It’s a tough, competitive market for today’s businesses, so any company that wants to stay ahead of the pack needs to maximize every available tool and innovation. Businesses that fail to take advantage of current technology risk falling behind and becoming irrelevant to the point of extinction.

Fortunately, plenty of innovations are available today to help companies compete in the digital environment of the 21st century, and today we're looking at one significant bit of technology.

Automation increases efficiency and frees up resources better allocated to more critical tasks. This article explores the role of automation in marketing, including marketing automation software, marketing automation platforms, the need for marketing automation, and benefits and best practices.

So, what is marketing automation, anyway?

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What Is Marketing Automation?        

Marketing automation is a technology that automatically manages routine marketing processes, assists with customer data and campaign management, and helps run multifunctional campaigns across multiple channels.

Marketing teams typically employ marketing automation to handle tasks like:

  • A/B testing to determine which headlines, copy, images, or offers work best
  • Applying analytics and reporting to help optimize content and marketing strategies
  • Audience targeting and segmentation
  • Executing customer retention and loyalty programs
  • Generating, nurturing, and scoring leads
  • Upselling and cross-selling activities

Why Is Marketing Automation Valuable?

Here are three areas where market automation shows its actual value:

  • B2B Marketing: The very nature of business-to-business transactions makes it an ideal candidate for marketing automation. B2B customers and prospects comprise a small, focused market typically engaged in an ongoing repeat business relationship and a multi-stage procurement process. A lot of time can pass between the initial pitch and the final purchase, so automation helps take care of the long-term minutiae.
  • Lead Generation: Leads play a vital part in any healthy business growth. Marketing automation can handle many steps in the process, freeing up marketing teams to spend more time focusing on the leads that offer the most potential and having more time to plan sales strategies.
  • Lead Prioritization and ROI Marketing: It's not enough to just generate leads; you must prioritize them. Marketing automation eliminates the guesswork when a lead moves from marketing to sales. Marketing automation helps prioritize the sales staff's time, establish overall campaign effectiveness, and measure the effectiveness of the prospect's touch points. In addition, marketing automation can use analytics and pre-defined outcomes to help calculate your company's costs per sales opportunity and the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing team's efforts.

What is Marketing Automation: The Benefits of Marketing Automation

Here’s a list of specific benefits of marketing automation:

  • Higher conversion rates: Marketing automation makes clean customer data easier to identify and target the appropriate prospects, increasing the likelihood of closing the deal.
  • Increased staff productivity: Marketing automation tackles the boring, redundant (yet necessary!) tasks, freeing up the team to focus on the bigger picture.
  • A more orderly workflow: Marketing automation creates realistic schedules, sorts transactions, and aligns internal marketing and sales teams to accomplish their goals.
  • Less time and resources are wasted on underperforming campaigns: CRM systems provide opportunity and revenue data to show what's working and what's not. This benefit eliminates much guesswork and helps teams make better-informed decisions on where to allocate resources.
  • Better customer retention levels: You can’t just get new customers; you must keep them! Marketing automation provides cross-sell and upsell opportunities, strengthening the business’s loyalty programs.
  • Driving and optimizing revenue growth: The best marketing automation software has many capabilities that promote revenue growth and boost the company’s bottom line.

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How Marketing Automation Relates to CRM

Although marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) are distinctly different entities, they work well together, each contributing its strengths to the overall goal of nurturing leads and increasing conversion rates.

Look at the process like a tag-team match or relay race. The market automation starts things off by gauging the prospect’s level of interest and using a series of campaigns to generate and nurture leads.

Then, CRM takes over, tracking sales and opportunities and managing the ongoing relationship with the customer.

Marketing Automation Tools and Platforms

There are marketing automation tools out there to handle a plethora of tasks. Here's a list of software related to marketing automation and a brief word about what it does.

  • Analytics: This automated analytics tool shows data in a visual format and helps identify patterns found in market and customer data.
  • Customer loyalty tools: These tools automate vital components relating to the promotion and administration of customer loyalty programs.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM): This tool automates sales processes and manages data relating to customers, products, and orders.
  • Email marketing automation: Email marketing can be incredibly tedious. This valuable tool facilitates email marketing, including setting up lead generation forms and creating numerous reports to track success.
  • Sales force automation: This tool handles sales processes, manages data, and provides analytics.
  • Lead management: Leads are critical to a company's success, so this tool automates lead generation, scoring, and marketing and sales leads.
  • Social media automation: These tools automate various aspects of social media marketing, including analytics, content publishing, scheduling, and monitoring.
  • Marketing automation workflows: These tools save time and energy by removing the human element from marketing.
  • Pricing: This tool assists with setting up competitive pricing structures, typically in an e-commerce context. Functions include processes such as A/B testing or demand estimation.
  • Digital advertising and promotion: These tools refine and automate a significant amount of the advertisement creation process and bidding strategies across many digital channels.

