By 2023, investment in marketing automation technology will nearly double from where it’s at now. Adoption of automation technology is increasing at an absolutely astounding rate.

Marketing automation refers to the software that allows you to automate activities and operationalize communications with the goal of managing the repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

In this article, you’ll learn about the value of marketing automation, common myths associated with it, tangible benefits, frequently asked questions (and the answers), and how to choose the best automation tool for your team’s needs.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is powerful software that helps mechanize marketing processes. Marketing departments use automation software to reduce or even eliminate repetitive tasks including:

  • Manual email campaign creation
  • Coordination of SMS messaging
  • Dissemination of social media posts
  • Website widget content
  • Online advertisements placement
  • Data management and analysis

Like most technology, marketing automation is constantly evolving. When leveraged successfully, it helps drive transactions and generate more revenue.

Marketing automation platforms function as more than simple support tools and change the role of marketers by streamlining tedious day-to-day tasks so that more time can be spent driving strategy.

Why Is Marketing Automation SO Important?

Companies that use marketing automation see more web traffic, more buyers, and spur greater retention and loyalty.

Coupled with personalization engines, marketing automation engages prospects and customers through highly relevant content that, in turn, converts them into loyal customers.

By streamlining this process, you’re able to build personalized, one-to-one connections with a seemingly endless number of customers, at scale.

Before we jump into the juicy details, let’s first look at some key stats related to marketing automation.

Statistics About Marketing Automation

Here are a few statistics from the latest research that can help you think about automation.

  • 91% of marketing automation users say that it’s “very important” to their overall online marketing efforts (Demand Gen Report, 2018).
  • Spending on marketing automation tools is expected to reach $25.1 billion annually by 2023. (Martech Today, 2018)
  • 79% of high-performing companies have been using marketing automation for three or more years. (Venture Harbour, 2017)
  • Marketing technology spend is now higher than advertising spend for companies. (Gartner, 2016)
  • 74% of marketers say that “saving time” is the biggest benefit they see from automation (Demand Gen Report).
  • 67% of marketing leaders currently use a marketing automation platform. (Salesforce, 2017)

Myths About Marketing Automation

The continued growth and evolution of marketing automation has made it a non-negotiable for e-commerce teams.

However, there are still some businesses that have yet to fully embrace automation due to a few myths surrounding the idea. Let’s clear those up.

Myth #1: Marketing automation is only relevant for email

Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels as well as one of the easiest operations to automate. However, social media, lead generation, management activities, landing pages, and others can all also be automated to varying degrees.

Automation touches and improves almost every overarching metric of your marketing… not just email.

benefits of marketing automation
Image source: Liana Technologies, 2017

Once you realize the benefits that automation provides for other channels (such as quicker and simpler processes and conversion optimization), it’ll become clear how marketing automation can save your business both time and money across numerous channels.

Myth #2: Marketing automation is just another form of spam

Often times, spam is considered any message that shows up “without warning” in your inbox. The reality is that spam is really based mostly on irrelevancy. If the content you’re sending to your audience doesn’t reach them in a personalized way, it most likely isn’t worth sending at all.

Marketing automation allows you to send relevant content and information to your audience based on who they are, their interests, and even how they discovered your business. Automation presents an opportunity to engage with potential customers conversationally while guiding them step-by-step through the customer lifecycle.

Related Content: How to Combat 4 Major AI Myths & Misconceptions [Plus Expert Insights]

Key Benefits of Marketing Automation

For retailers, automation means more chances to get in front of the right consumers for higher conversion rates and increased revenue. But how exactly can marketing automation platforms help you do more with less?

Data shows marketers are going to spend more on automation technology that helps them do through-channel work, real-time communications, resource management, pre-purchase nurturing, and more.

Global marketing automation technology forecast 2017 to 2023

From a retail perspective, let’s take a look at some tangible benefits.

Reduce cart abandonment rates

Abandoned carts continue to haunt us.

The average abandoned cart rate, as of 2017, actually sits around 79%.

By automatically sending triggered emails to those who left unpurchased items in their cart, marketers can help reduce cart abandonment rates. Marketing automation can help determine how long after logout to send reminder emails, and even help generate the most compelling subject lines to ensure the emails are opened.

Increase email open rates

e-Commerce brands can increase overall email open rates by utilizing A/B testing across all email components. Automation tools store historical consumer data, which, in turn, increases the optimization of email open rates. Whether through subject line optimization or ensuring an email is populated with the right content and sent at just the right time, these solutions result in data-driven decisions and results.

Boost revenue through up-sells

Nowadays, it’s become almost standard that emails include a section that showcases “others also bought” or “similar customers looked at.”

These recommendation emails can be automated and tailored to individual consumer buying preferences or previous browsing history, which is a powerful personalization component.

Gone are the days of manually breaking apart every inch of data. With the right automation in place, you can analyze consumer purchase data while simultaneously sending out up-sell emails that are far more likely to drive conversions.

Automate loyalty programs

Automated solutions can register customer loyalty information and send real-time, customized deals and incentives through multiple channels, regardless of whether a shopper is in a brick-and-mortar store, on a website, or even perusing social media. Loyalty programs can also help reduce customer churn, create advocates, and grow a true culture of retention.

Trigger email offers

At its core, marketing automation is a solution comprised of actions and results.

Consumers’ actions trigger these campaigns, which then turn the wheel and create a non-stop circle of engagement between customer and brand. Email marketing has long been the bread and butter of every B2C marketing strategy, but when partnered with the right solution, it becomes easier than ever to reach maximum results and drive greater ROI.

Frequently Asked Questions about Marketing Automation

How can marketing automation benefit my business?

