Automation. Even hearing the word may strike terror in our hearts. Does it conjure an image of a manufacturing plant in which the human staff has all been replaced by a robotic workforce? Or an office in which the advent of computers has made many of the human jobs “redundant”? Worse yet, does the concept evoke thoughts of a dystopian post-industrial society with vast unemployment due to the number of job which have been rendered unnecessary by large-scale automation?
Whether we see automation as utopian or a science-fiction nightmare, there’s no longer any doubt that it’s here to stay. Time is money, as the old adage says, and this is true across the board, in all aspects of business. Marketing is no exception. It’s a deep practice, much of which is filled with tedious, time-consuming tasks. Automation can be applied to increase productivity and efficiency here as effectively as it can in its better known applications, such as manufacturing. Let’s look at an overview of how it works and why you need it.
Just what is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is one of those expressions that you may have heard bantered about, without real clarification as to what it means. For a definition, let’s turn to Hubspot, one of the pioneers, and certainly one of the leaders in the field: They say that marketing automation is “the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. Many marketing departments have to automate repetitive tasks such as emails, social media, and other website actions. The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier.”
Why You Need It
Implemented correctly, automation can be a valuable tool, if it’s applied as part of a cohesive marketing strategy. Here are some of the reasons that it’s an essential piece of the puzzle, and should be worked into your marketing plans, now.
It’s a time saver.
This one is kind of a no-brainer, and it has been at least implied already in this discussion of automation, but it’s worth starting off this list by making this explicit here. Marketing requires a lot of what your teachers in school used to call “busy work”. If you have a marketing staff, I suspect that you’re paying them well for their skills and abilities, and you don’t need to be spending their time on monotonous, repetitive tasks like sending out the same emails hundreds or thousands of times, or posting again and again on social media.
If you don’t have a dedicated marketing team, as is the case for many small businesses, who’s going to do these essential but time-consuming tasks? Your time as owner or manager is certainly too valuable to be spent on that sort of work. Marketing automation software can do the heavy lifting, while freeing up your time for much better and higher uses.
Bloggers like me can talk for hours about marketing methods and practices, but in the end it’s all about results, isn’t it? That’s why any marketing campaign has to rely upon metrics to determine how effective it is, and whether you need to make changes or even minor adjustments. Working with raw data on email click-throughs, conversion rates, and so on can be a mind-boggling effort. This is even more true if the data isn’t available in one centralized location and you need to locate and organize your statistics. Marketing automation software gives you a unified repository for all your important data. This makes it a breeze for you to get the facts you need, and spend your time reviewing the vital analytics and rethinking your strategies as needed.
Customization and Personalization
If you’re selling in a one-on-one, real life situation, would you use the same exact pitch, verbatim, for each prospect you encounter. The most effective salespeople don’t, and neither should you, even if you’re selling electronically, to a large number of people you haven’t met or spoken to in person. The numbers speak for themselves in the area as well. 82% of marketers report that their emails are opened more frequently when they’re personalized, with 75% saying it improves their click-through rate as well.
It would be near to impossible to track the response to your emails and try to build up profiles of your prospects manually. But this is the kind of work that software excels at! One of the main benefits of marketing automation software is an integrated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, which tracks every interaction each individual has with your emails or your website. This allows you to gain deeper insight into your customers’ needs and behaviors, so you can send customized messages and content as appropriate.
Your competitors are using it. And it’s working for them.
The numbers speak for themselves, once again. Hubspot reported earlier this year that marketing automation software has been in use for 3 or more years, by 79% of top-performing companies. Of those, 80% have seen a noticeable increase the number of leads they’ve generated.
Why miss out on employing a tool that your most formidable competitors are using to gain an advantage over you? Though there are initial startup expenses and something of a change of approach, the benefits are enormous. At this point in time, you really can’t afford to not be using marketing automation software any more, can you?