An introduction to marketing automation
Marketing automation can briefly be described as a collection of software and systems that allow a brand to market and sell tactically, through personalised content directed at individual customers.
Surprisingly enough, the concept has been around for more than thirty years, beginning with the humble mail merge that allows you to insert names and addresses from a database onto letters and envelopes automatically. This is something we take for granted now, but it was quite revolutionary for marketers in its time.
The problem with this is whether or not you have all the people you want already in your database, or if there’s an untapped market out there you need to win? Most likely the customers you already have are a tiny fraction of the potential market, so how can you reach the others? It may be tempting to buy email lists but are they the people you actually want? Isn’t it better to harness the people who attempt to find you, however briefly?
Naturally, the concept of marketing automation has improved massively over the years with the result that much is now carried out in real-time and more marketing than ever is done through the internet.
A good example of marketing automation is ‘remarketing’ – the delivery of targeted web ads. Users’ web search data is collected and analysed by Google and others, and then businesses can ensure the adverts that appear are tailored to reflect what they’ve been looking at previously, depending on the security and privacy settings within your browser. We’ve all seen flight deal banner adverts appear after we’ve been hunting for a holiday abroad. This is intelligent automated marketing, but it’s open to any business that can master it!
Who can take advantage of marketing automation?
Once upon a time, full marketing automation was something only the most financially dominant businesses could do, as the costs of developing appropriate software far outweighed the savings that could be recouped from its use. However, in recent years there’s been some sophisticated applications made readily available to meet many primary needs of medium-sized businesses, too. Take Salesforce, for one. A technology we specialise in.
The great thing about modern marketing automation software is that it can also be integrated with your existing CRM. As a result, you can streamline your sales and marketing data together, with a resulting improvement in visibility for both.
For smaller outfits, it can’t be overemphasised the difference made to marketing potential by the social media revolution. Your potential customers are all out there on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many others. Through these channels, they’re available to receive targeted broadcast messages straight to sight via sponsored or organic methods. With most successful companies now practicing two-way engagement with their customers, full time social media management has become an essential marketing tool. Automation software can help you reach new levels of engagement across your social channels.
The benefits of marketing automation
So, what benefits can marketing automation bring to a business?
First and foremost it saves time and maximises efficiency, as campaigns can be scheduled and streamlined well ahead of their broadcast date then released automatically according to what suits the business best. This means you can plan your campaigns during a lull and have them ready to run at the time they’re most needed.
With good CRM integration, the databases remain constant and potential customers don’t disappear from your lists just because they haven’t bought anything for a while. Data can also be collected independently of sales drives, giving better insight into customer activities and preferences allowing your message to be tailored to the individual user, thus providing a more unique and personal experience.
Modern marketing automation software is also a completely multichannel concept so you can target your customers in the areas where they spend their time, rather than annoying them with constant and inappropriate emails.
The most vital point to take on board here is that marketing automation does not do the marketing for you; the marketing team will be safe in their jobs. However when done correctly it can concentrate your efforts in one process giving a consistent brand image, and it reduces the amount of time wasted on the wrong targets by instead identifying more of the right ones to the benefit of your business.