How marketing automation can get you ahead

Photo credit: Chris Isherwood

Photo credit: Chris Isherwood

The new ways of shopping, communicating, and gathering information in the last couple of decades have significantly changed how marketers reach their target audiences. No other time in history have we been able to gather as detailed information on our prospective shoppers as we do today, and it has never been easier to reach specific audiences right where they sit.

Enter marketing automation, a strategy companies large and small – including your competitors – are using to interact with prospects to more effectively reach them.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation refers to marketing strategies executed by software programs to reach audiences on multiple marketing channels. This is related to channels ranging from social media, email campaigns, websites, and so forth. This solution is ideal for marketing managers who know the need to get online, get in email inboxes, and get in front of their audience – but understand they can’t manage everything all the time.

Benefits of marketing automation

Take for example, social media. Companies have largely caught on that, “Yep, we need some kind of a social media strategy.” So they hire a college intern, or perhaps the boss’ daughter, and they’ll tweet their hearts out. The company will dabble on Facebook, gain a few followers on Twitter, and things tend to end there. The challenge is companies need to capitalize on what their specific audience wants to hear, as well as implement strategies on how to reach the very different audiences across the variety of social media platforms.

This is where marketing automation is a savvy marketer’s dream. Messages matter, but that quality content can’t be done by busy professionals on a one-by-one basis. The ability to get onto one platform and plug in poignant messages make reaching target audiences strategic and timely.

Lead management

One of the primary ways businesses benefit from marketing automation is the ability to more effectively manage inbound leads.

Marketing automation makes it fairly easy to see information like where the lead came from, how much time they spent on a webpage, where they clicked, and more. A marketer is then able to tailor messages specific to each type of prospect’s experience, facilitating the ability to more accurately communicate with that person in a way that will convert the lead into a paying customer.

Affordability

Marketing automation is a solution for both startups and large companies, due to its potential for significant cost savings.

A company may want to spend a great deal on a more expensive marketing program, but chances are high they will be spending money on employees manually executing those strategies elsewhere. Furthermore, there are plenty of marketing automation programs that are well within a small business’ budget, which can be the turning point in their marketing – and eventual sales – strategies.

What to look for in a marketing automation program

One of the primary challenges marketers run into is programming the marketing automation. Some programs are extremely robust with seemingly infinite possibilities, which may take more time to learn and program than a company has the resources for. If you need to hire a football team of consultants to get the program to work, it’s likely not a good fit for your company.

Additionally, the most expensive option is not always the best. Often times with pricey programs you are paying for extensions your business will never use, but will end up paying for anyway.

Don’t spend extra money on an automation program that sells on channels that don’t make sense for your business, or has more options than you’ll ever have the time to capitalize on.

There will never be a substitute for a solid, well-thought out marketing strategy, but marketing automation is an excellent way to execute on those strategies. Finding the right solution for your business may take a little shopping, but in the end the cost savings and targeted communications are well worth the effort.