Marketing Automation: A Definitive Guide for Marketers Who Want To Adopt Automation as a Strategy
Marketers are adopting automation tools rapidly. Putting it in a crisp way, Marketing Automation means Optimization. Recent research from MarketsAndMarkets states that Marketing Automation Software market is going to be worth of $5.5 Billion by 2019. That is huge and also indicative of how marketing automation tools are steadily penetrating and catalyzing digital marketing for SMBs as well as enterprises.
Marketing automation tools are also readily matching up the pace of adoption by introducing features that can make marketing efforts seamless. For instance, Campaign Monitor, a leading professional-grade email marketing and automation tool, has introduced Visual Journey Designer.
Kraig Swensrud, CMO at Campaign Monitor says :
“Marketers want to take the manual effort out of sending campaigns to customers and prospects, but the cost and complexity of enterprise marketing automation suites make them available exclusively to the Fortune 1,000.”
Marketing Automation: An Overview
“On an average, 49% of companies are using Marketing Automation; with more than half of B2B companies adopting the technology.”
Marketing Automation refers the use of an automation software for repetitive marketing tasks like emails, social media, and other website actions. Marketers use these tools to optimize and garner the maximum ROI for their efforts.
The idea of marketing automation lies in the concept of personalized lead nurturing. The ultimate goal is to enable companies to buy and sell. Using enriched and personalized content, marketers aim to nurture and convert leads.
When and Why a Marketer needs an Automation Tool
Often ‘marketing automation’ is used like a buzz-word. Although the concept has been adopted rapidly, sometimes the implementation of these tools leave marketers stranded.
Side-Effects of Using an Automation Tool
There is a host of tools to choose from. Some are great with email campaigns, while some go out of the way to leverage the social media. It is up to the marketer to understand which tool is required. You might need landing page building tools or an email campaign tool. Rather than focusing on what you need, if you are going to make investments in every tool available without prior judgment, your marketing efforts will fall short.
What else to keep in mind?
Many-a-times, Marketers pick a tool that solves just the middle of the whole marketing funnel. The result: A bad investment. It is very important to understand that an automation tool will never do anything from scratch. Unless you have a considerable inflow of inbound leads, an automation tool has no grounds to perform. Suppose you are planning to cook a dish but you don’t have the ingredients- It is obvious the cooking gets stalled. Same with marketing automation tools. There are have to be existing leads in your database to automate the nurturing process.
Now that we have are aware of what not to do, let us take a look at how a marketing automation tool can benefit a business:
- Saves time. For instance, you can create multiple posts and campaigns ahead of time.
- Personalized lead nurturing. Automation tools will allow you to reach out to your customers based on their needs. The segmentations are done automatically by the tool.
- Staff cost reduced. One person can do the work of 50 people by simply automating the marketing efforts. This, in turn, saves money!
- Great option for non-technicals too. An automation tool can be used by anyone, irrespective of whether you have the technical knowledge or not.
- Helps in building more useful and detailed user profiles. You can get all the requisite information about each user, based on which you can strategize and automate your future efforts.
Marketing Automation Focal Points
Online marketing is a huge. It encompasses various facets of marketing. When we talk of marketing automation, it includes three major sections: email, social media, and landing pages.
Emails can be triggered based on certain events. For instance, when a user signs up via your opt-in form, that lead will receive an email. It is kind of digital follow-ups. You can automate the delivery as well as the distribution. Your list gets automatically segmented based on the actions performed by the leads. Last is, autoresponders– this is touted to be one of the best ways to automate sales via emails.
Next, we have Social Media. It requires no second guesses that social media has become the go-to-place for marketers. There are various third party tools that allows you automate your content distribution over social media platforms. You can automatically search influencers and connect with them. Generating leads over networking platforms can be automated.
Last, comes the landing pages. Landing pages are a great way to capture the undivided attention of your potential leads. Once upon a time designing a landing page was a tedious task. Not now! Landing page building tools are plenty in number and come with pre-built templates to use. The onboarding is easy. Apart from built-in templates, you can also code your own landing page in HTML and CSS if you wish too. Starting with A/B testing to full-page landing pages and exit intends, landing pages have evolved immensely.
Marketing Automation Tools topping the Charts
Like every other marketer, the main point of concern is to generate leads, nurture them and convert them into paid users. Of all the strategies, it has been proved that email campaigns work best in establishing a long term connection with users. Emails are closely followed by Social Media platforms.
