01 Aug 2017
What is: marketing automation?
You might not realise it, but you are probably experiencing marketing automation every day.
Ever get an email about an upcoming sale, never open it, but then get another friendly reminder in your inbox a few days later?
Borrowed a friend’s phone or computer and looked at a familiar website, only to realise it looks a little different than it did on yours?
Or viewed a show on Netflix and received a message suggesting that you watch new shows of a similar genre?
Yep. That’s marketing automation hard at work – automatic actions and messages a company’s marketing department put in place to respond to your actions. And that’s just a glimpse of more of what’s to come in the future.
What is: marketing automation?
Marketing automation is a tool or software that automates a business’ marketing and sales engagement with prospective customers. It is technology that helps a business advertise, sell and deliver their product or service.
A closer look reveals that marketing automation helps to streamline and optimise repetitive marketing tasks. This includes lead generation, customer segmentation, campaigns (including email marketing), lead nurturing, and up-, down- and cross-selling. Marketing automation can also help collect a significant amount of data about leads and customers so that marketers can better understand their interests and buying behaviours.
It used to be the case that traditional marketing practices required people to manually send every individual email (or letter – yikes!), physically post advertisements or promotions (think paper flyers on a car windshield) or respond to tweets one at a time. It was also extremely difficult to track the performance of billboards, newspaper ads and window signs.
The goal of marketing automation is to streamline the marketing process, making it more efficient and cost effective. Plus, by tweaking and testing marketing tactics and then measuring the resulting changes, marketers can better understand what makes customers click or buy. This ultimately increases conversion rates and maximises ROI.
5 examples that you might not realise are marketing automation
Split testing compares a user’s response to several versions of a marketing message to determine which version is most effective. To do this, marketers tailor aspects of their marketing messages and channels, such as web page layouts, colour schemes, header images, headlines, webform length, email subject lines, calls to action, etc. based on user preference. Some companies do this manually, which is time-consuming and inefficient. Other companies use services like ours to conduct such tests in real time on an ongoing basis.
Not all customers have the same buying habits, which is why it is important to capture and analyse user data. This user data can include demographics, interests and engagement tendencies and helps to profile different groups of subscribers for targeting. By doing this, marketers can funnel leads into different campaigns targeting a user group’s specific interests to increase conversion rates. For example, you’d want to send different travel promotions to a person who is in their 20s and loves adventure tours than you would to a person in their 40s who typically only books luxury tours.
Although a traditional email service providers allow you to design and send emails, A/B split test them, then track open rates and clickthroughs, their services usually end there.
Incorporating email marketing automation opens up a whole new world of possibilities for targeting customers at different parts of the sales funnel. Marketers can create automated multi-stage email campaigns, integrate email with social media, nurture leads based on their specific interests and more. Plus, after building up a profile for each subscriber, marketers can create automated behaviour triggered emails that are sent out when the customer does (or doesn’t) take certain actions. These can be a reminder email that a sale is ending soon if he or she hasn’t opened the first email or a soft upsell emails related to the topic of the latest webinar they joined.
A couple of common examples include welcome email sequences and cart/basket abandonment emails. In the first case, a mailing list subscriber is automatically sent a welcome email after signing up. The sign up instantly triggers the welcome email, or email sequence, to run instead of a marketer having to keep an eye on new sign ups and send out welcome messages manually. For basket/cart abandonment emails, a user may receive an automated email reminding them they have items waiting for purchase. This email has been set up by the marketer to be sent off after a specific trigger, such as 24 hours after the cart was abandoned.
Today, any business using email marketing should also using behaviour-triggered automation. This process helps marketers do their job better and automatically tailor messages or responses to customers’ actions. However, while marketers may already be on the trigger campaign bandwagon, they don’t always optimise their automated messages in the best way for the receiver. Fortunately, Phrasee can help with that.
Social media is one of the best ways for business owners to connect with their current and potential customers, as well as potential investors and influencers.
One form of social media automation is “scheduling” tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos to an audience with the help of automation software and apps. The result is a consistent output – say, one tweet every day – when in fact, the marketer prepared 30 tweets in a single day and then scheduled them out over the coming month. This frees up the rest of the month for other, less mundane tasks.
Other uses include automating “likes”, recycling evergreen blog posts, sharing content that is related to the brand, or monitoring when someone comments or mentions a brand so that the company can follow up with personal engagement.
Companies and marketers can make the most out of their website’s visitors by personalising users’ experiences in real time. Depending on their location, browsing behaviour and referring URLs, marketers can personalise our web channels and even deliver tailored messages on their web page, much like eBay and Amazon do when customers are browsing through particular products.
Why marketing automation is so amazing
What are the perks of marketing automation? Let us count the ways…
1) Marketing automation is a huge time saver. It automates tedious, time-consuming, repetitive tasks so that marketers have more free time to do things that can’t be automated. Alternatively, it makes it possible for just one team member to complete a series of tasks quickly and effectively that would usually require several people to complete.
2) Automatically conducting or scheduling tasks means that marketers have better control over regulating a brand’s online presence to its audience. That sure beats sporadically sending out a tweet or Facebook post whenever one has a few spare minutes.
3) Most marketing platforms have a feature that measures and records users’ activities along all stages of the sales funnel. You can see how much traffic a website or social media channel gets, where that traffic is coming from, who clicks what, and how long they stay on the site. This hard data can then be used to improve a company’s site and, ultimately, increase sales.
4) All in all, businesses use marketing automation to increase their engagement and operational efficiency in order to grow revenue faster. Plus, with all the time they free up thanks to the automation, they have more opportunity to focus on efforts elsewhere that can’t be automated.