Marketing automation removes the hassle from your marketing strategy and allows you to streamline, automate, and evaluate tasks and workflows. Your business will be able to scale efforts and improve how you target customers.

Who should use marketing automation?

The beauty of marketing automation is that it can help your business maximize on efforts that have already proven successful. Attracting new audiences through the use of effective marketing strategies is step one, but if you want to do more to nurture those people so that they become customers, marketing automation is a good bet.

When should I invest in marketing automation?

Sooner rather than later, because it’s becoming a staple of every marketing strategy and the benefits are universally positive. Some simple questions to ask yourself: Would my marketing efforts be more effective with the assistance of automation? Would I have more time to focus on strategy?

We’ll get into some of the specific warning signs to look for in the content below.

How do I get started?

Before you get started, it is important to recognize that marketing automation won’t do the legwork for you. Rather, it can help scale and amplify your already successful efforts.

Begin by getting everybody on the same page and identifying what your goals are. A business that is working toward the same objective will always be more effective than one that is divided. In no way is marketing automation restrictive. You should be able to grow and mold with your business in a unique way.

Signs That You Need Marketing Automation

We get it — you’re plagued by innumerable challenges spanning the marketing chasm: from automating email campaigns, operationalizing acquisition activities, pre-scheduling or auto-creating social media posts, and optimizing content for SEO, the list goes on and on.

For many marketers, a typical day is spent constantly juggling each of these until they’re blue in the face. Sound familiar?

Marketing automation has quickly become the go-to remedy for marketing teams looking to take the manual work out of trivial, tedious, and time-consuming marketing tasks.

These warning signs indicate that it may be time for a new tool:

Lengthy sales cycle

Your business has a complicated and/or long sales cycle. It’s a known fact — the longer your sales cycle is, the more touchpoints you’ll need. This becomes especially true once your prospective customers get closer to completing a transaction.

CRM lacking automation

Your CRM won’t automate nearly as many of the tasks you need it to, and managing your customer base is becoming more difficult as a result. Having a good CRM in place is great for task management and sales forecasting, but if you’re searching for a solution that offers superior segmentation capabilities, as well as an intuitive way to identify and reach out to customers, then marketing automation is the best option.

Siloed marketing & sales teams

It seems like your marketing and sales teams are always at each other’s throats. It’s not uncommon that sales and marketing teams operate on separate wavelengths, especially when customer acquisition and revenue attribution come into play. An automation solution can help ease tension and bridge the gap between teams.

The need for more customer data

You wish you could segment and target both existing and potential customers, but don’t have the right data to do so. You’re going to need more than just a first and last name and email address to properly comb your way through the customer data. An automation tool provides you with data such as location information, job titles, and behavioral insights, and makes that data more actionable.

Lack of ROI insights

You can’t make heads or tails out of your campaign ROI. Pulling revenue numbers might not be an issue, but when you’re trying to determine which campaigns have the most significant ROI, you have no idea where to look. Marketing automation provides valuable insight into your marketing ROI.

Gauging consumer interest is a struggle

Prioritizing customer interest based on the likelihood of converting can be challenging. It can seem almost impossible at times to tell just how interested potential customers are in your brand or even if they’re a right fit for the product or service you’re selling. By efficiently automating your strategy, you can gain insights into your customer base and determine in advance how the results might look.

Struggling to reach your target audience

Your content is good, but your method of distribution is less than stellar. Marketing automation is designed to help target communications and create forms or landing pages in order to better reach your target audience. Without automation, it can be extremely difficult to see the results you would like from your content efforts.

Related Content: Warning Signs That Your Marketing CRM Strategy Needs an AI Boost

Choosing the Best Marketing Automation Tool

Choosing a marketing automation tool isn’t an easy task. It’s overwhelming to think about the sheer number of tools and resources out there. To help you on your way, here are five must-have features and functions to look for in a tool. We’ll also explain how to properly take advantage of each one.

Create targeted email campaigns

Email automation can help you send messages with relevant and personalized content to your target audience at the exact right time.

Related Content: 10 Considerations When Choosing the Best Email Marketing Software

Ever wondered what portion of your database/contacts your content resonates with the most? With email segmentation features, you can identify the correct audience and send them highly relevant and personalized messages based on particular attributes. Instead of blasting through your email lists, think about which segment of your audience should be receiving which email. Chances are you’ll see an increase in open and click-through rates.

Integrate CRM with your website

In order to get the most out of your marketing automation engine, you should be able to integrate your CRM and website. By combining these platforms, you can easily track customer behavior and evaluate what efforts and campaigns are having the most success. Through an automated platform, you’ll be able to generate truly accurate ROI reports.

Automate profiling of leads

Generating leads and absorbing information is arguably the biggest goal of your website. When you progressively profile your leads, it allows you to learn valuable new information about each and every prospect or customer. This feature should require very little work, as those visiting your site are doing all the work by filling out forms and relaying information back to you. You just need a net there to catch all the information they’re pouring in.

Additional Tools and Resources

Here’s a short list of the best educational material related to marketing automation.

From Emarsys:

Marketing Automation: The Answer to Your Communication Conundrums

For B2C marketers searching for a way to organize, optimize and finally act on all of their customer data, marketing automation solutions offer an enterprise the ability to revolutionize how it operates.

With a continuous cycle of testing, refinement, and feedback, marketing automation ensures that workflows are always changing and growing for maximum impact and effectiveness. These kinds of tools let you take a giant leap forward in terms of efficiency, productivity, and revenue generation while your team simultaneously gets to concentrate on strategy, creativity, and content. And that’s the true beauty and value of technology today. ◾

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