September 1, 2017
Marketing automation may sound hopelessly high tech and complicated, but it’s actually a simple concept: use software to engage with prospects and customers automatically.
The hope (and the irony) of marketing automation is that through the use of a computer program, your business can forge a more human and intuitive relationship with your target customer.
How do you know if you’re ready to automate your marketing? Here’s the number one criteria: You operate a business in the 21st century.
I’ll make a bold statement and say that any business needs some element of marketing automation. If you have a website, if you have cold leads in your database, if you onboard new customers—it makes sense to use marketing automation in your business. Here’s just a sample of what marketing automation can do:
Generate more leads
Nurture those leads
Manage your marketing campaigns
Respond in real time to customer behavior
Segment your audience into groups so that you can personalize your communication
As you see, marketing automation can take a lot of weight off of your shoulders. However, there is a dark side to marketing automation. You should know both the pros and cons before you invest in automation software for your business. Let’s look at the potential drawbacks of marketing automation first.
The potential drawbacks of marketing automation
Consider these cons before buying marketing automation software.
It can be expensive
Marketing automation software ranges from free to thousands of dollars (per month) depending on your needs. It’s easy to get sticker shock when you begin budgeting for your automation upgrade. Fortunately, there are plenty of options when it comes to most marketing automation solutions. And, competition means that you can often find something to suit your needs and your budget. Many marketing automation businesses allow you to customize your plan, paying only for what you need. (That’s Autopilot’s pricing philosophy.)
It’s always a good idea to try before you buy. Be suspicious of companies that don’t offer a completely free, no catch (i.e. no credit card required) trial. Take advantage of these trials to find out if the software will be a good fit for your team.
It’s true that marketing automation saves you time in the long run. However, automation does require an investment of your time initially. In the beginning, you’ll need to plan out what you want to accomplish with the software—whether that’s setting up a free trial journey or implementing a lead nurturing strategy.
Then, you’ll need to define customer personas. Create content for each customer persona. Assign behavioral triggers for developing your content.
And that’s just the beginning. It’s enough to make your head spin. But, if you think about it, you’re doing all of this anyway. You’re segmenting audiences, you’re nurturing leads, you’re sending emails—but right now, it’s pretty disorganized. You’re probably using a Frankenstein mix of systems to accomplish what you can probably do with just one marketing automation software. What you’re doing now is also time consuming, but with no end in sight.
With marketing automation, most of your time investment will be in the initial setup. This is an important consideration if your schedule is already tight.
Not all automation software is easy
Marketing automation software can be complicated. If you’re not tech-savvy, you may have a hard time navigating some automation software. Some companies push you into the deep end and expect you swim. But what if you don’t know how to swim (i.e. you’ve never used software like this before)? Or what if you can’t afford a full-time marketing automation administrator?
This is another reason why you should opt for free trials whenever possible. Trials allow you to test the software, but it also gives you insight into how the company interacts with you.
Do they show you how to use the software, step by step? Do they have an organized and easy to access knowledge base? If you have a question, do they answer promptly?
Before you commit to a software, make sure that it’s easy-to-use and the company will help you experience the product’s full value.
It’s not a panacea
It’s easy to think that once you automate your marketing, everything will fall into place. But remember that marketing automation is not a cure-all. For example, marketing automation will help you:
Simplify your processes, but it can’t advise you on how to minimize churn
Nurture leads, but if you’re targeting the wrong leads, your business won’t grow
Enable engagement, but you’re the one who has to define the right messaging
Marketing automation doesn’t fully eliminate work, but it does eliminate repetitive, mind numbing, time consuming tasks.
The benefits of marketing automation
Now, let’s look at what you stand to gain from implementing marketing automation in your business.
Automation is automatic. You don’t have to personally respond every time someone trips a wire.
Got a new signup for your email list? Great. Here’s a likely scenario:
Because you have marketing automation, the new subscriber gets a welcome email automatically.
Your welcome email asks them to define what type of experience they want to have with your brand. They choose an option. Boom—self-filtering.
Next, your marketing automation software segments subscribers based on their answers. You’ve prepared journeys for each customer segment.
Now, your subscriber is on a customized lead nurturing journey based on their stated objectives. And because you’ve taken the time to set this all up, it’s all done automatically.
Well done. I can make up scenarios like this all day, but you get the point. After the initial setup, marketing automation is hands-free.
Personalized connection with your customer
Imagine a world where you can create a personalized journey for every customer. In this world, everyone receives the right message at the right time, marketing doesn’t feel like marketing, and you don’t need to hire an army of people to make it happen.
It’s a world made possible by marketing automation. All you have to do is create a personalized journey across the entire customer experience, and let the thing run on autopilot.
Whether you’re generating or nurturing leads, or onboarding and upselling existing customers, automation makes it happen much faster and with more consistency.
A multi-channel solution
A lot of people think that marketing automation is just another name for email marketing software.
Although there is an email component in many automation programs, it doesn’t stop there. In addition to email, modern marketing automation platforms extend to additional channels like in-app and on-website messaging, direct mail, and SMS. Plus, marketing automation generates twice the number of leads. When compared with plain old email software, marketing automation leaves it in the dust.
Do you ever feel like everyday is groundhog day? You’re doing the same thing over and over again, caught in an endless loop. And to make things worse, the bulk of it is boring, grunt work.
Marketing automation software eliminates grunt work. The amount of time you save from doing all of these boring or highly technical tasks can now be directed towards growing your business. You’ll be more productive when you focus on customers instead of systems.
So, is marketing automation worth your time and your money? Definitely. It’s all about finding the right solution for your needs. If you’re looking for a marketing automation software, check out Autopilot̋.
Before you go, check out these related posts:
Have any questions about if marketing automation is right for your brand? Let us know in the comments.