We have all heard of it but what actually is marketing automation? In this article we attempt to help define marketing automation in a bit more detail.
Marketing automation is often referred to as the software solutions designed for marketing departments to more effectively market into several online channels at the same time and automate the more repetitive tasks. Significant benefits can be achieved by specifying the criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes, which then get converted into workflows that are stored and executed by software tools. The automation is designed to increase efficiency and reduce human error.
In the beginning, marketing automation was mainly used within email marketing but now generally refers to a wide range of applications for marketing supplied as cloud based software platforms.
The purpose of a marketing automation platform is to streamline sales and marketing process by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual tasks with automation and can be classified into three main categories.
Advanced workflow automation covers the automation of internal marketing processes. These include budgeting and planning, workflow and approvals, the marketing calendar, internal collaboration, digital asset creation and management, essentially everything that supports the operational efficiency of the internal marketing function. Typically it requires an administrator to set up complex business rules to trigger an action that would normally require a manual response from internal staff, partners or employees. This approach increases the ability to deliver relevant content to relevant individuals at relevant times.
Marketing automation focuses on elevating leads from the marketing funnel to become sales-ready. Through the use of a scoring system based on activities, campaign messaging in a workflow triggers other actions to happen via a marketing channel and nurtures the relationship through to sale. Marketing Automation is really the marriage of email marketing technology with a structured sales process.
Marketing intelligence refers to more advanced marketing automation that uses tracking codes to track behaviour in social media, email and webpages of interests in a product or service with the aim to measure the level of intent. This allows more accurately targeted responses and the creation of a nurturing programme specifically driven by known and recorded behaviour, areas of interest and any other key factor. It has also been described as Marketing Automation 2.0.
In order to help marketers fully understand their target audiences and therefore develop a strategic marketing plan with relevance, the tools are designed to perform four key tasks:
- Develop and analyse marketing campaigns
- Manage marketing activity
- Store data on both contacts and organisations
- Produce workflows and processes for moving contacts from leads to customers
Most marketing automation platforms are able to handle content management, host forms, marketing collateral and landing pages, as well as deliver analytics and email broadcasting.
In conclusion, marketing automation is complex and before embarking on even a mini-version of a marketing automation project, it is vitally important to ensure that everyone required to be involved in the project buys into the process. There’s a large amount of discussion and agreement required, which is best done in the form of a workshop with the purpose to share information, experience and to explore the potential future for marketing strategy and campaigns that could be adopted moving forward.