In modern marketing, “marketing automation” uses software and technology to streamline marketing tasks and processes. It enhances personalization and allows businesses to scale their efforts efficiently.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a complete understanding of how to make marketing automation work, its key components and benefits, how to get started, and the common mistakes to avoid. So, let’s dive in and simplify your marketing processes!
Marketing automation: Everything you need to know
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet became a fundamental part of people’s lives and a massive shift occurred — many businesses moved their operations online. With more businesses and consumers online, marketing needed to adapt fast. This marked the beginning of marketing automation.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is a set of tools and software that lets you automate repetitive marketing jobs. These tools make your marketing work smoother and more efficient.
Imagine having to send hundreds or thousands of emails by hand every day. It’s not just time-consuming; it’s also prone to mistakes. Marketing automation takes over these tasks for you. It also helps you create more personalized messages for your customers and reach a larger audience. Plus, it’s great at keeping track of things, so you don’t miss important opportunities and waste resources.
At its core, marketing automation comprises certain key components such as:
- Email marketing. Sends targeted and personalized emails to your leads and customers.
- Customer segmentation. Divide your audience into groups based on demographics, behavior, or other criteria.
- Lead scoring. Assign scores to leads to identify the most promising ones for further nurturing.
- Lead nurturing. Uses automated workflows to send relevant content to leads, guiding them through the sales funnel.
- Multi-channel marketing. Reach your audience through various channels, including email, social media, SMS, and more.
- Analytics and reporting. Tracks and analyzes data to measure the success of your marketing campaigns.
- Content personalization. Tailors your messages and content to individual customer preferences.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) integration. Connects marketing automation with your CRM system to manage and track customer interactions.
- A/B testing. Experiments with different versions of content to see which performs better.
- Marketing automation software. The central technology that enables all these components to work together seamlessly.
How does marketing automation benefit your business?
Now that you understand the basic concepts of marketing automation, you might be asking: what’s in it for me? This section is precisely for that. Let’s break down the 9 key advantages of integrating automation into your digital marketing strategy.
Benefit 1: Improves your marketing operations’ efficiency
By automating tasks, you save time and reduce errors. It’s all about making your marketing work more efficiently. Having to send emails, organize customer information, and keep track of who’s interested in your products or services is incredibly time-consuming and prone to mistakes when done manually.
Marketing automation takes care of these tasks for you. It’s a trusty tool that sends the right emails to the right people at the right time, without you having to do it all yourself. And because it’s all automated, everything is more accurate than when you do it by hand.
Benefit 2: Streamlines your repetitive tasks
Automation handles mundane, repetitive work. These tasks might include sending welcome emails, responding to inquiries, or even posting on social media at specific times.
Doing these over and over can be pretty dull and time-consuming. But, with marketing automation, you can set up these tasks to happen automatically. Think of having a helper who does all the routine stuff, so you don’t have to. This frees up your and your team’s time to focus on more exciting, creative, and strategic aspects of marketing.
So, instead of spending hours on the same tasks, you can invest your energy in coming up with brilliant new ideas to engage your audience and grow your business.
Benefit 3: Scales your marketing efforts
Marketing automation isn’t just about making things easier; it’s also about helping your business grow without overloading your team. Let’s say you’re a small startup, and you’ve been reaching out to customers in your neighborhood with emails and social media posts. With marketing automation, you can do the same amount of work, but now it reaches people all over town, or even beyond, without needing bigger marketing teams.
Automation helps you expand your marketing reach and influence without putting extra strain on your resources. It lets you connect with more people while keeping your marketing operations efficient and manageable, no matter how big your business grows.
Benefit 4: Increases your lead generation
Lead generation is all about identifying the people who are interested in what you offer. Let’s assume you have a website that people frequently visit. With marketing automation, you can keep track of who’s visiting, what they’re looking at, and what they’re interested in.
