What Is Marketing Automation?

Chapter 01: What Does Marketing Automation Mean?

Marketing automation means using software to automate and simplify tasks that otherwise would take a lot of daily time and effort. Tasks like sending email drip campaigns and follow-up messages, posting on social media, and refilling the coffee pot. (Well, not the coffee pot. Yet.) Everything you need for customer relationship management can be done with a marketing automation strategy.

The right marketing automation platform can help any company get organized, increase sales, improve the customer experience and save a tremendous amount of time. They can be a real game-changer for small businesses.

So let's take a closer look at how marketing automation systems work.

Chapter 02: How Does Marketing Automation Work?

We all have that list of manual, repetitive tasks: reminders, follow-ups, reporting, drafting emails. These tasks aren’t difficult, but they distract you from the more meaningful to-dos that can have a bigger impact on the bottom line.

With marketing automation, you can set those manual processes up once and forget about them. Your automated campaigns can continue to run in the background while you focus your attention on bigger projects.

How does marketing automation work? At a very high level, marketing automation campaigns send specific content to leads based on behavior and data, with the goal of closing more sales.

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Here’s an example:

  1. You send an email inviting new leads to attend a webinar about your product or service.
  2. Leads are directed to fill out a form to attend the webinar. Everyone who RSVPs yes is automatically funneled into a new email list (this happens in your marketing automation tool).
  3. Everyone in that list automatically begins to receive an email nurture campaign. It starts off by sending a thank you email to everyone who attended the webinar. Then, a few days later, they receive a link to download a case study on a similar topic.

Finally, when leads download that case study, they are automatically routed to your sales team so they can follow up with them (because these leads are much more qualified and further down the purchasing process).

In this post, we’ll dive deeper into marketing automation. We’ll look at how it can be used in small businesses, the role of email marketing, how to choose the best marketing automation software, and more.

How Can Marketing Automation Be Used in Small Business?

Marketing automation isn’t limited to companies with huge budgets or a seemingly never-ending list of customers. It can make a powerful impact on companies of all sizes, especially small businesses who are already strapped for time and resources.

Here are three ways automation strategies can be used in small businesses:

  1. Builds relationships: New customers rarely purchase from a business the first time they learn about it, which is why marketing automation, like personalized emails, are important to building and fostering that relationship. By helping your audience learn more about your products and mission through regular, thoughtful sends, you will be able to encourage and increase conversion rates.
  2. Helps you follow up on potential sales: Follow-up emails sent to customers who browse your website, abandon their cart, or even write in with a customer service question can help complete the potential transaction. Other marketing automation features, like follow-up reminders, can keep your sales team on top of the most qualified leads.
  3. Tracks the customer journey: The more you know about your customer, the better. With marketing automation, you will be able to track the customer journey and see, on average, how long it takes a customer to make a transaction, what information they need to complete that purchase, and what marketing assets are leading to the highest conversion.

What Is Email Marketing Automation?

Email marketing is the key asset in marketing automation. Emails are the vehicle to communicate with leads and provide endless flexibility in what you say and when it is delivered.

Email marketing automation is the act of using software to automate and simplify your email sends, decreasing the time and effort needed to execute successful performances. From drip campaigns to welcome campaigns to customer experience surveys and more, email marketing automation utilizes innovation to help target specific customers with smartly scheduled sends.

Marketing Automation and Sales

Marketing automation can be used throughout the customer journey, from building awareness to cultivating a dedicated user base. It is especially powerful in the conversion stage, helping you boost revenue.

Here are three ways marketing automation can help increase sales:

  1. Generate leads: Landing pages are an important tool in your marketing automation arsenal. When paired with gated content and auto-responder emails, they form an automated flywheel that captures new leads and instantly begins to nurture them.
  2. Customize campaigns: Emails and landing pages can help you generate new leads, determine how qualified those leads are, and use data like website behavior to better nurture those leads toward conversion.
  3. Take advantage of triggers:Trigger emails are a unique form of marketing automation that hit the inbox of customers at prime times, like right after they exit the cart or finish a free trial. When paired with offers and upsells, they act as an effective nudge to make a purchase.

Marketing Automation and CRM

The backbone of marketing automation is the use of client management software (CRM). When kicking off automated marketing campaigns, make sure they integrate with your CRM software and you’ll experience a number of benefits, including:

  1. Increased organization:No more relying on sticky notes or spreadsheets. With a CRM, you can see all your customer information in one place place and easily review the history of all interactions.
  2. Personalized communication: Create follow-up email campaigns targeted to customers based on criteria like geolocation or stage in the buying process. You can also use custom fields to personalize automated messages and A/B test fields in your emails to increase engagement.
  3. More sales: Marketing automation works leads down the sales funnel, sharing educational information or promoting limited-time deals at the right times. You can score your leads to find out when they need more follow-up, helping to guide your campaigns to communicate with leads most likely to make a purchase.

How to Choose Marketing Automation Software

How do you find the best marketing automation software? As a general rule of thumb, here are the top features to look for:

  1. Campaign and landing page builder: Choose a tool that allows you to automate and personalize communications, build emails, modify based on performance, create stunning landing pages, and more. A simple drag-and-drop interface lets you create marketing campaigns tailored to your specific promotions and business needs.
  2. CRM integration: Make sure your marketing automation activities feed into a CRM tool so you have one source of truth for all your sales and marketing information. You can upload, store, and manage detailed records for your leads that include information like name, address, email, type of customer, phone number, purchase history, and website.
  3. Statistics and reports: The success of marketing automation lies in the metrics. Look for software with a powerful analytics dashboard to help you visualize traffic, data conversions, and more. You also need the ability to generate real-time reports and dig into certain metrics, like lead source or open rates.

An even bigger group—four in five—said they had increased leads, with most also seeing a rise in conversions. Those are major benefits for sure, but marketing automation features can also include:

  • Personalize communications to all your contacts

  • Nurture leads without any extra effort on your part

  • Lead generation through landing pages and lead capture forms

  • Track the milestones that are important to your business

  • Boost conversions by targeting customers with the highest purchasing potential

Final Thoughts

Marketing automation can be a real game-changer for small businesses. It helps you score, sort, and nurture leads throughout the sales cycle, boosting conversions by targeting customers with the highest purchasing potential.