What is marketing automation? … and why you need it in your business

What is marketing automation?

We are constantly being told and advised that to market our business effectively in today’s modern world we need to use numerous different tools…. and that software, and use those social media platforms and use this online tool, and send emails, and blog more, and send sms texts, and send more emails, and shout louder and … phew!  

That is a lot of tools, software and tasks to understand and complete.  Aren’t you meant to be running your business?!

In the ideal world, marketing automation will combine numerous tools into one system/platform. A system that will automate a lot of the mundane tasks required to attract, identify, nurture, track and generate new leads and customers.

Marketing Automation

Some sort of factory for marketing? (CC BY-SA 2.0 de. Imaged editted! http://bmw-werk-leipzig.de)

So let me introduce you to marketing automation.   It sounds like it should be some sort of huge factory, full of robots, dedicated to promoting your products and services without you having to lift a finger.  However, that isn’t quite the case, but it can save you time by automating a lot of your everyday marketing tasks (e.g. sending emails, posting on social media, following up).

Marketing automation has its roots in email marketing.  This is where a marketer uses software to send out emails to a mailing list.

However it is so much more than just email marketing. Now marketing automation can be used to post updates to social media platforms, generate leads, capture information and turn leads into sales. It allows you to monitor prospect actions:

  • did they open that email?
  • did they download that free guide?
  • did they visit the XYZ page on your web site?
  • did they engage on your social media?
  • any action you feel qualifies a lead

Why is this information important?

Knowledge is power. Information is power!  By monitoring your leads’ behaviour and their interactions, you’re gaining valuable knowledge about them and you’re then able to score your leads according to their actions. This helps you to determine just how interested they are in your product/service?  You can then place your leads into different groups and relevant nurture paths to move them down the sales funnel.

sales funnel

Sales funnel

It allows you to segment your customers and leads and give them the information that they are interested in. You’re able to send information that is relevant to each particular group and really personalise the communication by adding the individual’s name and other data to the email, postcard etc. , so marketing personalisation is part of the formula.

Common features of marketing automation:

  • Social Marketing
  • Landing Pages
  • Email Marketing
  • Campaign Management
  • Prediction/Scoring
  • Drip Marketing
  • Lead Management & Nurturing
  • List segmentation
  • CRM Integration
  • Marketing Analytics

Lead nurturing (57%), Analytics and reporting (52%) and List segmentation (39%) are considered the most valuable Marketing Automation features.
– Marketo & Ascend2 “Marketing Automation Strategies for Sustaining Success” (2015) – 

Marketing automation combines software and strategy so that organisations can effectively use multiple online channels and tools to distribute their message and marketing materials.

The marketing automation software or platform is hosted or a web-based solution and no actual software needs to be installed by the customer.

A comprehensive marketing automation platform enables marketers to plan, coordinate, manage and measure all of their marketing campaigns, both online and offline.  The platform will enable the marketer to streamline their efforts and reduce the amount of time business owners or staff spend on managing different software and tasks.

It is important to remember that to succeed with marketing automation there must be a solid, comprehensive strategy in place as well.  

To succeed with #marketingautomation there must be a solid, comprehensive strategy in place

Don’t just use it to email all your contacts i.e. spray and pray! What are your goals from your campaign?  More signups to your newsletter? More customers who are interested in X product or Y service?  Plan and strategise.

The most challenging obstacles to success are lack of quality content (40%), budget constraints (38%) and the lack of an effective marketing automation strategy (38%).
– Marketo & Ascend2 “Marketing Automation Strategies for Sustaining Success” (2015) – 

Which Processes to Automate?

Here are some examples…

  • New Leads into Funnel
    Educate people who aren’t ready to engage. Get them to know, like and trust you. Nurture them through the buying process. Deliver relevant content such as white papers, articles and webinars.
  • Welcome and Education
    Welcome new customers with personalised content. Deliver content relevant to the product and services they have purchased. Communicate with them so they get the most out being your client. Send them guides and how-tos.
  • Event Communications
    Automate the invite process, reminders, follow up and post-event communications. If they don’t attend, offer an alternative date.
  • Customer Data Enrichment
    Knowledge is power! Survey your existing customers and find out exactly what they want and need.


Automated Inbound Marketing


Lure your leads in with awesomeness!

Inbound marketing, also called Content Marketing, can be properly enabled through the use of a  marketing automation tool.  Content marketing is all about luring your customers to you with awesomeness. 

Identify and analysis your market. Who is your perfect customer?  Create personas detailing who your ideal client is. Age, sex, industry?  What do they like?  What do they read?  What are their issues and pain points (ie what keeps them awake at night)? Then create amazing content/information that your personas want to share. The content gets shared amongst your target market and it encourages those leads to come to you. Once they are at your doorstep, wow them with your charisma, knowledge and skills!

When using marketing automation you can automate the process of publishing content, sharing content, being everywhere and nurturing your leads. You are able to implement “if-then” logic to your tasks.

When considering which marketing automation platform to go with, bear in mind that some of them are 1) very expensive and 2) very complicated to use. Many of the available tools are aimed at big corporate businesses, however marketing automation tools are now available for small business’ as well. Make sure that you take your time and research which platform is most suitable for you and your business. Is there help and support readily available if you get stuck or need help?


Marketing Automation Platforms & Pricing

Prices are often based on how many leads you have in the system so check to ensure your initial quota of leads is enough for the size of your organisation.

Here are some of the different marketing automation platforms out there today:

For Small and Medium Sized Businesses/Organisations (in no particular order)

Hubspot – from £140 a month. http://www.saxonis.co.uk/hubspot.com

Act On – From £380 a month. http://www.saxonis.co.uk/acton

Ontraport – From $297 a month. http://www.saxonis.co,uk/ontraport

Wishpond – From Free. http://www.saxonis.co.uk/wishpond

Infusionsoft – From $199 (£129) a month http://www.saxonis.co.uk/infusionsoft

Active Campaign – From $9 a month – Free 14 day trial (no credit card required!) http://www.saxonis.co.uk/activecampaign.com


For larger organisations (in no particular order)

Sales Fusion – From $950 (£614) a month. http://www.saxonis.co.uk/salesfusion

Pardot – From £680 a month. http://www.saxonis.co.uk/pardot

Silverpop – Pricing info not availaable. http://www.saxonis.co.uk/silverpop

Marketo – From £799 a month. http://www.saxonis.co.uk/marketo

Oracle’s Eloqua (MarketingCloud) – Pricing info not available. http://www.saxonis.co.uk/eloqua


Compare Marketing Automation Software

When choosing which supplier to go with, and deciding which is the best marketing automation platform, consider how the different platforms will integrate with your existing software and apps. Ideally you want one that integrates with your CRM (Customer Relations Management) system so that it can pass client data.  Ensure it integrates with your other systems as well. Make sure you have the opportunity to try out the software and take it for a trial run first.

86% marketers consider ‘ease of use’ as the most important criterion when evaluating automation tools.
– Regalix “The State of Marketing Automation” (2014) – 

When comparing the different platforms make sure that it can grow as your business / organisation grows.

[tweetthis]What marketing automation can do for your business. Compare platforms. #contentmarketing[/tweetthis]


Download our free “21 Ways to Automate your Marketing” report. This professional report will help you to start automating your business and free up your valuable time.

About the Author

CEO of Saxon Internet Solutions. Passionate about the internet and marketing.

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