What Is Marketing Automation?

Alexa Engelhart
By Alexa Engelhart

You know it’s important to save time in your business; each week is packed with client meetings, the madness of project management, and endless emails.

All of these activities have one important goal in mind: To grow your business and its reach.

It’s a great goal…that takes a lot of work. The steps to make it happen can feel incredibly overwhelming (even 3 cups of coffee deep).

Luckily, there are tactical solutions.

Here is one of the most effective ways to grow your business and save you time ASAP: Marketing automation.

Even if you have never used or use little automation right now.

Even if your business is not strongly rooted in “tech” or “data”.

Even if you are so overwhelmed that it feels like there’s no time to set up automation.

Marketing automation is going to help your business.

If you dare to scroll, learn answers to these shocking, gut-provoking questions:

  • What is marketing automation?
  • Why is marketing automation important?
  • What is email marketing automation?
  • How does marketing automation work?

Wait…What is Marketing Automation?

Even if you’ve heard the term before, it may still sound like something from a futuristic Industrial Revolution.

Let’s define marketing automation:

Marketing Automation refers to software that enables you to carry out marketing hands-free, without continual manual labor.

Some examples of marketing automation include:

  • Scheduling and publishing posts on social media
  • Setting up email campaigns to go out without you hitting “Send”
  • Running online advertisements
  • Empowering lead generation
  • And so forth

These may sound fine and dandy, but what you care about is ROI, which is great. It’s why you are an outstanding business savant.

We agree 100%; key marketing efforts come down to ROI.

That is why marketing automation is so vital; it has a massive return on investment – for your company and your team members.

Why is Marketing Automation Important?

Automation software simplifies processes and increases revenue. Here’s how.

Save Time ASAP

Time is money, stress, space to be creative, and beyond.

The most apparent reason marketing automation is important?

It reduces time spent on repetitive nonsense.

The fewer hours you or your team spend on emails and posting to Facebook, the more hours you have to strategize, brainstorm, host client meetings, and, hey, even going home at a decent hour.

Because, yes, time for sleep is also very important to productivity and growth.  

(For real. In the United States, in a study led by Ronald Kessler of Harvard Medical School, estimated sleep deprivation costs companies $63.2 billion in lost productivity.)

Increase Leads and Sales

According to VB Insight, 4 in 5 users increased leads through marketing automation. In addition, 77% of users witnessed increased conversions.

Automation boosts company credibility and allows your business to be more proactive about converting leads. Read on to find out why.

Be Consistent

By automating marketing practices, it keeps your brand consistent in its communications in two ways:

The communication with one specific customer stays consistent. They know when to expect that email each week. With planned automation, there is more intention behind the message and CTA (Call to Action.

Communication across all audiences is streamlined. If someone signs up for your newsletter, an automated email means the same welcome sequence for all, ensuring a consistent brand experience for everyone.

Lower Costs

According to CMO.com, marketing automation increases sales productivity by almost 15% AND decreases marketing overhead by a sizable 12.2%.

Automation reduces staff costs. Software can efficiently handle tasks that could be put into an extra staff member.

Be Like Coke. Get 1:1 Personal.

As humans, we like personal communication and feeling special.

(Truly though. No matter how high up the ladder an exec is or where a person’s penthouse is in NYC, we all have the desire to feel heard and appreciated.)

Think of the Coca-Cola Campaign: “Share a Coke”.

This lets people give Coke bottles with people’s specific names on the labels. Like Bobby. Courtney. Dean.

That one adjustment meant big money.

According to this article, there was a 2% increase in soft-drink sales, growing consumption from 1.7 to a whopping 1.9 billion servings a day.

Personalization must also be applied to marketing automation; when you customize automation in the right way, it makes people feel a deeper connection and like they are really being heard.

In fact, research from Pinpoint Marketing shows that using someone’s name in an email can increase the open rate by up to 35%!

Get Data Nerdy

Marketing automation lets you go from assumptions to data-backed choices.

