Marketing automation is all the rage nowadays, and it has become quite the trendy subject among marketers. But while the term sounds fairly simple, many are still left wondering what it actually is, what it actually accomplishes, and finally, what marketing automation actually is good for.
This was me, too, before writing this article. For this post, I’ve gone through the information already available online, and have assembled them all into one long post.
To (hopefully) save you time.
So, how can you make money from marketing automation?
By getting better and more precise data on your leads, you’ll know what phase in the buying journey they are. You’ll be able to make better decisions, and ultimately sell more, because of the increase in information you have. You can even get data on when a specific lead has visited a specific page on your site. By coincidence, you just happen to call 15 minutes later, when your business/product is still fresh in their minds.
And that’s just one out of many possibilities…
But before we can explore more, we have to start with the basics…
That also includes implementing the cornerstone processes that marketing automation systems will build on. As an example, setting up your brand and making sure your employees understand it is integral for your marketing automation tools to bring in the results you want.
Go check those two articles first. If you still feel confident that your brand is stable enough to warrant incorporating marketing automation to your business processes, read on…
What is marketing automation exactly?
Marketing automation is the use of an omnichannel software platform to consolidate, create, and automate a variety of related marketing initiatives, states Kyle McCarthy at Act-on.com.
So in other words, with marketing automation software, you automate tasks.
Email sending, ad campaigns, scraping, updating & adding info to CRM profiles… Virtually anything that can be automated, virtually.
I understand this is a general answer, but the question is also of a similar nature. What is important to understand is that you can automate all the marketing related tasks you can think of, and then some.
Check the benefits section of this article to see more concrete examples of what you can do with marketing automation.
17 Ways You Can Benefit From Marketing Automation
This list is inspired by what’s already written on the topic, both academically and in the blogosphere. Here are 17 different ways that marketing automation products can help you out.
Benefit #1: Optimized processes
Marketing automation tools are great at optimizing your digital processes, and improving the actual steps necessary to gather, organize, and administer data.
Benefit #2: More time for planning & creating
As such, a lot of the repetitive, menial tasks can be automated, leading to a lesser need for workers in that area.
For employees reading this and getting worried about their job, you should see this as great news. With marketing automation, a big chunk of the important but mind-numbing work is left to the computer, leaving you with more time to come up with solutions and ideas for the business, things that computers cannot do and are objectively more important than the execution of day-to-day tasks.
Benefit #3: Increased average deal size & more upsells
Upsells are prime examples of marketing automation tools in action. Say you’re ordering food online through your preferred app of choice, and have just selected the main meal. Now, the app asks you if you’d like a specific type of fries with that meal?
“Yeah I like those fries, let’s add them”
It’s not a coincidence that the app just happened to suggest the type of fries you like the most (and that you’ve ordered the most).
This also works in a B2B context, simply because the data on the lead is better and more thorough. When you truly understand and know (not believe) what the client wants, tailoring your offer to them becomes so much easier. And the reward will be noticeably higher.
Benefit #4: Better data for marketing
Data-driven marketing is something every marketer has heard about by now. Most people also seem to agree that data is better than gut instinct. 91% of marketing leaders and 100% of chief marketing officers think that in order to be successful, brands need to make data-driven marketing decisions.
In other words, there’s no excuse anymore for not seeking out better data. Chances are your competition is already doing it.
Benefit #5: Automates the repetitive stuff
This might be the key benefit that is the easiest to both recognize and measure. Depending on your niche and situation, this can help you immensely, if nothing else, to increase the time available for more interesting and important tasks.
Automating the data gathering process is a benefit that doesn’t really need explaining. Less time churning the butter, more time selling it.
Benefit #6: Delayed opt-ins!
One thing that many online sites get wrong, is that they bombard the visitor with their opt-in windows way too early. Maybe the visitor is just browsing, and scanning for some specific information.
The worst thing you can do at that point, is interrupt them with something completely irrelevant to them – at that point.
