Of all the innovations in digital marketing that have emerged in recent years, marketing automation might be the most dramatic and impactful evolution yet.
As the name suggests, marketing automation allows businesses to schedule tasks that would otherwise require manual or native executions in real-time.
Thanks to all of these new tools and resources now available at our disposal, other simple tasks can easily be taken care of by themselves, leaving your marketing team the time, energy and focus necessary to fully optimize your marketing strategy more efficiently and effectively.
What Does Marketing Automation Include?
While some instances of marketing automation might seem obvious — a scheduled email to wish your customers a happy birthday, for instance — the reality is that marketing automation goes much deeper than email blasts and scheduling social media content.
The real magic of marketing automation occurs along the customer’s path to purchase. Marketing automation not only lets businesses schedule specific tasks to carry out at each stage, but the automation can also be calibrated to send those messages out at the right time.
One common example of this is emails about items that customers put into their shopping carts, but haven’t come back to purchase. However, there are many more layers to marketing automation. When done correctly, a customer will not even suspect they’re being marketed to. It’s just practical information at a decision point, and the message sent by marketing automation is exactly what is needed to move the consumer down the sales funnel.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some examples of what a successful marketing automation strategy includes:
At the most basic level, marketing automation software allows for the scheduling of simple tasks. These are functions that a company must carry out to reach customers, but they’re routine and don’t require a great deal of skill. Before marketing automation, these redundant tasks were performed by staff, which resulted in time and money being spent on mindless work — important work, to be sure, but not exactly the most challenging assignments. As a result of the nature of these functions, there existed the potential for user error.
Marketing automation eliminates the potential for human error capability entirely, which is already one major improvement. But the scheduling of simple tasks on a marketing automation software platform also brings about increased efficiency and reliability. Scheduling even enhances data integrity by producing records of exactly what was accomplished at a given time.
Best of all, though, scheduling lets businesses start to hone in on true marketing optimization. Not only can businesses that utilize marketing automation schedule repetitive tasks, but they can execute those actions at the exact right time. This helps businesses to capitalize on critical times in which consumers are most likely to take action, opening the next level for marketing automation success.
Automated Responses to Consumer Activity
With basic functions already addressed, a successful business will look into how it can best deploy the newfound free time of its employees. Smart companies will put that time savings right back into their marketing automation.
Another important element of a solid marketing automation strategy is the use of automated commands that are triggered by specific consumer actions. Most every consumer who’s ever shopped online is familiar with these. The aforementioned reminders to complete purchases of items added to shopping carts are one example of marketing automation of this nature. But good companies go beyond the obvious prompts, instead choosing to use the full breadth of their marketing automation software.
Retargeting — the use of ads to entice customers who have visited and left a product page — is a helpful tactic made possible through marketing automation. A specific email drip campaign that goes to a consumer that just signed up for the company email list is yet another. These are all relatively simple actions that are triggered by basic customer activities. But they’re not the limit of marketing automation strategies.
Following the Path to Purchase
As much as marketers hate to admit it, not every customer is motivated to buy the second they hear about a product. Most sales require lead nurturing and frequent attention from the company, and the bigger the purchase, the more important the marketing messages along the way become. They’ve got to be on point, and they’ve got to come at the right time. That’s where marketing automation comes into play.
A successful marketing automation strategy merges marketing actions that can be automated with the typical path to purchase. For instance, a consumer scans a QR code in Best Buy to learn more about a refrigerator and then signs up for emails from the manufacturer. As we saw earlier, an email signup may trigger a series of emails. But the combination of being in-store to check out the product along with the email signup may indicate a higher level of interest on the part of the shopper.
As a result, marketing automation might send out different emails to the consumer, with these emails being more informative, more urgent, and including more calls to action than the general email signup messages. A heightened sense of motivation on the part of the customer necessitates a stronger response from the business, who must know that they have to fight harder for the sale.
The customer’s path to purchase contains many twists and turns. A company with a successful marketing automation strategy plans with those pivot points in mind and has an answer queued up for every possible scenario.
Incorporating Buyer Personas
Of course, there isn’t just one path to purchase that all customers follow without deviation. Every consumer is different, with unique tendencies and preferences. However, successful companies group these customers into different segments and create buyer personas for each. The persona considers what course of action is taken by people in that cohort at each decision point, including the preferred time and medium for each message sent along the path to purchase.
Marketing automation is able to take these buyer personas into account, creating marketing campaigns that are both highly personalized and executed as seamlessly as the simplest marketing automation functions. This level of automation enables businesses to reach customers where they are, ensuring that each shopper receives the level of care necessary to reach the next step.
Buyer personas go beyond demographics and consider the actual needs and wants of each consumer, as opposed to merely going off of what the company thinks people want. A good marketing automation strategy might have multiple ways of letting customers know about a flash sale — older consumers might get an email, whereas younger shoppers could receive a text message.
At the same time, Gen Z consumers may see a social media ad about the flash sale, while for B2B customers, an account rep could call clients and personally tell them about the sale. While the phone call might not be automated, the prompt to place the call would be automated, and the other three options are fully automatic. Most importantly, each is executed with the data-driven knowledge that this is what the consumer wants.
And that’s the key to marketing automation. It’s not about simply having a computer that automatically sends out emails. It’s about having the technology to execute a carefully planned and intuitive marketing strategy, with minimal manual intervention required. When done correctly, marketing automation allows companies to send out more marketing messages than they could ever hope to distribute on their own, in a more efficient and time-sensitive manner than ever before.
A successful marketing automation strategy includes all of the elements we have discussed, and even more, with unique characteristics based on your industry. To learn more about how you can incorporate these tactics into your marketing strategy, contact us at Leadmotion Agency today.