Thanks to modern digital marketing tools, brands have far more opportunities to reach customers than ever before. Marketers can deploy campaigns simultaneously across mobile devices, social media platforms, and traditional websites while ensuring that messaging is personalized and highly relevant to customer interests. As your reach increases, however, being able to effectively engage at scale becomes more challenging. Thankfully, marketing automation solutions help teams continue to manage large-scale campaigns and maintain the benefits of personalized messaging.
As part of PostFunnel’s Nuts and Bolts series, we’ll delve into the world of modern Martech to shed some light on tools and best practices being used by you – our fellow marketers – in your day-to-day strategies. Every month, our experts will sink their teeth into another aspect of this fascinating field, hopefully inspiring you to elevate your business through smart marketing.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation refers to any process used to automate repetitive tasks while managing digital marketing channels and campaigns. These processes are designed to target and deliver messaging content to customers in the form of emails, social media posts, texts, private messages, and other online formats. Marketing automation also represents various analytic tools that measure the effectiveness of campaigns to improve future optimization.
How does marketing automation work?
Marketing automation solutions are specifically tailored to automate repetitive tasks such as message scheduling, campaign tracking, and even user segmentation. This is accomplished with custom workflows that manage content and data within a marketing automation dashboard. These dashboards allow marketers to:
Gather marketing intelligence
Marketing intelligence tools measure the behavior of potential leads who express interest in a brand’s product or service. Depending on the specific solution, it might track engagement with mobile ads or analyze user activity. Marketing intelligence tools are often integrated with websites, mobile apps, social media platforms, and even invidious like emails to analyze the complete user’s journey. Insights gathered from these tools can then be entered into marketing automation tools to enhance or optimize a marketing campaign.
Workflows are the internal processes that allow marketing automation platforms to function. They consist of detailed rules assigned by marketing administrators which trigger action items in response to user behavior. For example, if a user registers an email address, an automated workflow will add their contact information to a database and send them a welcome email. Additional workflows may be time-sensitive, sending newsletters or other messaging content to registered users regularly. Combined with the intelligence functions described above, workflows equip marketers to deliver the most relevant content to targeted leads.
Combined, these various aspects allow marketing automation tools emphasize moving leads through the entire marketing funnel, from awareness to considerations and eventually to conversion. Leads can be automatically prioritized based on their behaviors and estimated customer lifetime value (LTV) before being nurtured with highly-relevant content, saving time for marketers and sales reps.
What is a marketing automation platform?
Any tool that lets marketers customize automated workflows could be considered a marketing automation platform. They often take the form of hosted or web-based dashboards that can be operated remotely with no software installation. Marketing automation platforms enable marketers to complete any combination of the following tasks:
- Develop marketing campaigns and customer profiles
- Manage active marketing campaigns
- Gather and store customer data
- Transition contacts from sales leads to customers
- Conduct lead scoring
- Integrate email, social media, and other marketing touchpoints
- Manage leads
- Conduct performance analysis on marketing campaigns
What is email marketing automation?
Marketing automation was originally designed for email, and it remains an incredibly effective technique in 2019. Even when compared to social media marketing, email channels excel thanks to the following advantages:
- Email marketing has a 71% click-through rate, compared to 0.58% for social media platforms.
- Email marketing has an average ROI of 3,800%.
- Email marketing is the highest-rated channel in terms of revenue generation for 59% of B2B marketers.
Today, email marketing automation is used for a wide range of purposes across B2B and B2C industries. Email automation can welcome customers, provide feedback surveys, offer special promotions, deliver auto responses, and assist when re-engaging with clients. Leads and customers are often far more willing to engage with email than other marketing channels. Automated workflows make it possible to deliver messaging at scale, manage user profiles, and analyze engagement.
That all being said, marketers can’t just rest on their laurels after creating email content. While email is an engaging channel, it’s also the most challenging to prepare. Modern marketers must account for several strategies, such as:
- Optimizing for mobile: In 2019, most customers will read their emails from mobile devices. Depending on your target audience, 20% to 70% of opens will be from mobile devices. If marketers fail to optimize an email for mobile devices, 80% of readers will immediately delete it.
- Segmenting audiences: Customers are happy to engage with automated emails that are relevant and personalized. Segmented email campaigns see a 760% increase in ROI while 74% of marketers claim they enhance customer engagement.
- Including video: Video email marketing enhances SEO search rankings. Simply mentioning video in the subject line tends to increase open rates.
- Leveraging machine learning: Modern email marketing automation uses AI technology to A/B test the most effective subject lines, segment valuable customers, and maximize the impact of delivered content.
What is campaign management in marketing?
Campaign management refers to the entire lifecycle of a marketing campaign, including planning, execution, tracking, and analysis. While campaign management is not a new practice, it has become more complex and wide-reaching thanks to the impact of marketing automation. Steps that previously needed to be automated can now be completed automatically, and it is possible to implement and analyze campaigns at an omnichannel scale.
For maximizing the impact of marketing automation on campaign management however, the following steps should be considered:
- Audience segmentation: Creating detail user segments makes it far easier to deliver relevant messages to key audiences. User profiles should account for demographics (age, gender, location, or hobbies) and user behavior that marketing automation can refer to when delivering content.
- Omnichannel messaging: In 2019, the most effective campaigns go beyond a single channel. Advertisements and marketing initiatives are deployed simultaneously across mobile apps, traditional websites, social media platforms, and even physical stores. Marketing automation helps brands manage these deployments while tracking how messages are being received by each user.
- Analytics: Optimizing marketing campaigns and calculating ROI requires a deep understanding of how it was perceived by customers. Marketing automation helps teams gather sales and customer behavior data while evaluating the relationships between each marketing channel. The insights gleaned from this data can be used to enhance the impact of marketing initiatives, develop personalized content, or benefit other campaign elements.
What is sales force automation?
Sales force automation is a variation of marketing automation that tracks and manages all steps of the sales process. It is used to track communications between sales reps and customers, analyze purchase histories, and conduct revenue forecasts. Sales force automation is also used to manage sales messaging, ensuring that customers do not receive the same communication more than once.
There is significant overlap between marketing automation and sales force automation tools, but they can be distinguished in two ways:
- Sales strategies: Unlike marketing automation, sales force automation can be used to manage strategic and operational actions within a department or organization. Sales force automation workflows will account for details like sales objectives, budgets, and other control indicators.
- Organizational integration: Marketing automation tools are operated almost exclusively by marketing teams, while salesforce automation systems are often integrated across different departments to optimize customer messaging.
These differences aside, sales force automation can be merged with marketing automation and intelligence tools to create full-fledged CRM systems.
Why is marketing automation important?
Digital marketing campaigns in 2019 can deliver content to any number of leads and customers. If you’re scaling an initiative to engage with thousands or even millions of customers however, delivering content manually is monotonous and impractical. And for particularly successful digital brands like Google or Facebook, manually marketing to billions of customers is downright impossible.
Message delivery alone makes marketing automation essential in 2019, but it’s just the first benefit to customers. Each solution helps marketing teams manage communications using omnichannel strategies while enhancing the impact of lead generation, user segmentation, lead nurturing, customer retention, and more. These allow businesses to leverage marketing automation without limiting the impact of personalized messaging.
Marketing automation may have started with email, but it has since grown to encompass the entire user journey across multiple engagement channels. That’s why it’s so important that marketers understand the potential of automation — it equips them to reach valuable audiences with relevant content using methods that they will be highly receptive to. Any marketing department hoping to deploy and optimize successful campaigns in 2019 must understand how to leverage marketing automation’s powerful capabilities.
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