Sounds nice, but what is it and how does your business benefit from it, and how does it differ from say email marketing?
What is marketing automation?
Difficult as it may seem to imagine to younger people but the use Marketing automation has actually been around since the era of Mrs Thatcher as Prime Minister, albeit in a primitive format, before the Internet ruled, and set the agenda for, the world. Marketing automation is just another marketing solution.
Just think back to the first versions of ‘Mail Merge you came across, which used software to (as if by magic) insert names & addresses from a database (albeit you called it a customer list probably) that you held and put them into the letters and on to the envelopes you chose to send your communications to customers & prospects alike by mail. Oh when life was that straight forward…but back on track, since then this has continued to be one of the mainstays of direct marketing operatives worldwide.
Fast forward to 2017 and now it is the advent of ‘real-time’ automation and the vast amount of data available to most businesses about their customers through the multiple digital & offline channels available. If you choose to visit any of the major online retailers or service providers (e.g. budget airlines) while logged in (which you will remain until you have physically logged out again), you will typically find that your name has been clearly and quietly inserted around the page. This then means that based on your browsing history, purchase history and your ‘wish list’, brand new products are presented to you thanks to a predictive algorithm. Clever stuff!
After your leaving the site, you then are systematically sent emails highlighting and reaffirming the services and products that you’ve viewed. The level of personalisation can vary here and often you could think that the prospective seller has a camera on you, or reads your mind better than your partner or parent!
All of this ‘tailored personalisation’ and email communication is made possible by the usage of marketing automation.
Marketing automation works for all!
Whilst marketing automation was once the preserve of but the most financially successful businesses, the technology that was needed to create the systems to run it required significant capital investment and was built ‘in-house’. Regularly the cost of building the software outweighed the cost-savings, so it didn’t happen.
But that was then & this now, and thanks to an explosion of 3rd party suppliers, sophisticated automation software is now much more readily available to SME Businesses of all sizes. We find that B2B companies have the best opportunities and those that are are taking advantage of marketing automation software by integrating it with their existing CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, which are freely available in many guises to all.
Typically this helps to combine & simplify and streamline both their marketing and sales efforts, and creates clearer focussed visibility for all within the business.
Marketing automation that is only for you (and intentionally so)
The biggest contributor towards the mass market saturation of marketing automation has been (and you guessed it) social media. In fact it’s no longer just the Royal Mail, email and advert retargeting that is used to broadcast messaging to consumers, but social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. These have become a critically important marketing channel for SME Businesses, with progressively more consumers using the channel, to both receive your direct messaging but also to communicate with you directly in return also- unforeseeable 30 years ago.
And because it’s a 2-way communication channel, and the most successful businesses are those that engage directly in real-time with users, it stands to reason that successful social media management usually requires a great deal of time, effort, proportionate resource, combined with energy and skills to do so.
The benefits of marketing automation
Whilst not an exhaustive list here are some of the reasons why a business like yours may choose to adopt marketing automation:
- Time Savings – Time is money they say so multiple campaigns can be scheduled far ahead of time and released into the market as you wish with your own reasons being the prime factor, therefore your working hours can be utilised for other activities to suit your needs.
- Efficiency – Suffice to say that by providing a streamlined automatic alternative to traditionally manual labour intensive processes, SME businesses save time & labour and therefore costs can be reduced too.
- CRM integration – it isn’t a bad idea to ensure that your hard earned leads don’t disappear off the radar after a couple of unsuccessful (or claimed by others, when perhaps they weren’t ) contact attempts.
- Data collection – automatic marketing can help to offer a touch-point (we love this ‘Buzz word’!) to your clients or customers that isn’t necessarily just sales-driven (think news gathering, research gathering etc.). It can help to boost your brand awareness & to provide better insight, and this also be used to collect specific data to improve your future campaigns and communication.
- A new one –Multichannel management – whereas it was usually easy enough to manage a single email channel, well now thanks to the multiple channels that consumers can be found on, it’s getting harder and harder, bordering on impossible, to keep track of them all. Marketing automation can help you keep a close eye on any channel & bring prospects back into focus.
- Consistency – An obvious one, but by Incorporating all of your marketing efforts into one process, you are able to keep a unified brand style & identity.
- Last but not least, Personalisation – automation very much helps to tailor the experience for the user, and thereby creates a unique and more appealing experience that’s entirely relevant, enjoyable and much more likely to lead to conversion-the whole point of the exercise!
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