What Is Marketing Automation and Do You Really Need It?

Marketing automation is the new black. Everyone seems to be talking about it these days — but what is it, how do you get started, and most importantly, how do you succeed?

Let’s start with what it is.

As far as I’m concerned, marketing automation enables you to send your customer the right message at the right time and through the right channel — automatically. In order to do that, software and data are critical. It gives you the advantage of knowing who you’re talking to, their buying history, web activity, email activity and customer service interactions. It also allows you to determine when you want to contact them in relation to their funnel position.

“We can identify how and where our customers engage with our brands — on social media, offline or online, mobile, on their way to work, at work, wherever, whenever. We track all those customer interactions in Journey Builder and deliver messages at the right time.” — L’Oréal

Why should you bother with marketing automation? Here are five good reasons.

1. Save time.

Automating anything will save you time, but replacing manual work with automated rules and campaigns will give your team more time to focus on creative and strategic tasks.

2. Personalisation.

It allows you to take your marketing activity to an ultra-targeted level. You can start to collect data on your customers such as name, location, birthday, and order history to serve up relevant, personalised messages.

3. Improve collaboration.

Another benefit of marketing automation is the ability to assign appropriate tasks to the appropriate team when a specific criteria is met. For example, your sales guy should get on the phone as soon as a customer has shown interest (whether that’s opening and clicking multiple emails, or viewing a specific page on your website).

4. Better reporting.

As marketers, we love reports because they tell us if our efforts are working and highlights where we can improve. With marketing automation you have heaps of information at your fingertips — such as knowing who clicked, opened and on what device.

5. Use multiple channels.

Marketing automation isn’t just email. Most tools incorporate social media and SMS to reach prospective customers.

So, how do you get started?

Beyond actually going to Salesforce and buying the product, it’s important to determine whether or not you need the tool. Here are a few questions (via Intelligent Demand) that can help you evaluate your readiness:

  1. Is your brand, identity, and value proposition in place?
  2. Do you have a serviceable website that is delivering that brand and value proposition, and that can be adjusted, evolved, and integrated with your marketing automation system?
  3. Do you have at least some minimal flow of leads into the top of your funnel?
  4. Do you know have a sense of how your marketing automation investment will produce ROI? — i.e. have you created a business case
  5. Do you have resources set aside not only for the software, but for implementation?
  6. Are you ready to produce content in an ongoing way to feed your marketing automation/demand generation campaign(s)?

Ideally, you should be able to answer ‘yes’ to each of these questions in order to get started with a marketing automation tool.

What tool should you choose?

There are a few tools out there that are geared towards either B2B or B2C, as both have vastly different needs.

If you’re a B2B business, then Pardot could be a good option for you. Pardot is relatively straightforward and easy to use. It’s best for small to medium sized organisations that have decent lead/prospect volume, and want to increase conversions through lead scoring, profiling, and nurturing. Pardot also has a cool ROI calculator which you can check out here.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud on the other hand is ideal for B2C companies and has the power to get very granular with your segmentation. For example, you can track who has viewed certain pages on your website or blog and visited your contact page in the past month but did not complete a form.

I’ll delve into more differences in a future blog post.

How do you succeed?

Strategy.

It’s as simple as that. Marketing automation tools are different from other Salesforce products in the sense that you need collateral and a lot of marketing knowledge. You can’t just hit a button and conjure up an email. Copywriting, design and messaging all come into play. It needs to work in conjunction with the bigger picture and support your existing strategy. You need to know who you’re talking to, why you’re talking to them, and what your ultimate goal is.

At the same time, marketing automation can also save you time and streamline disjointed processes. For example, you can set up automatic replies and notifications, guide someone through the buying process, automate staff onboarding, etc. There are so many ways it can benefit your company and save yourself time and energy.

In closing, measurability has changed everything. Perhaps the biggest benefit of marketing automation is the ability to make smart, data-driven decisions. We are no longer relying on billboards to tell our story and hope someone will notice. Now, we know who notices, who’s reading, who’s engaging, and who they are. This is something that has changed the marketing game forever — and we’re only just getting started.

Still have questions about marketing automation?
Don’t hesitate to reach out!

Digital Marketing Manager. Passionate about creativity and disruptive thinking.