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What is Marketing Automation?

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Marketing Director, Americas , Emarsys

Marketing automation is the ability of software to operationalize your communications and help efficiently manage repetitive tasks. In this article, you’ll learn about the value of marketing automation, as well as myths associated with it, tangible benefits it offers marketers, and how to choose the best automation tool for your team’s needs.

What Is Marketing Automation & Why Is It Important?

Marketing automation is powerful software that aims to automate marketing processes. Marketing departments use automation software to more efficiently manage repetitive tasks including emails, SMS messages, social media, online advertisements, and more.

Like most technology, marketing automation is constantly evolving to meet the needs of marketers. When used successfully, it can drive increased conversions, boost leads, and ultimately generate more revenue. Marketing automation platforms go beyond simple support tools, as they actually change the role of marketers by streamlining or even eliminating tedious day-to-day tasks.

Coupled with personalization engines, marketing automation engages prospects and customers through highly relevant content that, in turn, converts them into loyal customers.

By streamlining this process, you’re able to build personalized, one-to-one connections with a seemingly endless number of users.

Use #marketingautomation to create 1:1 connections w/ a seemingly endless # of users                                               CLICK TO TWEET

To help you better understand marketing automation, we’ll explain myths, benefits, challenges, and features to look for so that you can prepare for a brighter (and more efficient) future.

Myths About Marketing Automation

The continued growth and evolution of marketing automation has made it an immensely popular choice for B2C marketers.

However, there are still some businesses that have yet to fully embrace automation due to a few myths surrounding the idea. Let’s clear those up.

Myth #1: Marketing Automation is Only Relevant for Email

Email marketing is, without a doubt, one of the best-performing marketing channels, and easiest functions to automate. However, social media, lead generation, management activities, landing pages, and others can all also be automated. 

Once marketers realize the benefits that automation provides for other channels (such as quicker and simpler processes and conversion optimization), it’ll become clear how marketing automation can save your business both time and money across numerous channels.

Myth #2: Marketing Automation is Just Another Form of Spam

Often times, spam is considered any message that shows up “without warning” in your inbox. The reality is that spam is really based mostly on irrelevancy. If the content you’re sending to your audience doesn’t reach them in a personalized way, it most likely isn’t worth sending at all.

Marketing automation allows you to send relevant content and information to your audience based on who they are, their interests, and even how they discovered your business. Automation presents an opportunity to engage with potential customers conversationally while guiding them step-by-step through the customer lifecycle.

Key Benefits of Marketing Automation

For B2C marketers, automation means more chances to get in front of the right consumers for higher conversion rates and increased revenue. So, how exactly can marketing automation platforms help marketers do more with less?

Reduce Cart Abandonment Rates 

Abandoned carts continue to haunt modern marketers.

According to Q1 2016 research, the average digital shopping cart abandonment rate worldwide stands at 74.3%.

By automatically sending triggered emails to those who left unpurchased items in their cart, marketers can help reduce cart abandonment rates. Marketing automation can help determine how long after logout to send reminder emails, and even help generate the most compelling subject lines to ensure the emails are opened. 

#marketingautomation helps w/ triggered shopping cart abandonment #emailcampaigns                                    CLICK TO TWEET

Increase Email Open Rates

B2C brands can increase overall email open rates by utilizing A/B testing across all email components. Automation tools store historical consumer data, which, in turn, increases the optimization of email open rates. Whether through subject line optimization, or ensuring an email is populated with the right content and sent at just the right time, these solutions result in data-driven decisions and results.

Boost Revenue Through Up-sells

Nowadays, it’s become almost standard that emails include a section that showcases “others also bought” or “similar customers looked at.”

These recommendation emails can be automated and are tailored to individual consumer buying preferences or previous browsing history, which is a powerful personalization component.

Gone are the days of marketers manually breaking apart every inch of data. With the right automation in place, you can analyze consumer purchase data while simultaneously sending out up-sell emails that are far more likely to drive conversions.

Automate Loyalty Programs 

Automated solutions can register customer loyalty information and send real-time, customized deals and incentives through multiple channels, regardless if a shopper is in a brick-and-mortar store, on a website, or even perusing social media. Loyalty programs can also help reduce customer churn, create advocates, and grow a true culture of retention.

Trigger Email Offers 

At its core, marketing automation is a solution comprised of actions and results.

Consumers’ actions trigger these campaigns, which then turn the wheel and create a non-stop circle of engagement between customer and brand. Email marketing has long been the bread and butter of every B2C marketer’s strategy, but when partnered with the right solution, it becomes easier than ever to reach maximum results and drive greater ROI.

