12 July 2019

What is Marketing Automation?

What is Marketing Automation Solution?

Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organisations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automates repetitive tasks.

This isn’t just to streamline efficiency, it’s also to help provide a more personalised experience for their customers. Marketing automation makes everything easier.

What we want

The best way to describe a marketing automation solution is that it’s a combination of software and strategy. With a good CRM you should be able to nurture prospects with highly personalised, useful content that will help convert them from happy prospects to delighted customers.

When describing an effective marketing automation campaign, I tell clients it’s like planting a seed to grow a forest. You need fertile soil, ripe for growth, and patience. You need seeds to sow, water and light to nurture those seeds and eventually, you’ll get a healthy forest full of luscious green trees. With good automation, it’s easier to nurture leads (the seedlings) well enough produce paying customers (full grown, healthy trees).

Don’t think that, that’s where it ends, either. Your customers should be the centre of everything you do. Which means marketing automation should continue to play an important role in your relationship with them.

Which is why the most successful automation strategies don’t consider the end of the traditional funnel as where communications end. Instead, customers should be at the centre of a flywheel that gets more efficient when you add force to that flywheel and reduce points of customer friction.

Successful marketing automation strategies will reduce friction and speed up your flywheel. They will help you to continue to nurture customer relationships well after they’ve been passed to sales and the deal has been won.

What we get

Don’t be fooled; just because there has been growing popularity in automation solutions, it’s not safe to assume that it can be a salve for any slowdowns in marketing growth. Especially if you think it will magically generate new leads.

This misconception leaves many marketers with sophisticated tools to automate the middle of their funnel. But doesn’t provide them with the solution of generating new leads to nurture in the first place.

The problem with marketers buying email lists to nurture instead of generating inbound leads is that it’s not the quick fix they first thought it would be. It isn’t a long term solution and it isn’t really the ‘fertile soil’ for a healthy, long-term forest relationship with your customers.

Many marketers also continue to think of marketing in the context of a funnel, instead of a flywheel; they simply generate a lead, put them in an automated email queue, and pass hand-raisers over to sales. This doesn’t create a smooth experience for prospects and customers as they move from marketing to sales, to customer service. Instead of building a contextual, efficient experience based on each individual’s needs, marketing automation becomes a way to force people through a funnel with arbitrary touch points and irrelevant content.

When marketing automation operates in a silo like this, points of friction are introduced that stall and strain what could have been productive, long-term customer relationships.

How do you make marketing automation work?

Marketing Automation is powerful. So that means you must understand how all its components and nuances work. We’ve compiled our top resources to help you understand those nuances so you make automation work for YOU.

Why does it fail?

Because often, there’s no top-of-the-funnel foundation put in place to support middle-of-the-funnel marketing. Marketers won’t have the ingredients they need for effective marketing automation until they have a steady flow of leads. Too many marketers without inbound lead generation strategies spend their time figuring out how to take the tiny fraction of the market they already have in their database…and squeeze more out of them. While they’re doing that, their competition is figuring out how to get more out of the 99.99% of the market that’s still out there.

  • Do you have all the existing leads needed to hit your revenue goals in your database already?
  • Are you getting your fair share of the available market?

Even if your database is currently filled with quality leads, how effective will your marketing be when you’ve either converted all those leads into customers or when your database begins decaying by ~22.5%/year?

Understanding that a large database of leads is required for marketing automation to have any effect on their bottom line, many marketers end up buying lists of contacts to nurture with marketing automation. This spammy tactic produces incredibly low ROI. Along with the cost of buying these lists, sending unsolicited emails to people who have never requested any information from you leads to low engagement and hurts your IP address reputation, lowering your email deliverability rates.

Don’t invest in marketing automation before you have fertile ground for nurturing campaigns to blossom.

What does a "good" and "bad" automation solution look like?

A traditional marketing automation solution often refers to triggering an email based on time delays or actions like email opens and email clicks. But is an email click alone enough data to execute a personalised lead nurturing strategy?

Marketing automation strategies that offer limited data like this to the marketer often result in bad automation. You need context about who leads are and what they’re interested in to give prospects a good experience.

Marketing automation backed by an inbound strategy is centered around the prospect. Inbound marketing automation uses all the information we know a person to inform the automation strategy. So, we deliver the information they need to make a purchase, exactly when they need that information, in the place, they’re looking for it.

Good marketing automation takes into account the evolving needs of your leads. It also considers behaviours and interactions they have with you across all of your marketing channels. Not just email. Using behavioural inputs from multiple channels such as social media, viewing a pricing page, or consuming a particular piece of content gives marketers the context they need to fully understand a lead’s challenges.

The most effective marketing also uses those various channels – beyond email – to communicate. That means the success of your campaign relies less on the email. And fully utilises the various channels that influence a buyer’s decision.

When is the right time to invest in marketing automation?

If you’re publishing good content. And generating a steady flow of new, organic leads…and you’re ready to scale your efforts, chances are it’s time to focus your efforts on a marketing automation strategy. One that will nurture those quality leads into paying customers.

Here are some good questions to ask yourself when deciding if marketing automation is the right move for your business:

  • Are you generating a steady flow of new and qualified leads?
  • Has marketing and sales agreed on what conversations should happen with marketing and which with sales?
  • Do you have a content strategy mapped to your buyer’s journey?
  • Are you tracking your leads’ digital body language across every touch point and marketing channel (not just email)?
  • Do you have a proven lead nurturing strategy that you want to scale?

These are all good signs that automation could work for your business. The key here is understanding that automated marketing does not market for you, but can help scale your successful efforts.

How do I choose the best automation solution for my business?

When considering an automation solution, don’t focus on individual features. Focus on the business results and the long term partnership.

Here are a couple of resources to help you make a strategic decision:

If this all seems a bit too much, get in touch with us today and we can help your business grow with marketing automation.