What is Marketing Automation?
On paper, the idea that you can automate your marketing campaigns and still make money might sound a bit like the search for the Holy Grail. Most business owners and marketing managers immediately begin to visualize a sophisticated A.I. taking over and trying to sell to their customers for them.
While Marketing Automation software does help you get leads and close them, it is not a replacement for human interaction. It's primary job is to automate repetitive tasks so your humans are freed up to work with leads.
Let me explain...
What is it... really?
Automation has become a buzz-word for marketers. People have started thinking that any software that is used for marketing is automation - and that's not true at all.
While it's true that you do need tools to do Marketing Automation successfully, if your job is to be a strategist and make plans (like a business owner or marketer) then it's better to think of it as a strategy instead of a specific tool.
Let me show you what I mean. A typical marketing to sales process usually works something like this:
A human finds out about you. They see you on social media, or searched and found you. They visit your website to learn more about whatever got their attention.
You captured their contact information using an offer or other action that they were willing to take. Now you have their information and can reach out to them.
If they were a good fit for your services, then you are able to close that lead into a customer and generate revenue for your company.
If you keep them happy, then in this stage, they become your fan and will tell others about you. They love your products and services and will be happy to buy from you again too.
In this buyer's journey, Marketing Automation is typically used in the Lead and Customer Stages.
You use the software to automate some tasks that help to qualify leads for the sales team. You also will use it to nurture leads so they learn more about your services and products and are more interested in purchasing.
Then you'll use it for existing customers to stay top of mind and continue to add value to the relationship so they will ascend into being a promoter for your business.
It doesn't replace human interaction entirely, but it does handle monotonous tasks and provide oversight to the marketing and sales teams so they know where in the lead's journey they need to intervene and take over.
Look at Amazon...
Amazon is probably the best example of marketing automation used incredibly efficiently.
If you visit their site and look at anything, then you will start seeing ads show up around the internet for that product that you didn't buy. Then if you don't click on those ads, you will start seeing ads for related products.
If you have an Amazon account, then you will also start getting emails from their with related products. You'll also start seeing those related products when you go back to their site.
If you purchase anything, you will see more automation at work to follow up with you about your purchase and let you know that it shipped, that it arrived, and ask for your feedback. You'll also start seeing emails with related products again - but this time they relate to the product that you purchased.
It's hard to believe, but most of that used to be done by humans before automation could be programmed. A human would literally email you with your tracking number and let you know it shipped. Then they would follow up with you after it was delivered to make sure you enjoyed your purchase and to get a review from you if possible.
Some things couldn't be done by a human - such as changing the products on the page on the site based on your past browsing or purchase history. A computer has to look at your account and adjust the page to suite your preferences.
Again - do not get overwhelmed by the tech involved.
It seems like it would be massive and scary - but there are tons of companies like ours that specialize in putting all the tech bits together. The trickier part is figuring out how doing those fancy things will fit into your overall lead strategy.
How do I know when to invest in automation?
This is a surprisingly easy answer. Some indicators that you might be ready include:
- You're generating a steady flow of marketing content like blog articles, videos, social posts, and emails.
- Your sales team is having trouble keeping up with the volume of leads that are coming in right now.
- Your sales and marketing team share a goal of improving the lead flow and closing rates with quality customers.
- You have a content strategy that includes buyer personas.
- You have software in place that tracks lead behavior like what pages they viewed on the before contacting you.
- You have a defined funnel for new leads to nurture them and close them.
What are you going to do now?
I'd love to hear what you think about marketing automation... do you think it might help your business? Let me know how you think it will help in the comments below.
Talk to you soon!
Written by Christina Hooper COO & WEB NINJA AT SPARKITIVE
I was blessed to grow up in a small town with a grandfather that owned the local corner store. His hard work and dedication taught me what it is to use your business to build a community. After working with so many businesses in the last 14 years, I know the power of building relationships. I believe that in order to succeed, businesses must build relationships - with customers, with each other, and with their communities. Thanks to technology, it is easier than ever before to build relationships with people all over the world and I love that I get to help make that happen.
My mission is to help businesses get better at building connections with prospects, turn customers into raving fans, and build brands that clients and customers are proud to know.