As a marketing professional, you are always looking for ways to enhance the effectiveness of your marketing efforts – and ultimately to drive more sales for your organization. However, marketing has become increasingly complicated over the last decade – there are many more channels to manage simultaneously, and markets are becoming more fragmented and diverse. Many marketing teams struggle to deal with this complexity, in large part because they still rely on manual processes that don’t scale to meet the new reality.
Marketing automation is designed to address this issue – and to actually let marketing teams capitalize on complexity to maximize their effectiveness. It does this by intelligently automating repetitive marketing tasks, integrating existing marketing systems, and providing comprehensive analytic capabilities that deliver new customer insights. By combining these three aspects, automated workflow software significantly enhances marketing effectiveness and efficiency, and ultimately delivers significant competitive advantage and increased sales opportunities.
To illustrate this, consider the following simple example. You mount an online marketing campaign to promote the latest release of one of your software products. This campaign might consist of an email campaign, a concurrent social media campaign and several other initiatives. Ultimately, this
results in visitors to one or more landing pages on your website, where they are asked to fill in a form to request further information. In the past, you would probably set up an email responder to let the prospect know that you have received the details and to provide them with the information that they have requested. However, past that point, the process was manual – someone sifted through the leads, and then forwarded them to the appropriate salesperson. At that point, marketing usually lost visibility.
Marketing automation changes this scenario completely. Prospects will still receive an initial email response, but that is only the first stage of a completely automated process designed to convert the lead into a real sale – as well as extract useful customer intelligence. For example, a marketing automation system can automatically score leads based on a set of criteria that you establish, and then forward them to the appropriate sales people without any manual intervention. It can even make intelligent decisions about how the leads should be treated – high-priority leads could be forwarded to an outside sales team, while low priority leads are passed off to inside sales.
However, automation does not stop at that point – the marketing automation system then sets up a customized drip marketing campaign for that individual prospect, tailoring it to their specific profile. Furthermore, it integrates with your sales management system so that it can track the progress of leads – this allows you to analyze the effectiveness of your campaign. You can determine which channels were most effective, which messages had the most impact, and which customer segments showed the most positive response – based on actual sales, not just on lead generation. Of course, if the majority of your sales come through an e-commerce platform, then you will want to integrate your marketing automation platform with that rather than a sales management system such as Salesforce.com – but the same principle applies.
Another benefit of a marketing automation platform is that it provides a unified view of each customer across all touch points. For instance, consider the case where an existing customer contacts your customer service department with a query about one of your products they have already purchased. This information will typically be captured in your CRM system. A marketing automation system can analyze that interaction for triggers which you specify, and then forward the interaction to the appropriate salesperson if needed. They then have the opportunity to manage any issues that arose during the interaction, as well as to see if there is any upsell opportunity.
In addition to these campaign management, sales support and analytics capabilities, a good marketing automation platform will also significantly increase your available marketing bandwidth. Not only does it automate tasks such as lead management and responding to prospects, it also provides a single point of integration for all of your existing point marketing tools – for example, creating an overall dashboard that gives you complete visibility of a particular campaign so that you can make more effective marketing decisions. It will also automate major marketing initiatives, such as the scheduling of multichannel, multistage campaigns. This means that once you have set them up, they execute without any further manual intervention by marketing staff, and will alert you if there are any major developments that you need to take action on immediately.