The growth of digital transformation and marketing in recent years has led to a multiplicity of channels, platforms, and opportunities for brands to acquire and engage customers. The plethora of digital entertainment and business tools has led to a “hyper-digitalized” world where content and shopping are just the click of a smart-phone button away.
However, brands face a situation of handling repetitive, indeed, mundane, tasks in their everyday digital engagement process. This requires plenty of resources in terms of manpower, hardware, software, and digital security tools.
There is a clear and visible need to take away the “drudgery” of routine marketing tasks and free up marketing teams to take on the more important tasks of building brand awareness, acquiring new customers, and retaining existing customers.
Enter marketing automation.
What exactly is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is the use of a multichannel software suite to consolidate, create, and automate related marketing tasks. These platforms are designed to help marketers execute routine and repetitive marketing tasks automatically.
Businesses that leverage innovative technologies from big data to artificial intelligence, marketing automation to hyper-target their messaging to the right customers at the right time at the right place, with personalized marketing messages through digital media channels such as emails, websites, social media, and SMS. Some markets like India also use WhatsApp as an engagement tool.
It helps businesses generate customer leads, convert those leads into possible customers and measure overall return-on-investment (ROI) on marketing campaigns. Marketing automation saves time and cost for the organization and these savings grow as the company grows in size and complexity.
Types of marketing automation
A study by the Content Marketing Institute found that nearly 85% of all automation was geared towards social media posts management, while marketing automation was used by more than 50% of respondents.
In brief, the main types of automation software used today are for the following marketing initiatives:
- Social media posts management
- Email marketing
- Marketing processes
- Workflow management
- Content creation
- Content management (CMS)
How does it affect your business?
Marketing automation was initially designed to simplify the email marketing process. With the huge growth of digital marketing, companies need to align their marketing campaigns across social media, paid digital advertising, and SEO audits, among many others. Companies need to invest in a software platform that does more than sending out emails.
Marketing automation & customer retention
Customer retention is one of the most important challenges facing any marketing team. It costs 4-5 times more to get a new customer than to retain an existing one. Existing customers are 60-70% more likely to buy from you, and just 20% of your customers can give you up to 60% of sales in a given period.
Companies therefore have to be on top of their game to ensure that customers do not leave. Marketing automation brings in anonymous visitors to your digital marketing content, converts leads into new customers, and helps retain existing customers in an organized manner. Having marketing automation in place can help an organization retain customers in several ways:
- Create a seamless and better customer experience
- Design customized loyalty programs
- Create special offers regularly
- Collect and act quickly on customer feedback
- Maintain updated customer data without manual entries
- Track purchase behavior and engagement
- Identify top customers (and reward them accordingly!)
Features of the ideal marketing automation software
- User-friendly with a simple interface
- Enables social media management
- Provides A/B testing possibilities
- Facilitates leads development and management
- CRM integration
- Allow email marketing
- Create landing pages
- Provide detailed analytics
Organizations also need to examine whether it should start with a free or open-source system and scale it up to a proprietary solution; or go straight into a major investment in software which can be scaled in line with its growth.
Benefits of a good marketing automation software
A well-designed marketing automation platform gives more benefits than just eliminating mundane and repetitive tasks from the marketer’s routine:
- Save time: With marketing automation, task execution and overall timelines are significantly reduced.
- Scalability: Marketing automation tools have inbuilt scalability features to cope with the company’s growth – increased demands of lead generation and conversion, database management, marketing campaign management and overall marketing growth.
- Better coordination: Your Marketing and Sales teams can be in conflict over the issue of leads generated versus leads converted. Marketing automation maximizes the marketing pipeline and helps sales close deals faster for better business.
- Smarter investments: It helps organizations generate a positive ROI b better use of funds and resources towards strategic marketing initiatives rather than routine or “labor” costs that do not give an ROI
- Performance tracking and reporting: Marketing relies on data for everything from campaign planning to execution to tracking and analysis. It allows granular marketing campaign tracking at any point in the campaign’s lifetime.
- Better creativity: Paradoxically, marketing automation software facilitates higher creativity by allowing marketeers to focus on developing compelling campaigns.
- Better customer targeting: Current marketing automation systems help businesses identify website visitors and convert leads into customers. These customers can subsequently be segmented by demographics, buying or browsing behavior and many other characteristics.
- Positive customer experience: It allows organizations to maximize individualized experiences. Marketing content that helps customers make a more informed purchase will lock in those customers into a regular relationship with the brand.
- Cross-channel management: A single platform allows tracking and management of multiple marketing campaigns across different channels. This gives companies a holistic view of all campaigns and helps in better allocation of marketing budgets.
- Ensure cohesive and consistent tone of voice: It unites all the marketing campaigns and ensures that the customer receives messages in the same “brand voice”.
- Reduces staff and overhead cost: It is inherently designed to “automatically” trigger lead nurturing and marketing campaigns on the basis of certain criteria.
- Boosts revenue: Having it in place allows the organization to follow up with customers regularly, listen to their feedback, upsell and cross-sell to them, improving their LTV (Lifetime Value).
Marketing automation has become a necessity for organizations today. People are exposed to huge amounts of marketing information on multiple devices. Their attention spans are extremely limited and finding a window for engaging the customer on time and effectively is difficult without automation.
It makes marketing easier for the organization, so the teams can focus on other areas of the marketing effort that will boost the company’s marketing ROI and sales efforts.
When used smartly and effectively, it serves as a unified communication platform that weaponizes the marketing teams and better keeps track and refine the customer’s journey through the marketing pipeline.
Perhaps the most important contribution of marketing automation is that it helps the company focus on building and strengthening client relationships by streamlining business operations.