Marketing automation is the use of software or tools to automate repetitive and simple marketing tasks. The goal is to simplify and save you time so that you can spend it on more creative or demanding marketing tasks.
Marketing automation includes automated email flows and social media scheduling tools, but it can also include more general processes such as approval flows or campaign management.
If you want to learn more about marketing automation, why it is essential, and which software and tools you should consider – you are in the right place.
The simple answer is yes – and no. Marketing automation is not a replacement for your marketing team but automation software, platforms, or tools to help the team be more efficient. This is done by easing their workload and speeding up the time to market, e.g., campaigns or general production of other marketing materials.
So, while several marketing processes may be automated, you will need marketing professionals to shape your strategy and more.
To answer that question, we need to consider what marketing automation can do for you. One of the areas where you can benefit tremendously from marketing automation software is in connection with workflow management.
Because the right workflow tool will automate parts of the processes connected to your various marketing tasks, you minimise the risk of human error, missed deadlines, miscommunication, and more. This is because the system, once set up, will automatically notify relevant people and act in part as your project assistant.
Take, for instance, the overall process of putting together a campaign. You brainstorm, choose the products/services involved, produce the material needed for your various channels online and offline, run the campaign – and evaluate. Simple, right? But then you have to talk to the buyers to see if you have the right products in stock, suppliers have to deliver the pack shots, and your agency's regular graphic design freelancer is on vacation - and the simple process becomes anything but simple.
This is where automation comes in. Instead of emailing or calling, which can cause your request to get lost in the shuffle, the automation software will notify your purchase department - and remind your supplier to upload the pack shots to your server, and then inform your agency that you need graphic design assistance.
That way, the campaign workflow will run much faster since you do not need to remind, keep taps, or figure out where bottlenecks form or the approval process has come to a halt. The marketing automation tool got you covered!
Because time to market is such an essential parameter for success in today's high-paced business environment – marketing automation becomes an essential key to staying competitive.
It is a jungle out there. Many companies and providers are all fighting for your attention, trying to present their marketing automation software, tools, platforms, programs, systems, or solutions. A bit overwhelming.
How about making things a bit easier for yourself? When you are about to start the selection process, look at:
Features: what should the marketing automation be able to do? Look at need to, nice to and unnecessary.
Integrations: naturally, all your other marketing systems and software should be able to integrate with the automation system. Ask the marketing automation companies you are considering how easy the integration is and ask for potential fees.
Usability: how easy is it to get started with the system? Does it require much training? How intuitive is the navigation?
Pricing and support options: what pricing models are used? Yearly/monthly, number of users, minimum contract periods. Furthermore, researching the support options of the different marketing automation providers is also well worth the effort. Some companies will provide you with marketing automation consultants to get you well on your way in the startup period.
Marketing automation sometimes fails. Yes, there we said it. It happens.
There are several reasons you do not get the breathtakingly positive effect of marketing automation that everyone is talking about. You could consider bringing in a marketing automation consultant to run the implementation process smoothly. Regardless if you chose that option or not, five things to avoid are:
5.1. You forget about people and the human touch.
Marketing automation systems and software are great for many things – but if you forget that you must get people on board, it does not matter how great the system is. Remember to give your team a great introduction so they feel comfortable using marketing automation and see it as an advantage.
Nurturing your external connections and partners should also still be a priority after the marketing system automates some of your communication.
5.2. You do not revisit your strategy and goals before implementing marketing automation.
Before you start your marketing automation process and decide on the right system or tool, take a closer look at your strategy and the goals you aim to accomplish, and your KPIs. It would help if you started automating only when you have a defined path. The reason is simple – if you automate nonoptimal processes, you will never get the optimal outcome.
5.3. You choose the wrong marketing automation software.
This is a tough one. Choosing the right marketing automation software can be a daunting – and potentially costly – task. Once you have your strategy and goals in place, if it is easier to identify your needs, choose a marketing automation tool with all the essential features your organisation needs – nothing more, nothing less. This will save you time and the vast expense of switching systems and going through an implementation process again.
5.4. You do not use data from all your sources.
Data, data, data. It's almost a cliche, but using the vast array of relevant data you already have across departments can help you identify marketing automation opportunities. For example, by assisting you in identifying segments, learning more about your customers, the customer journey, and more. This allows you to know when to communicate what to whom.
If you are not using your data, you are missing out on great opportunities: to better fulfil your customers' needs, upsell, cross-sell, and much more.
5.5. You do not evaluate and optimise.
Marketing automation will get things running smoothly – but if you do not stop to evaluate every once and again, things could go wrong. Remember to consider if new options, software, or channels are unexplored that could improve your performance.
You have probably heard the saying: if it is not broken, don't fix it! Well, the chances are that your competitors are already upgrading – so continuing to do the same thing you have always done will leave you behind.
Are you ready to take the next step – and automate your marketing efforts?