SAVE TIME, INCREASE RESPONSE RATES, AND SPUR GREATER ENGAGEMENT
Running a business is an all-consuming activity. It’s hard enough to get through the basics like customer service, marketing, production, and financial planning under the best of circumstances, and things are rarely even that straightforward. Fires need to be put out, team members turn over, and market forces inevitably intrude. Before you know it, the days are whizzing by and important business development priorities aren’t getting the focus they need.
Fortunately, many of the most promising new technologies in marketing revolve around automation and they are making a very real impact on business development.
Data Powers the Modern Economy
Marketing automation is a broad category that covers fairly commonplace outreach via email, social media, and other channels, as well as more advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence systems that can actively analyze user behavior and adapt to discovered tendencies.
“Automation ensures consistency across channels, enables personalized communications at scale, and drastically improves the efficiency of your marketing workforce.”
There is no shortage of software options and platforms offering these features, but most work on similar principles. They deliver personalized messages to customers and leads that can be dynamically adjusted to optimize open and conversion rates or other key performance indicators.
The fuel that enables those adjustments is that most precious of 21st century resources: data. You can’t deliver content that is tailored to your audience’s needs and interests if you don’t have accurate and timely insights into who they are and what they want. So, you must collect and quickly analyze the data. Then, adjust your efforts accordingly. Factors like spending habits, where a user is in a buying process, and the details of any earlier interactions they’ve had with you can all help inform the style, frequency, and composition of marketing communications, increasing conversions and, ultimately, revenue.
It’s a simple fact that these kinds of customizations are separating winners from losers in today’s marketplace. Personalized emails, for example, generate six times more revenue than non-personalized messages. That goes a long way in explaining why companies that use marketing automation have average conversion rates that are 53-percent higher than those that don’t.
If those statistics don’t impress you, consider that increasing open and conversion rates is always an uphill battle. The vast majority of communications will never make the desired impact. That’s why anything that can improve conversion rates even slightly is worth investigating. Incremental improvements add up over time.
Companies Utilizing Marketing Automation Are Pulling Away From the Competition
In addition to making your marketing more compelling, automation also supercharges your marketing team. Despite the many advances in machine learning today, certain tasks can only be performed by an engaged human brain. Delegating mundane and repetitive work to a software platform, frees up your valuable human resources to focus on projects they are best suited to, like strategizing, innovating, critical thinking, or personally connecting with the people most likely to buy from you at the time of contact.
The benefits don’t stop there either. Products and services with especially long conversion cycles are using automation to speed up the process. News agency Thomson Reuters credited their marketing automation with lowering conversion times by 72-percent. B2B industries are especially prone to lengthy conversion cycles due to more sophisticated offerings and a decision-making process that often requires winning over several different stakeholders.
Lead nurturing is an excellent use of automation. According to automation platform Marketo, half of your leads are not yet ready to make a purchase at any given time and 80-percent never will be. So, as you can probably see, a healthy business needs a steady supply of good leads. Nurtured leads, according to market researchers at Forrester, generate more sales at significantly lower costs than non-nurtured leads — and they aren’t just associated with more total sales, but larger purchases as well.
Companies that use marketing automation have average conversion rates that are 53-percent higher than those that don’t.
The fastest way to lose a good lead is to send them information that is irrelevant to their needs. Marketing automation platforms specialize in keeping track of not just who the people that interact with you are demographically, but where they are in their customer journey so that you can optimize content for each stage of a decision making process and move leads smoothly through your sales funnel.
Time to Get Started
For brands looking to get involved with marketing automation, email is a particularly good place to start. It might seem like a dated technology compared to all the buzz surrounding social media and other, newer channels, but email still dominates in raw reach (virtually all internet users have at least on email address).
Email is also a slightly slower format than social media. A user that quickly scans through their social feed, will typically look more closely at the items in their inbox, taking the time to examine many of them in-depth.
Automated emails are being used for a variety of purposes. Some of the most common include:
- Welcome and Thank You Messages
- Abandoned Shopping Cart Reminders
- Product Retargeting
- Personalized Product Recommendations
- Feedback Solicitations
Each type of message can be triggered by user behavior, such as how long it’s been since they visited your website, purchases they previously made, or whether they submitted a review. If the system notices they haven’t been by in some time it can automatically send them a promo code to entice them back.
These early applications are fairly basic, but the next generation of marketing automation is already being field tested. It relies even more heavily on machine learning and artificial intelligence, taking the human element further and further out of the loop. They don’t just automate the process of sending communications, but can dynamically select specific campaigns, generate their own creative messages, and even choose which channel to leverage.
Marketing automation is rapidly becoming standard practice in the industry. These systems do require human oversight, though. Even the most well-tuned marketing automation requires attention and modifications to ensure that it’s working optimally. This in an opportunity to invest business development time and resources in seeing what messaging works best and what targets should receive the most personal focus at the best point in time.
If you aren’t already acquainted with the tools and techniques available, now is the time to get started. Automation is quickly becoming recognized as a killer app for putting data to good use, ensuring consistency across channels, enabling personalized communications at scale, and drastically improving the efficiency of marketing workforces.
Another very important consideration is what will your content strategy be once you have the marketing automation tools in place and how will you go about generating all of the content you need. It takes time and skill to develop messaging that can be served up to your target audience at just the right time. For more on that topic, read: Are You Reaping the Benefits of a Well Tailored Content Strategy?