What Is Marketing Automation? Benefits and Key Features

There was a time when businesses were simply tasked with competing against other businesses on the same street or until the internet came along.
Depending on your industry, you might now find yourself battling against thousands of direct competitors across the globe, many of whom don’t face the same costs and regulations.

Marketing has always been an important aspect of any business, but this modern landscape demands that a brand outlines their proposition more clearly, consistently and compellingly than ever and when done well, it can see you thrive.

The problem? Marketing can be a laborious, time-consuming task and when you are focusing on running your business, can become neglected

The solution? Marketing automation.

What is marketing automation?

What is marketing automation exactly? It’s technology designed to take the weight of responsibility for marketing processes and customer communications off the shoulders of business owners. It is software designed to perform those monotonous, laborious and small tasks that marketing requires, like manually hitting ‘send’ on every emal.
Marketing automation processes and technologies y can:

  • Help a business generate and nurture leads, target specific customers with automated email, chatbot, social and text messages.

  • Automate the rollout of digital marketing campaigns, publishing and managing ads and content based on a set of predefined rules and conditions, while also tracking ROI.

  • Handle repetitive tasks, such as data and campaign management, reducing instances of human error and freeing employees up to focus on higher value, more human-facing work.

Good marketing automation technology will scale alongside your business. In fact, as your business grows, the efficiencies, cost-savings and ROI of marketing automation only increase.

The most effective forms of marketing automation automatically trigger actions based on campaign feedback: an ‘if this, then that’ system. If a customer performs a certain behaviour, or interacts with your brand at a certain point in their journey, the automation tool will lead them down a path to maximise effectiveness.

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8 Benefits of marketing automation

Marketing automation processes and technologies can bring a wealth of benefits, including:

1. Significant time savings:

No more slaving away on the most laborious aspects of marketing, as automation technology takes care of the legwork for you.

2. A more effective team:

By taking the small, yet time-consuming work out of your team’s hands, they can focus on your businesses priorities.

3. Easy segmentation:

When properly set up, marketing automation tools can segment your audience to receive targeted communications, e.g. recommending a complementary purchase to people who previously bought a certain product.

4. Increased customer retention:

In the same vein, you can send an automated email to customers who you haven’t heard from in months, using a special offer to re-engage with them.

5. Greater consistency:

Marketing can quickly fall down a busy worker’s priority list, and be ignored for weeks at a time. Automation ensures your brand stays in front of people’s eyes consistently.

6. Better reporting:

With automated tools recording results and presenting them in an easy-to-understand way, you can make your campaigns more effective in a quicker time.

7. Surprisingly simple:

In order to appeal to more users, marketing automation tools are built to be as simple and intuitive as possible. You’ll be shocked at how easy it is to automate!

8. Spend less, earn more:

Bots are far cheaper and far more effective than humans. Marketing automation costs you far less, but will earn you far more.

How does marketing automation work?

At first glance marketing automation can almost feel like magic, such is its combination of outward simplicity and inward complexity. So how does marketing automation work?

Any automation, marketing or otherwise, is built on a foundation of data. In terms of marketing automation, this data can be taken from your current database, but can also be secured every time an individual interacts with your brand, whether buying a product, signing up to your email list, following you on social media or clicking on an ad.

This offers you both a holistic and focused view of your customers. You can use this data to track broader trends, or to focus on a specific group and market directly to them. As you build up a better picture of your customer base, you can guide those customers toward a desired action at different points in their journey.

5 key marketing automation features

What do the best marketing automation tools offer their users? When shopping for your tool, look for the following features:

1. Automated email campaigns:

Email is a common place for businesses to start their marketing automation journey, so it’s critical that your chosen tool allows you to easily create automated campaigns.

2. Personalised email marketing:

These email campaigns should also be segmentable and customisable – you should be able to use custom fields to send a personalised email to thousands of recipients at once.

3. Scheduling campaigns:

A solid scheduling function will ensure your marketing campaign rolls out like clockwork, without much human input at all.

4. Recommendations and guidance:

You can’t be expected to know all the capabilities of your automation tool, so the best will guide you on how to make the most of its features.

5. CRM integration:

You might have a significant database of customers that you’ve built up over years. Your marketing automation tool needs to be able to talk to your CRM database and pull this information.

Marketing automation: 5 best practices

Marketing automation can feel like an intimidating prospect. You’re eager to capitalise on it, but you don’t know where to start, or how to maximise your chances of success. These seven best practices can help you do just that.

1. Develop clear objectives:

Knowing exactly what you hope to achieve will help you choose the best tool and will light the path to success.

2. Bring in other teams:

Marketing automation isn’t just the job of the marketing department. You’ll need to lean on insights from a number of internal teams such as product or sales, so seek their input from the start.

3. Visualise processes:

At its most effective, marketing automation will send each potential customer down a path that maximises the likelihood of a purchase being made. Draw mud maps of these paths or ‘workflows’, then look to replicate them within your tool.

4. Build a library of content:

Modern marketing asks you to give something – content – in order to get something – a purchase. Create a library of informative, entertaining or otherwise engaging content that you can use in your automated campaigns.

5. Test and tweak:

A/B test different content and campaign strategies to understand what works and what doesn’t, and use these insights to make your marketing more and more effective over time.

How do I choose the right marketing automation software?

Choosing the right marketing automation tool can be as intimidating a prospect as the marketing itself. While every business is different, there are a few universal things that every organisation should look for in a piece of marketing automation software. It should:

  • Create, send and track email marketing campaigns

  • Stay in touch with the right customers at the right time

  • Stay compliant by collecting customer consent

  • Be capable of creating customised email lists

  • Be a ‘set and forget’ solution

  • Measure your marketing efforts, and present the results in an easy-to-understand way

  • Allow you to easily create bespoke campaigns

The good news? Square Marketing does all this and a whole lot more! If you’re a small business looking to capitalise on all the opportunity that marketing automation presents, Square Marketing is ready to help you do just that.