What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is a word many people use to describe to automate everything in their business processes. But, what is marketing automation exactly? A good way to start off is to give you an idea of what marketing automation is in terms of a definition.

What is marketing automation?

In essence what we mean when talking about marketing automation is a technology that manages marketing processes and the data that comes with it across more than one channel, fully automated. With marketing automation, businesses and individuals can target potential and current customers with automated messages across the web, email, social media, and text and, importantly, track these customers based on behavior, so that they can customize and personalize their whole communication stream with them.

The latter is an extremely powerful asset of marketing automation since we live in a world with an abundance of information. Call it information overflow. People are not in need of more information.

They need relevant information according to their needs, at the right time, with the right type of content. In essence, you can split things up into three parts. Marketing automation is about:

1. Platform: You use a marketing automation platform/software to make sure you are able to do all of the above.

2. Process: Using a platform and the benefits it has enables you to create a process and structure for yourself to manage your contacts and leads, and a process of communicating with them.

3. People: In the end, we are human beings, and we communicate with each other. Marketing automation is not about eliminating human contact by automation. It’s about creating a deeper level of communication with people, in an automated way, but not at all diminishing real human contact. Actually,  it enforces human contact by making it more effective. So, why is marketing automation useful?

Marketing automation is useful to help you streamline your communication with current clients, potential clients, and whoever else you want to communicate with within your company (internal and external stakeholders, for instance). Let me give you a couple of reasons why you will benefit from marketing automation software:

1. It creates an overview.

This is key. We live in a world full of data. We send emails, we send WhatsApp messages, we call people, we send text messages, we interact on social media, and if you are running online advertisements people will interact with those. Without a proper platform in place to track this, it’s getting harder and harder to get a good sense of who is responding to what, when, and why.

A marketing automation platform does not only give you a better overview of this data, but it also really helps you to prioritize who in your company should communicate with whom, when, how, and for what.

2. It helps you to prioritize.

Not every prospect or visitor of your website is immediately ready to buy from you or is even interested in you. People go through phases of interest before they even consider doing business with you.

Marketing automation enables you, because you have a better overview, to visualize who is engaged with your company at such a level that he or she is ready to be called or approached by you. Too many companies go into ‘sales mode’ when the customer is not ready to buy from them yet. He or she is merely latently interested. When you jump on top of those people it only puts them off, because you are just another salesperson on their neck.

But, when they instead come to you because you offered them real value along the way, without immediately offering them a sales pitch, they will come to you. Or, you know they interacted with you many times before, and are indeed ready for the next step.

3. It saves time.

First and foremost, being able to use triggers and actions (X triggers Y, Y triggers Z, etc.) in your marketing automation software means that you won’t have to send manual emails anymore. Also, when people fill in forms on your website, you don’t have to follow them up manually with a first reply. The same applies for hosting webinars.