Marketing Automation: The Future of Digital Marketing
Marketing automation is rapidly changing the face of digital marketing. As consumers spend more time online and less time with traditional media, automation tools help marketers reach and nurture leads more efficiently across channels. In this post, we'll explore marketing automation, why it's essential, and how to choose the right tools for your business.
Table of Contents
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed to automate repetitive marketing tasks. The goal is to save time while nurturing leads with personalised, timely, and relevant content across channels. With marketing automation, tasks like email, social media posting, SMS, and more can be set up to run automatically at optimal times.
Marketing automation aims to help businesses market smarter, not harder. Rather than manually overseeing every marketing campaign, marketers can establish automated workflows and focus on high-level strategy.
Goals of Marketing Automation
Marketing automation aims to achieve several key goals, including:
- Lead nurturing – Sending targeted content over time to turn cold leads into sales-ready leads
- Lead management – Organizing leads based on behaviours, demographics, customer lifecycle stage, etc.
- Lead scoring – Assigning point values to certain lead actions/traits to prioritise follow-ups
- Campaign management – Easily building, executing and analysing multi-channel campaigns
- Saving time – Eliminating repetitive manual tasks to focus on high-level strategy
- Increasing marketing ROI – Getting more from marketing budgets by reaching audiences when they’re most likely to convert
Marketing automation delivers highly personalised and relevant messaging when done effectively, leading to more sales opportunities.
Marketing Automation vs. Traditional Marketing
Marketing automation differs from traditional outbound marketing tactics like cold calling. Rather than casting a wide net hoping to capture leads, it takes an intelligent inbound approach, communicating precisely when a contact demonstrates intent or matches ideal customer profile parameters.
|Interrupts audiences with outbound messaging
|Sends timely, relevant content when audiences show intent
|Makes broad offers, hoping to resonate
|Delivers dynamic, personalised content matched to interests
|Focuses on large audiences or market segments
|Optimises messages for micro-segments or individual contacts
|It relies on gut feel
|Leverages data and testing to optimise efforts
|Manual and labor-intensive
|Automates repetitive tasks
|Fixed campaigns with minimal adjustments
|Flexible – easily adjusted based on performance
As you can see, marketing automation takes a personalised, customer-centric approach based on data – a better fit for the modern digital era.
Why is Marketing Automation Important?
There are several vital reasons marketing automation is becoming mission-critical for marketers:
More Data, Computing Power and Channels
The sheer amount of customer data and marketing channels makes manual marketing overwhelming. Automation platforms help organise data and deliver omni-channel campaigns.
Need for Personalisation
Today’s consumers expect personalised offers tailored to their interests and buying stage. Automation makes the level of personalisation needed at scale possible.
Changing Buyer Behaviour
Buyers increasingly make decisions and prefer buying online instead of talking to sales reps immediately. Automation nurtures them through the journey.
Improved Marketing ROI
According to Salesforce, 76% of marketers say their marketing automation efforts improve ROI and generate more sales opportunities.
Marketing automation delivers significant value. Those who don’t adopt it risk falling behind peers automating key processes. It streamlines lead management, campaign execution and reporting to drive better results.
The Risks of Avoiding Automation
- Wasting time/money targeting cold leads who show no intent
- Allowing leads to go to competitors by not nurturing them
- Losing track of leads and missing sales opportunities
- Using a spray-and-pray approach instead of personalised messaging
- No idea which campaigns/channels drive the most conversions
- Focusing too much on tedious tasks vs. strategy
Key Capabilities and Benefits
Now that we’ve covered the basics of marketing automation and why it matters, let’s explore some of the key capabilities and benefits:
- Assign points to contacts when they take desired actions like downloading content, visiting key pages, etc.
- Sends notifications so sales can prioritise following up with hot leads
- Deliver targeted content over time to educate and convert new contacts
- For example, send a series of follow-up emails after someone downloads an eBook
- Sync contacts, deals, etc., from the automation platform to CRM in real-time
- Prevents data entry duplication and keeps systems in sync
Landing page and forms
- Drag and drop editor to quickly build landing pages, surveys and forms
- Forms easily collect contact info for email, SMS and ad campaigns
- Visual workflow builder makes creating multi-channel campaigns easy
- Set up EMAIL → SMS → Sales Alert sequences with drag and drop
- Schedule and send bulk emails with open/click tracking
- Nurture new contacts with an automated email series
- Dynamic content personalisation
Social media publishing
- Schedule unlimited posts to multiple social channels
- It lets you easily repurpose top-performing content
- Send appointment reminders, alerts and promotions via text blasts
- Personalise messages with merge tags like the first name
- Recommends blog posts, products, etc., based on profiles and activity
- Keeps engagement high by promoting relevant assets
- Tracks which campaigns, channels and assets drive conversions
- Identifies best lead sources to optimise budget
Some of the significant benefits that make marketing automation so valuable include:
- More Relevant Communications – Send content matched to interests and lifecycle stage for better engagement
- Improved Lead Intelligence – Lead scoring and nurturing reveals sales-ready prospects for follow-up
- Higher Conversion Rates – Leads who engage with automated campaigns convert at a higher rate
- Enhanced Customer Experience – Timely, personalised content improves satisfaction
- Greater Productivity – Less time wasted on repetitive tasks means achieving more
- Dynamic Reporting/Insights – Dashboards and reports illuminate what content and channels works best
Marketing automation delivers significant strategic and productivity benefits to help streamline and enhance marketing.
Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Platform
With many solutions on the market, choosing the right platform is essential but can feel overwhelming. Here are some key factors to consider:
Marketing automation costs can vary greatly depending on the platform, number of contacts, email volume, etc. Many offer unlimited contacts and emails at the starter tier, which is ideal for small businesses. Most also let you pay monthly vs. hefty upfront fees. Know your budget and opt for tools with pricing models that align.
