As a society, we’re automating wherever possible. Developing technology to take over laborious and technical tasks we might not like doing, and then watching it perform those tasks with exponentially increased scale, accuracy and impact. In marketing, this is the role of marketing automation software.
67% of marketing leaders currently use a marketing automation platform
Salesforce “State of Marketing” (2017)
As GDPR approaches, all business will need to entirely rethink their marketing communications to avoid the strict penalties. Marketing strategies that are built around automation software have the capacity to respond to these challenges effectively.
In recent years, marketing automation tools have proved their worth across all types of businesses, becoming an integral part of online marketing and marketing strategy in general. But now, time really is of the essence.
Well-timed and highly personalised communications with existing email contacts have never been more critical. Marketing automation will hugely increase success in retaining email contacts through well administered, clinical email workflows, and will prove even more effective in increasing revenue from existing clients through nurture campaigns. Here’s more on how to boost revenue from your existing clients using marketing automation.
In B2B, the term marketing automation is banded about all over the place, regularly being equated with CRM. This is not the case. So what exactly do we mean when we talk about marketing automation?
What is marketing automation?
The term marketing automation refers to software and technology that automates marketing tasks and actions across all channels to save marketeers time, energy and money. Marketing automation software can publish social media content, manage email workflows and is a highly effective way for businesses to personalise their marketing communications to nurture prospects along the buyer’s journey.
While CRMs are more specifically a sales tool, marketing automation tools (or marketing automation software) are known for allowing highly personalised marketing communications on mass. Integrated properly, it centralises sales and marketing communications, bringing increased efficiency and impact to both teams. Meaning – it’s perfect for B2B.
What is email marketing automation?
Email marketing automation remains a core component of marketing automation strategy. Email automation software allows marketers to create detailed email workflows to target their audience with the right communications at exactly the right times.
With GDPR looming, email marketing automation should be seriously considered as a way to engage and double opt-in existing email contacts.
Automated email marketing campaigns can be measured and fine-tuned in many ways. This is a huge benefit. Understanding metrics – open rate, click through rate, etc. – and A/B testing – subject lines, images, formats, copy, etc. – allows email marketing campaigns to be built around the specific audience they are aimed at. With email automation in place, there is no end to how personalised this communication can be.
- Run unlimited workflows simultaneously
- Maintain contact with prospects who may be disengaged
- Drive interested parties closer to sale with information/offers curated around their location on the buyer’s journey
How does marketing automation work?
Marketing automation tools and software work by making the process of audience segmentation easy, allowing for the simple implementation of complex marketing campaigns.
60% of B2B marketers say they’ve been more focused on improving audience segmentation and personas over the past 18 months.
Salesforce“State of Marketing” (2017)
By targeting audience segments on the channels they use, with content of specific interest/relevance to their situation, marketing automation works by dividing and conquering. But in the most delightful customer-centric way imaginable.
Marketing automation works by dividing and conquering. But in the most delightful customer-centric way imaginable.
By allowing marketeers to focus on data interpretation and campaign strategy, marketing automation finds its primary value in its capacity to take over multi-channel communications, nurturing prospects, clients and leads at all stages of their journey on a 24/7 basis.
The dos and don’t of marketing automation can be confusing at first, so you need to be patient when getting started with a new software. Marketing automation shouldn’t be heralded as an instant fix for marketing woes. Roughly 63% of companies expect to realise the benefits of marketing automation within six months of implementation (emailmonday.com).
In support of marketing automation software, you need strong campaign strategy, and marketeers who understand the tools you are using.
Here’s a breakdown of the key benefits of marketing automation, following this we’ll list the best automation platforms available for you to choose from.
Why use marketing automation?
- It’s a time saver
Marketing automation really does save a lot of time. Around 6 hours a week on social posting alone. How about 80% more time saved by automating the set-up of client appointments. Or how about all of these other reasons nicely put together in this infographic hosted on Entrepreneur.com.
- It goes above and beyond your CRM
CRM is more of a sales tool. It stores contact information, habits, etc. Marketing automation tools go far beyond this. With a CRM integration, marketing automation brings together the sales functionality of a good CRM to create a comprehensive tool that covers both marketing and sales communications in one easy to use and easy to manage platform. This means both teams can work together in line with revenue growth targets and marketing ROI.
- It’s data-driven
This means it’s measurable and highly adaptable. In our rapidly changing and cluttered digital world, this is extremely valuable.
With access to critical KPI’s, a good marketing automation tool will allow you to directly follow the ROI on each specific campaign. This means you’ll know what’s working, what isn’t, and you can make the necessary changes in real time.
- Offer a consistent brand experience
Marketing automation tools never have a bad day and they never skip a beat. Every interaction it enters into on your behalf will be timed to perfection, consistently on brand, and full of life.
- Personalisation on mass
We’ve definitely covered this one. But that’s only because marketing automation’s capacity to offer highly tailored marketing communications on a huge scale is the strongest answer to the question why use marketing automation.
Proof if proof be needed…
- Personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. –Aberdeen
- Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. – Campaign Monitor
- 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement. –eConsultancy
- Increase marketing ROI!
Today, all your marketing efforts must be based on ROI. Marketing automation software is the best way to keep track, measure impact, and improve your marketing and sales communications with a business-growth mindset.
45% of agencies rely on marketing automation platforms to show ROI and 42% use marketing automation to measure performance.
– SharpSpringState of Marketing Automation for Agencies” (2017)
How to implement marketing automation
- Create a plan
Switching to a new automation tool can be a complicated transition, so it’s important to be on top of things. If you know what you need to do and when you need to do it, the transition will be far smoother.
Some questions to consider…
- What information do you need to collect from your old system?
- When do you want to push out your first campaign?
- Can you perform the integration internally, or do you need to agency assistance?
- Know your goals
Put time aside to assess and understand your expectations for the new marketing automation software. The transition phase is great time to change anything that needs changing, so try to work out all the kinks in your business during this time. The result of this process should be clear goals that your team can work towards.
- Educate your team
For the best results, everyone should have a clear understanding of how to use the software. Each automation tool that will be in action needs to be understood and tested.
- Collect data & choose metrics
You don’t want to lose anything important in the switch over. So collect key information/data (such as KPI stats) that you can keep for future use.
- Develop campaigns
Now’s the time to put into action all those amazing campaign ideas you’ve been sitting on. Developing campaigns during the set-up process will allow you to shoot out of the blocks.
- Measure, Test, Adapt
This is where marketing automation software truly shows it’s worth. You can test, measure and then adapt your campaigns based on their impact.
For example, you can test two versions of an email campaign on small sections of your contact list. Then, looking at open rates, response rates, etc. you can roll out the best version of the campaign to your entire database.
This is just one of many examples of where the adaptability of marketing automation will help grow your business.
What are the marketing automation tools?
Selecting a marketing automation software is a complex decision, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your choice will come to play a major role in how your business runs and performs.
Here are some of the top marketing automation tools available:
For our full breakdown of all the top marketing automation tools, we’ve created a lovely infographic to make it super easy for you to find the right one for your business.
If you still have any questions about marketing automation or the impact of GDPR on your marketing operation, then feel free to get in touch for a chat.