Get a clear understanding of what is working and what is not. Data lets us:

  • Understand what campaigns and triggers are doing well. Study what works; use that information to develop new campaigns and adjust low-performing ones.
  • Have accountability for team members, particularly marketing and sales. Find out what is bottlenecking the process. Perhaps there are 100 leads continually coming in. However, after sales calls, only a small percentage convert. Meet with the sales staff to brainstorm and discuss solutions.

Conduct A/B Testing

Increase open rates by analyzing the historical data of A/B testing. See what versions of an email or campaign do best and use that information accordingly.  

Increase Lifetime Value of a Customer

You know it’s a lot cheaper to sell to current customers.

In fact, it typically costs five times to acquire a new customer vs. sell to an existing customer.

Marketing automation helps:

  • Upsell customers, recommending add-on products or services that compliment what they have already purchased.  
  • Follow up with triggered emails.

Steps such as these will help increase the lifetime value of that customer.

Maximize Your CRM

When marketing automation integrates with CRM, it’s like adding your favorite apps to your phone. It takes capabilities to a whole new level.

Connect your CRM with marketing automation data to make sure it is up-to-date and has the most information possible. It lets you do more than see who your customers are; it lets you track their behavior and analyze what is having the most effect on your market.

Naturally Revamp the Marketing Process

When your team sits down to outline the marketing automation processes, such as what emails to send out, it forces you to study and map your customer journey in a fresh (likely more productive) way.

Increase Creativity

Repetitive tasks do not maximize creativity. They pigeon hole brains into tasks that can be done while simultaneously listening to podcasts and sipping energy drinks.

Marketing automation is important because it takes the tasks that are similar each time, and provides the space to maximize and think creatively.

When given the time and space to be productive, your team has the ability to think outside the box, brainstorm new partnerships, and get good-weird about fresh campaign ideas.

Segment Your Markets

Everyone has unique needs and motivators based on a variety of factors; grouping people by these general factors let you speak to their unique situation.

Example: A business provides high-quality pet food and nutrition. They serve customers better by grouping them by type of pet. Emails for dogs owners, campaigns to cat owners, and updates for bird owners are going to be quite different. The customers get much higher value when segmented.

Let’s Talk Emails. What is Email Marketing Automation?

Emails are the gateway to a person’s soul and pocketbook. (Or Paypal account. Most people don’t use pocketbooks anymore, do they?)   

To use emails best, use something called Email Marketing Automation. This involves transforming email marketing into an automated process that can be tracked and analyzed

Email marketing automation allows us to create “trigger” workflows for email campaigns. For example, an email:

  • Saying welcome after they subscribe to your newsletter.
  • Sent if they put items in their online shopping cart…but abandoned it.
  • To share an update on a product they purchased
  • Let past customers know about a sale coming up

Why Use Marketing Email Automation?

Email automation has more benefits than avocados and kale combined. It lets you:

  • Segment email lists with ease
  • Convert more customers in a value-packed, targeted manner
  • Increase your team’s efficiency
  • Ensure all emails are consistent with tone, language, messaging, and CTAs

How Does Marketing Automation Work?

After seeing just some of the benefits, you are ready to infuse more marketing automation into your business.

But….one question remains:

How do you actually use it?

There is a variety of software to choose from. Each software has unique benefits and features.

At the core of most of automation software, you can:

  • Set up and schedule out content or emails. For example:
    • Set up the email triggers and flows that can be taken off your team members’ plates
    • Schedule out social media posts and blogs. Upload and format them. Tell ‘em when they are to go live.
    • Conduct A/B testing with different ad sets.
  • Track and analyze.
    • Automation software will give reports on practical information, such as:
      • Open rates for emails
      • Impressions or views on social media posts
  • Use that information to adjust.  

That Sounds Great. What’s the Best Automation Software?

Great question. We are happy to answer.

To make sure we gave all the important information, we wrote a whole separate blog about it. Learn the Best Marketing Automation Software Tools.

Learn More Here

Alexa is a Content Marketing Strategist at Power Digital Marketing who works with a wide range of clients on web copy creation, landing page strategy, email marketing, and blogging efforts. She loves working hand-in-hand with other digital marketing channels and departments to get the best results for her clients!