What Is Marketing Automation? With Definition and Examples

Marketing can seem like tons of work. Email databases, audience segments, cross-channel campaigns ─ the list goes on. What if there was a way to optimize your marketing? The answer lies in marketing automation. In this blog, you will learn marketing automation definition and examples.

Marketing Automation Definition

Marketing automation is the use of software to automate and streamline marketing campaigns. It combines different practices of marketing such as email marketing, lead generation, and social media marketing − in one integrated system.

Benefits of Marketing Automation

Leading enterprises across the world are using marketing automation due to the benefits it offers. Some of these benefits include:

Saves time

Earlier, marketers would spend hours sending emails, conducting follow-ups, and individually publishing posts on social media. Marketing automation changed all that. It allows businesses to automate all these repetitive, time-consuming activities, and use their time for more important, strategic tasks. By making use of automation, marketers can send scheduled-customized emails, conduct daily follow-ups, and schedule posts on social media channels.

Builds customer relationships

Marketing automation allows you to create detailed customer profiles with information such as email open rates, browsing behavior, and survey responses. This provides businesses with highly accurate customer data, which can be used to deliver personalized customer experiences, and as a result, build strong relationships.

Personalizes the customer journey

According to a survey by Pardot, over 75% of buyers seek unique, targeted content. Marketing automation makes it a breeze to get the right content to the right buyer at the right time. They also capture data that answers key questions such as − Which emails are customers opening? Or, what social media posts are getting the best responses? Automated data capture can answer these and many other questions relevant to your content marketing strategies.

Consistent communication

Consistent communication is the key to effective engagement and conversion. Marketing automation allows you to schedule timely follow-ups, send recurring emails, reply to social media posts, and ensure complete consistency in all your communication.  

Enables omnichannel monitoring

Marketing automation allows you to centrally monitor all the channels you use to interact with your current customers. It provides a single-screen view of how your audience is responding and what is the level of engagement you are driving.

End-to-end reporting

Marketing automation enables you to track and monitor multiple channels. This makes it possible to create detailed reports, analyze the statistics on various campaigns, and use that data to understand the campaign success. You can also share the campaign stats and reports automatically with other teams.

Lead nurturing

Nurturing leads can be tricky and time-consuming. Marketing automation allows you to simplify and automate the whole process of lead nurturing. It enables you to automate lead categorization and send personalized emails to different customer segments using email automation. It also helps you improve your follow-ups through auto-responders.

Smarter decision-making

Marketing automation enables you to collect valuable intelligence and immediately put it to work. It provides a single-screen view of customer data and allows you to effectively measure campaigns and predict consumer behavior.

Aligns sales and marketing

Collaboration between sales and marketing teams can often get turbulent. Marketing automation eases the contentious issues between sales and marketing functions and helps them work together. Further, it helps in automating traditionally manual processes like lead assignment, improving lead quality, increasing revenue.

Builds a 360-degree view of customers

Integrating CRM with marketing automation helps you conduct detailed behavioral tracking (e.g., pages visited by prospects, types of content getting maximum views, etc.). This provides critical insight into what your leads are interested in, which lets you custom your content according to your audiences.  

Increases the scale of campaigns

A key benefit of marketing automation is that it helps you broaden the scope of your marketing campaigns. Unlike sending emails manually, using automation allows you to automate your email campaigns end-to-end. This enables you to widen the scale of your campaigns without being limited by your team size. As a result, you can create a series of campaigns to increase revenue at every stage of the buying cycle.

Boosts ROI

Marketing automation helps you cut costs by eliminating the need to employ staff to do repetitive marketing tasks. This allows you to streamline your team and cut staff costs. What’s more, your team is now free to focus on high impact tasks. This improves ROI on the money you invest in employing them.

Increases customer lifetime value

Marketing automation makes light work of your retention and loyalty goals, helping you increase your customer lifetime value. By using good software, you can automate requests for feedback, send exclusive offers, and trigger re-engagement campaigns if subscribers become distant. This helps strengthen customer relationships and increase customer lifetime value.

Simplifies testing and targeting

Automation tools offer marketers the ability to test campaigns at the push of a button. Not only does this save companies money on additional A/B testing technology, but it also allows them to target the right messages to the right audiences. Anyone who has ever tried to execute an A/B test without marketing automation would deeply appreciate the role of marketing automation.

Helps you focus on strategic tasks

Most marketers are too busy with mundane, repetitive tasks that involve little innovation. Marketing automation liberates marketing teams from the drudgery of repetitive campaign execution. This gives them the time and freedom to get creative, think strategically, and create greater impact. As a result, marketers can reach their full potential and substantially improve the ROI of their marketing efforts.

