If you are doing email marketing today, automation takes it up to the next level. To put it simply, marketing automation is a platform that allows you to automatically engage with customers and prospects to improve the quality of the marketing that you are probably already doing
There are a number of points to think about when weighing if marketing automation can be useful for your organization.
Let’s look at a couple of areas; what the technology is, what it does, and the benefits to you.
Email has proven itself as one of the most effective techniques for marketing you can use. Triggered email – that is email that is sent to a prospect in response to an action that the prospect took on your site – gets a 70% higher open rate and a much higher click-through rate than traditional batch and blast email. Instead of just triggering based on email opens or dates, marketing automation can take the concept of triggered email to a much more sophisticated level and send messages that are triggered by any actions that prospects take on your website or trigger them based on actions plus history, coupled with demographics.
Marketing automation users see a much greater conversion rate – from the initial response that you get from a customer to the time they become a marketing qualified lead.
Marketing automation brings productivity by eliminating a lot of tedious email and database activity. You can set up automatic campaign programs and reduce the amount or repeat effort you have to accomplish. Every visitor who comes to your website, or someone who fills out a form on your site, or comes back from an email, can be automatically placed into campaign that will communicate with the prospect. You get peace of mind because you don’t have to check every day to see if prospects are being responded to, because the system does it for you.
Effectiveness is increased by ensuring that information gets in front of prospects or current customers at the right time and place.
Marketing automation makes marketing more flexible because you can look at what’s going on with customer and prospect engagement and see how effective you are, and see which elements are performing and then optimize your efforts accordingly.
Marketing automation takes measurability to a whole new level because you are tracking every visitor to your site whether it’s an anonymous visitor or a known visitor that you are tracking. Measurability is important, whether you are tracking visits or email opens, but they should take into account the entire history of a prospect, not just responses to a single email.
Despite the overblown rhetoric by many marketing automation companies, the technologies behind marketing automation are pretty simple and generally include tracking visitors, automating steps for campaigns and associated emails, email sending and the alerting, analysis and reporting capabilities.
Tracking is straightforward. Initially you’ll be tracking visitors anonymously. You won’t know the visitors personally but you’ll know what company they are coming from through an automatic reverse domain lookup. You’ll know the company they are coming from, the pages they’ve viewed, how long they’ve been on the site. You’ll get a great idea of what is working on your site and how folk are interacting.
These visitors are converted to known visitors when they fill out a form on your site, or when they click on a link in an email that you send them.
After site visitors are identified (become known), their anonymous activity record is automatically included into their known record of visits by that individual, so you’ll have all of their history from their very first visit. All of their future visits will also be added to the record so you’ll have a full list of all of their interactions.
Campaign automation is the next typical area of marketing automation. Prospects may be entered into campaigns easily. For example when someone fills out a form on your website you can automatically place them in a campaign where they followed up automatically with an email. That email can come directly from the sales person who is assigned to that account. You’ll see statistics about email opens and visitors from the email, as well as any past – and subsequent web visits. You can then place them into further drip or nurture campaigns in reaction to their visit history to send the prospects additional information, essentially nurturing the prospect.
Campaigns in marketing automation are tremendously flexible. You can create unique campaigns for your audiences that fit your business. And you can make campaigns that are targeted and only send items to your visitors based on data that you have about them. Campaigns may be based on specific actions that prospects take or be triggered by segment and persona data that you have. You can easily target and personalize communication by account and by individual.
Everything that prospects do can trigger alerts, based on any aspect of that visitor. For example you may want to trigger alerts to a salesperson for all web visitors from New York that came to the site from an email, or only alert sales people to visitors from New York from visitors that have a high enough activity score. Alerts contain all of the important information that a salesperson might need to reach out to the prospect; information about the prospect as well as the prospects most recent visits. The alerts can also contain information on the last campaign they were part of and which email they were sent so the sales person has a record of the last communication to the prospect.
If you are actively using email and are already building useful content for your prospects, marketing automation is definitely worth evaluating. The benefits are clear.