The online marketplace is full of apps and tools to pick from. However, there are few that have been consistently ruling the automation industry. We will take a look at few such tools.
One tool that has been most frequently recommended and used is Hubspot.
Hubspot ensures support right from the start to the end: From bringing in visitors to closing customers. Hubspot is hassle free inbound marketing strategy that includes everything of the marketing funnel:
- Social Media
- Lead Management
- Landing Pages
- Integration with Salesforce
- Marketing Automation.
You can access Hubspot’s amazing certifications to leverage your skills as a marketer. These courses are interactive and valuable. Like Hubspot, some other tools to try are Marketo, Pardot, Infusionsoft, Act-on, etc.
If you narrow down your search and concentrate on one aspect of marketing at a time, here are some great tools to consider:
For social media automation, the most popular tool is Hootsuite, a social media scheduling tool. Giving Hootsuite tough competition are SproutSocial, Agorapulse, Social Pilot, SocialOomph, Buffer, etc.
On an overview, Hootsuite
- Lets you schedule your social media posts
- Save “FAQ Tweets” as drafts for commonly asked questions
- Allows team collaboration
- Allows integration with social media channels like Facebook (Profile, pages, events, groups), Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn (profile, pages, and groups), G+, WordPress, Flickr, Tumblr, Mixi, Mailchimp, Vimeo, Storify, Myspace and many more
- Weekly analytics and reports via email
- Freemium Plans. You can add up to 5 social media channels in the free plan.
Similarly, tools like Instapage, LeadPages, Unbounce, ClickFunnels help in building landing pages. You can use OptinMonster to create opt-in forms. If you are on WordPress, you can take a look at several email opt-in plugins like Thrive Leads, Bloom opt-in, etc. Landing pages and Opt-in forms are the best ways to generate leads. You can also use LeadFuze for lead prospecting.
Almost every tool comes with CRM integrations, details analytics and reports, and an easy on-boarding process.
Features of an Ideal Marketing Automation Tool : A General Overview
In general, a marketing automation tool is expected to have the following features to garner good reviews and popularity. You will find many tools that have all these features incorporated like Hubspot or Marketo. However, there are times when marketers need feature-based tools, like for email marketing you can opt for MailerLite or Mailchimp, for social marketing you can choose Hootsuite or Agorapulse, and so on. Here is an overview of the areas where maximum automation happens:
- Email marketing
- Landing Pages
- Campaign Management
- Lead Generation
- Analytics and Monitoring
- CRM Integrations
- Social Marketing
Generating a lead, nurturing it via email campaigns, building landing pages to capture more leads and also retarget leads, managing and monitoring theses campaigns efficiently, integrating your own CRM and indulging in social marketing: All these together make up the marketing funnel. A tool that enables you to do all these seamlessly is the right pick for your business.
Future of Marketing Automation
In a pulsating attempt to survive the fast-paced competition, marketers will try to automate marketing efforts as much as possible. The scarcity of time and ever evolving demands of users will take marketers to the edge where without automation it will be difficult to survive.
Marketing automation made its debut in the 1990s and since then its demand has grown massively. So much are we into automation that we have failed to realize how greatly it has impacted how marketing is being done. Neither was autoresponders a norm nor was lead prospecting in few minutes. But automation is so deeply integrated into our workflow that we seldom forget how marketing has evolved.
Marketing automation will keep growing. The future will see automation on another level. Data crunching, analytics, and reports will open up new vistas of opportunities for marketers to tap into. Rather than blindly picking a tool, marketers will analyze minutely and integrate automation right where it is needed. Gone are the days when marketing automation was just a craze! Today it is an integral part to reach out to users on a personal level within a shorter time span.
Predictive automation is the future. Marketers will take note of every action of their leads and automate their strategies accordingly. Lead capturing to lead converting: Marketers will leave no stones unturned to complete this funnel. Catering to the increasing and changed demands, marketing automation tool builders will put their best foot forward with features that will leverage digital marketing experience altogether.
If you liked this post, check out our Guide to Customer Relationship Management.
About the Author
Ankit Prakash is the co-founder of EasySendy Pro – a hybrid email marketing solution provider for small and medium b2c businesses. Ankit is a passionate and determined entrepreneur; building internet product and services since 2006. You can follow him on Twitter for marketing optimization related tips.