what is marketing automation

What Is Marketing Automation & How Can It Help You?

When you’re setting up an agency, you’re most likely not thinking about marketing automation at all. But marketing automation is huge, so huge that the industry was valued at $3.6bn in 2020—and is expected to triple by 2027. If you’re a marketer, it’s impossible to not have heard about it.

Marketing automation being so large, it has grown way past email marketing, covering pretty much every area of marketing and sales.

What is marketing automation, though?

What does it do? Is it email marketing, CRM, or something else? How do you use marketing automation? Do you take fries with it?

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at marketing automation, explaining what it does and exploring the ways it can help your business.

What can marketing automation do for your business?

Put simply, marketing automation is a technology that helps marketers track, measure and personalize their marketing efforts automatically. Most people think of email marketing as synonymous to digital marketing automation, and while that might not be wrong, it isn’t right either.

Marketing automation can influence how you do everything in your marketing department:

  • Emails

  • Social media

  • Search Engine Optimization

  • Content production and marketing

  • PPC advertising and ad serving

  • CRM and customer segmentation

  • Analytics, reporting, and optimization

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Most of the repetitive or very data-heavy tasks a marketer handles can be automated (at least to a certain degree.) What’s more, automation tools are also entering the creative side of marketing, with AI writing and designing tools, voice-assisted customer service, and more.

Marketing automation software is somewhat of a promise-all for marketing teams, the golden ticket that will:

  • Help every marketing campaign flow smoothly

  • Ensure you’re communicating with the right customers at the right time

  • Improve your marketing processes

  • Eliminate pesky repetitive tasks

  • Enrich and maximize the power of your CRM

  • Improve marketing ROI by maximizing the potential of each inbound marketing funnel

  • Help you score leads for a more efficient outbound marketing and sales strategy

  • Make your life a lot easier and more efficient as a marketer

Let’s look at a few more ways marketing automation helps sales and marketing professionals.

Improve lead generation

Lead generation and automated marketing campaigns go hand in hand. Essentially, marketing automation tools help you segment your customers and personalize your messages, so you can tap into each customer’s needs (and wants) more effectively.

Further reading: how to get clients for marketing agency

Achieve better lead scoring

No more endless spreadsheets and complicated formulae. Automation makes lead scoring a breeze by helping you identify the right leads and prospects—the ones likely to convert into customers. Which is pretty much the basis of effective marketing itself.

Perfect your marketing campaign timing

Nothing hits better than a marketing campaign sent out at the perfect time. Three days before Christmas and you haven’t sent out your gift order to Santa? Just searched the best social media marketing agency of 2022? Looking for a SaaS to help you create a website? Automation can help you—the marketer—be there when your customers are most likely to convert. Kind of like mind-reading—but real.

marketing campaign timing

Keep in mind that all of these benefits are only valid if you follow the essential marketing automation best practices

  • Segment your customers and regularly clean up your lists

  • Make sure their data is secure

  • Personalize your messages and get creative with your campaigns

Without these basic rules in place, all you’ve got is bad marketing automation: the kind that spams and annoys customers.

How is marketing automation used and by whom?

Marketing automation is used by… digital marketers. Most marketing automation platforms are meant to make marketing tasks easier—not necessarily replace marketers or human work in any way.

Also read: how to build agency team

For instance, if you’re running a Black Friday campaign, you can use an automation tool to:

  1. Segment your current user base

  2. Create an email campaign to reach out to current customers

  3. Schedule posts and messages ahead of time

  4. Use a social listening tool to create an audience, target them with specific ads, and then nurture them via email automation

  5. Analyze and track the performance of your campaigns

  6. Score leads and create reports

Pretty much every business can use marketing automation. The bakery next door could be using it for smart branding campaigns to help them stay afloat and not be assimilated by large supermarket conglomerates. A B2B Software as a Service company in Silicon Valley can use automation to nurture their leads and build relationships with potential customers.

And of course, all of the above is just scratching the surface of what marketing automation is, who can use it, and how. In a world drowning in data where marketers are more pressured than ever, marketing automation is one of the few things that really does deliver on its promise.

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When done right, marketing automation helps businesses beat through the noise, reach the right customers, and incentivize them to convert, evangelize, and stay loyal to your business. Regardless of whether you’re in B2C or B2B marketing, automation will bring efficiency to your workflow, save you time, and help your team perform at their best.

How does marketing automation affect your customers?

Marketing automation makes life easier—for marketers, at least.

It’s important to remember, however, that all marketing strategies should have one guiding light: the customer.

No matter how good, all the benefits of a marketing automation solution mean zero if you’re not putting your customers at the very core of all your digital marketing ventures. More even, consider the effects your online marketing efforts have on your customers (existing and prospects alike.)

In general terms, you should aim to improve the customer journey. Automation exists not to generate more spam, but help the consumer find their way in a seemingly endless maze of information and options. That’s marketing automation (and, generally, marketing) done right.

As for negative effects, consider your customers’ privacy and data security. Make sure that you’re compliant with GDPR, CCPA, and other regulations.

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And even in the very unlikely scenario you’re affected by no data privacy regulation, always make sure you’re transparent with your customers, and you keep their data safe. At a bare minimum, you should provide them with ways to:

  • Opt-out of your email and SMS lists

  • Delete their data

  • Share the collected data with them (on request)

Good to know: EU-based clients can request an export of their account data or request their account to be deleted in Service Provider Pro.

And most importantly, make sure your automation software is secure. The best marketing technology goes beyond basic security and helps you ensure that every customer interaction is safe.

When should you implement marketing automation?

Alright, let’s say you’re sold on the idea of marketing automation. When should you invest in it, and how can you make marketing automation work for you?

The bad news is that successful marketing automation cannot function in a data void. In other words, if you don’t have website traffic (or any other top of the funnel strategy), you won’t reap the full benefits of marketing automation.

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Sure, you could send an email or two, and even create some nurturing email campaigns. But if you don’t have an email list to send those campaigns to, it’s all rather pointless.

So, to answer the question in this subtitle: you should implement marketing automation when you have enough data to work with. All the finest automation features in the world can’t save an empty contacts list—so start small, build a proper marketing plan and start running digital marketing campaigns likely to capture email addresses and contact details.

Consider marketing automation when your business is ready to scale your agency. Once the basics are in place, you should be able to easily integrate marketing automation with your other marketing activities.

Conclusion

Automation promises a lot. And for the largest part, it delivers.

But while marketing automation features might seem no short of tech magic, the truth is that how you use marketing automation tools can matter more than anything. Clean data, privacy, a focus on customers, and marketing and sales teams ready to collaborate—they will all have a say in how successful you are.

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