Disadvantages of Marketing Automation

It is expensive

Marketing automation is expensive. Even though the cost of marketing automation has come down dramatically over the years, it still requires significant investments. As a result, getting buy-ins and convincing your management team to shell out dollars for an automation platform could be dicey.

It can de-personalize your brand

Each day, your prospects receive hundreds of email messages. Every message that you send your customers competes for attention with your competitors’ messages across channels and devices. Companies that fail to use the personalization features in marketing automation tools run the risk of blending in with the noise. Use your personas, intent data, and other resources to create highly personalized experiences that will build lasting relationships.

It may seem complex

Marketing automation platforms are sophisticated technologies, and inexperienced users can get lost in a web of multiple campaigns, nuanced audience segments, and complicated reports. In addition, segmenting audiences successfully can be difficult, and it might take some trial-and-error to find the right balance. Even after you have your segments in place, using them successfully may require a fair amount of practice.

It takes time to set up

A large number of marketing teams invest in a marketing automation platform, only to let it sit on the shelf since they don’t have the time to set it up. Marketing automation is a great time-saver once it’s up and running, but it does require some time to set up.

It can lead to over-messaging

Some teams go overboard with the power of automated marketing and annoy prospects by communicating too frequently. To avoid this, marketers must time their messages strategically — frequently enough to keep their brand top of mind, but not so frequently that they aggravate recipients into hitting the Unsubscribe button.

Mistakes can be magnified

Marketing automation platforms handle a huge number of prospects. This means that an error may result in the wrong message going out to thousands of recipients. As a result, marketers must be extra careful in using these platforms. Companies must make sure that everyone who uses their platform is adequately trained and adept at proofing, testing, sending, and tracking messages.

Popular Marketing Automation platforms

  1. Marketo
  2. HubSpot
  3. ActiveCampaign
  4. Autopilot
  5. SendinBlue
  6. Omnisend
  7. ConvertKit
  8. Rejoiner
  9. Eloqua
  10. Salesfusion
  11. Pardot

Marketo

Marketo is a powerful and easy-to-use marketing automation platform. It provides easy scalability, allowing marketers to rapidly scale their marketing programs. Marketo has an incredible partner network that supports a highly integrated marketing tech stack. Its integration with Salesforce is second to none.

Hubspot

HubSpot is used by over 68,000 customers in more than 100 countries across the world. It is hugely popular for its ease of use and marketers find it useful for the simplicity it offers. It also provides the ability to seamlessly manage contact lists, connected from Salesforce, so you can ensure your emails go to the right targets. HubSpot’s award-winning software, services, and support offer marketers everything they need to run successful inbound marketing campaigns.

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign offers almost everything you need in a newsletter marketing tool. Not only does it allow autoresponders, but it also allows automation of your contacts and automation within its CRM system. This system allows you to add notes to contacts, set up appointments or simply send direct messages to them. In addition to that, it also provides the site messages feature, which allows you to send targeted messages straight to your website visitors.

Autopilot

Autopilot is an easy-to-use marketing automation solution that helps companies of all sizes create automated customer journeys. It provides multi-channel marketing capabilities and comes with a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy-to-use. Autopilot integrates with SalesforceCRM and other applications like Zapier, GoodData, InsideView, and Slack.

SendinBlue

SendinBlue provides a comprehensive platform for marketing automation, email marketing, SMS marketing, Facebook advertising, and for sending transactional messages via email and SMS. It enables easy integrations with various apps and ecommerce platforms, including WordPress, Magento, Drupal, Shopify, PrestaShop, and WooCommerce. It’s also affordably priced, and the free tier is extremely useful for new, upstart businesses.

Omnisend

Omnisend is an all-in-one solution built for high-growth ecommerce businesses. It provides rich integrations and works with all ecommerce platforms including Bigcommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, and others. It provides advanced automation workflows, customer segmentation features, and a multitude of channels to reach the customer.

ConvertKit

ConvertKit is a great platform for drip email campaigns. One of its best applications is to automatically send mails to new subscribers. It is the ideal solution for companies that are looking to write text-only emails to their users.

Rejoiner

Rejoiner is a great tool for online retailers that want to retarget customers that have abandoned a shopping cart, or browsed specific product categories without making a purchase. The software is highly effective in identifying these customer sets, segmenting them, and sending fully customized emails with the goal of increasing conversions.

