Marketing automation is the process of automating repetitive and straightforward marketing tasks using software or tools. The goal is to simplify and save you time so that you can spend it on more creative or demanding marketing tasks.
Some examples of marketing automation are automated email flows and scheduling tools for social media – but it could also be more overall processes involved in approval flows or campaign management that are automated.
If you want to learn more about marketing automation, why it is important, 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 in general production of other marketing materials.
So, while several marketing processes may be automated, you will need marketing professionals to shape your strategy, creatives, and so on.
To answer that question, we need to look at what exactly 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 minimize 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 very common 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 you need to talk to the purchasers to see if you have the right products in stock, suppliers have to deliver the pack shots, your agency’s regular graphic design freelancer is on vacation – and all of a sudden, the simple process is no longer so simple.
This is where automation comes in. Instead of emailing or calling – which can lead to your request drowning in the sea of others – the automation software will notify your purchase department, remind your supplier to upload the pack shots to your server and let your agency know that you need graphic design assistance.
In that way, the campaign workflow will run much faster, since you do not need to remind, keep taps, figure out where bottleneck form, or where the approval process has come to a holt. The marketing automation tool got you covered!
Because time to market is such an important 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 a lot of 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 fail. Yes, there we said it. It happens. There are several reasons why 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 get the implementation process running smoothly. Regardless if you chose that option or not, 5 things to avoid are:
5.1. You forget about people and the human touch.
Marketing automation systems and software are great for a lot of 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. Only then, when you have a clearly defined path, you should start automating. 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 organization needs – nothing more, nothing less. This will save you time and the huge expense of switching systems and going through an implementation process yet again.
5.4. You do not use data from all your sources.
Data, data, data. It is almost a mantra – but the fact is, that using the wide array of relevant data you already have across departments, can help you identify marketing automation opportunities for instance by helping you identify segments, learn more about your customers, the customer journey and so on – which again lets you know when to communicate what to whom.
If you are not using your data, you are missing out on great opportunities: to better fulfill your customers’ needs, upsell, cross-sell, and much more.
5.5. You do not evaluate and optimize.
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 there are new options, software, or channels unexplored that could improve your performance.
You have probably heard the saying: if it isn’t broke, 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 get you left behind.
Are you ready to take the next step – and automate your marketing efforts?