Effective marketing takes time, effort and insight – and good marketing automation software is designed to help on all three counts.
By automating some of the most repetitive manual tasks, it frees up marketing departments for more strategic work, and provides enhanced insights to help them target future efforts.
On top of that, marketing automation software also makes it easy to provide a personalized experience to every customer by targeting them with messaging, content and products that are tailored to them. Whether a business has one thousand customers or ten thousand, marketing automation software allows it to treat every single one of them as an individual… without doubling the size of the marketing department.
How does marketing automation software do this? Most popular services have a range of features and capabilities. Here are some of the most common and useful ones.
Features of Marketing Automation
1. Targeted Email
Most businesses have a mailing list… but sending out generic emails to an entire list isn’t making the best use of an incredibly valuable marketing tool. Marketing automation software allows a business to segment its list, and present personalized email messages to potential customers – something that, according to research by Mailchimp, can increase clicks by almost 60%.
This may be as simple as adjusting the content of a regular mailing list campaign to present only the products that a particular customer is interested in. Alternatively, it can be as complex as dynamically serving up text to reflect a customer’s interests, past purchases, or position.
It’s also possible to set up personalized email messages that are sent in response to certain triggers. A helpful follow-up email to customers who abandon a purchase midway through, for example, can often turn an abandoned cart into a completed purchase.
With marketing automation, you can A/B test everything from emails to forms to landing pages. In some cases, small changes can have a significant impact on conversions. A simple change to the copy on a button has been shown, in some circumstances, to lead to an increase in conversion rate of almost 90%.
3. Social Engagement
Marketing automation software allows employees to manage all social media from one integrated interface, and to schedule posts and content months in advance. Additionally, they can monitor levels of engagement across different social media platforms, and learn how potential leads are engaging with their content – valuable insight that can feed into lead scores, or be used to trigger automated messages.
4. Lead Grading and Nurturing
Marketing automation software helps track leads and collect disparate information on them into an accessible format. This can be used to automatically assign leads grades depending on how active they are, how suited they are to a product or service, and at what stage they are in the buying cycle. They can then be nurtured with personalized messages and appropriate content until they're ready to buy. According to some research, companies which excel at lead nurturing can expect to enjoy up to 50% more sales.
Some marketing automation software allows businesses to track every part of the sales process and the movement of customers between them. At what stage are leads being lost? What content is leading to the most conversions? Where are the bottlenecks and the opportunities for improvement in the sales flow?
Using the enhanced analytics provided by marketing automation software companies can find out all these things, and more. This takes the guesswork out of improving and streamlining business processes.
Marketing Automation Software
The above is a sampling of what marketing automation can do… but there is a range of different software solutions available, each with a different focus. Choosing the right one for a given business can be a difficult task. To help with that, here’s an overview of some of the most common marketing automation platforms.
Hubspot bills itself as an all-in-one inbound marketing solution. Its aim: to enable companies to bring in more traffic and increase conversions by optimizing every part of the customer journey. Hubspot is a good all-round marketing automation solution, made even more appealing by its easy-to-use interface.
Drip wants to help you “understand your customers”, and to this end, it provides intelligent tracking capabilities, as well as tools to help businesses target customers with personalized ads, email campaigns and more. Drip, as the name implies, is excellent for drip-feeding leads with relevant content over time.
Marketo provides a complete digital marketing solution, with a focus on acquiring and growing leads. Its provision for social marketing is particularly strong, and it represents a good choice for businesses that want to focus on lead nurturing.
The real strength of ActiveCampaign is in its analytics. It allows a marketing department to see exactly what a website visitor is doing: where they’re looking, for how long, and what content they’re engaging with. It then allows marketers to dynamically tailor messaging to take advantage of these insights, and easily set up automatic responses.
Constant Contact focuses on providing powerful email marketing capabilities. As well as providing professional-looking email messaging without any knowledge of HTML, is also enables dynamic customization of messages, and automated triggers for personalized emails.
Pardot is a marketing automation solution that integrates well with most common CRM platforms and provides some capability for all of the features listed above. Its powerful analytics, and focus on creating a unified experience for customers across all messages, sites and social media are what make it stand out from the crowd.
Marketing automation software can do many things, from providing greater insight into a customer base to allowing a company to relieve its staff of repetitive marketing tasks. Used well it can increase conversions, and make customers feel like individuals again. The remarkable results of well-applied marketing automation make it clear that it's the future. The only question that remains is how you might use marketing automation to grow your business.