Put yourself in their shoes. They just googled a “how to/why/what is” question, and are actively filtering out the noise from the one paragraph they have any interest in. Suddenly an opt-in/ad pops up, which they instinctively close. After all, they want to know the answer to their specific question, and there’s no way the answer to that will lie behind some newsletter opt-in.
Instead, use marketing automation tools to firstly, tag the visitor. Next, set up triggers that enable the showing of opt-ins only after the third visit.
After you’ve already created trust and rapport with them. Show your CTA’s too early, and nobody’s going to convert.
Benefit #7: Multi-channel targeting
The tagging feature used in virtually any and every marketing automation tool is one of the biggest benefits for marketing and sales teams. It enables targeting across different channels to help prospects choose better in their buying journey.
How does multi-channel targeting actually work?
The technical explanation of this seems to be held in secrecy by the firms offering the tools.
Here’s the dumbed down answer:
Multi-channel targeting starts from an anonymous visitor accessing the site. Here, the marketing automation tool firstly attempts to identify the visitor based on their IP (~ their own digital footprint, that is unique to their internet connection).
Next, the tool adds a specific tag to this IP. When the same IP revisits the site or goes on a site/platform the business has for instance ads on, the communication to this IP is determined by the data the marketing automation tool has given.
Benefit #8: Ongoing A/B & Multivariate testing
Optimization is the name of the game in online marketing. Data doesn’t lie (though it can be interpreted wrong), and optimizing your sites and campaigns with A/B or multivariate testing is something that just makes sense.
Instead of asking ourselves why we would do this, how about:
Why would you not do it?
This type of testing is the best data-based decision making you can make. And the cool thing is the optimization never stops. Over time, with more and better data, you’ll improve your metrics and the customer experience as well (which at the end of the day is all that matters).
Benefit #9: More targeted messages
Speaking of customer experience, that is exactly what this benefit is about. You get to target and modify your message to the customer, and the customer gets a message that they more often than not are interested in.
That is the whole point of marketing automation, to ensure that the message sent is as targeted and of the highest value to the customer as possible. The more targeted a message is, the more likely it is that the customer will buy, download, sign up, or refer the service to a friend.
Benefit #10: Find most loyal customers, reward with loyalty program
With the data received, it is easier to pin-point what customers are the most loyal, and thus the most receptible for eventual loyalty or referral programs.
The win-win in this situation is that you get the customer to associate more with your brand (and potentially get some financial reward in the form of discounts or just a direct sum), and you have a third party not directly affiliated with your product doing the selling for you.
Loyalty programs are great in the sense that they make your customer really buy in to the whole brand, the culture, the philosophy. Think about the early adopters of Tesla, iPhone, or GoPro users. They are so embedded into the brand that they do the marketing for you. Cultivating and harnessing this behavior in your customers will be easier with marketing automation tools.
Benefit #11: Quantified lead scoring
With the help of marketing automation, you’ll be able to score your leads based on a variety of factors.
So in essence, you’ll be able to pick out the low-hanging fruit from your prospect tree. In this context, it’s easy to apply the Pareto “80-20” principle to the leads.
This ties in to the benefits already listed in this article, namely the ones about productivity and effectiveness. Instead of wasting time on leads that – according to the data – are not likely to convert, spend time cultivating and nurturing the leads that score better.
Benefit #12: CRM integrations
One main feature in most automation tools is the ability to – with the help of tagging – integrate with your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems.
“Why would I want that?”
You’d want that because that integration would continually increase the data you have, also on existing older leads. Better data, better leads.
Benefit #13: Know when to call
For salespeople, this benefit is huge.
Similar to tracking pixels in e-mails, marketing automation tools facilitate tracking of visitors as well. This was mentioned in a previous benefit.
If you’re in sales, this means that you’ll know when a prospect has visited your site or page. By calling within a specific timeframe from that, you’ll know that your solution is fresh in their minds, and they’re most likely in a spot where they need your guidance the most.
