What is Marketing Automation?
Simply put, this is software that lets marketers automate much of their repetitive work. This often includes tasks like sending emails, posting social media, generating alerts, and other user-triggered events.
Marketing automation may be among the most effective and flexible tools introduced to the world of digital marketing in the past couple decades. It combines the power of different channels like email marketing and on-page user experience in a way that can offer more than the sum of its parts.
Two Reasons Your Sales Team Might Love Marketing Automation
As you try to improve your brand’s interactions with customers and prospects, you know that it’s not just the quantity of those interactions that matter, but the quality. The more relevant and timely your sales and marketing teams’ contact with customers can be, the better. A well-planned marketing automation strategy can mean a night-and-day difference from what you’re doing today.
Smart automation can also save you time and other human resources. We should leverage technology where it makes the most sense, freeing us up do what we do best. This has led to the motto: “Let robots do the robot work, so people can focus on people work.” Marketing automation is a set of technologies we can use to help our clients skip some of the minutia and devote more of their time to meaningful, personal interactions.
What Does This Have to do with the CRM?
If you already have a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place, you’re probably aware that it can do a lot more for your business than just keep customer data neatly organized. What you may not know is that the way a brand uses its CRM will play a big role in the success of its marketing automation strategy. In fact, we could argue that neither can reach its full potential without the other; the two are nearly inseparable.
Setting up and executing your automation—creating new segments, setting rules and triggers, measuring the results—can all be done from within a capable marketing automation platform. Much of the customer data necessary to launch and maintain those campaigns, however, likely exists somewhere else: inside your company’s CRM.
No marketing automation platform, by itself, is going to cure your marketing headaches or fill up your sales funnel. It has the potential to be one of your most valuable sales and marketing tools. But it can only be as successful as your data is trustworthy. It feeds on the good habits of the people who manage your users’ information.
Strong CRM Habits Today = Greater Marketing Options for Years
Building a strong foundation of user data—acquired honestly and transparently—will take time and commitment. And it won’t happen on accident. Because of this, buy-in from your sales team is a big deal. The rewards, though, are real, and everyone involved will get something out of this.
- It adds value for your customers. People care how we interact with them—how often, through which channels, about which products and topics, and at what kinds of important milestones along the way. All of these preferences can be stored in your CRM, synced with your automation platform, and ultimately used to communicate with customers on their terms.
- It empowers your sales team. Intel like website and email tracking, as well as customized alerts, can help your sales people communicate with their prospects and customers on a more one-to-one level. Remember, automation platforms don’t just offer great ways to execute; they can provide reporting that lets your brand see further and deeper than traditional metrics.
- It adds marketing longevity to the brand. Healthy CRM practices today will unlock new marketing options for your brand for years to come. Every week that your brand puts this off is another week of missed opportunities and lost data. Consider how many of your website visitors over the years would have been willing to volunteer helpful information in exchange for something you would have been happy to offer them.
Examples of Marketing Automation
Alright, enough about your CRM and the importance of maintaining your data. All that work should be worth something in the end, right? Yes. Automation is virtually limitless in how creatively and usefully it can be applied—again, for the benefit of your customers and your brand. Here are 10 basic automations to think about:
- Custom emails sent to customers with content relevant to their browsing history on your website
- Drip campaigns to educate new customers on your product or service through short messaging over longer durations
- A customized “Welcome to [the Brand]” campaign with information and tips for newly signed business accounts, letting them know how to get the most from your new relationship
- Dynamic website content to serve different text, images, and videos to specific users based on segmentation and position in the sales cycle
- Re-engagement campaigns for customers who haven’t visited the site or opened emails in a certain recency
- Surveys tailored to important customer milestones
- Sales rep alerts based on key customer interactions (e.g. after the same product page is visited 3 times, or when a prospect completes a webform on a target landing page)
- Progressive profiling—asking users for 1-2 new pieces of data at each sequential opt-in (instead of trying to collect too much information too early in the relationship)
- Scheduled reporting on customer engagement per campaign and date range
- Automated pruning to remove or update users who aren’t engaging