When it finds someone who seems really interested in your products or services, it helps you nurture that interest. You can send them more information, answer their questions, and gently guide them toward becoming a customer. So, marketing automation not only helps you find potential customers but also helps you turn more of them into actual customers.
Benefit 5: Boosts customer engagement and satisfaction
Imagine having a friend who knows exactly what you like and when you need it. Well, marketing automation can be that kind of friend for your customers. It’s all about making your customers feel special by sending them messages that are just right for them.
Let’s say you have an online store, and a customer buys a pair of shoes. With marketing automation, you can send them a ‘Thank You’ email with suggestions for matching accessories, all at just the right time. This kind of personal touch can make your customers feel valued and appreciated. Plus, when you keep in touch with them at the right moments, like sending birthday discounts or holiday greetings, it makes them happy.
Happy customers are more likely to come back and tell their friends about your business. So, marketing automation helps improve the entire customer journey by keeping your shoppers feel valued.
Benefit 6: Enhances personalization
Continuing to make sure your customers feel valued, personalizing your messages helps customers feel more than just someone you’re selling to. They’ll feel like you know them well, and they’re more likely to pay attention to your messages because they’re exactly what they want and need. Marketing automation helps you with that, but faster and more efficiently.
So, if you have a group of customers who love hiking, you can send them emails about hiking gear, not skiing equipment. And if you have customers who prefer morning deals, you can send them special offers at sunrise. It’s all about understanding what each person likes and tailoring your messages to match those preferences.
Benefit 7: Facilitates timely follow-ups
Have you ever promised to call a friend back and then forgot? Well, marketing automation is that reliable tool, making sure you won’t forget and let a lead slip away.
When someone shows interest in your business, marketing automation remembers to follow up. It’s all about sending the right message at the right time.
So, if someone clicks on a link in your email, automation can send a follow-up email with more information or a special offer. This way, you don’t miss any opportunities to connect with potential customers. It’s your dependable, never-forgetful friend in the world of business.
Benefit 8: Provides data-driven insights
Marketing automation collects information about how your marketing strategy is working, like who’s opening your emails and what they’re clicking on. With this data, you can see what’s going well and what needs improvement. You can use these insights to refine your marketing strategies, making them even better.
Maybe you’ll find that your customers really like a particular type of content, so you can create more of that. Or, if you see that a certain email isn’t getting much attention, you can tweak it to be more engaging. So, marketing automation is like a detective that helps you solve the mystery of what your customers want and how to give it to them.”
Benefit 9: Saves your time and resource savings
When you automate your tasks, you save time which allows you to focus on what really matters, like coming up with amazing ideas and serving your customers better. But that’s not all – while it’s helping you save time; it’s also helping you save money. When your marketing tasks are streamlined and efficient, you don’t need as many people to do them. So, while you quickly check the items on your to-do list, you also make your business more cost-effective.
How to get started with marketing automation
Now that you know the benefits of marketing automation, you’re ready to get started. Create your marketing automation strategy with the simple guide we’ve listed in this section.
1. Set clear goals
Goals in marketing automation are the clear and measurable outcomes you want to reach through automated marketing. Begin by defining your marketing objectives. What do you want to achieve with marketing automation? Clear goals guide your efforts. As you determine your goals, keep in mind that you need to:
- Know what you want. Start by being clear about what you want to achieve with marketing automation, like getting more customers or increasing sales.
- Be precise. Make your goals specific and clear, so you can tell if you’ve achieved them. Instead of “get more customers,” say “get 100 new customers in the next three months.”
- Keep track. Your goals should be something you can count or measure, like how many leads you get or how much money you make.
- Be realistic. Set goals that you can actually reach. Don’t aim too high or too low. Think about what’s possible for your business.
- Fit it to your business. Make sure your goals make sense for your type of business and the people you’re trying to reach.
- Set a deadline. Decide when you want to achieve your goals. For example, “increase website visits by 20% in the next four months.”
