A Guide to Marketing Automation

Your marketing team likely has some of the brightest, most innovative minds in your business. Basic, time-consuming and mundane tasks can be eliminated from their daily work when you use marketing automation to free up their creative juices. There are many types of marketing technology tools that ensure your business stays in touch with its customers and delivers timely and relevant messaging that keeps them engaged.

More than 41 percent of businesses worldwide are already using marketing automation, reports eMarketer. Here's a guide to what marketing automation is, several types of common marketing automation techniques, and some best practices for using marketing automation in your business.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is the process of automatically gathering and nurturing leads, with content that converts them into customers, according to one internet marketing company in Denver. This is executed through software that makes necessary but repetitive tasks such as email, social media, lead capture and more automatic and intuitive.

Marketing automation helps sales teams by delivering them more qualified leads. It alleviates the burden of manual processes from marketing teams. It also helps to increase accuracy and decrease errors, all while ensuring you don't miss crucial steps in your lead gathering and nurturing process.

Types of Marketing Automation

There are dozens of marketing tasks that can be automated. Just a few include:

  • Customer relationship management, which processes customer data and provides content based on where they are in the journey with your brand
  • Analytics automation, which instantly pulls marketing data and synthesizes it into easy-to-read graphs and charts
  • Loyalty programs, which deliver rewards and offers based on purchases

If you're new to marketing automation, here are three areas where marketing automation can help ensure you're getting ample messaging out to the right people at the right time, without overloading leads and customers with spammy content.

Email Marketing Automation

Email marketing has a median return on investment of 122 percent, according to eMarketer, which is more than four times higher than paid search, direct mail and social media. Make sure you're taking advantage of this valuable marketing tool by using automation. Depending on where a lead is in the journey, what their demographics are, what their past purchases are and more, you can add them to drip email marketing campaigns that automatically send out emails based on the actions users take.

Marketing automation for email even responds based on actions customers don't take. For example, if a user hasn't opened an email from you in awhile, your marketing automation software can automatically send a coupon or offer to get them re-engaged. Their unique actions are triggers for other emails that move users along the sales pipeline.

Social Media Marketing Automation

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ are just a few of the many social networks your leads and customers might be on. Posting to each network individually can be a time-consuming process, and one that's error-prone. Using marketing automation enables your business to input posts and schedule them all at once, so you have a holistic view of your social media efforts.

Marketing automation for social media is beneficial because:

  • It ensures you're posting regularly, and users stay engaged with your channels
  • You can avoid posting the same message on the same day or at similar times
  • Posting is more efficient and easier to manage

Scheduling social posts in marketing automation software enables editing to happen quickly. You can make sure you have posts for holidays and special events tied to your brand. You always have the option to add or edit posts. You can see all responses to posts in one dashboard, instead of having to flip among screens, which helps you respond to customers more quickly.

Inbound Marketing Automation

From blogging to landing pages, having a tool that allows you to engage with customers based on the content they interact with on your website helps develop them as leads. Examples of inbound marketing automation include:

  • A user submits an email address in order to download an eBook. That user is then placed in a drip email marketing campaign that relates to the eBook content.
  • From social media, a user clicks on a link that takes them to a landing page with a special offer. When the user accepts the offer, they are sent to your sales team as a lead to follow up with.
  • You use marketing automation software to create an A/B test of a landing page. Your software measures performance of each type of landing page, which can help you capture more leads by using the better page, and which can influence future website design.

There are some marketing tools that will combine several types of marketing automation tasks in one tool, such as HubSpot. Some businesses prefer to use different types of tools for different tasks, like Google Analytics for data and Hootsuite for social media. Most marketing automation tools offer free trials. Test a few tools out with your team to see what works best for your business.

Best Practices for Marketing Automation

Marketing automation makes marketing easier, but campaigns require strategy to set up and measurement to be effective. You also don't want to make your marketing robotic. Here are some best practices to protect the human element of your marketing efforts while using marketing automation.

  • Map out the customer journey. This enables you to have a clear vision of the actions you want users to take, and how you want them to get to your goal.
  • Match up content with leads and customers. This requires developing customer personas and identifying where on a journey leads want what type of content.
  • Don't automate customer service. Customers want to talk to humans when they have questions or problems – and they want to talk to your customer service team now. Two-thirds of customers want real-time responses and interactions from businesses, according to Salesforce. Even if you're automating social media, content like blogs, and emails, make sure you're regularly monitoring comments and questions and have someone in place to respond quickly.

Use customer data to refine your marketing automation efforts. See what actions are converting the most leads into customers, and optimize your efforts by adjusting your automation.
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