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marketing automation man vs machine

Marketing Automation Part I: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

When it comes down to it, technology can do almost anything we want it to. From generating responses to customer inquiries on social media to narrowing in on just the right audience in a matter of minutes, MarTech is no exception. One of the biggest benefits that technology offers to businesses today is the implementation of marketing automation. This blog series will dive into what marketing automation is, how you can use it to your advantage, and how to use it to measure your results. This is the first installment, where I will walk you through what marketing automation is and why it’s important.

Let’s start off with a basic definition of marketing automation before we dive too deep into the details. In the broadest sense, marketing automation is exactly what it sounds like: a collection of processes and software you can use to automate marketing. Essentially, technology can pull information from and engage with your audience for you, so you don’t have to do it by hand.

Marketing automation will help you achieve the ultimate goal of gaining more revenue for your business, but only if you use it the right way. According to Hubspot, the best time to use marketing automation is when potential customers are in the conversion and closure stage of the Customer BuyWay. Automation can help you segment customer bases, manage customer data, and guide your marketing campaign through venues you may not have accessed before. It is also an “integral component” of customer relationship management (CRM).

Imagine you are a customer of your business and you have a question: it could be something as simple as how to use a new product, how to find a replacement part or even just feedback about your product or service. Instead of searching for a customer service number where you risk waiting on hold, you turn to the most accessible platform you know you can find. You turn to social media. But this is a moderately sized company with dozens of daily social media interactions. You want them to respond in a timely manner, but how would they be able to?

You type your inquiry and wait…but only for a few moments. Almost immediately, you’re pinged with a response. The message is politely worded, personalized, and has either answered your specific question or points you in the right direction.

This is the power of automation and CRM, the most effective tool in your arsenal. Automation can provide potential customers, current customers, and even previous customers with a personalized experience that nurtures them into making a decision that benefits your company. In the same way that automation can encourage and remind customers to take action, it can also help create loyal, promoting customers and brand advocates.

Of course, all of these benefits are results-driven and might seem hands-off, but the people behind the software are just as important as the software itself; neither can exist without the other. Automation software will do the heavy lifting, but there still needs to be a real person on the other end of it to guide and control the data. Technology is good at what it does, but it still needs the initial input to start directing its attention. For a deeper dive into where humans perform best vs. where machines perform best – watch this webinar we co-hosted with Albert Technologies.

Along these lines, the common misconception about marketing automation (and even technology in general) is that it will take your job or make your work irrelevant. This simply isn’t true. Broadly speaking, marketing processes with high complexity, high predictability, and high repetitiveness are logical targets to be managed by machines. Most marketing execution and marketing analytics processes fit this characterization and we expect that AI will likely replace most human activities in these areas over the next several years. By contrast, marketing processes with low predictability are not seen as good targets for automation. It is challenging for a machine to design and adopt new procedures “on the fly.” Low predictability processes require the marketer to exercise judgment and apply originality and creativity to define alternative solutions and/or redefine processes, thus being an area in which humans excel.

The efficiency and speed that automation software gives your business will generate conversation and ultimately, cared-for, loyal customers. It allows you to expand your customer base and can even create jobs. 80% of businesses that use marketing automation have an increased number of leads and 50% more sales-ready leads at only 33% of the cost.

One such company that experienced greater returns with the implementation of automation-based tactics was Vineyard Vines. Their foray into marketing automation through Artificial Intelligence realized increased revenue and increased opportunities and customer-bases that they wouldn’t have found without software backing their marketing initiatives. They used the software to move from single-channel marketing initiatives (e.g. a different campaign for email, social media, print, etc.) to cross-channel marketing, which led to a 182% increase on ROI. This meant that their marketing campaigns were then functioning as a single-working unit instead of individual ones, which allowed Vineyard Vines to treat their customers as all-encompassing people on multiple platforms, not as entirely different individuals depending on the platform.

Using marketing automation no longer means that you’re ahead of the game, it means that you’re staying current and actively participating in your customer communities. The increasing need for marketing automation grows every day as technology, communication platforms, and customers’ desire for personalized experiences all become priorities that marketing leaders must address. With all of these opportunities available, automation has become the only way to address all concerns in a timely manner to best benefit the customer.

The key component to marketing automation success is to view automation as an opportunity for expansion and greater personalization. Locating all potential audiences, managing CRM in the most effective manner and making data-backed decisions can all contribute to increased revenue, but only when automation is used correctly.

In the next segment of our Marketing Automation series, we will walk you through the marketing automation tools available to you and the benefits of each one.

In the meantime, you can learn more about how businesses have transformed using marketing automation in specific case studies outlined in my new book, Marketing, Interrupted.

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