- Check your progress. Keep an eye on how you’re doing with your goals and adjust them if needed. If you’re doing really well, challenge yourself with new goals.
- Use SMART goals. Remember SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It’s a helpful way to set clear goals.
- Prioritize the most important ones. If you have lots of goals, focus on the ones that matter most and work on them first.
- Use data. Look at the information from your marketing automation software to help set and track your goals. It tells you what’s working and what’s not.
- Share your goals. Make sure your team knows about and agrees with your goals. Everyone should be on the same page.
By knowing your destination, you can plan your route and what you’ll need along the way. So, think of setting clear goals as deciding where you want to go on your marketing adventure, making sure you’re always heading in the right direction.
2. Choose the right marketing automation platform
Marketing automation platforms make marketing tasks easier by automating them. Your platform affects your automation performance. So, picking the right one is crucial. To do this, focus on getting software with the right super features:
- Email marketing automation. It should be great for sending emails to your customers.
- Lead scoring. It can figure out which customers are super interested in what you’re offering.
- Customer segmentation. It can organize your customers into groups based on what they like or do.
- Reporting and analytics. It helps you understand how well your marketing is working, like who’s opening your emails and what’s popular.
By picking software with these cool features, your marketing becomes easier and more effective. It’s like getting a high-tech helper to supercharge your marketing efforts.
Consider trying: Hubspot, Marketo (now part of Adobe), Salesforce Pardot, ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp, Autopilot, GetResponse, Infusionsoft (now part of Keap), Moosend, Eloqua (part of Oracle), SendinBlue, Drip, Omnisend, SharpSpring or Mautic.
3. Segment your audience
Audience segmentation means dividing your customers and leads into smaller groups based on factors like demographics, behavior, or interests, so you can send them a more personalized and relevant marketing message.
Just like you wouldn’t play rock music at a classical party, you don’t want to send the same music promotions to people who like jazz and those who prefer pop. Segmenting helps you share the right tunes with the right crowd.
By segmenting your audience, you’re creating these special groups to send messages that fit their interests, making your marketing feel inclusive and welcoming to all of your customers.
4. Create relevant content
We’ve talked a lot about automation and the more technical steps, but without marketing materials, you’ve got nothing to hook your audience with, and your marketing automation won’t be as useful as you want it to be.
In marketing automation, content creation is about making marketing materials, like emails and social media posts, to connect with your audience, often using automation tools to help. By creating relevant content, you’re basically capturing their attention with their interests. So, to get you started in your content creation process, we’ve listed down the first few steps.
- Know your audience. Start by understanding your audience. Gather customer data: their preferences, needs, and challenges.
- Research and listen. Pay attention to customer feedback, conduct surveys, and analyze data to gather insights.
- Identify their interests. Discover what topics, products, or services your audience is most interested in.
- Tailor your message. Craft content that directly addresses their interests and concerns.
- Be helpful. Provide value and solutions to their problems through your content.
- Personalize when possible. Use their names, reference past interactions, and customize content to make it more personal.
- Use clear language. Keep your messaging simple and easy to understand, avoiding jargon or complex terminology.
- Create compelling headlines. Capture their attention with engaging headlines and subject lines.
- Enhance visual appeal. Use images, videos, and graphics to make your content visually appealing and easy to digest.
5. Automate email campaigns
As a small business without a large marketing team, you have a lot of tasks to do and you don’t want to lose helping hands on long, boring, time-consuming, and repetitive tasks like email marketing.
Automating email marketing means using software to send emails to the right people automatically at the right time, without doing it all by hand. You can send personalized offers to your customers, product recommendations to customers based on their preferences, and regular emails to keep your customers engaged and informed about your business.
6. Start lead scoring and nurturing
Lead scoring gives a rating to potential customers based on how interested they are, so you know who to focus on first. It helps save time and resources by identifying the most likely customers to make a purchase.
