What is Marketing Automation?

what is marketing automation

Have you heard the phrase ‘marketing automation’? Wondering what it means?

This concept can make a huge impact on the success of your business. And there are many ways to employ this technology to improve operations. Read on to answer the question, “what is marketing automation?” and for a guide on its uses and benefits.

What is Marketing Automation?

what is marketing automation

Marketing automation is essentially the fusion of technology with marketing strategies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows. It allows marketers to be more efficient, increase revenue, and grow a deeper bond with their audience. By utilizing automated technology, marketing efforts are not only made more efficient but can also be more effectively scaled and tailored to different segments of the audience.

Some core elements of marketing automation include:

  • Software Platforms and Technologies: These are the tools that make automation possible. Examples include platforms like HubSpot, Marketo, and Mailchimp which offer a suite of tools to manage, automate, and analyze marketing campaigns.
  • Customer Acquisition: Automation can help in lead generation by capturing potential customers through online forms, social media interactions, and other digital touchpoints, then automatically entering this data into a CRM or other management system.
  • Lead Nurturing: Once potential customers are identified, automated workflows can be set up to send a series of emails or messages that guide the lead through the sales funnel. This ensures that leads receive timely and relevant content based on their behavior and preferences.
  • Segmentation: Marketing automation tools can automatically segment an audience based on behavior, demographics, engagement, and other criteria. This allows for more targeted and personalized marketing campaigns.
  • Sales Monitoring: Automation can track the progress of leads through the sales funnel. This gives businesses a clearer view of their conversion rates and where potential customers might be dropping off.
  • Campaign Management: Automation allows for the scheduling, tracking, and analysis of various marketing campaigns from one central dashboard. Whether it’s email marketing, social media posts, or online advertising, automation tools can manage and optimize these campaigns based on real-time data.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: One of the biggest advantages of marketing automation is the ability to collect and analyze vast amounts of data. This provides insights into customer behavior, campaign performance, and ROI. Marketers can then make more informed decisions about where to invest their resources.
Software Platforms and TechnologiesTools and systems that enable automation. Examples: HubSpot, Marketo, Mailchimp.- Comprehensive suite of tools in one platform.
- Integration capabilities.
- Centralized campaign management.
Customer AcquisitionAutomated systems capture leads from various digital sources and input data into CRM systems.- Efficient lead capture.
- Immediate response to potential clients.
- Integrates leads into sales processes quickly.
Lead NurturingSet up workflows to automatically send relevant content to leads as they progress in the sales funnel.- Increases conversion rates.
- Builds trust and rapport with leads.
- Ensures timely communication.
SegmentationAutomatically categorizes audiences based on specific criteria like behavior or demographics.- Personalized marketing campaigns.
- Improved engagement rates.
- Higher relevance to target audience.
Sales MonitoringTracks lead progression through the sales funnel and monitors conversion rates.- Clear insights into sales performance.
- Identify bottlenecks or drop-off points.
- Real-time tracking and adjustments.
Campaign ManagementCentral dashboard to schedule, track, and analyze marketing campaigns across various channels.- Streamlined campaign oversight.
- Efficient allocation of resources.
- Real-time adjustments to campaign strategies.
Data-Driven DecisionsCollects and analyzes vast amounts of data to gain insights into customer behavior, campaign performance, and ROI.- Informed decision-making based on data.
- Maximizes ROI.
- Adjusts strategies for better alignment with audience needs and preferences.

Rise of Marketing Automation

what is marketing automation

According to EmailMonday’s “The Ultimate Marketing Automation Stats” (2016) on average 49 percent of all companies are currently using marketing automation, and more than half of B2B companies (55 percent) are adopting the technology to streamline, automate and measure marketing tasks and workflows.

Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) make up the largest growing segment in the space right now, and thousands of companies even smaller than that across all industries are using marketing automation as well to add more personal touches to their campaigns and enhance brand-to-customer relationship.

