What is Marketing Automation?
The new generation of marketing…
Marketing automation (MA) is being referred to as the ‘new generation of marketing’. Put simply, it is the use of software to automate marketing processes. These software platforms and technologies are designed for marketers to use with their existing marketing channels including email, PPC and SEO, therefore helping you to nurture leads. For example, if a visitor to your website downloaded an ebook, they may not yet be ready to do business with you. By using marketing automation you can actively follow up on this activity with a pre-planned nurturing strategy. Sound like a good concept? Great, here’s how you implement it…
A** email marketing
At the very core of marketing automation is the email functionality aligned with workflows. As in the above example: an unknown visitor to your website downloads a free ebook in return for their contact details – name, email, phone number and possibly company name.
The MA software will now capture that information along with the activity they completed such as pages viewed, articles downloaded etc. It will also record how they found your site (whether through PPC, SEO, social media and so on). Now the system recognises that person as a lead and will automatically place them in a workflow list.
A simple example of this is that 24 hours after the initial download, an email will be sent to say “thank for you downloading guide X”. How the prospect responds to the new content (did they open the email, delete it, or follow any links) will automatically be recorded.
Email segmentation based on verified data
Because you are now working with data that has been given to you by prospects, you can effectively segment them with verified data. Often in mass email campaigns you can be working with data that may be old or bought. Therefore, the accuracy of this data is affected and your segmentation may not be as efficient as you would like.
Now you are working with verified active contacts that have given you fresh and accurate data. This means that you can segment your data in different ways, such as activity or time since last visit instead of the more generic size of company or company turn over.
So it is a web analytics tool too?
Very much so. Many of the major MA players will be able to give you reports that identify the activity of unknown and known site visitors and then align this with your conversion data to give you an idea of where your highest converting traffic is coming from.
That said, for best results you should be looking at running this in conjunction with a dedicated analytics suite such as Google Analytics.
But what about social media?
This is generally covered too. With many marketers putting more and more resources into social media, marketing automation suites are now coming packaged with a host of social media publishing, monitoring and reporting tools to support lead generation. Again with most tools you can build in automated responses and activities, such as sending a direct message to new followers or getting alerts whenever your brand name is mentioned.
What about search engine marketing?
Whichever way you look at it right now, search engines generally dominate the digital landscape. 90% of all activity when it comes to looking for a new product or service start with search engines, so naturally every marketer wants their product or service to be in that picture.
Most marketing automation suites will also help you to publish and monitor your content. Whether it is a blog or a series of dedicated landing pages to support your PPC, marketing automation will support this and makes sure that you are using search-friendly methods.
What are workflows?
Workflows are a visual way of planning the education process you will send your prospects on – aka lead nurturing. So as mentioned earlier, a simple workflow could be: if the prospect downloads ebook X, send a ‘thank you’ email 24 hours later.
This is a simplistic example. Many paths could open up based on any action the prospect does or doesn’t take.
So will the prospects start calling me?
Well they may well do providing you give them enough information. However, a more likely scenario is that you will initiate human contact when the time is right.
When is the right time?
This is the million pound question that is always asked. To help boost the accuracy of MA,implement a lead scoring strategy (we discussed how to do this in an earlier blog). Doing so will help you to clarify when the best time is to pass the lead to your sales team or telemarketing agency.
So what is marketing automation?
It is all of your marketing channels in one package. It is your email platform, social media suite, landing page tool, contact management, web analytics and, most importantly, a lead generating tool.
As with anything, the more you put into it the more you will get out. MA will take time to implement and set up but the results should more than pay for the investment.