What is Marketing Automation and Why Do You Need It?

Marketing automation is comprised of a number of different technologies, techniques, and software, that when combined together, allows companies to dramatically automate and streamline their ongoing marketing efforts. Marketing automation offers next-level marketing in the digital age, so that prospects can be targeted in ways never before available, so that you can present the right message, to the right prospect, at the right time. The combined effect of these technologies, provides companies with lower marketing costs, huge increases in ROI and unprecedented opportunities to grow faster than ever.

The Nuts and Bolts of Marketing Automation

A chief component of marketing automation is the software that makes it all possible. It connects your website with your CRM so that your website visitor activity is connected to the contacts in your CRM. By making this connection, you can now track the effectiveness of every marketing campaign you run and see which visitors are the most engaged so that your sales efforts can be focused on them as a priority.

Marketing automation tightly integrates automation software, information and your marketing campaigns in a way that gives you unprecedented control over marketing campaigns. It makes it possible for you to close the loop on the various systems to provide a 360 degree view of all the activities you do to attract new customers. Powerfully, you get to associate customers and prospects to their actual website activity which gives your sales team the signals they need, to know who you should engage and when.

A typical marketing automation software package will tightly integrate these components:

  • A CRM to track each lead’s contact info and sales interactions
  • Powerful analytics and tracking
  • Email marketing
  • Auto-lead classification and scoring
  • A blogging platform
  • A way to quickly launch landing pages for different campaigns, without needing to contact your IT staff
  • A form builder to quickly generate forms and collect those leads into the system without needing your IT department’s help
  • A rules/automation suite that can trigger events, emails, reminders, workflows, etc., when a visitor does certain things on your website
  • A complete website visitor history, showing you every page a particular person visits on your website and when, information that has not been possible to see before marketing automation
  • A media storage facility that allows you to store digital assets (PDF files, videos, infographics, etc) which will be tracked when a user clicks, views, downloads or interacts with them
  • A simple way to schedule your social media posts in advance and publish content to your social media accounts
  • A sales module to track your sales opportunities
  • An analysis tool which tracks the effectiveness of all your marketing campaigns such as SEO, paid advertising and email marketing

Marketing Automation Creates Sales Ready Leads

Any marketing strategy needs a way to monitor where visitors are in their buying process and a system to nurture them through to the end stage of buying. That is exactly where marketing automation comes in.

Some of the things marketing automation allows you to see are:

  • Which campaign your visitor came from
  • How they self-identify
  • What their interests are
  • What their position is in the company
  • Where they are in their buying process
  • What pages they visited
  • How long they spent on each page
  • Which articles they spent the most time on
  • Which articles they came back to on subsequent days
  • Which items they downloaded
  • What requests they’ve made into your organization

All this information is combined together to generate a score for each prospect. Once a visitor reaches a certain threshold of activity your sales team can be notified to reach out to this prospect, who is now a warm lead.

Marketing automation systems require an initial investment of time and resources to set them up, but bring you a compounding ROI in the future.

Marketing Automation Answers Important Questions

Marketing automation answers the following questions:

  • Who are the the most important leads to contact next?
  • Are my PPC, SEO, and inbound marketing working?
  • How engaged are my website visitors?
  • Which companies are visiting my website?
  • What pages did each lead visit on my website and for how long?
  • What content did they download?
  • What do they want more information about?
  • What information should I send next and to which lead?
  • At what stage in the buying process are they?
  • How can I improve my website?
  • How can I deal with all the leads and inquiries we’re getting?
  • What is the quality of the leads we are generating for the sales team?

Nurtured Leads with Marketing Automation

As you start implementing different tactics as part of an inbound marketing strategy, you will be generating more leads from your website than ever before. This is exactly what you want! However, many of these leads will not be “sales-ready” and turning them over to your sales team is going to frustrate them.

Marketing automation software nurtures these leads until they are sales ready, watching them, tracking each page they visit, categorizing them and measuring their engagement and assigning them a quality score. If a visitor reaches a certain score, marketing automation can notify your sales team to reach out to that particular lead with a timely phone call. If marketing automation detects a visitor fits into your ideal customer profile, regardless of their engagement level, it can also you notify you of this fact right away.

Present Different Content To Different Visitors

Such systems can also dynamically present tailored content based on

  • Who they are (CEO, CTO, admin, researcher, etc.)
  • What their interests are
  • Where they are in their buying process (research phase, comparing vendors, etc)
  • Which pages they’ve visited on your website

The Automation Aspect of Marketing Automation

With marketing automation, you can create complex rules, logic and triggers which fire off automated actions. If a user does action A, then the system carries out actions B, C and D.

Automation rules can be set up to perform a wide variety of actions such as:

  • Fire off an email to the sales team when a user does a specified action
  • Fire off text alerts based on certain events
  • Add a lead to a specific email list
  • Wait a certain amount of time and then send out an automated series of emails
  • Assign a lead a certain score when they do a specific action
  • Send a document to a prospect or lead
  • Create an opportunity for a lead when they do a certain action
  • Present a specific page to a visitor, based on who they are
  • Add a lead to a certain campaign automatically
  • Automatically disqualify a lead if they do a certain action
  • Automatically follow-up with leads who didn’t purchase

This is just a sample of what can be automated. Once the visitor becomes a customer you can use the same system to follow-up through customer satisfaction surveys, up-selling, cross-selling, and cycle-based selling.

