing automation tool will be clear enough so that you can easily see where all the paths lead and who’s in a given workflow. It’ll allow you to easily move people from one workflow to another to create one comprehensive and coherent communication plan. Easy to design and following an “if-then” logic, it’ll allow you to build a tree of conditions that can keep on growing. And it’ll combine all the conditions, actions, and filters in one place so that you can clearly see what works in your communication and make necessary adjustments.
There are no limitations as to what you can do with marketing automation. A great tool will allow you to use the workflows virtually for any business need you can come up with. You can use it to create and send:
- welcome series for new customers
- win back campaigns
- purchase follow-up cycles
- webinar reminders and follow ups
- or actually, any kind of reminders
- long-term loyalty campaigns
- individual online training plans
- reward programs
- sales team cadence campaigns
- your own early-warning systems to help you see when your customers’ activity has gone down
- anything you can think of
Each industry can adapt marketing automation to its needs and goals, be it increasing conversions, reducing churn, or maximizing customer engagement. It’s up to you what you’ll use it for!
But how do you find the perfect marketing automation tool and what are the buying considerations?
- A marketing automation tool doesn’t help you with your strategy. Marketing automation tools help automate a strategy. So, the first step when selecting a tool is to document your strategy. Make sure you understand all the options when creating your strategy.
Inbound vs. outbound marketing
- Outbound marketing strategies tend to focus on sending content or messages to prospects through telemarketing, direct mail, email, or other advertising campaigns. Inbound techniques are focused on getting customers to find you via search, referrals, social media, etc.
Size of company and customer base
Typically, smaller companies desire a suite tool that is easy to learn and handles a wide variety of features but only handles the most common use cases. Larger companies often seek out a tool that handles more complex use cases, but in turn usually takes longer to implement and requires more training. In addition, larger companies tend to have a segmented staff and therefore might choose to use several marketing tools that are designed to go deep in certain area.
- The requirements for B2B vs. B2C companies often vary considerably. Strategies tend to be different and so automation requirements are different. Different sales cycles, emotional buying behavior, number of people in the decision process and the database size can all influence the software that will best fit your strategy.
- Often the data that needs to be used to automate a marketing process is held in another system (CRM, ERP, image files, etc.). The number of data points and systems you need to integrate to can increase maintenance costs.
- Although most would agree that modern marketing is not a simple funnel, to understand automation requirements, consider these 3 steps.
Brand presence and content management
- A good first step in the marketing funnel is to make sure you can be found if someone is looking. This includes establishing a website optimized for search engines, making content available, and establishing and maintaining a social presence. Although many marketing automation suite tools handle this part of the funnel you might want to consider specialized tools for Search Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Media Management, Public Relations and Web Analytics.
- After you’ve established a presence, you need to capture a lead when a prospect views your content or contacts you. Most marketing automation systems provide analytics to help you optimize your lead capture process. You can also enrich and score your leads based on the prospects’ behavior across all your touch points. In addition, you may want to do some outbound lead generation as well. Four common places leads are captured:
- Web: web forms and landing pages in front of your contest that users access via your website, paid advertising or other domains
- Trade shows and events: uploading captured leads to full event management functionality
- Emails: “cold emailing” to lists
- Call campaigns “cold calling” to lists
- anything you can think of
- Lead tracking, nurturing, and conversion: After establishing a presence and capturing leads, the leads need to be nurtured and ultimately converted to a sale. With marketing automation tools, you can nurture with custom content and messaging to individual leads to increase conversion.
HubSpot is an inbound marketing software company that helps businesses transform their marketing from outbound (cold calls, email spam, trade shows, TV ads, etc) lead generation to inbound lead generation enabling them to “get found” by more potential customers in the natural course of the way they shop and learn. They “get” content marketing.
Pardot, a salesforce.com Company, is an easy-to-use B2B Marketing Automation suite that helps sales and marketing teams maximize efficiency and increase revenue.
Pardot’s lead management software features CRM integration, email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and ROI reporting to help marketing and sales teams work together to generate and qualify sales leads, shorten sales cycles, and demonstrate marketing accountability.
Powerful and easy marketing software that helps marketing and sales professionals drive revenue and improve marketing accountability. Marketo provides the leading cloud-based marketing software platform for companies of all sizes to build and sustain engaging customer relationships.
4. Oracle Eloqua
Oracle’s B2B Cross-Channel Marketing solution, Oracle Eloqua, enables marketers to plan and execute automated marketing campaigns while delivering a personalized customer experience for their prospects.
Act-On’s cloud-based integrated marketing automation platform allows marketers to tie inbound, outbound, and lead nurturing programs together to maximize their return on marketing investments.
The company was founded in 2008 and initially sold its software exclusively through Cisco, which provided $2 million in funding. It has raised an additional $74 million and its platform according to reviews is best suited to small and medium business.
LeadSquared is a Marketing Software company helping small and medium businesses drive revenue by aligning their marketing and sales activities. Provides the capture of leads from all your sources – inbound email, online campaigns, phone calls, website, chat, lead generation websites and more.
Infusionsoft is a leading sales and marketing software for small business owners that helps them get organized, grow sales and save time. It is also used by many bloggers for creating marketing campaigns and funnels and email marketing.
Infusionsoft makes it easy to create and execute a sales and marketing strategy; centralize customer interactions; capture new leads; close sales faster; and automate repetitive tasks like follow-up, contact management, billing and payment—all from one place.
Infusionsoft was founded in 2001 by brothers Scott and Eric Martineau and Clate Mask in Mesa, Arizona. It has 25,000 customers and has raised $125 million in funding.
8. Sales Fusion
Salesfusion is a leading provider of marketing automation software that is designed for B2B companies who are committed to driving more revenue by aligning marketing and sales.
According to SiriusDecisions, a leading sales and marketing analyst firm, as much of 70% of the buying cycle may be self-directed and completed prior to sales engagement.
Salesfusion is dedicated to helping companies build a large revenue funnel for marketing and sales by creating customized digital conversations that are seamlessly transitioned between departments. Marketing and sales teams participate in and measure these digital conversations to deliver more lead-to-revenue results by communicating with the right leads at the right time with the right message.
OutMarket provides marketing automation software and services for marketing teams to drive quantifiable results.
The OutMarket platform integrates email marketing, landing pages, social media management, press outreach, and robust analytics in a simple but comprehensive cloud-based solution that helps customers outmarket the competition and grow their business.
Net-Results aims to make it easy for you to automate all kinds of marketing tasks.
You end up getting more done in less time while doing a much better job nurturing your prospects, uncovering qualified leads and driving revenue growth.
So what are you using?
Are you already on the journey of marketing automation? Not started yet?
Confused, don’t know where to start or simply don’t have extra budgets for expensive automation tools yet, well guess what, there is an easier option, just outsource it! At Social Media Authority we also provide a wide range of digital marketing services and can help deliver a cost effective solution for your business.
Marketing automation, when done right, can create efficiency, save time and money and increase your return on investment. So if you have struggled in the past to get real results from your marketing and set up automation for your business your not alone. We have helped dozens of our clients to save time and money by helping to select, set up manage and run their complete marketing automation system.
We have also helped train our clients to use the tools and get up and running fast, with the maximum benefits.
Let us set up and manage your complete marketing automation process, so you can focus on running the rest of your business. Fill in the form below to let us know how we can help you.
To help you get started with your marketing planning grab a free copy of our 50+ page marketing trends report below: