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Marketing Automation
8 min

What is Marketing Automation? A Guide for 2021 and Beyond

There’s been a lot written about marketing automation in recent times. Marketing experts know that it’s necessary to absorb and keep up with the latest trends in order to be successful.

That’s why in this guide, we’ve broken it down into six areas:

  • What is marketing automation to begin with?
  • How does it help marketers like me?
  • How does it affect consumers?
  • How can I choose a marketing automation solution?
  • Why does marketing automation fail?
  • How is it evolving in 2021 and beyond?

In short, by the time you reach the end, you should not only have a good working idea of the advantages of marketing automation but also of the steps you need to take.

After all, studies show that 80% of marketing automation users saw an increase in the number of leads using marketing automation software. And 77% had an increase in conversions.

No wonder that the marketing automation software market was estimated at USD 6.87 billion in 2020 and is expected to be USD 19.66 billion in 2026.

What is Marketing Automation in the first place?

As you know, marketing automation is the use of technology to handle marketing procedures automatically across multiple channels.

It automates actions that bring potential consumers to a point where they can be approached to close a sale. It promotes personalized marketing that can lead to sustained consumer relationships. The data it provides can drive your choice of future marketing tactics.

benefits-of-marketing-automation-getresponse

(Source – Get Response)

A typical example would be software that schedules and sends out social media posts, emailers, and other promotional material to consumers at regular intervals.

Here are some examples of marketing automation being put to use:

  • Email marketing, with welcome and reminder emails
  • Transactional messages and updates
  • Surveys and feedback mechanisms
  • Product updates

The above are just a few uses to which marketing automation can be put. It can distribute a variety of scheduled messages across all your marketing channels.

It’s worth noting that marketing automation relies on a series of templates, but that doesn’t mean that your messages cannot be personalized. Your emails can be designed to suit your communication, and other messages can be made specific to your needs.

That’s not all. Marketing automation can help in generating leads and measuring campaign ROI as well.

Another feature of marketing automation is that it allows you to profile and segment your target audience. This leads to more effective communication. That is why a well-designed marketing automation platform should be designed to scale up as your business grows.

Take the case of Lifestyle, India’s leading fashion destination, which implemented a purchase funnel-based engagement strategy. This led to a 30% improvement in retention rate, and a 4x boost in conversions.

How does Marketing Automation help marketers?

Marketing automation is clearly meant to make life simpler and more rewarding for marketers, whether they’re focused on products, services, B2B, or B2C efforts.

Automation takes over repetitive manual tasks. For example, in email marketing, so you have more time for other work. You also do not need extra staff for mechanical and routine chores.

How has marketing automation helped you

(Source – Peppybiz)

As you know, we live in the age of Big Data. With proper marketing automation, you can get large amounts of data to understand consumers. This is invaluable for segmentation and planning your next campaign based on which stage of the sales funnel consumers are in.

Of course, data alone isn’t enough. That’s why marketing automation software often includes features that aid in analysis. This lets you focus your campaigns and use precise targeting. These insights can give you an invaluable edge over the competition.

Marketing automation also improves ROI. In fact, one study shows that the most mature users of marketing automation achieve 32% greater revenue versus their plan than average companies – and a whopping 79% more than the least mature companies.

In a nutshell, then, the effective use of marketing automation can help marketers to:

  • Free up valuable time and resources
  • Provide data to understand customers better
  • Generate analytics that turns the data into insight
  • Significantly improve ROI over time

The right marketing automation software does all of the above by:

  • Using inbound marketing tools, for example, social publishing, landing pages, feedback, and CRM mechanisms.
  • Using outbound marketing techniques such as email marketing and direct mail, along with A/B testing.
  • Lead nurturing workflows, which deliver automated touches to build personalized relationships with consumers.
  • Generating data and analytics so you can check on the effectiveness of campaigns across multiple channels, linking them to revenue, and suggestions for calibration.

When such data is married to insight, the results can be magical. For example, Vedantu, a pioneering Bengaluru-based tutoring platform, wanted to tackle the problem of a large number of drop-offs. The automated solution was to identify the ideal student path from signup to tutorial completion and create cohorts based on behavior and event actions.  

The results: there was a 65% overall growth in the topline business, and a threefold increase in daily active users.

How does Marketing Automation affect consumers?

Savvy marketers understand that all customers are not the same. They have different behavioral patterns, different needs, and are at different stages of the sales funnel.

Marketing automation can help you understand these different types. It can then tweak and deliver messages and content that are customized to their interests.

This form of personalized marketing means tailoring interactions across the spectrum, which triggers actions to move consumers up the funnel until conversion.

For consumers themselves, such marketing processes mean receiving a series of messages that are based on their current mindset. This increases interest and aids in retention.

The individual customer experience itself can be enhanced with marketing automation software. Many times, your messages will even be able to anticipate their needs.

To take one example – with marketing automation software, you will be able to tell which link was clicked by which customer and the amount of time they spent on which section of content.

This will enable you to send future communication tailored to this behavior. It could be in-depth detail, or it could be another aspect of your brand altogether.

Further, you can create a drip-email campaign based on an analysis of the open rate, and who has shown interest. Such a campaign may contain the same message but tailored differently to different interests at different times.

For the consumer, this means that your brand comes across as responsive and alert to their needs. Which, in turn, means more loyalty and receptivity to your marketing messages.

For mobile-first brands, marketing automation is especially effective in driving growth. Here’s how.

Summing up, with marketing automation, your consumer can look forward to:

  • Personalized solutions
  • Timely communication
  • Responsive announcements and messages
  • An increased sense of loyalty towards your brand

How can you choose a great Marketing Automation solution?

Having come this far, you may now be wondering what your next steps should be. You’re keen to benefit from a marketing automation platform, but how do you go about it?

Here are some things to keep in mind when making a choice.

1. First of all, you need a plan. Marketing automation isn’t a magic wand. It’s an efficient and valuable tool. Before using it, you need to decide which sort of consumer you’re appealing to, what you want them to do, what your budget is, and the results you expect.

2. Then, you need to create long- and short-term goals based on the above objectives. The goals will depend on whether you want to establish a presence, sell more, get more conversions, increase leads, and so on.

3. With these in mind, you can choose the channels you think will work: be it social media, email, blogs, or, ideally, a mix of these and more. Start putting down ideas on differentiated and powerful content.

4. Now, you can start to choose among services and types of marketing automation platforms. Things to check are whether the platforms have the tools and features for email, social media, SMS, content development, and the other media you have in mind, along with whether it supports segmentation by geography and demographics, SEO, and other means of tracking, as well as A/B testing capability.

5. Three other important factors you should keep an eye on ease of use, scalability, and customization. The first will make it simple for you to make use of. The second will ensure that as your business grows, you can make more use of it. And the third can help you reach out to customers with individual messages.

6. Finally, you also need to look at features and technical details. For example, is there a platform that the majority of your consumers use? Would you require a customer support mechanism? Does the automation software synch with the technology you already employ?

In a nutshell, choosing the right marketing automation software depends on:

  • The nature of your business goals
  • Your existing business software and budget
  • The tool’s capabilities across platforms and analytics features

With that in mind, you can look up a definitive buyer’s guide to a platform that’s just right for you.

Why Does Marketing Automation Fail?

It’s undeniable that marketing automation can boost conversations and generate leads.

Yet, there are some businesses that aren’t reaping their full benefits. There are some basic reasons why this can happen.

  • Fuzzy goals – As pointed out above, automation is a means to an end. If that end isn’t defined clearly in terms of objectives and time frame, automated marketing processes will not be able to work to their full potential.
  • Undifferentiated messages – Marketing automation is a powerful way to segment customers and deliver personalized messages to them. However, if the content of the messages is similar across all segments, consumers will not respond in an effective and enriching way.
  • Using only emails – Email is one of the areas where marketing automation really shines. However, it’s not the only channel that benefits from automation. An omnichannel approach that ties in social media, text messages, landing pages, and more works best.
  • Bad timing – The frequency of your communication is an important aspect of marketing automation. Too many messages and you run the risk of putting your consumers off. Too few messages and they may not react. Experience and expertise lead to the right frequency.

 

marketing-automation-challenges-report

For e-commerce brands, here are the top marketing strategy fails, and how to avoid them

How is Marketing Automation evolving in 2021 and beyond?

As technology and computing capacity evolves, marketing automation is progressing to become an even more powerful way to reach and convert consumers.

This means there are several marketing automation trends to watch out for in 2021 and beyond.

Here are some of the most prominent trends

1. Personalization meets privacy – As we’ve seen, personalization is one of the great advantages that marketing automation can deliver.

Yet, according to a recent study, 66% of consumers report they are just as concerned about the commercial use of their personal data and online identity for personalization purposes as they are about security threats and hackers.

That is why legislation such as the California Consumer Privacy Act has come into effect.

This means that marketers will have to show sensitivity and respect for consumer data. This will have to be used responsibly and with transparency. Consumers should be treated as individuals and not just data sets.

2. Machine learning meets relevance – A Deloitte study shows that consumers can see anywhere between 400 to 10,000 ads per day. The challenge will be to stand out in this crowded environment.

The answer is to combine machine learning with relevance. The former can give you a specific picture of your consumer and ways to reach them. And the latter can be gained by keeping an ear to the ground to capture nuggets of relevance that can be leveraged for engagement.

3. Marketing meets sales – Increasingly, companies are saying that one of their top concerns is better alignment between the sales and marketing departments. Marketing automation can smoothen and accelerate this process.

Sales and marketing teams can work together to reap the analysis of consumer behavior online. What have they spent time on, what have they clicked on and what emails have the best open rate?

These factors can be leveraged to improve content as well as make salespeople improve and fine-tune their pitches.

A fine example is that of Managed Maintenance Inc, a provider of management services for technology assets. They replaced and integrated marketing automation and sales CRM tools together. This increased lead generation by 75% over the previous year.

In all these ways and more, marketing automation has proved to be a significant advance over earlier methods of marketing. It’s a combination of precision and personalization that enables marketers to take aim at consumers with winning results.

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