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Trending Questions

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is the type of software that automates, streamlines, and manages marketing communications tasks throughout the buyer’s journey. Basically, it replaces manual and repetitive tasks and makes the entire process more efficient.

The most effective demand generation and lead management programs are personalized to the potential customer’s wants and needs and targeted to deliver the right message at the right time. Doing that manually would be next to impossible given the complexity and sheer volume of components and details involved in digital marketing campaigns. It requires tools to manage the workflow and content. Marketing automation consists of cross-channel marketing software that customizes content and automates the targeting, timing, and content of outbound marketing messages in concert with prospect actions and behaviors.

Reaching a New Breed of Buyer

Today’s buyers know how to find what they want—and get it at the best price. Buyers are very savvy at using websites and social media to refine their preferences. By the time a buyer engages with a business, they've probably already made their buying decision, based on information gleaned from you, your competitors, and multiple third-party sites.

Sending batch-and-blast emails won’t work with a more informed and sophisticated buyer. As marketing shifts from bulk outbound messages to a more comprehensive digital strategy, marketers need new technical capabilities. Which is why businesses need marketing automation software to orchestrate the process and entice buyers with fresh content as they move through the sales process. Marketing automation software can guide the conversations, timing, and personalization with useful content that helps turn buyers into customers—and customers into loyal customers.

Reading a prospective buyer's online behavior—or digital body language—helps indicate what product or service the buyer is interest in and where they are in the buying process. Based on these observations, marketers can nurture the prospect throughout the sales process with high-value content.

Combining the Art and Science of Modern Marketing

Today’s Modern Marketing buying process demands that marketers use elements of both science and art. The science of marketing automation software is the engine that automates message delivery, identifies market segments, and manages buyer journeys. But understanding how to delight prospects and motivate them to make a purchase is an art. Skillfully combining the art and science of Modern Marketing differentiates outstanding marketers from the merely good ones.

As marketing shifts from bulk outbound messages to understanding and facilitating each prospect’s buying process, marketers need new technical capabilities. Marketing automation can guide the conversations, timing, and personalization needed to make the shift.

How Does Marketing Automation Software Work?

The customer journey is getting more complex. The number of channels that marketers can use to engage with customers continues to grow—as does the amount of work marketers must put in to stay ahead of the competition.

Marketing automation tools make marketing processes more efficient and effective. Instead of performing manual, repetitive processes, you’re freed up to handle more strategic tasks. Marketing automation streamlines your digital marketing efforts, reduces human error, and helps you achieve better results.

Marketing automation software handles the following tasks:

  • Lead generation, nurturing, and scoring
  • Segmentation
  • Up-sell and cross-sell opportunities
  • Customer lifecycle marketing and customer retention
  • Analytics measuring and reporting

Marketing automation tools handle more than emails. In fact, marketing automation can involve multiple types of content—case studies, leading pages, social media, mobile messaging, digital advertisements, and more. It can help you reshape your entire outbound marketing strategy. With it, you can perform A/B testing to see which headlines, offers, copy, or images are working better. It can provide insights into what is resonating with customers. The results can help you further optimize your marketing strategy and content.

The software can act as a central repository for all your customer data, improving your ability to segment, target, and reach your audience. You can use the customer data to tailor every interaction with a customer to create a seamless, personalized experience throughout every channel. The software enables you to track results, perform analysis, and measure campaign ROI to tweak variables like subject headings or send times.

Marketing automation works like this:

Step 1You collect data about potential customers through website visits, app usage, newsletters, or other interactions.
Step 2Based on that data, you create relevant, useful content.
Step 3Marketing automation software helps you identify, target, and segment your prospect base.
Step 4You design your marketing campaigns using the prospect data that you’ve collected to deliver a personalized experience across email, social, mobile, and other platforms.
Step 5The software does its work. Customer actions and predetermined schedules trigger messages across various channels.
Step 6Track your results using the software’s analysis tools. Find out what is working and what isn’t. Adjust as needed to achieve greater ROI.

“With its outstanding connectivity and flexibility, Oracle Eloqua is a central part of a technical stack that helped us transform our marketing function. We have 360-degree visibility on our customers and can measure the real value of our marketing activities in generating IT product revenue.”

Akansha Pandey, Marketing CX Solution Manager, Amadeus France SA

Nurture Your Potential Customers

While marketing automation software is a powerful tool that can help you be more productive, it won’t do all the work. No matter how many processes get automated, marketing campaigns still require a good deal of human creativity to make your communications stand out.

Personalization Is Key

Personalization is key.

To deliver the right message at the right time, marketers must make sure their content marketing is personalized to each buyer's role in the organization. Personalization comes from the customer data you have collected and compiled on your own or from third parties.

No matter where that data comes from, your data management is important. Data management is the process of collecting, organizing, storing, and protecting data to ensure its quality, accuracy, and reliability.

By compiling information on your potential customer’s position, responsibilities, preferences, and interests, you can tailor your messaging. The more personalized you can make your communications, the more likely your prospects will be engaged and motivated to take the next step in the sales cycle.

Your content should be personalized as well. In all your communications, your content needs to be useful and relevant. If your prospects come away having gained an insight, a nugget of useful information, or learned something new, the more likely they will be to welcome your next communication.

Here’s how a personalized digital marketing campaign nurtures a prospect using marketing automation software:

Step 1A prospect visits your website or follows your company on social media and signs up for your newsletter.
Step 2The prospect receives the newsletter, which provides valuable insights into industry topics and trends.
Step 3You follow up with another email that has new information about how your products and services deal can solve your prospect’s business challenges

Successful personalization is about listening to your customers and understanding their wants and needs. You have to put yourself in their shoes. What pain points do they experience in their jobs? How can your products help?

Digging into the data you have on your customers and prospects will reveal many insights. Are they more interested in webinars or ebooks? By collecting and analyzing data on their interests and goals, you can deliver a personal touch to your communications.

Do not fall into the trap of limiting your thinking and assuming marketing automation can only work with emails. In fact, marketing automation can involve multiple types of content, including case studies, leading pages, social media, mobile messaging, digital advertisements, and more. It can help you reshape your entire outbound marketing strategy. It can even help you to perform A/B testing to see which headlines, offers, copy, images, and other marketing collateral are working better and provide insights into what is resonating with customers. The results can aid you in further optimizing your marketing and content efforts.

Marketing Automation Best Practices

Start by having clear goals for the results you want to achieve from your marketing campaigns. Using marketing automation can help align your marketing and sales teams. Collaboration is integral to the marketing process. But before the campaign starts, make sure that your teams are all on board and prepared to support your efforts.

Have a content strategy in place. Build up a content library with a range of assets: emails, social media posts, white papers, case studies, videos, landing pages, infographics, etc. Using customer data, you can then schedule relevant content to appear at the right time across channels.

Never stop analyzing. Always keep an eye on your results so that you can tweak and change your plans if necessary. Marketing automation analytics provide valuable insights into why something is working—or not working.

Marketing automation software will save you a great deal of time and effort. It will collect prospect data, optimize workflows, and track results. But how you do with your data and how you design your campaign is entirely up to you.