Ease of Use
Look for intuitive interfaces that allow you to complete critical tasks in just a few clicks without advanced technical skills. Easy-to-use platforms ensure your team uses it vs. finding workarounds.
The ability to connect with other martech tools you use, like analytics, social media schedulers, etc., is critical for maximum impact—Prioritise automation tools with Zapier and API integration options.
High inbox placement rates ensure your email campaigns reach the intended recipients. Check third-party email deliverability benchmarks before choosing a vendor.
Robust lead organisation, scoring, nurturing and routing tools help you make the most of prospects who enter your funnel by delivering the right message at the right time.
In-depth reporting and analytics enable you to identify high-performing campaigns and assets to optimise your approach over time.
Choosing marketing automation tools aligned to your use cases, budget, and other martech drives the best ROI long-term. Assess your needs, shortlist vendors that fit them, and then thoroughly test platforms using free trials.
Statistics on Marketing Automation Adoption & Impact
The rise of marketing automation shows no signs of slowing down. Consider these eye-opening statistics:
- 80% of marketers use marketing automation in some capacity
- The average user gets a 42% higher conversion rate from inbound leads compared to non-users
- Companies see revenue growth of 25-115% within a year of implementing automation across departments
- 65% of marketers identify nurturing and scoring leads as the most valuable uses
- 52% use it primarily for automating social media publication
- Automation saves around 25 hours per employee per month on repetitive tasks
- Marketers report a 99% boost in productivity after adopting automation platforms
- 91% say it gives them better visibility into prospect engagement
Savvy marketers embrace automation in droves to streamline efforts, better understand customers, accelerate strategies and improve conversions.
Marketing Automation Use Cases
From lead nurturing programs to customer retention, marketing automation magnifies results across objectives. Here are some of the most common and practical use cases:
- Welcome new subscribers with a pre-defined email series that provides helpful info
- Build relationships by sending content that moves contacts down the funnel
- Alert sales when someone becomes a hot lead based on engagement
- Promote upcoming webinars, conferences, etc. via email
- Follow up post-event with a recap, exclusive content for attendees, etc.
- Capture event lead info with custom forms
- Bring inactive email subs back with promotional offers
- Create campaigns aimed at subscribers who haven’t opened for X months
- Offer exclusive discounts or content to re-engage them
- Set up automation to deliver customer satisfaction surveys periodically
- Send special offers, discounts and VIP content to loyalty program members
- Wish long-time customers a happy anniversary upon sign-up date
Social media management
- Schedule unlimited posts across channels in advance
- Resurface older evergreen content to give it new life
- Save time spent posting daily
Regardless of your goals – driving conversions, ramping up retention, creating awareness, etc. – marketing automation supercharges your efforts.
Getting Started With Marketing Automation
Are you excited to explore marketing automation for your business but unsure how to start? Here’s a simple step-by-step process:
Step 1: Audit Your Processes
Analyse existing campaigns and workflows across channels to identify what to automate first. Common starting points are email, social media or basic lead nurturing.
Step 2: Set Success Metrics
Define the key results you want from marketing automation, like 50 more MQLs per month. This gives you goals to work towards.
Step 3: Create Buyer Personas
Build detailed buyer personas so you can tailor content topics and messages to their specific needs and interests.
Step 4: Map Out Workflows
Chart out multi-channel campaigns through the buyer’s journey with email, SMS, etc. Think through scenarios to meet different user needs.
Step 5: Select Software
Vet several top contenders using the above criteria, and sign up for 1-2 free trials before deciding.
Step 6: Import Contacts & Set Up
Upload existing contact lists, then configure lead scoring rules, tags, landing pages, etc., based on your workflows.
Step 7: Launch & Iterate!
Launch a few automation, see what resonates, and then continue testing and optimising to improve performance.
Using this simple roadmap helps you hit the ground running. Monitor results closely and look for new ways to leverage automation across initiatives.
FAQs About Marketing Automation
Still have some questions about unleashing marketing automation for your organisation? Here are answers to common queries:
What does a basic marketing automation setup cost?
Many tools offer unlimited contacts and email sends for free or less than $100/month, making them accessible for virtually any budget. Mid-tier plans with more advanced features usually cost $500-1000 monthly.
What if I’m not technical – can I still use it?
Absolutely. Reputable providers offer intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built templates so anyone can create multi-channel campaigns without coding skills.
How much time does it take to manage?
Once set up, most automation requires minimal ongoing oversight thanks to scheduled sending. Checking campaign analytics and occasionally refreshing content keeps things running smoothly without much daily effort.
What’s better – all-in-one suites or specialised tools?
There are solid arguments on both sides. Suites simplify having everything in one platform, but speciality tools often go deeper for specific capabilities. Many use a mix of both for maximum impact.
Can it integrate with the other martech tools I use?
The top marketing automation platforms offer 700+ built-in integrations with various popular tools. If unsupported, Zapier can connect thousands more applications to centralise data.
As buyers increasingly tune out interruptive methods, marketing automation delivers the inbound, personalised touch needed to capture interest and drive conversions in the modern digital era.
Sophisticated platforms make it simple to know precisely when to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time across channels. At the same time, automation liberates marketers from mundane tasks so they can focus on strategy and innovation.
When leveraged effectively, it acts as a force multiplier to break down silos, amplify engagement, gain intelligence and accelerate marketing and sales.
You risk falling behind the competition if you aren’t exploring how marketing automation can change your organisation’s results. Determine where you can eliminate manual efforts to foster the meaningful interactions today’s consumers demand – at scale.