One of the hottest buzz words in marketing for the last few years has been “marketing automation.” However, for those with only a passing understanding of the technology, it often creates uncertainty. Not only do they ask themselves, “What exactly is marketing automation?” but also, “Should I be using it for my business?”
The goal for marketing automation is to simplify manual processes and create marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to pass onto your sales team. Manual processes may include tracking activity such as form submissions on your website, email opens and clicks, social media activity, web page visits, etc. You can even create a scoring sheet that grades your customers/prospects based on their activities. Once a certain score is reached, a salesperson can be notified to reach out to the prospect.
Examples of marketing automation platforms include names like Marketo, ActiveCampaign, Hubspot Marketing Hub, Adobe Campaign and Act-On, but there are many more. Some cater to large companies, while others specialize in small businesses.
As your company explores marketing automation platforms, it’s important to remember that any system is only as good as the data and energy you put into it. For example, being able to segment customers is a key feature of these platforms (so instead of sending an email to every customer, you can create targeted messages for specific groups). Is your customer relationship management system (CRM) set up to segment customers by type or industry? (Examples of CRMs include Salesforce, Zoho and Pipedrive to name just a few.) If not, you may need to spend some time working on your CRM before you can realize the true benefits of marketing automation.
Here are four things I suggest you consider before investing in a marketing automation platform:
- Does it integrate directly with your company’s CRM?
- Do you have a content strategy in place (in other words, what information will you be sending out in your posts, emails, etc.)?
- What type of automated programs/customer journeys do you need (for example, do you want them to order online or contact you for an appointment)?
- Do you have someone who can be responsible for creating, monitoring and updating automated programs on a regular basis?
If you’re looking at marketing automation as a silver bullet for getting new customers, then you may not be ready for it (at least not yet). Marketing automation is a powerful tool, but there needs to be a plan in place and content created to share with your customers before it will be useful.
Contact us here at Anchor if you have questions about marketing automation or if you want to share your thoughts on the topic. We work with marketing automation, and we can help you to apply its benefits to your business communication and sales efforts.