Once you know who your most interested demographics are, you need to nurture them with tailored content and guide them through the sales funnel. After nurturing these leads, you have a bunch of qualified leads who are now ready to become valuable customers.
7. Implement multi-channel marketing
Don’t rely solely on email. Use multiple channels like social media and SMS to reach your audience where they feel most comfortable.
Some friends prefer to chat on social media, so you join them there. Knowing this, you need to post on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to keep your customers in the loop. Some also prefer quick texts, so you use SMS (text messages) to share updates, promotions, or reminders with your customers.
8. Monitor and analyze results
Without clear insights, you might be spending time and money on strategies that don’t work. Measuring and analyzing data helps you tackle the challenge of uncertainty in marketing.
Regularly review the data and analytics provided by your marketing automation tools. Use the data to uncover what’s working, what needs improvement, and how to make your marketing even more effective. If you see that a particular approach is getting a lot of attention, you might use similar ones in the future.
9. Continuously optimize your campaigns
Finally, remember that Marketing automation is a journey, not a destination. The marketing landscape is always changing and what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow.
Continuous improvement in your automation campaigns ensures you stay competitive and effective in reaching and engaging your audience. It helps you adapt to new trends, customer preferences, and technological advancements, keeping your marketing strategies fresh and results-driven.
Common mistakes to avoid in marketing automation
It’s tempting to jump right into implementing your marketing automation strategy into play, however just knowing what to do won’t cut it. In this section, we’ll lay down the don’ts of automation. Take note of them so you avoid mistakes early in your automation journey.
Mistake 1: Neglecting data quality
Ensure your data is accurate and up-to-date to avoid mistakes. Your data is the base of all your operations, and if it isn’t precise, it can lead to messages reaching the wrong audience. Data quality issues can disrupt the entire marketing process, so ensuring your data is clean and error-free is key to your marketing automation’s success.
Mistake 2: Over-automation
Don’t over-automate; it can make your messages feel robotic and impersonal. Over-automation happens when you rely on technology so much that your messages start feeling robotic and distant. Having a robot assistant can be efficient, but it might not understand the human touch. So, you want to strike a balance.
Keep automation for tasks that are repetitive and benefit from efficiency, like sending out welcome emails. But when it comes to more personal interactions, like addressing customer concerns, a human approach is preferred. Over-automation can also make your customers feel like they’re talking to a machine, and that’s not what you want. So, use automation wisely and keep the human touch when it matters most. Mix high-tech efficiency and personal warmth in your business operations.
Mistake 3: Lack of personalization
When you’re at a party, and someone you’ve just met remembers your name, it makes you feel special and valued, right? Marketing automation helps your customers feel that by remembering everyone’s preferences.
If you don’t use personalization, you end up sending generic, one-size-fits-all messages that don’t acknowledge your customers’ individual interests or needs. Personalization shows your audience that you understand and care about them.
So, in your marketing automation, remember to use the information you have about your customers to make them feel like honored guests at your party. It’s all about creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for your audience.
Mistake 4: Ignoring customer feedback
To succeed in marketing, it’s essential to pay attention to what your customers are saying. Their feedback provides valuable insights that can help you improve your marketing efforts. Failing to listen to your customers will make them feel unvalued, causing them to leave you for your competitors.
So, make it a point to listen to your customers and use their feedback to fine-tune your marketing approach. It’s a direct way to achieve better results.
Automate your marketing efforts today
Marketing automation is a game-changer that simplifies marketing, enhances personalization, and scales efforts. Stay updated with the latest trends to keep your marketing strategies effective in the long run. By understanding and harnessing the power of marketing automation, you can transform your marketing efforts and achieve greater success.
You don’t need to be intimidated if you’re new to marketing automation. Start small, set clear goals, and gradually expand your efforts. Find a reliable marketing automation solution to make your marketing tasks easier. Together with automation, Web.com will help make your marketing strategy more efficient.