What is Marketing Automation all about?
Marketing automation is the use of software and tactics to automate your digital marketing campaigns.
The idea is to create a series of automated interactions with potential customers who are looking to solve a problem. The solution to their problem or problems is ultimately solved by a product or service you have.
This is an age old concept. In the past this is what salespeople were for. To find these prospects and help them buy.
Today these potential clients and customers generally think that they don’t need a sales person to make a decision. Instead they use search engines, websites and consume content on the Internet doing their own research and seeking a solution on their own.
They are right. They can do this research on their own. As a result what you have to do as a company is be a part of that process and provide relevant information and content to assist potential customers as they go through their own buying journey.
To make this all work however, you generally need some sort of a software platform to implement a Marketing Automation process.
Marketing Automation Software
This is really the key component behind marketing automation. You may have heard the names. Pardot, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Marketo to name a few. These are the software applications that provide key features allowing you to build an automated marketing process.
Most of these Marketing Automation software platforms have feature sets that allow you to then operationalize a marketing automation process. This may include features around:
- email marketing
- seo / organic traffic research and targeting
- PPC (paid) traffic tools e.g. manage Pay Per Click campaigns
- landing pages and opt in to campaign lists
- social media marketing
- mobile marketing
- reporting and analytics
You may also need multiple tools to address some of the above features.
What is the promise and the reality of marketing automation?
When someone is out there looking for a solution to a problem that they
have, the idea is that they will find content through one of the different traffic sources- search engines, social networks, content channels— and eventually stumble upon your content platform. They opt into your email list because they believe you can help them answer questions or to solve problems they have.
It is important therefore to really understand the customer’s buying process and to track the customer or prospect as they step through that buying process once they are in your Marketing Automaton funnel by giving them the right content at the right time.
That’s kind of the promise of marketing automation. The automation of the buying process and sometimes to automate the actual sale.
The reality is that you can automate the middle of the typical buying process very well- the nurturing process. You can also sometimes you can automate the transaction (depends on what you are selling) but it’s much more difficult to automate the process of attracting and activating a customer into this nurturing process. That is because until they opt in your prospect or customer is out there in the wild of the Internet doing research and you have no part of that.
That tends to be a multi channel, multi traffic trial and error process that requires a savvy marketer at the helm.
Lead Generation Phase vs Nurturing Phase
Marketers typically will buy marketing automation software with the idea that they are going to buy this platform and it’s going to solve all of their lead generation problems, and I don’t think that’s really the case.
While some marketers will leverage marketing automation software’s mass email capabilities to cold email purchased lists of potential buyers, I think the reality is that we have to grunt it out, and we have to come up with content that is relevant to visitors, and then direct people to that content.
So we still have to engage in lead generation. We have to attract people into our automated nurturing process by giving them something they’re interested in (content). Then we have to continuously produce these content and information pieces to really help generate leads and opt in, and make customers aware that you potentially have a solution to their problem.
Usually this is where features like landing page creation, analytics to track organic and paid traffic come into play. Social media publishing and monitoring features will also help generate this traffic as we publish content on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
What do you think? Is your company interested in automating your marketing process? Have you had success to this point automating your marketing?
If you have questions you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave comments below.
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