Benefit #14: Reduced lead conversion times
This benefit ties in to the previous one.
By knowing more about the prospect, you also know more about their objections and hesitance towards your product. By calling at the best moments, the time period between them thinking about something and basically waiting for you to call, and you actually calling, is shortened.
As an example, have you ever been shopping for some certain item that you don’t really know much about (phones, digital watches, headphones, marketing automation tools…)?
And have you ever been wondering around the shop trying to find a salesman that could help you out?
This is the exact situation your customers are in, but online.
Benefit #15: Automatic lead follow up
It is of course also possible – instead of calling – to send e-mails or messages on social media. This can all be automated and tracked with the help of marketing automation tools.
Which in turn will lead to fewer pauses in the buying process, and faster lead conversion times.
Listen to a specific event happening, set up what you want to happen as a result, and you’ll have yourself an automated follow-up.
Benefit #16: Fewer cold calls
While cold calls are great for virtually any business, no one can argue that inbounds or warm leads are better.
With the help of marketing automation software you’ll notice your list of warm leads increasing.
As such, you’ll know that they’re interested in the solution/product, and all that’s left is to discuss any potential questions or issues they might be having.
Benefit #17: Basket abandonment campaigns
This benefit is great!
Have you ever noticed yourself adding a few items to your shopping cart, and then holding off on actually buying for some reason or another? You’re not the only one. According to baymard.com, almost 70 % of online shopping carts are abandoned.
If you were logged in with your e-mail at that time, you’ll notice how, in a day or two, a discounted offer has landed in your inbox.
This is a marketing tactic that most online stores use nowadays, with some impressive results.
After all, there is little to lose, and with more than 2/3rds of all your visitors abandoning your cart, you have a great opportunity to put your copywriting skills to use in a targeted and automated e-mail campaign.
What types of marketing automation software are there?
Email automation software and marketing automation software are not the same. As such, Mailchimp, ConvertKit, or Aweber are not actually marketing automation tools.
Actual marketing automation tools are (among others) Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, Autopilot, Responsys. I whipped together a quick price & trial comparison chart for you to check out, seen below. Detailed reviews of the tools might come later.
|Software||Trial Available?||Price EUR/year||Price USD/year|
|Pardot||Yes||13 760||15 000|
|Act-On||Yes||10 500||10 800|
|Sharpspring||Doubtful||6 048||6 600|
|Responsys||Yes||Not available||Not available|
|Eloqua||Yes||Not available||Not available|
|Marketo||Doubtful||Not available||Not available|
|Iterable||Doubtful||Not available||Not available|
It stands to reason that the products that didn’t have any pricing information readily available, will be on par or more expensive than the most expensive one in this list.
The intention of this article is not to thoroughly review these products, however. Just giving you a glimpse of what’s out there. To find out more about these tools, Google, YouTube, and Reddit are your friends.
So, to conclude this article…
Is Marketing Automation The Future?
- Data is more objective, unemotional, easier to scale, and more truthful than human insight and “gut feeling”
- Marketing automation enables you to create and process tasks infinitely faster than you’d normally could. There’s only 24 hours in the day, and whether you like it or not, productivity is an important aspect of competition. If your competition is using marketing automation tools, and you are not, they effectively have more hours in the day than you.
- Technology and data will only become more important in the future, and fighting the current will only do you harm in the long run.
However, I’m not advocating every single business on earth to go nuts on marketing automation software.
If you’re in the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, focusing too much on processes such as marketing automation may be counterproductive at this stage.
While the benefits have been discussed in this article, the startup costs for true marketing automation software might be too high to justify the investment.
A similar result could be established with some old-fashioned cold calling, or some unorthodox guerrilla marketing campaigns.
At the end of the day, nobody knows your business as well as you do, and there is no one else that can make the ultimate decision, if marketing automation is for you.
But with the help of this post, you hopefully have some better data to base your decision on.