Eloqua

Oracle Eloqua provides the best-in-class lead management, campaign management, and sales tools that help marketers deliver the most personalized experiences. Its key benefits are its marketer-friendly UI, sophisticated targeting & segmentation, market-leading integrations, and industry’s richest dataset.

Salesfusion

Sugar Market, formerly Salesfusion is the ideal platform for companies seeking to deliver better revenue by combining marketing and sales. It provides highly intuitive campaign builders, advanced automation, and superior reporting to grow engagement, improve conversion, and drive more revenue. The software is simple to use, with a drag-and-drop interface that is highly user-friendly.

Pardot

Pardot enables marketing and sales teams to work together to find and nurture leads, close more deals, and maximize ROI. It provides email marketing, lead nurturing and scoring, and ROI reporting capabilities to help marketing and sales teams work together.

How to select a marketing automation platform

Now that you have a list of names, how do you select the right company to partner with? There are several factors that should guide your decision. Some of these include:

Costs

Many platforms have hidden costs. Therefore, you should look for a platform that doesn’t have any hidden charges.  And if you happen to choose a platform that might impose extra fees, make sure you’re aware of those fees upfront.

Limits

Some platforms put limits on the number of emails you can send. The ideal platform will offer unlimited sends and unlimited users so that it can easily scale alongside your team.

Support options

Support is a key criterion when selecting a marketing automation platform. Yet, it is often overlooked. Make sure you go for a provider that offers reliable email as well as phone support so that you can easily connect with their experts to diagnose and solve a problem quickly.

Availability

System availability is another key consideration when selecting a platform. You must have assured access to your automation platform at all times. Make sure that you scan each provider’s SLA to be sure about this information. It’s also helpful to look at historical data on how the provider has handled downtime in the past.

Integrations

Marketing automation cannot operate in isolation. Therefore, it is important to study every platform’s integration landscape. Your top priority should be native CRM integration options, since integrating your marketing automation software with your CRM is an absolute must. You should also evaluate other integration opportunities, such as those for social media marketing, account-based marketing, etc.

Broader capabilities

As you go about selecting a platform, make sure your platform has the capabilities to handle the complexities that may emerge as your program matures. The top capabilities you should look for include campaign management, website tracking, webinar/event management, landing pages, and data management, to name a few. If the platform has substantial integration capabilities, it will extend the functionality of your platform.

Customer feedback

It’s important to evaluate what current and past users of a platform have to say about both – the technology as well as the support offered by the providers. While reviewing customer reviews, make sure you don’t just stop at reviewing testimonials. If possible, try to talk face-to-face with users of the platform to understand their experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Why do companies use marketing automation?


Companies use marketing automation because it helps marketers save time and increase efficiency by automating tasks like emailing, lead generation, and campaign management.


2. What does marketing automation do?


Marketing automation allows you to centrally monitor and manage your marketing processes (e.g., email marketing, customer segmentation, lead generation, landing page creation, etc.) through a unified system.


3. What are the benefits of marketing automation?


The benefits of marketing automation can be summarized in one word – efficiency. Marketing automation automates tedious and time-consuming tasks such as emailing and lead generation. This allows marketers to be more efficient so that they can move prospects through the sales cycle with minimal time and resources.


4. Does marketing automation only include email marketing?


No, marketing automation is not just email marketing. It also includes other forms of outreach such as social media, SMS texting, and phone calls, etc.


5. What is the difference between CRM and marketing automation?


Marketing automation tools help nurture and capture leads across different channels and hand-off those leads to sales. CRM, on the other hand, stores and analyzes customer data, and uses this data to drive future interactions and generate sales.  


6. How is email marketing different from marketing automation?


Email marketing usually begins and ends at the email campaign. However, marketing automation tracks a prospective customer across multiple channels and campaigns. Most marketing automation systems include email marketing tools and combine them with other marketing automation features like customer analytics, automated workflows, and lead scoring.


7. Who uses marketing automation?


Marketing automation tools are used by a diverse set of users. This includes:  

Email marketers: Email marketers use MA to set up, test, and run automated email campaigns to targeted customer lists.
Marketing managers: Marketing managers use automation software to monitor data and evaluate the ROI.
Demand generation specialists: Demand generation professionals use automation to run email campaigns, PPC, and social campaigns.
Social media managers: Social media managers use marketing automation software for social listening as well as for scheduling posts on social media channels.
Content managers: Content professionals use automation tools to publish content to the right audiences at the right time.

Conclusion 

Marketing automation lets you take a giant leap forward in terms of efficiency, productivity, and revenue generation while your team gets to concentrate on strategy, creativity, and content. And because you can implement automation so easily and affordably, there’s every reason to try it.

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