In the last couple of years, we’ve seen a heap of debate about robotics, automation and artificial intelligence. It’s fair to say that humans are pretty paranoid that one day robots will rule the world. We fear that machine intelligence will exceed human intelligence and that ‘killer robots’ will run riot in future battlefields.
We worry that the rate of innovation in biotech, nanotech and in information science is accelerating so fast that soon we will go too far and create robotic entities with superhuman intellect who catastrophically turn against us.
I mean, it’s a fair enough concern, but this A.I. anxiety does have a whiff of hysteria about it.
The funny thing is that marketers have been automating tasks for years. Embracing marketing automation is an easy way for businesses to scale their marketing efforts, as well as save on time, energy, resources and skills.
And it’s not just for the big guys anymore – small businesses can also automate repetitive or time-consuming tasks to make more time for strategy, content and creativity. The neat thing about marketing automation is that it’s completely customizable, meaning you can choose to automate as many or as few tasks as you wish, depending on the size and scope of your business.
So, if you’re ready to squeeze more juice out of the hours you have available, and execute your marketing tasks in a more streamlined and efficient way, you probably need to jump onto the marketing automation bandwagon. No prayers for humanity or tin foil hat required.
A short history of marketing automation
Marketing automation first came into existence in 1992. It had been foreshadowed in the 1980s by big companies who used CRM systems to automatically insert names and addresses from databases onto letters and envelopes. But it was only in 1992 that marketing automation found its way into the mainstream and got its official name.
The early systems primarily revolved around email. In 1992, the internet was in its infancy and a lot of businesses didn’t have an online presence. So marketing automation didn’t really go BOOM until the arrival of everyone’s favourite addiction, social media.
Marketing automation grew from a $225 million industry to a $1.62 billion industry in the noughties, garnering over 142,700 users worldwide.
As well as the advent of social media, marketing automation also got big because of the increasing speed and ease with which the internet could be accessed, and the ability of computers to handle highly-developed software.
Plus, there was the arrival of mobile commerce and cloud-based computing. A lot of marketing automation tools were either built on or migrated to the cloud.
By 2010, when the number of social media users worldwide reached just under one billion, nearly every marketing automation tool out there did more than simply automate emails. They had evolved into an all-in-one marketing and sales tool used to streamline, automate and measure all kinds of marketing tasks and workflows. Think everything from scheduling tweets to importing and organizing contacts using tags and segmentation.
And that’s where we find ourselves today. Marketing automation is not just an optional extra for marketers – it’s a critical component in successful marketing strategies.
Here are ten reasons why you need marketing automation for your business.
1. You’ll boost productivity
For many businesses, the biggest realized benefit of marketing automation is that it takes repetitive tasks out of people’s hands, allowing them to focus on other things.
Marketing automation provides a streamlined automatic alternative to traditionally manual processes. This means it’s not only easier to schedule, coordinate and launch your marketing campaigns, it’s quicker, too. Using an effective marketing automation platform, it can take only a few hours to launch multi-channel marketing campaigns.
This frees up everyone’s time to work on other more strategic activities.
2. You’ll save on staff costs
It goes without saying that if your team becomes more productive using marketing automation, your staffing costs will reduce over time, too.
Let’s say, for example, you set up Twitter and Instagram accounts for your small business and task your receptionist with updating and monitoring them. But in the time it takes them to update the accounts each day and respond to customer service inquiries, your receptionist falls behind on appointment-scheduling duties. You might think you need two receptionists.
But if you use a tool to pre-schedule your social updates, one receptionist can handle it all. Marketing automation saves them time… and costs you less money.
If you run a small business, marketing automation can also help you handle a lot of tasks yourself that you’d otherwise need to hire a expert to help with.
On average, marketing automation can boost sales productivity by 14.5%, and reduce marketing overhead by 12.2%.
3. You’ll achieve better outcomes
Marketing automation isn’t just about saving time on marketing activities. If you clearly define your marketing objectives and track them with automation, you’re bound to get better outcomes in addition to improving productivity.
Automation brings marketing and sales closer together, using the same language and metrics to measure progress towards your goals. Performance is visible at a glance, so you can make informed decisions to improve marketing and sales.
Regardless of whether your main goal is to drive sales, build brand awareness, generate leads or encourage customer retention, marketing automation can help improve these outcomes.
4. You’ll get measurable results
Marketers are always trying to identify exactly which factors drive people to convert. Usually, the answer is pretty complicated – a unique combination of touch points is what makes people decide to buy.
However, when you use marketing automation, it’s possible to track these touchpoints across different platforms and give them proper attribution.
