MailChimp. Eloqua. Marketo. As a B2B or B2C marketing professional, you’ve most likely heard of a plethora of marketing automation software companies, especially over the last 18 to 24 months. As part of our ongoing series about the emerging martech ecosystem, marketing automation should be your foundation to streamline operations, segment leads, and deliver precision messaging.
But what exactly is marketing automation? Before you can effectively select a solution, build a platform, and begin campaign execution, it’s worth knowing what exactly you’re buying into.
Marketing automation allows you to more effectively market on multiple online channels (e.g., email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.
It’s a simple concept that eludes many marketing departments, in part because the software platforms available run the gamut from easy-to-use to overly complicated.
What Marketing Automation Empowers You to Do
Simply put, marketing automation provides your team with a smarter pathway to better customer service and intelligent market insights through automation, data, and analytics. It all comes down to what we at blr | further call Relationship Marketing:
- Identification and population of database with current and potential customers
- Customer segmentation
- Market segmentation
- Alignment of segmentation with strategic goals
- Delivery of strategic, differentiated messages by target segment(s)
- “Go where your customers already are” approach
- Acquisition and maintenance of data about each customer
- Tracking lifetime value
Obviously the features of your marketing automation platform will differ depending on whether you leverage a free solution or invest in a more robust solution, but if using a full-featured (paid) platform, you can truly empower your team while saving them time. Some features of Marketo, for example, include:
- Email, landing pages, and forms
- Templates for content and programs
- Dynamic content
- Real-time personalization
- Webinar integration
- Data cleanup
- CRM sync
- Website integration
- Workflow engine
- Lead scoring
- Lead lifecycle management
- Program analysis
How Do I Get Started?
Like most new initiatives, your choice of platform, team, and investment of capital and time correlates directly to why and what you want to achieve with marketing automation. To start:
- Create Objectives
- Specify goals
- Identify targets
- Drive higher conversion rates
- Lower acquisition cost per customer
- Pilot hypothesis and automate discovery
- Establish baseline
- Predict performance
- Run intelligent, personalized campaigns
- Test, Measure, Iterate
- Allocate resources effectively
The end-game of this analysis and implementation will be the creation of a personal experience between your organization and each of your individual customers by way of emails and newsletters, nurture campaigns, web content such as surveys and downloads, webinars, etc. What’s more, each of these interactions allows you to not only measure engagement, but also to apply lead-scoring so that you know when a prospect has moved deep enough into your funnel for sales to reach out—and how warm the lead will be when that happens.
Benefits of Marketing Automation
Once implemented and operational, marketing automation offers a surplus of benefits:
- Expand your messaging
- Capture and retain greater customer loyalty
- Differentiate your brand
- Improve margins through marketing automation
What holds back many organizations from engaging marketing automation is fear. Judy Shapiro, CEO and founder of programmatic content marketing company EngageSimply, says it best:
I would love marketers to love the technology, and that’s really difficult because none of them actually use it. There’s a genuine intimidation. There’s just not enough playful experimentation, personal. Instead of marketers doing the work, it falls to a tech team. There’s a joy here, this is fun. I want people to get the joy of the creative aspect of this. You have now thousands of tools called adtech that are like a crayon box. You can create, and draw and play with them. But while [marketers] might open up the crayon box and see all of the colors, they get frozen in fear. I would love to see more personal experimentation. Work with the stuff, play with it. It’s not going to bite you. It’s not going to hurt you.
As our martech series continues, we’ll look at specific scenarios that demonstrate how marketing automation can help you generate leads, run campaigns, measure results, and review analytics.