One of the reasons marketing automation is steadily growing in popularity is because strategic, data-driven lead nurturing through automated marketing is more effective than spamming people with impersonal email blasts or other communications and hoping to get some conversions.

Marketing automation software offer businesses and marketers a huge amount of data (often real-time data) that they can use to create accurate and relevant marketing communications for their leads, including a lead’s location, what products a lead is interested in and email marketing statistics.

In addition to this, businesses and marketers that use marketing automation are able to manage their time and staff more effectively. By automating repetitive tasks such as social media, sending out nurture communications and monitoring prospects to find out those that are ready to buy and those that aren’t, businesses can save time, resources and focus on other important tasks that can’t be automated.

Check out the infographic below by Marketing Automation Insider for more industry insights:

What is Marketing Automation? The Rise of Marketing Automation

How Marketing Automation Works

what is marketing automation

Classic marketing automation is focused on acquisition and retention of sales-ready customers using automation platforms like HubSpot, Act-On, MailChimp and Marketo that are designed for different types of businesses. These automation platforms allow businesses to score prospects based on profile and or behavior and communicate with them accordingly, say via event-triggered messages.

The top four areas marketing automation is traditionally used are email marketing (89 percent), lead nurturing (84 percent), integrations such as customer relationship management (CRM), mobile, social etc for accumulating customer intelligence across channels (80 percent), and cross-channel campaign management (82 percent), according to Regalix’s “The State of Marketing Automation” report (2014).

While much of the information or data gathering that drives marketing automation platforms is done online, it doesn’t have to be digital only. All sources of information and all marketing channels can be utilized to inform automation, including direct marketing via print and catalog.

The best marketing automation campaigns make use of all the available data and send out messages that engage leads in a more natural way, by appealing to their interests, industries and buying power. The best automation efforts also take into account the evolving needs of customers.

Business Uses and Benefits of Marketing Automation

what is marketing automation

Among the core goals of marketing automation is to nurture business prospects for the long-term, and increase revenue using fully automated, data-driven marketing. Marketo, best-in-class marketing automation software, says companies of all types can expect three core benefits of automation: more pipeline, more productive Sales reps and higher revenue.

In a benchmark study by eMarketer cited by Marketo on its website, research found that B2C marketers who are using marketing automation — including everything from birthday emails to cart abandonment programs — have seen conversion rates as high as 50 percent.

Furthermore, the marketing automation software company that has its headquarters in San Mateo, California writes that 95 percent of companies reported some benefit from marketing automation, according to Nuclear Research. The study found that companies can expect to achieve an increase in marketing staff productivity between 1.5 and 6.9 percent and increase sales productivity by an average of four percent.

“Marketing automation brings value and ROI to your numerous marketing efforts. The right marketing automation platform, combined with smart organizational and process alignment, makes it possible to connect the dots between that promotional email you sent last month, that webinar you hosted last year, and the revenue your CEO sees this week or can expect to see next quarter,” Marketo stresses.

Most marketing automation platforms have free-trial options you can try before you buy the full service.

Here are even more benefits of marketing automation to consider:

  • Efficiency: Repetitive tasks are automated, freeing up marketers to focus on strategy and creativity.
  • Consistency: Automation ensures that messages are consistent across all channels and touchpoints.
  • Personalization: With segmentation and data analysis, marketing efforts can be tailored to individual user behaviors and preferences.
  • Scalability: Automation allows businesses to manage large-scale campaigns with ease, ensuring that no lead is overlooked.
  • Measurement: Marketers can easily track the performance of campaigns and adjust strategies in real-time based on data.

In conclusion, marketing automation has transformed the way businesses approach marketing. It offers a combination of efficiency, personalization, and data-driven decision-making that was previously hard to achieve. As technology continues to evolve, the capabilities and benefits of marketing automation are expected to grow, making it an indispensable tool for businesses of all sizes.

Marketing Automation Photo via Shutterstock

David William David William is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. He covers franchises, brick and mortar businesses, public policy and other small business issues. He is also founding editor of WebWriterSpotlight.