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What is marketing automation?

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Last editedFeb 20213 min read

Direct, personalised marketing is undoubtedly the most effective way to reach potential customers. However, businesses usually don’t have the time to craft a custom campaign for each individual. Marketing automation tools spark the conversation and keep it going so that you can grow customer relationships more efficiently. Here’s how it works.

Understanding marketing automation

Marketing automation puts technology to use to make marketing efforts more efficient. You can control mobile messaging, social media ads, and email marketing through a central automated platform. The best tools allow you to create that all-important customised marketing experience based on user data. A customer will automatically receive messaging tailored to their purchasing activity and preferences.

Normally you’d need to personally send an email every time you wished to reach out to a contact or manually tag customers in social media posts. Instead, marketing automation carries out these activities on your behalf. All you need to do is set up your preferences using marketing automation software, and the tools will quietly run in the background to execute the strategy.

The system relies on information to work effectively. Marketing automation systems harvest data each time someone clicks on an ad, subscribes to your mailing list, or makes a purchase. There are tools to track how and when customers engage with emails, where contacts are located, and the time of day they’re most likely to engage with your brand on social media. All of these factors are accounted for in the marketing strategy.

Ideally, marketing automation leads to higher conversion rates and a better return on investment.

What are the components of marketing automation?

There are many different marketing automation platforms to choose from, but most will include the following elements:

  • A central database filled with marketing data and core customer information.

  • An analytics component that tests, measures, and optimises your marketing activity.

  • An engagement component that creates and manages your client interactions.

  • A marketing technologies (MarTech) stack including all of the applications needed to implement your strategy.

How does marketing automation help business teams?

The best marketing automation platforms provide multiple benefits.

1. They help you gain customer insight

Marketing automation software constantly works in the background to gather data from customer interactions, allowing you to provide more personal interactions. With experiences more relevant to their needs, general leads are more likely to become repeat customers.

2. They free your team from repetitive tasks

Rather than spending hours of the day sending out repetitive emails, marketing teams can focus on nurturing leads and operating at the more client-intensive end of the sales funnel. Marketers can also focus more freely on the big-picture strategies to shape the business, encouraging creativity with campaigns.

3. They save time and boost the bottom line

By saving time on those repetitive marketing tasks and improving customer engagement, marketing automation platforms free resources that could be used more effectively. Meanwhile, when customers receive personalised attention, they’re more likely to make purchases. Organisations can also calculate ROI more accurately, which helps with planning future business investment.

How to use marketing automation most effectively

To get started with using marketing automation software, you need to think about your current goals. Are you mainly interested in generating new leads, or providing a better experience for existing customers? Make a list of objectives to find the software that gives the best fit.

Here are a few more tips to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure the marketing automation platform integrates with your CRM system, sales department, and lead generation workflow. It should accommodate your existing apps and processes for smoother rollout.

  2. Choose a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs) to track in order to measure results. Some marketing automation strategies will yield more fruitful results than others. For example, you might find that webinars provide a better return on investment than trade shows for your audience.

  3. Perform a customer segmentation analysis to break your audience down into manageable segments. This will drive your marketing automation, which works at its best when it’s highly targeted.

  4. Test your campaigns frequently using A/B testing processes. Marketing automation might streamline your communications, but you need to constantly measure these strategies to ensure you’re getting it right. Little things can have a big impact on a campaign’s chances of success, from embedded images to the wording of subject lines, so see what your audience most responds to.

The bottom line is that marketing automation works best as part of a larger strategy. While it can help you keep in touch with your audience on a more customisable level, you still need to look at the big picture to grow lasting relationships.

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