Benefits of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation has many benefits for both large and small companies. Let’s look at how your company can benefit from such a system.

Marketing Automation Saves Time and Money

With marketing automation many tasks are automated and monitored by the system, relieving the need to hire more staff to do this work. In fact, many of the things marketing automation does could never be done manually. This is good news for small companies who have a smaller budget, and for large companies who want to spend more time and money in driving more business.

Marketing Automation Can Be Used On a Variety of Channels

With the time and money saved by using a marketing automation system, both large and small businesses will be able to tackle campaigns on new channels such as

  • Video
  • Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Texts
  • Targeted advertising
  • Webinars
  • White papers and other downloadable content

Marketing Automation Creates Consistency

Whether it is the consistent delivery of the right content at the right time to assist that user in his buying process, consistently posting to social media, sending out the exact email at the exact time, or calling the user exactly when he’s ready… all of this create consistency for visitors and for your brand. Visitors gain confidence in your company when they experience consistency.

Marketing Automation Builds Detailed Customer Profiles

Because marketing automation systems keep track of so much data and analytics, these systems are able to automatically categorize leads into different buyer types, or “personas”. Every business has different types of customers it serves and each type requires a slightly different approach. If you are being contacted by a small mom-and-pop business, you may follow up with them in a particular way compared to a Fortune 500 company. Marketing automation can auto assign leads into these different customer profiles and prioritize how leads are processed. For example if a lead comes through from a Fortune 500 company, you will likely want to call them immediately whereas with a very small company, who might not be qualified for your services, you might want to send them some information about your packages through email before scheduling a call with them.

With marketing automation you can generate reports, graphs, and the like to analyze and improve your marketing campaigns.

Marketing Automation Creates Personalized Experiences

As the marketing automation gears begin to turn, visitors will receive just the right content at just the right time. For example if someone downloads a case study and gives their email address in exchange, your automated system can assign them a slightly higher engagement score, send them a thank you email, a free trial code and a product comparison cheatsheet. As the process moves along, targeted emails can be sent depending on the path the visitor takes, offering whatever information is needed to help that user move along in their buying process.

Marketing Automation Retains Customers

Marketing automation can better retain customers by providing information as to their habits, information they seek, and what they might need next. This ability to predict a customer’s next move or need gives companies the ability to target information to that customer at just the right time.

Marketing Automation Increase Conversions, Revenue & Capacity

When visitors are nurtured properly along their buying process and become warm leads they are much more likely to become customers, because they will feel confident that your product or service will really meet their needs. All of the information you have provided along the way has gently lead them to making a final buying decision. Customers who are created in this way are much more likely to buy from you than those who aren’t nurtured along by your content and interactions. In addition, this automated process exponentially scales the reach and capacity a business can manage.

The Big Players In Marketing Automation

The most popular marketing automation platforms are:

  • HubSpot
  • SharpSpring
  • Pardot
  • Marketo
  • Eloqua

Prices vary depending on the platform. As an inbound marketing agency, we highly recommend SharpSpring or HubSpot. We feel that SharpSpring has a clear edge in price/performance.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $500-$2500 a month plus setup fees, depending on the software you select. Marketing automation agency partners like ClearTech Interactive can typically offer discounted rates on the desired software when a company buys directly through the agency partner.

Implementing Marketing Automation

Because of the complexity of the software and because most customers are unfamiliar with marketing automation best practices, in most cases it is better to have a company help you with your marketing automation implementation.

Although there is a fair bit of work to set up a marketing automation system, once it is set up, your company will see tremendous benefits as outlined above, and the process will continue to benefit your company long into the future.

Implementing a marketing automation system usually involves:

  • Setting up your marketing automation users
  • Setting up the tracking code
  • Setting up the CRM system (custom fields, importing contacts, leads, accounts)
  • Migrating contacts from a previous CRM system or integrating the system into salesforce
  • Integrating with other software, like SalesForce, etc.
  • Customizing database fields
  • Setting up marketing automation rules
  • Setting up new content, landing pages, etc.
  • Configuring scoring methods
  • Setting up automation tasks
  • Creating email marketing lists
  • Setting up inquiry forms to feed leads into the system
  • Setting up email notifications / alerts
  • Setting up email templates
  • Setting up automated emails and drip marketing
  • Setting up custom landing pages
  • Linking your social media accounts
  • And many other tasks

Want to Learn More About Marketing Automation Software?

Would you like to know more about marketing automation software and how it can help your business? Do you need help choosing software and need help setting up a system?

At ClearTech Interactive we are experts at marketing automation and know just how to guide you and set up a system that can benefit your business tremendously.

We offer a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your marketing automation needs. Request a Call or contact us at 727-562-5161 to find out what we can do for you. We offer full digital solutions to power and grow your business.