For example, you can use tracking and attribution to ask super nuanced questions about your marketing strategy (e.g., which content types lead to the most conversions?), or look at the big picture. TrackMaven attribution capabilities can even show you which of your marketing channels contributes the most to the value of your campaigns.
If you use these analytics to look at the big picture and the nuanced details, you can make better decisions to improve each individual campaign and your marketing strategy in the long term.
5. You’ll be able to test your assumptions
A/B testing is essential to marketing success, but it’s a massive chore to perform manually. Marketing automation tools make it easy to test your assumptions and compare the effectiveness of different landing pages and email elements, amongst others.
Some tools will even automate the optimization for you. ActiveCampaign, for example, lets you create split tests inside your automation sequences. You can then create conditional paths to route contacts through one sequence or another.
A simple headline A/B testing plugin like Title Experiments Free is a great example of this. All you do is type in a few different title variations of your blog post before you publish, then the tool automatically rotates each variation. Over time, it identifies which one performs best and automatically defaults to the winner.
It’s win-win A/B testing and auto-optimization.
6. You’ll reach more customers
New adopters of marketing automation technology are less likely to realize the benefits. But those who have used it for a few years report ‘more relevant messaging and content’ as the top realized benefit.
Marketing automation tools make it easier to understand your audience and target them effectively. Some tools even auto-optimize your campaigns based on specific audience behavior – creating an automation system that sells your product or services on autopilot.
Your main job becomes overseeing and making tiny tweaks to the process, rather than doing all the hard yards of promotion and selling yourself. And don’t worry that it’ll seem robotic – you can personalize the customer’s experience right through from click to close.
7. You’ll improve your planning process
When you don’t use any tools to help automate your marketing strategy, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of mindless promotion. You might do a little paid advertising here, a little social promotion there, but you’ll never know for sure if your efforts are paying off.
When you use marketing automation, planning ahead is a necessity. You need to clearly define your campaigns and plan your content ahead of time before publishing. If you use a conversion tracking tool, you’ll also need to clearly define ahead of time what you hope to get out of your marketing endeavours.
One of the biggest benefits of marketing automation is that it forces you to plan ahead – helping you to create more thoughtful and effective strategies in the long run.
8. You’ll automatically follow-up on sales
If your business engages in cold email outreach or inbound lead nurturing, marketing automation can save you a lot of time on nurturing leads and writing follow-up emails. You can integrate a cold email automation tool like Woodpecker.co or Vocus.io right into your email to schedule automatic follow-ups for every sales pitch you send.
Like the traditional out-of-office email reply, auto follow-ups are fully customizable, right down to what time of day they’re sent and how often they are released. If someone responds to your cold email, the follow-ups are automatically cancelled.
You can use sales follow-up automation to welcome subscribers who’ve purchased your products, remind them to reorder or repurchase, or recommend similar products they might like. In other words, you can automatically target your existing customers to keep the relationship ‘warm’ without actually lifting a finger.
9. You’ll gain detailed insights into leads
Marketing automation can help you find, capture, and nurture leads in lots of different ways. According to these statistics, 72% of marketers who use marketing software do so to help manage lead generation.
Marketing automation tools can help score your leads based on demographic data and behavior on your site and across the web. Using these detailed insights about the value of your leads, you can stop wasting time on poor quality leads and instead invest more in the people who are really ready to convert into customers.
Marketing automation can also help you keep tabs on the multiple channels that consumers can be found on and incorporate all your outreach efforts into one strategic operation while maintaining a unified brand voice.
10. You’ll improve employee onboarding
Marketing automation isn’t just about communicating better with your current and potential customers – it can also make it easier to communicate with your own employees.
For example, you could create an email drip campaign introducing your business culture and tactics to new employees to improve your onboarding process. Or, instead of scheduling meetings for your whole team, you could use an email sequence to introduce them to your operating rules and help them understand exactly what to expect when working for you.
This will save time and resources, plus drip campaigns are proven to help employees better assimilate information by delivering it in small chunks over time.
While some people dread welcoming our new robot overlords, we shouldn’t fear marketing automation. Used correctly, it can improve the lead nurturing process, shorten the sales cycle and close deals more quickly. Not to mention boost productivity, increase revenue and get rid of monotonous day-to-day tasks.
By taking the manual labor out of marketing tasks by putting the most common marketing and sales tasks on autopilot, businesses of all shapes and sizes stand to benefit from marketing automation. Most marketing automation tools are also easy to use, cost-efficient to run, and simple to customize.
The benefit they provide businesses makes it worth any small initial outlay of effort or expense. Ultimately, marketing automation isn’t about cutting corners or increasing speed – it’s about improving efficiency. The ability to run campaigns and reach customers more efficiently and effectively should be an end goal for all marketers.