Institute of Management, Nirma University - Logo
Institute of Management, Nirma University - Logo

What is Marketing Automation and what can it do for your business?

A growing number of firms are using marketing automation as a part of their overall marketing strategy. Marketing automation complements traditional marketing efforts and helps firms not only to increase marketing efficiency but also to provide a more personalized experience to customers. Firms using automation technology for marketing for more than three years have experienced significant growth in long-term revenue, profit, and customer engagement.

What is Marketing Automation?
In the simplest form, marketing automation is the use of software or technology in marketing activities that allows firms to target their customers effectively. Such marketing automation software enables firms to send personalized messages to customers automatically across multiple channels including website, email, social media, and SMS. The basic drive of using marketing technology is to automate marketing activities across channels, reduce repetitive tasks performed by marketing personnel, and improve overall marketing efficiency.

Marketing Automation in Action
Let’s see with an example – How does marketing automation work?

  • Assume a prospective customer visiting your company’s website and showing interest in a particular product, and providing the basic details.
  • The contact detail scan be saved in customer relationship management (CRM) software and can be accessed by the sales representative.
  • The sales representative can access additional information on this lead’s history and transaction with the company from the automation platform.
  • The software can automatically sendapersonalized message based on the past information you have on that customer and thank the customer for showing interest in the product.
  • The follow-up emails can be sent automatically to the same customer and can be influenced them for taking an action.

In this way, marketing automation can help companies to generate leads with minimum effort, automate marketing tasks, and increases the conversion of customers.

What can it do for Your business?
Although the number of customers is growing, marketing firms are facing more pressure to provide a seamless experience to customers due to intense competition and constant pressure to improve revenue and profit. The common challenges faced by firms are generating quality leads and engaging customers throughout buying journey from the first contact point with the company to the last one. Along with this, due to technological advancement, businesses collect a lot of data on buying patterns of customers. So, a key issue is how to make sense of these data and provide a personalized experience to customers efficiently. Here, marketing automation can help firms to overcome these challenges by building quality leads, streamlining workflow, automating marketing activities, and providing a unique experience to customers.

Building Quality Leads
Nowadays, firms generate enormous leads through various means and assign them to salespeople for follow-up. This traditional approach may result in a lack of sales efficiency for the firm as all leads do not have equal sales potential. Rather, firms can use marketing automation software to identify the most potential leads and improve their sales performance in two ways. First, automation software provides lead-scoring features that can be used by firms to classify the leads into various categories such as hot, warm, and cold leads and only hot leads can be forwarded to salespeople. Second, the lead-tracking techniques tell you what your prospective customers want so salespeople can provide the content that customers need and improve overall sales performance.

The customer details are generally stored in the company’s IT database. When a new customer is acquired or existing customers transact with the company, these data are added to the marketing strategy. Although these data are very useful for decision-making, manually analyzing them and tracking customer behaviors is literally impossible. However, when marketing automation is integrated, it can streamline the company’s processes and personalized workflow for each customer automatically. Further, marketing automation eliminates the need for complicated hand-off procedures because everything is automatically saved in the company’s database, and marketing personnel can use this information to prioritize tasks as they are needed for an individual customer.

Customer Experience
Traditionally, most firms generate customer leads through various means and pass them on to sales representatives for follow-up action. Sales representatives provide relevant information and force customers to move from sales to marketing to customer service departments for various purposes during the customer’s buying process. In this journey, customers expose to multiple touchpoints and irrelevant content, resulting in a disjoint or unpleasant experience. However, marketing automation tracks the customer’s journey, collects data on their requirements, and also retrieves their previous transaction data, and tells what customers are looking for. Sales representatives can use these valuable inputs across multiple contact points to deliver the right content and solution, resulting in a personalized experience.

Cross-Departmental Collaboration
Most business functions face integration problems while dealing with customers, specifically marketing and sales function. When the automation platform and marketing strategy are integrated across the functions, it will facilitate coordination and communication between departments and help firms synchronize their marketing efforts to provide a unique solution to their customers. Further, marketing automation offers several features that equip marketing and sales professionals to improve their efforts with targeted content, communication, and campaigns.

Save Time and Resources
The company generally deals with multiple customers and invests resources uniformly for all the customers to improve revenue and profit. This universal strategy may result in a waste of time and resources as all customers are not equally profitable. When marketing technology is used, it extracts customers’ costs, revenue, and profitability data from the CRM system and provides complete visibility on which customers are most important for the company and which are not. Also, it guides on what type of marketing campaign works with what type of customers. As a result, marketers can take informed decisions based on the data rather than relying on their intuition, resulting in higher returns on their investments.

Best Practices for Marketing Automation
The marketing automation software does not automatically help to realize strategic benefits to the company. Firms need to plan and set up needed resources for automation and should align technology with the firms’ strategic short and long-term goals. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Focus on quality in terms of software used, IT infrastructure, business processes, leads generated, and messages sent.
  • Integrate all the communication channels and customer touch points with marketing automation, and quickly respond to their needs.
  • Align sales and marketing activities with marketing automation, and customize customer experience with the company.

Regularly create fresh content for your customers, and assess its performance with the help of marketing automation.
Now you know the importance of marketing automation and how it works and what it can do for your business. If you are ready to take advantage of this new technology, look for some of the top companies of marketing automation software to identify the most valuable tools for your business.

Author Prof Sandip Trada