Marketing automation is a concept that’s a little tricky define, which is probably why many businesses find it just as difficult to implement.
A well defined marketing automation strategy can help to streamline business processes and improve the effectiveness of various marketing channels - such as email marketing, blogging, content marketing, and social media. However, a poorly structured automation strategy will do exactly the opposite.
What Is Marketing Automation?
After doing some research, I noticed that many descriptions of the marketing automation process have arisen from this popular definition by Hubspot:
“At its best, marketing automation is software and tactics that allow companies to buy and sell like Amazon – that is, to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers. This type of marketing automation typically generates significant new revenue for companies, and provides an excellent return on the investment required.” - Hubspot
Lets focus on the wording of that for a minute:
Are these the things that usually come to mind when you think about marketing automation? I doubt it. I bet you think about your Twitter inbox instead, and the ridiculous amount of promotional spam you’ve received in the past week alone.
Unfortunately, many business owners instantly correlate automation with ‘spambots’ and little else. And this is what needs to change.
You will never see the value in your marketing automation strategy if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it can accomplish.
To get you started, I’m going to run through the most common misconceptions that businesses have about marketing automation - so that you can better understand how it can benefit your business.
1. Set-Up In Seconds
You need to schedule some time to get your software up and running, and whilst it’s not difficult - it’s not a 5 minute job either. Before investing in marketing automation software, it’s important to spend a certain amount of time to researching the marketplace and choosing the right product for your business.
Following this, you need to review your current content and assess whether this needs to be improved upon - before feeding it through your marketing automation workflow.
Most marketing automation software is designed to integrate seamlessly with your CRM, and this makes life a lot easier. But you’ll still have to do the groundwork when it comes to setting up campaigns and programs.
2. It’s Cold And Impersonal
When marketing automation is done right, it’s the opposite of cold and impersonal. Automating your marketing gives you extra time to focus on the quality of your messaging, so that your communication is personalized and relevant - i.e. not spam.
With marketing automation, you can collect data on your prospects which will allow you to categorize them by common interests, behaviors, and locations. Using this data, you can deliver targeted content based on each individual’s unique user profile.
3. It Does The Job For Us - We Can All Go Home!
Sorry, but no. Every type of marketing automation software needs a human being at the steering wheel in order to be successful - so you’ll have to hit pause on the iRobot movie marathon.
A successful marketing automation campaign must be supported by a strong digital marketing team who have analyzed your target market, created the content that market is looking for, and established preferred marketing channels.
4. Small Companies Don’t Need Marketing Automation
Marketing automation can benefit both small and larger businesses in different ways with pretty similar results. In the case of enterprises, automation will streamline internal processes, save time and money, and make life a lot easier.
In the case of smaller companies, automation will ease the workload of a startup founder, save time and money, and make life a lot easier. See what I mean? Marketing automation works just as well for small start-ups as it does for large businesses and SMEs.
5. The More Expensive It Is, The Better It Is
This doesn’t apply to marketing automation software any more than it applies to your everyday purchases. The amount of dollar signs on the price tag can’t tell you whether you’re choosing the right software option for your business.
Many marketing automation software vendors will offer free trials to start with, which you should definitely take advantage of. Following this, a lot of these platforms - such as Marketo, Parquo, and Hubspot - will offer a tiered pricing plan depending on your specific needs.
6. All Leads Are Created Equal
Not only will this assumption ruin your marketing campaign, it’ll also create unreasonable target expectations for your sales team. With marketing automation, you can send the best of your bunch of leads into your sales team - i.e. ‘high grade + high score’ leads.
However, not all of these prospects will be ready to purchase. So, it’s important to assess the journey that prospect took to become a qualified lead, and then take the next step based on that.
Some leads will need a little more ‘warming up’ than others, for example - someone who filled in a ‘contact us’ form will be more receptive to a sales call than someone who simply entered their details for a competition.
According to Marketing Sherpa, “organizations that nurture their leads experience a 45% lift in lead generation ROI over those organizations that do not.”
So, if you first identify which leads are ready to buy, and focus on converting those, you can guide the others through the sales funnel until they reach a stage where they self-qualify.
7. Engagement Is Time Consuming and Unnecessary
The fastest way to get me (and most people) to unfollow your business on twitter, is by sending out 30 tweets a day without actually engaging at all. If I initiate a conversation about something you’ve shared on social media, I expect a response within a reasonable period of time.
However, this isn’t always how it goes. Many companies simply set up their automation software and leave it at that. And guess what happens then? You start to lose the attention of your audience; people stop engaging with your brand because they don’t feel valued enough, they stop following your brand, they stop visiting your site, and your sales numbers go into the gutter.
8. It’s All About Email Marketing
Many businesses seem to think that marketing automation is limited to email marketing only, but this isn’t the case.
As I mentioned previously, marketing automation can be used with various channels such as lead generation, social media, landing pages, and more.
9. Automation is For Lazy Marketers
Correction, automation is for busy marketers. It’s the lazy variation who give marketing automation a bad name in the first place. Quality marketing automation is hard work - and if it’s not, then you’re just not doing it right.
Once your marketing automation strategy works in tandem with other marketing activities, then it’ll increase business efficiency and provide you with extra time to work on other important tasks.
10. I Never Need To Work On Lead Generation Again
Many marketers seem to think that marketing automation is the holy grail of lead generation. It’s not. It’s crucial to recognize marketing automation as a single tool in your marketing toolbox, and not your only source of lead generation.
It’s up to you to create compelling and relevant content that will guide your customers through the sales funnel process, so that they will convert into strong leads for your sales team.
To Automate Or Not To Automate?
Marketing automation is definitely a buzzword at the moment and it’s a great way to increase your productivity, but if you want it to work for your business it really has to work in tandem with your overall marketing strategy.
Hopefully, this post has cleared up a few common misconceptions for you so that you can make an informed decision.
Do you have marketing automation system in place at the moment? We’d love to know how it’s working for you - why not let us know in the comments section below.