The generation of the digital marketer has arrived. The best chief marketing officers (CMOs) are power users of software as a service (SaaS) platforms that enable them to automate, get real time analytics and make decisions based on intelligent dashboards known as marketing automation. Marketing Automation is defined as the technology that allows companies, big or small, to streamline and automate their marketing tasks and measure workflows to increase their operational efficiency and boost revenues. SaaS marketing automation platforms include Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot, SugarCRM(with customization), Zoho and Salesforce power users. The use of predictive analytics, Big Data and NLP algorithms (Natural Language Processing), customer segmentation using personas is helping marketers gain insights and develop new ideas to increase their engagement with their customers.
Marketing Automation software is designed to aid marketers in understanding their customers and in devising strategies that carry out the following major functions:
- Finding various ways to develop marketing campaigns and analyzing their effect on customers
- Managing all marketing campaigns and operations
- Organization and storage of all relevant and appropriate customer data
- Conversion of leads into customers
Marketing Automation platforms also typically offer services including hosted web forms, a system for content management, better landing pages, strong analytic programs and powerful email system.
Marketing automation enables activities such as lead generation and scoring, segmentation and up selling at any scale. Common features of marketing automation include autoresponders, email marketing, customer segmentation, landing pages, A/B testing, conversion optimization, social media engagement, marketing analytics and more. It is more than just marketing via email or a way to deliver spam. Marketing Automation provides a platform for the advancement and nurturing of relationships that lead to people who are not yet ready to buy. It also retains customer relationships and aligns markets with sales, thus improving the ROI.
Before using any marketing automation techniques, make sure that you research marketing automation options like Act-On, Eloqua, HubSpot, MailChimp, GetResponse and Marketo to figure out which one suits your business best. Most of these companies have free trials, so take advantage of that before you buy one. Other important features include the ability to import or export customer data, CRM integrations and should be customizable.
Some of the common features found in most or all marketing automation systems are:
- Email Marketing & Autoresponders – Email is often believed to be the most important online marketing channel and is even more valuable when part of a marketing automation platform. Marketing automation platforms include segmentation, autoresponders and can be used as your email service provider.
- Lead Management & Segmentation – Lead Management offers a wide range of activities such as obtaining single or multi-channel view of the customer, segmentation, lead grading and CRM integration.
- Lead Generation – Some marketing automation systems do not offer this feature. Lead Generation is a broad marketing program that includes activities like event marketing and import or export of pre-built marketing programs.
- Social Media Marketing Management – This feature has increased in popularity in recent years. Social media marketing allows us to do social tracking or monitoring of social media comments for positive or negative brand reputations, marketing campaigns and analytics. Social analytics examines data to help you discover your key influencers, and insights on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Instagram, Tumblr and more.
- Landing Pages & A/B Testing & Conversion Optimization : Optimizing landing pages are key to drive your visitor to convert into a customer by filling out a form or buying a product /service via ecommerce. This is done through a series of iterative tests called A/B testing.
- Reporting and Analytics – These are very important components of marketing automation systems. Some analytic features include Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Keyword analytics, Web analytics, basic keyword reporting and more. They also report advanced analytical activities like revenue cycle metrics.
- Resource Management and Infrastructure – Many marketing automation applications include marketing resource management functions like forming calendars and budgets. Bigger enterprises usually look for marketing automation solutions that offer infrastructure capabilities in the form of user roles, permissions and integration of API.
Marketing Automation saves time and money by decreasing the need for human resources. It also simplifies the approval process and allows optimization and keeping track of marketing expenditures. It increases revenue via improved customer relationships and better marketing. Marketing Automation systems are expected to continue with the addition of social and mobile features leading to a more dynamic customization.
Deepak Wadhwani has over 20 years experience in software/wireless technologies. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies including Intuit, ESRI, Qualcomm, Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone, Nortel, Microsoft and Oracle in over 60 countries. Deepak has worked on Internet marketing projects in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange Country, Denver, Nashville, Kansas City, New York, San Francisco and Huntsville. Deepak has been a founder of technology Startups for one of the first Cityguides, yellow pages online and web based enterprise solutions. He is an internet marketing and technology expert & co-founder for a San Diego Internet marketing company.