What is marketing automation?

The simple answer is a collection of software and techniques designed to streamline the traditional marketing process. But what does this really mean? Marketing automation takes tasks traditionally performed by humans and uses software to speed up the process.

Broadly speaking, automated marketing software is centered on three key concepts:

  • Email marketing
  • Website traffic and social media tracking and analytics
  • A centralized database of marketing information

By adopting an automated marketing platform, your company can greatly increase your marketing ability, find better and more lucrative leads, and improve your ability to convert those leads into successful sales. However, the decision to implement an automated marketing platform within your company should only be made after a careful assessment of your situation and needs.

Before deciding to implement such a system, consider the following:

  • Your current marketing capabilities
  • Management willingness to implement an automated solution
  • What you hope to gain from automated marketing
  • Your understanding of the automated marketing process
  • A willingness to consistently create excellent content that is the fuel of marketing automation
  • Whether you have someone internally with the expertise to implement marketing automation, or if you will need to outsource these skills

The Automated Marketing Process

The decision to implement an automated marking platform is not different from any other major decision you have to make for your business. Before you can determine whether or not automated marketing is for you, you must first have an understanding of the process.

To reiterate, the three key general concepts of automated marketing are:

  • Email marketing
  • Website traffic and social media tracking and analytics
  • A centralized database of marketing information

Email Marketing

Email marketing is the oldest form of marketing automation. By taking the data you have gathered through social media, website analytics, and other sources, you can put together an automated email campaign to begin contacting potential customers who have shown by their behavior on your website that they are interested in specific services or products. This typically involves a lead scoring process in marketing automation software to determine the right time for email to automatically be sent with relevant content to prospects.

Email campaigns are notoriously difficult to manage without an automated system. Manual tracking of these types of campaigns is extremely time-intensive and prone to error. Large campaigns are nearly impossible to conduct without help from automated software. Automated email marketing makes it easy to accomplish this task. Simply use the software to identify which leads are most promising and automatically send out emails on a preset schedule.

Additionally, an automated email campaign doesn’t have to mean the exclusion of personal touches to your emails. Individuals leads can be customized to load company names, first and last names, and other important information from your database of information.

Website Traffic and Social Media Tracking and Analytics

All marketing, automated or not, depends on accurate information to thrive. You must identify your customer base before you can market to them. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is taking advantage of social media. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are no longer just a passing fad or simply a place to share photos and get in touch with old friends. These social networks are a gold mine of potential marketing data.

But how do we gather this data? Social media makes this process incredibly easy. Social media campaigns can be automated to post links to blog posts, status updates, product information, and other advertisements. Your audience will see this information and not only consume it, but share it as well. This is the beauty of social media, sharing. If your audience likes what you post, they will often share it with their friends and their own followers, allowing you to reach an even wider audience than before.

Using analytics software, you can gather and analyze information on your social media followers. This information includes their social media activity (What brands they like, what companies they follow, etc.) and demographic information to easily categorize your followers and create profiles for potential leads. Additionally, analytics are not limited to social networking alone. You can use the software to analyze the web traffic on your company’s site, helping you see what keywords, topics, and blog posts are effective and those that aren’t.

Centralized Marketing Database

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of using automated marketing is the centralization of your marketing data. This database is what allows automated marketing to thrive. As you’ve seen, information is central to marketing automation. The gathering of information allows you to identify potential customers, contact them, nurture them, and turn these leads into successful sales.

However, this is only the beginning of the power of automated marketing. In addition to gathering and utilizing the information to conduct your campaigns, you can also use it to monitor the success or failure of your campaigns in real-time. The value of this ability cannot be understated. Armed with this information you can tweak your marketing campaigns while they are still ongoing, turning a potential failure into a stunning success, or improving an already successful campaign.

Choosing The Right Automated Marketing Platform For You

Automated marketing platforms are without a doubt, extremely powerful and efficient marketing tools. However, just as not every business is equal, neither are all automated marketing platforms. Before you can put these tools to use, you must analyze your business to determine your marketing needs.

To help decide which automated marketing software is right for you, take inventory of:

  • Your current marketing capabilities
  • What you hope to gain from marketing automation software
  • Which features and abilities are absolutely essential

Many automated marketing platforms exist, providing everything from basic email automation to full-blown systems with extensive and powerful features. It’s all about choosing the right tool for the right job. If all you need is software to help manage your marketing campaigns, avoid products designed to automate work-flow and other internal processes. Purchasing software with more capability than you require is a costly move and can offset whatever financial gain you would receive. Choose software that helps improve your company’s weaknesses and compliment its strengths.

Additionally, you can improve your marketing automation experience by choosing software that is easy to learn and operate. This reduces the time it takes to implement your system, and maximizes your efficiency. If your employees don’t know how to use their new software, you won’t get much done.

Lastly, it is important to take your customers into consideration as well. After all, isn’t this what marketing is all about? Customer experience is central to marketing automation. It doesn’t matter how streamlined and efficient your process becomes if your customers react negatively to it. Customer-centric features can be as simple as personalization of marketing emails to real human interaction via social media and customer service to utilizing your database of marketing information to better connect with customers and improve their overall experience.

For more information on what is the best marketing automation platform for your needs, or strategic help with an existing platform contact us.