The term marketing automation has been quite the buzz word in the business world over the past few years. Check out Google Trends and you will see that the searches for the term have continued to increase every year since all the way back in 2009.
While companies have always looked for more efficient ways to take leads and prospects through the sales funnel, marketing automation seems to be on a whole different level than what has ever been seen before. In fact, it has become quite clear that automation technology is the new sheriff in town when it comes to optimizing the sales process.
But what in the world is marketing automation? What does it involve? How effective can it really be? Does the automation part of the term mean that it basically works on its own?
These are all questions that are going to be gone over and answered in this marketing automation guide for dummies:
What is Marketing Automation?
According to Sales Force, marketing automation can be defined as, “Technology that allows marketing and sales departments to create, deploy, and automate online marketing campaigns and sales activities that increase revenue and maximize efficiency.”
While that is pretty straight-forward on its own, it basically means that it is software or tools that can automate a large portion of the marketing process. From lead qualification to personalizing the content that each user receives, it enables businesses to significantly enhance the efficiency of their sales process.
Statistics About the Success of Marketing Automation
The effectiveness of marketing automation has already been proven on a grand scale. An infographic created by Business2Community showed that companies that are already using marketing automation to nurture prospects have experienced a 451% increase in the amount of qualified leads that come into their business.
On top of the clear increases in actual conversions and sales for companies using automation based marketing, 74% of marketers say that one of the main benefits is that it saves time while another 58% of them say that it has significantly increased the opportunity for up-selling as well (Source: Email Monday).
In all actuality, you could find thousands of statistics showing increased success in both marketing and sales due to the use of this software. After all, there is a reason that 60% of major companies currently use marketing automation.
How Effective Can it Really Be?
This is where a lot of businesses begin to become confused about exactly how marketing automation software works. It is important to realize that this technology is not a lifesaver or the ‘complete package’ when it comes to taking over your marketing or sales process.
Instead, it is intended to be used as a tool to help increase the efficiency of the sales process as well as enabling businesses to increase their lead conversions and improve their ability to make accurate predictions for the future. It can also be very useful for customer segmentation.
What it should not be considered as, however, is something that enables a business to get rid of their marketing and sales teams. While it is a tremendously useful piece of technology, far too many experts in the marketing industry are proclaiming that it gets rid of the many challenges associated with marketing and sales.
You Still Need to Bring in Leads
Another aspect of marketing automation that many people do not understand is that it is not intended as a tool to actually bring leads into your business or to ‘automatically’ create prospects for you to target. While it can be effective for any business, its purpose is to nurture leads that are already being brought in.
This means that businesses using the software still have to have strong inbound marketing strategies in place. When you combine strong inbound marketing with well put together automation software, you are looking at something that can serve as a catalyst to help you grow your business for years to come.
Can it Be Used for Both Large and Small Businesses?
The beauty of marketing automation is the fact that it can be utilized by a company of any size. Every business obviously needs to market successfully and make sales in order to grow, which is exactly what automation technology helps improve. Whether you are talking about a solopreneur like Bryan at HostingReviewBox.com or a huge brand with over half a billion dollars in annual revenue, it can be used in just about any situation.
Keys to Being Successful With Marketing Automation
It is important to realize that automation software cannot simply be successful on its own. There are several things that companies need to do to make sure that it is optimized to allow for full potential to be reached. The first step, as has been mentioned, is to ensure that inbound marketing strategies are successful. Without that, there will not be leads for the software to work with.
Second in line is the importance of identifying a sales funnel. While most larger companies have a clearly defined funnel, smaller companies using this marketing technology need to first make sure that they understand how they want their leads to go through their funnel.
Lastly, the company using the software must be able to properly identify quality leads and create a process for lead scoring. This can then be implemented with marketing automation to create an incredibly powerful and efficient business tool.
Marketing Automation in the Future
The team at information technology research giant Gartner recently made the prediction that by the year 2020, customers will be managing 85% of their relationships without even talking to another human. While that is a somewhat scary thought, the trends and improvements in technology are what are driving that forecast.
With the fact that marketing automation is still a somewhat new tool for business owners, there is no doubt that its effectiveness will only continue to improve as annual advancements are made. It should once again be pointed out, however, that it is not yet something that can make up for a lack of success in marketing and sales but instead a tool for improving those areas.
Some of the main improvements to automation technology that, according to Get Drip, are predicted to take place in the very near future include:
- Creating an even more personalized sales process for leads to go through
- Improved mobile presence
- Integration with social media and social networking websites
- Easier-to-use software
The Final Word
Marketing today is much different than it was 50 or even 10 years ago. The advancements and increases in technology that have happened in this space are absolutely astounding. Marketing automation is just one of those examples of tools that have enabled businesses and marketers to increase the efficiency of their sales process and generate more sales for their business.
Hopefully this guide will provide you with a foundation for understanding what marketing automation is, what it can do for you, and how it can be implemented into your business. There is no better time than now to take advantage of this incredible technology and significantly improve your sales process. It is without a doubt one of the best ways to get a leg up on your competition.