What Is Marketing Automation & Why Do You Need It Anyway?

What Is Marketing Automation & Why Do You Need It Anyway?
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In this guest post, newly minted CEO of TwoCents Worth, Samantha Brooks (pictured below), says it’s only natural marketers can get confused by automation but, she assures us, it’s actually easier than it looks…

There is a staggering amount of information online about marketing for business – and frankly, it can be overwhelming. Any business trying to get ahead in this over-saturated digital world is bombarded daily by marketing buzzwords like marketing automation, digital marketing strategy, email marketing, social media marketing, lead generation, campaign management, and so many more. Perhaps the most overwhelming fact is that they are actually all important areas to consider. Are your marketing platforms targeting all of these key areas? Would it be simpler to have them all integrated into one platform?

Sam_2.0

That’s where marketing automation comes in. Marketing automation platforms are used to to streamline sales and marketing processes through adopting automated solutions; resulting in more effective marketing across multiple online channels by removing the guesswork and extensive manual effort needed to manage platforms individually. Marketing automation allows you to plan, coordinate, manage and measure all of your campaigns, both online and offline.

In simple terms, it enables you to focus on your core business, knowing that this important, strategic aspect of generating leads and encouraging them through the lifestyle of your product or service, is taken care of.

HOW MARKETING AUTOMATION CAN BE USED FOR YOUR BENEFIT

If you are reading this blog, you already know about the importance of a digital marketing strategy; you’re no doubt already using email marketing, or at least thinking about it; you’re possibly doing some kind of marketing and/or advertising campaign; and are most certainly generating leads in some form. But are you monitoring performance, then tailoring your future marketing activities accordingly?

When talking to our clients, they have shared a common struggle in running their business’ marketing: they start one or more marketing initiatives but within a short amount of time their energy has waned, they’re not consistent, and they don’t monitor and report on results, follow-up on leads, or use the information to tweak their digital marketing strategy on an ongoing basis.

A simple marketing automation setup might include activating email workflows, integrating your digital strategy, continuous campaign management (which can include monitoring campaign performance), lead scoring, and finally, reporting and projection – and most importantly, leveraging all of this information for optimum results. Let me briefly explain how.

 INTEGRATE YOUR DIGITAL STRATEGY

Don’t work in silos. This applies for aspects of your digital marketing strategy as much as it does in general good business practice. By integrating your digital marketing strategy into an automated platform, you can ensure you hit your milestones, achieve your goals, and keep on track with your planned activities.

TwoCents’ Marketing Resource Management (MRM) platform as an example integrates multiple areas of digital marketing initiatives including Google Adwords, website tracking and clicks, end-to-end management of eNewsletter campaigns, and social media sharing and reporting. Combining this process into one system makes it easier to track results, identify trends and determine where your strengths and weaknesses lie, allowing you to strategically plan ongoing strategies.

ACTIVATE EMAIL WORKFLOWS

One of the best ways to drive business is email marketing to your existing contact database. The great news is that you can easily use marketing automation to achieve growth from both new and existing clients.

Automated email marketing doesn’t have to mean impersonal. Personalisation is the key to success in this arena, and it is totally possible to create email marketing messages to your target audience within marketing automation; you’re simply automating the process so that you are consistent and more effective.

Marketing Automation Times offer three great examples of how business’ should be using marketing automation across three great campaign ideas.

CONTINUOUS CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT

You have an idea for a sales or marketing campaign–great! Realistically, good strategy counts for nothing if you lack the capability and capacity to put it into practice. Marketing automation tools have the ability to track campaigns from the word go, and offer end-to-end reporting throughout the process. When put into practice, this enables you to effectively develop and execute multi-channel, highly personalised campaigns.

Good campaign management will rapidly detect changes in your customer data and respond to it quickly, capturing opportunities as they occur. Up-to-date insights into how your campaign is developing gives you the ability to react faster to changing marketing conditions allowing to to further optimise your reach. You can also set up your campaigns to gain more control and flexibility over data manipulation without becoming IT experts, and redeploy team resources to more productive tasks. Who wouldn’t want that?!

LEAD SCORING

None of us would be in business if we were afraid of generating and following up leads. Still, a major flaw of many business models is that they don’t use lead scoring. Lead scoring is ranking prospects against a scale which represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organisation. The resulting score is used to determine which leads a receiving function (e.g. sales, partners, teleprospecting) will engage, in order of priority.

Salesmen from pre-internet days would simply have described it as the process they use to “determine quality leads”.

While generating new leads is a primary goal of most businesses, the old 80/20 rule applies: 80 per cent of your future income will come from 20 per cent of your existing clients, and many believe that it’s 50 per cent easier to sell to existing clients than to new clients.

Effective lead scoring enables you to increase sales efficiency and effectiveness by focusing attention on leads which you deem most valuable; increased marketing effectiveness by quantifying which types of leads or lead characteristics matter most; and tighter marketing and sales alignment, by strengthening the relationship between marketing and sales through establishing a common definition for which lead types are ready for teleprospecting or sales attention. If done correctly, and in conjunction with email marketing to new and existing clients, this should all lead to increased revenue. Hooray!

PROJECTION AND REPORTING

Finally, an often neglected but essential aspect of all digital marketing strategy is to track, monitor and report on your campaign performance, ensuring you tweak as needed, and tailor future digital marketing campaigns accordingly. Sometimes a digital marketing campaign might not go as well as hoped, or perhaps it seems to have yielded great results but you’re not actually sure where your customers came from. Sometimes you may have successfully sold a customer one product or service, but perhaps they could have easily been persuaded to buy more.

Marketing automation platforms generate reports which keep you informed on how your content campaigns are performing, where your leads are coming from and what they’re doing. Harnessing this information enables you to make sound business decisions for the direction of your digital marketing practices.

For more reading on marketing automation content and personalisation, check out these articles from Marketing Tech Blog and Content Marketing Institute.

Over to you…

What platforms do you currently use to manage your marketing campaigns? Would you say they are integrated, or would it be easier to see all results in one space?

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