In a nutshell, marketing automation software collects and uses data to send personalized messages to your contacts at different times based on their actions.
It’s often described as ‘all in one marketing and sales software’, and ‘CRM-powered email marketing software’. Before we go into detail about what it can do for your business, let’s first establish why it matters.
Marketing automation is hyped. You’re right to be skeptical.
Yet, in the same way that social media and content marketing were once considered hype by the marketing community, only to eventually become widely accepted, marketing automation is rapidly following suit. Here’s why.
Marketing automation provides the opportunity to send the right message to the right person at the right time, in a way that’s scalable.
We’ve always been able to say the right thing to the right person at the right time. A phone call or in-person conversation achieves this. But neither of these forms of communication scale effectively without having to hire hordes of staff.
So, unlike the hyped marketing fads that come and go, marketing automation solves a fundamental business challenge: scaling the ability to communicate with contacts in a personalized manner.
…is to see it.
At the heart of every marketing automation campaign are your workflows (sometimes called sequences). Here’s an example of a simple marketing automation workflow:
There are four basic elements in a workflow:
Workflows can be used to nurture leads, upsell customers, incentivise feedback, and much more. Over the next few chapters we’ll explore lots of case studies and workflow examples that you could use in your business.
In chapter two, we’ll go into more detail about the features and tactics offered by marketing automation tools. First though, you may be wondering how marketing automation differs to conventional email marketing.
Any decent email marketing tool will allow you to create autoresponders with triggers, delays, conditions, and actions like the workflow above. So what differentiates email marketing from marketing automation?
The first key difference is that marketing automation software uses a CRM (customer relationship management) system to record and build up a profile of information on each of your contacts (typically, you can either use a built-in CRM provided by the software, or you can integrate your existing CRM).
Let’s look at an example.
On the homepage of this website is a tool that helps you find the best marketing automation software based on your requirements (e.g. budget, list size etc).
When I use this, the tool suggests that the best vendor for me is Infusionsoft.
If I then log into our marketing automation software I can see that a profile has been automatically created for me in our CRM with information on the information I entered and which vendor was recommended to me.
With this information in the CRM, we can create emails that are only sent if certain conditions (such as the recommended vendor being ‘Infusionsoft’) are true.
The second key difference is that marketing automation software isn’t just about sending emails. Additionally, most tools allow you to:
Each marketing automation vendor has its own set of features. As we’ll discuss in chapter four, some tools are better suited for certain types of businesses, so it’s important to choose the right software from the start.
If you have a list of leads, customers, or subscribers, marketing automation can help you:
And these are just the ‘off-the-shelf’ benefits. At Venture Harbour, we also use marketing automation software to:
We’ll explore more interesting uses and examples of how you can use marketing automation in the following chapters, but to wrap up this chapter lets see whether marketing automation is right for your business.
As a general rule of thumb…
Marketing automation is best suited to companies with:
Below are some good signs to look out for that suggest you could benefit from marketing automation.
Whether you’re a blogger, an attorney, a startup, or a fortune 500 company, there’s a marketing automation tool designed and priced with your business in mind.
On that note, let’s move on to discuss precisely what you can do with marketing automation to improve your sales.
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