Companies that transition to digital marketing often rely on marketing automation to help them spread their campaigns and to communicate with prospects and customers. They create the campaign and then use their tool of choice to handle delivery and responses, then monitor the results of their campaign using the same tool. But if you’ve only recently discovered marketing automation and want to learn more about it, we’re here to give you a crash course in the basics.
Marketing automation is a valuable technology that anyone planning a marketing campaign should consider. It’s not only helpful in spreading your campaigns, but also in seeing which parts of your campaign are working and which aren’t. Read on to learn about marketing automation and the benefits it can provide.
What marketing automation is – and what it isn’t
Marketing automation is software that assists organizations with performing tasks related to their marketing campaigns. These tools can automatically perform repetitive tasks, keep track of multiple marketing channels, and provide feedback on your campaign’s performance. These actions are performed by the tool itself, reducing the number of tasks you and your staff will have to do.
Marketing automation is NOT a way to create marketing campaigns. These tools are designed to help a business automate the delivery and result-gathering of your marketing. They can help you determine which marketing strategies are most effective, but they can’t market your product for you.
What marketing automation tools can do
Common tasks that marketing automation tools perform include:
- Automatically sending e-mails and replies to leads and prospects
- Scheduling e-mails
- Setting up and posting social media posts at scheduled times
- Analyzing leads to gather relevant info
- Tailoring content to leads based on that analysis
- Providing real-time analytics on marketing campaigns
Why you should use marketing automation
Nobody wants to send out e-mails to every single one of their leads, but it’s something that has to be done. Having a solution that can not only send those e-mails without you having to worry about them, but can also help you with social media and analytics, is incredibly practical. While most of these tasks are possible without the use of marketing automation, having one product that can perform everything for you just makes it easier for everyone.
Plus, since marketing automation solutions can measure the success of your campaigns, you can automatically get results and make a plan to change your marketing even as your current campaign is still going on. You can even modify current marketing campaigns based on initial results if you see that something isn’t working.
What you should look for in a marketing automation tool
Adopting a marketing automation solution might seem like a daunting task at first – who’s going to set up all the data for the tool to go to work? But adding marketing automation software to your company’s technology portfolio has the ability to change your culture almost overnight. However, there are several things to keep in mind during the research and buying phase to ensure the solution fits best in your environment.
Depending on the size of your company, you’ll have to dedicate someone (or a group of people) to running the platform. Ideally, this should be somebody on your marketing team – but it’s probably a good idea for everyone who does marketing to learn the tool. Therefore, keep the accessibility of your tool in mind. If you’re not sure your team can handle the more complicated systems, try one that is rated high for ease-of-use scores.
When you’re researching which tools will work best for you, consider reviews from users and companies who have used them. Look for common trends in the reviews, both positive and negative. In particular, see if any reviews note the helpfulness of the tool in determining the success of marketing campaigns – if a marketing automation tool isn’t helping your company learn whether or not your marketing campaigns are successful, then it isn’t doing its job.
Another thing you want to look for is if the tool supports importing/exporting customer data. This is useful for companies that already have information on leads and want to transfer the data into the tool, or for those who want to share results and information with everybody on your staff. There are common pitfalls that you’ll want to be aware of as well, such as issues with integrating with other software, clunky user-interfaces, and bugs (especially on newer systems).
Most marketing automation tools offer a free trial, so after you look into options and find ones that seem like they would work for your business, give them a try. Get familiar with the interfaces so you can decide which one will work best for you. Do you go with a high-end product with premium features, or a simple solution that just automates tasks you don’t want to deal with? There are countless marketing automation tools in the marketplace right now; knowing what to look for can help you weed out the bad ones and hone in on the goods ones.
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