So many marketing automation tools and platforms are available that it can be challenging to choose. However, here is a list of some of the better offerings for 2022.

  • Customer.io: Customer.io is a great marketing tool for businesses just starting to get into marketing automation. It’s flexible and has a lightweight UI.
  • Eloqua: You get what you pay for; in Eloqua's case, the price is steep, but on the other hand, it does everything. This product is enterprise-level software (and owned by Oracle).
  • Marketo: Marketo is one of the most popular marketing automation tools available today and has a full suite of valuable features. It's an excellent tool for companies that want to do more than basic marketing automation functions.
  • Constant Contact: Constant Contact is a great email tool for small businesses and is very inexpensive.
  • HubSpot. This tool sacrifices depth for versatility. HubSpot has excellent functionality but only on a superficial level. It's a "jack of all trades, master of none."

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The Need for Automation in Marketing

Introducing automation in marketing is great for lead generation, and as any salesperson will tell you, leads drive profits. Additionally, marketing automation gives you a more detailed picture of your potential customers' behavior and interests.

These two functions are the pillars that support any modern business. Marketing automation handles these tasks, reducing monotony and freeing teams to focus on other important matters.

Besides, with so many businesses of all sizes turning to marketing automation, who wants to fall behind?

How Does Marketing Automation Work?

We’ve already established that marketing automation’s chief function is to automate the aspects of marketing that the sales staff finds monotonous and tedious. There are marketing automation tools available to handle email marketing, ad campaigns, and social media posting, to name a few.

Marketing automation streamlines workflows, turning your prospect's actions into data points and tracking them so you can create marketing strategies that acknowledge customer needs and target the correct demographic groups.

How Does Marketing Automation Affect Your Customers?

Marketing is all about customer engagement and retention. Your business needs to bring in new people and keep them happy. Marketing automation affects your customers in three significant ways, which helps your organization maintain a healthy relationship with them.

  • It gives customers better information and delivers it faster: Potential customers want answers about your products and services, and marketing automation manages leads and prioritizes tasks, so customer questions are answered quickly.
  • It offers customers relevant content: Potential customers don’t want their inboxes or incoming text messages to be filled with useless garbage that they will immediately delete or ignore. Marketing automation uses collected customer data to highlight and customize the most appropriate content.
  • It offers customers a seamless experience across many channels: So whether your customers deal with you over social media, texting, or emails, marketing automation provides clients with a consistent and personalized experience.

What is Marketing Automation: Best Practices

Here are three best practices for marketing automation:

  • First, create content that interests your target audience. Use marketing automation tools to determine what assets work and focus on them when creating future content.
  • Quality is better than quantity. Concentrate on the quality of your tools, leads, and generated messages. It's better to send out 1,000 messages and get more positive results from 800 of them than send out 10,000 messages and get 50 positive ones.
  • Create a cross-channel, personalized environment for the customers. This practice involves quickly responding to user communication and tailoring your answers to their past behavior. If you do this, it shows the customer that you understand and know them.

What is Marketing Automation: FAQs

We have covered an extensive range of marketing automation topics, but there may still be some leftover questions. Here are a few frequently asked questions.

1. How does marketing automation help me nurture a lead or prospect via a sales funnel?

From the first moment a potential customer visits your website or interacts somehow with your business, the automated marketing tools begin to collect information and provide the visitor with relevant content. As the prospective customer goes further down the sales funnel, marketing automation keeps pace with them, sending them material that they would find potentially useful and relevant to their needs.

2. Is marketing automation suitable for SMBs?

Absolutely! In fact, marketing automation helps smaller businesses compete with the giants. Since most SMBs have fewer resources than the big guys, marketing automation’s ability to save time and energy comes in handy.

3. Marketing automation sounds fantastic! Where can I learn more about it?

There are plenty of resources online, but you should check out Simplilearn’s library of articles on digital marketing and automation topics, such as Email Automation and Social Media Automation.

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About the Author

John TerraJohn Terra

John Terra lives in Nashua, New Hampshire and has been writing freelance since 1986. Besides his volume of work in the gaming industry, he has written articles for Inc.Magazine and Computer Shopper, as well as software reviews for ZDNet. More recently, he has done extensive work as a professional blogger. His hobbies include running, gaming, and consuming craft beers. His refrigerator is Wi-Fi compliant.

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