Using an all-in-one tool, or a stack of several marketing tools together, marketers can automate several activities to scale their efforts and focus on more hands-on initiatives.
The Benefits of Marketing Automation
Marketing automation allows businesses, both small and large alike, to run complex marketing activities with limited resources.
It’s a huge time saver, allowing marketers to set up campaigns long before they need to be executed. Schedule your email marketing and social media posts for a month one morning and you can focus on other marketing activities.
On top of time, it saves on staff resources – meaning a single member of your team can execute complex tasks quickly and efficiently.
Scheduling features help you to reliably find a consistent cadence with your marketing. Instead of posting to Facebook when you have a spare minute, you can maintain a strong brand presence across all channels without having to spend huge amounts of time managing them.
Marketing automation also makes it easier to segment your audience with little effort. You can profile different groups of subscribers, leads and customers by their behavior and preferences.
For example, an eCommerce brand that sells womenswear can segment customers by jewelry fanatics and dress buyers. Automatically send each segment the right message using lead scoring features and customer/buyer personas.
All this is useless if you don’t know what’s working. Which is why most marketing automation platforms have their own reporting and analytics features. You can measure your marketing activity at all stages of the funnel, allowing you to double-down and optimize on the campaigns that are bringing a strong ROI.
To get a better idea of how all this stuff fits together, watch this demo of a marketing automation software tool called Infusionsoft:
Marketing Automation & Inbound Marketing
Marketing automation has a strong relationship with inbound marketing. First, let’s look at HubSpot’s definition of inbound marketing:
“Inbound marketing is about using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention. Sharing is caring and inbound marketing is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.”
In other words, inbound marketing is designed to fill the funnel with leads. Marketing automation is designed to nurture and convert those leads into sales.
For example, your inbound marketing efforts may include blog posts, community engagement and social media marketing. You would use various distribution activities to drive as much traffic to the content you put out there.
You can semi-automate your social media posting with a tool called Buffer. This video gives you a tutorial on how it works:
Your marketing automation system would then nurture those leads further down the funnel. If your segmentation is set up properly, you would deliver the right message to the right group of leads – using content at all stages of the funnel (e.g. case studies, eBooks and webinars).
Inbound marketing drives traffic, while marketing automation converts that traffic into leads, opportunities and sales.
Marketing Automation Software
Below is a list of some popular marketing automation solutions, tiered by cost.
Pardot — Pardot (owned by Salesforce) is a powerful platform that allows you to attract, convert and retain customers. Create email campaigns, set up landing pages, score leads, and more. Has deep integration with Salesforce.
Marketo — Marketo is a full suite of tools for marketing and sales teams. With it you can create, track, and analyze your marketing campaigns. You can also target leads with appropriate messaging and offers.
Infusionsoft — Infusionsoft focuses on the commerce side of marketing automation, but has a robust software suite for marketing automation in general, including sales automation, online payments, CRM (customer relationship management) solutions and more.
Act-On — Taking an “all-in-one” approach, Act-On allows you to manage your inbound flow (SEO, social media, landing pages), your marketing automation (lead nurturing and scoring, A/B testing), and your outbound flow (email, events, webinars).
HubSpot — HubSpot probably doesn’t need a introduction. This platform is a one-stop shop for inbound lead generation. HubSpot lets you send emails, score leads, create landing pages, monitor social media — and get analytics on it all.
WebEngage — WebEngage focuses on customer retention and, well, engagement. Learn about your users, custom-tailor their journey throughout your business with email, feedback surveys, and SMS — and then analyze it.
Autopilot — Autopilot helps you “automate” the custom journey through your website (and ultimately the rest of your business). It helps you to capture leads and create a personalized buying experience with in-app messages, SMS and even postcards.
Not sure yet?
If you’re unsure whether marketing automation is for you, try creating a stack of easy to implement tools. Use a social media manager like Buffer. Use a landing page tool like Unbounce, integrating it with an email marketing tool such as MailChimp to quickly get started with little investment and commitment.
Before investing in any form of software, you need to find out whether marketing automation is for you. If you’re a sales-lead organization, for example, you might want to focus on other solutions such as account-based marketing.
If you find you’re still buying email lists to reach prospects, then adopting an inbound marketing strategy that uses marketing automation at scale might be for you.
Sure, cold email can bring some short-term wins. But by building an inbound marketing strategy, you’ll be setting yourself up for greater, longer-term success.
About the Author: Ajit Singh is the Digital Marketing Manager at WebEngage, the Marketing Cloud for consumer businesses. CrazyEgg readers can get access to their eBook “A Marketers Guide to Mobile Push Notifications” here.