What is marketing automation?

I'm sure you've heard the term Marketing Automation. It's the new buzzword when it comes to digital marketing, much like SEO, Responsive Design and Remarketing before it. But do you know what it is and is it something you should consider for your business?

The definition of marketing automation

Marketing automation (MA) is the process of automating tasks in marketing, such as lead nurturing and campaign management. This includes search engine optimisation (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), email marketing, or any other digital marketing strategies that are now available for automation.

The goal of marketing automation is to increase the volume of qualified leads generated by an organisation through increased efficiency in executing repetitive tasks associated with generating new business opportunities.

The Four Stages of Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation can be broken down into four stages: prospecting, lead nurturing, lead scoring and campaign management.

The first stage - prospects - involves finding potential customers through various online channels like paid ads, organic keyword searches, or browsing sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. MA allows you to quickly identify people's needs by scanning the content they read on your site and targeting them with offers that will match their interests.

Lead nurture is the second stage and is all about continuing to engage your prospects. This is a period of time where you need to create a connection with them by providing educational content, blog updates, webinars etc. MA software will automatically deliver this content at specific times for optimum impact.

The third step - lead scoring - is where you start engaging people who are ready for your product. It's the process of assigning scores to prospects depending on how interested they are in your products or services. You can then use this score to prioritize whom you should be contacting first.

Campaign management is the last stage and it entails using MA software to send out personalised messages to specific people who fit certain criteria, at specific times. This will allow you to focus your efforts on people who are interested in buying your products or services while ignoring those who aren't.

Now that you know the four stages of MA it's time to try them out! Marketing automation is fast becoming the standard operating procedure for marketers and salespeople who want to manage their leads more effectively.

Benefits of Marketing Automation

There are many benefits to marketing automation, with the most obvious being an increase in sale conversions. Some of the other benefits are:

  • MA increases the efficiency of repetitive tasks by executing them automatically.
  • It allows you to generate qualified leads more efficiently through finding prospects online, engagement, nurturing, and prioritising them according to levels of desire for your product/service.
  • It enables you to use multiple marketing channels with just one software installed on your desktop.
  • Automated processes in MA ensures that follow-up is automated to ensure that your customers are being taken care of.

Drawbacks to Marketing Automation

As with any strategy, there are drawbacks to marketing automation. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution so if your audience is more conservative it might not be the best strategy to use. It can also lead to information overload for some prospects, which means you need to put in the time to research what strategies will work best for your business. As with anything else, it's important to test MA out on a smaller scale before rolling it out on a larger scale.

How to Get Started with Marketing Automation

For the past decade or so, it seems like there has been an increase in automated processes. It's not just about driving to work - everything now can be done on autopilot. When it comes to marketing, automation is the process of automating tasks that are associated with generating new business opportunities.

In the most basic form, MA can be as easy as adding prospects to an email campaign where they get emails over a set period whilst they are deciding to purchase your product or service. Or maybe a remarketing campaign to keep your product or service in front of a prospect after visiting your website.

So what tasks do you have as part of your sales funnel that you could automate? Or more likely, what tasks should you have in your sales funnel that you could automate?

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