How to (Know When to) Choose the Best Marketing Automation Tool

Marketers are plagued by innumerable challenges spanning across the marketing chasm: from automating email campaigns, operationalizing lead generation activities, pre-scheduling or auto-creating social media posts, and optimizing content for SEO, the list goes on and on.

For many marketers, a typical day is spent constantly juggling each of these until they’re blue in the face. Sound familiar?

Marketing automation has quickly become the go-to remedy for marketing teams looking to take the manual work out of trivial, tedious, and time-consuming marketing tasks.

Take the manual work out of trivial, tedious, and time-consuming #marketing tasks w/ #automation                         CLICK TO TWEET

These warning signs indicate that it may be time for a new tool:

  • Your business has a complicated and/or long sales cycle. It’s a known fact – the longer your sales cycle is, the more touch points you’ll need. This becomes especially true once your prospects and clients get closer to the bottom of the funnel.
  • Your CRM won’t automate nearly as many of the tasks you need it to. Having a good CRM in place is great for task management and sales forecasting, but if you’re searching for a solution that offers superior segmentation capabilities, as well as an intuitive way to qualify and assign leads, then marketing automation is the best option.
  • It seems like your marketing and sales teams are always at each other’s necks. It’s not uncommon that sales and marketing teams operate on separate wavelengths, especially when lead quality and revenue attribution come into play. An automation solution can help ease tension and bridge the gap between teams.
  • You wish you could segment and target leads, but don’t have the right data to do so. You’re going to need more than just a first and last name and email address to properly segment leads. An automation tool provides you with the data such as location information, job titles, behavioral insights, and much, much more.
A mktg #automation tool provides #data like location information, job titles, & behavioral insights                             CLICK TO TWEET
  • You can’t make heads or tails out of your campaign ROI. Pulling revenue numbers might not be an issue, but when you’re trying to determine which campaigns have the most significant ROI, you have no idea where to be looking. Marketing automation provides valuable insight into your marketing ROI.
  • Prioritizing leads that your sales team should be following up with is a disaster. It can seem almost impossible at times to tell just how interested potential customers are in your company or even if they’re a right fit for the product or service you’re selling. Get the lead scoring and grading needed to determine these results.
  • Your content is good, but your method of distribution is less than stellar. Marketing automation is designed to help target communications and create forms or landing pages in order to better reach your target audience. Without automation, it can be extremely difficult to see the results you would like from your content efforts.

Choosing a marketing automation tool isn’t an easy task. It’s overwhelming to think about the sheer number of tools and resources out there. To help you on your way, here are five must-have features and functions to look for in a tool. We’ll also explain how to properly take advantage of each one.

A Tool to Send Targeted Email Campaigns 

Email automation can help you send messages with relevant and personalized content to your target audience at the exact right time. Ever wondered what portion of your database/contacts your content resonates with the most? With email segmentation features, you can identify the correct audience and send them highly relevant and personalized messages based on particular attributes. Instead of blasting through your email lists, think about what segment of your audience should be receiving what email. Chances are you’ll see an increase in open and click through rate.

Mechanizing Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing can be difficult, but if done correctly can be extremely rewarding. Technology can help you go the extra mile, and develop automated campaigns that help buyers move from one stage of the customer lifecycle to the next. This process begins with carefully researching your lists of personas and setting rules based on how they each interact with your brand. The right solution will help to create more opportunities from your site, while also nurturing existing leads until they’re ready to interact with your sales team.

An Engine to Integrate CRM and Your Website 

In order to get the most out of your marketing automation engine, you should be able to integrate your CRM and website. By combining these platforms, you can easily track customer behavior and evaluate what efforts and campaigns are having the most success. Through an automated platform, you’ll be able to generate truly accurate ROI reports.


A Way to Automate Profiling of Leads

Generating leads and absorbing information is arguably the biggest goal of your website. When you progressively profile your leads, it allows you to learn valuable new information about each and every prospect or customer. This feature should require very little work, as those visiting your site are doing all the work by filling forms and relaying information back to you. You just need a net there to catch all the information they’re pouring in.

Marketing Automation: The Answer to Your Communication Conundrums

For B2C marketers searching for a way to organize, optimize and finally act on all of their customer data, marketing automation solutions offer an enterprise the ability to revolutionize how it operates. 

With a continuous cycle of testing, refinement, and feedback, marketing automation ensures that workflows are always changing and growing for maximum impact and effectiveness. These kinds of tools let you take a giant leap forward in terms of efficiency, productivity, and revenue generation while your team simultaneously gets to concentrate on strategy, creativity, and content. And that’s the true beauty and value of technology today.

Looking to incorporate a marketing automation solution into your current strategy? Learn how Emarsys can help.

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