Marketing automation has emerged as something of a buzzword among digital fanatics today. It’s a term that’s bandied about almost without thought – if a platform can trigger a message to someone via an API, then it’s seen as marketing automation.
However, the truth is that automated activities that exist within a marketing strategy, and “marketing automation” as a concept aren’t always the same thing. The trouble is that people don’t really understand what marketing automation means, what it could do for their business, and what a marketing automation strategy might look like.
Defining Marketing Automation
On the surface, marketing automation is a term used to describe software platforms and technology designed to help companies market more efficiently on multiple channels, by automating repetitive tasks.
If you find that description a little vague, then you’re not the only one. While most marketing experts out there are willing to give you a basic idea of what marketing automation represents, they don’t offer enough information to help you determine the right combination of packages and services for your specific company.
After all, before you can really go out and invest in a marketing automation service, you’re going to need to understand what you’re spending your money on. Otherwise, how can you ensure an accurate Return on Investment?
The Elements of a Marketing Automation Solution
Rather than giving you just another general insight into marketing automation, I’m going to provide you with a rundown of what this software means for companies. In most circumstances, marketing automation is a combination of:
- Lead generation tactics – Solutions that drive more traffic to your website.
- Lead nurturing strategies – A process of engaging with your leads and pushing them further through the sales funnel.
- Lead scoring – The ability to determine how valuable a customer is based on variables that are important to your business.
- Website monitoring – The ability to gather useful analytics about your visitors from your website, such as content downloads, time spent on site, and pages viewed.
- Sales team integration – Bridging the gap between sales and marketing
Marketing Automation Features
As your business grows, you’ll find that your marketing automation platform should grow with it, delivering a range of crucial features.
- Data Imports and Exports: This will involve using marketing automation to automatically take data from customer-related Your solution should be able to segment, augment, and filter your campaigns too.
- API: An API is crucial for marketing automation to trigger events externally and update the information in your campaigns.
- Triggered Campaigns: The ability to instigate a campaign from customer action. For instance, this might include sending an email to someone who downloads an eBook.
- Drip campaigns: The ability to aligning a series of communications across various mediums to keep customers engaged and educated.
- Segmentation and Filtering: The ability to push subscribers through campaigns, filter recipients, and segment offers to increase conversions and click-throughs.
- Social media integration: Communicating with your target audience on social media to accelerate sales cycles.
- Visitor tracking: Identifying visitors via their IP address to properly score, segment, and filter customers for relevant campaigns.
- Landing pages and forms: Capturing information to build out user personas can give you all the information you need to build more personalised
- Email marketing: As the foundation of any marketing automation system, email marketing is crucial to your campaign. However, it’s also important to make sure that your automation system allows you to design and use campaigns that are mobile responsive.
- Retargeting, Remarketing and abandonment: Activity across a range of channels will help you to push forward nurturing tactics based on user intent.
- Content management: The ability to add forms, script and dynamic content is crucial for your content management system. Instead of promoting a new offer when a customer visits your website – you can give them a customised
- Unlimited campaigns across channels: One path for connecting with users isn’t enough, virtually every company needs cross-channel interactions to upsell and maintain customers.
It’s easy to see why companies who want to make the most out of their email marketing service should consider marketing automation systems for increased productivity and efficiency. It may even be possible for you to save money using marketing automation. However, it’s crucial for businesses to understand exactly what their marketing automation platform should do before they invest.
Rob is Founder & Publisher of UC Today, a leading news publication specialising in Unified Communications & Collaboration technologies.