What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is a broad term that includes any number of applications designed to identify, organize, and facilitate communication with prospects and customers. In other words, it’s software that allows companies to more efficiently and effectively deliver advertising materials to interested or potentially interested consumers and clients.
When you sign up for a newsletter or request more information on a website, it’s that website’s marketing automation suite that determines how to contact you, what offers you might be interested in, and whether it’s worthwhile to pass your data to the sales team. Marketing automation can thus be as simple as an automatic chain of sales letters delivered to anyone on a mailing list, or it could be a complex system that identifies market segments and appeal to consumers in a personalized manner.
There are a few key tools offered by any modern marketing automation suite, which allow businesses to improve sales, minimize wasted effort, and scale growth efficiently.
The simplest application of marketing automation lies in its ability to take one sales pitch and deliver it to hundreds, thousands, even millions of customers. A single florist with no marketing team can carefully plan a series of emails designed to turn prospects into customers, feed that series into their marketing automation, and have their words conveyed to as many prospects as they would like. Of course, this is only the most fundamental and rudimentary application of automation—but it’s perhaps the most valuable in closing the gap between a small company and its large competitors.
The amount of data you can collect on prospects has never been greater, but turning that raw data into actionable information for your marketing and sales personnel can be challenging and time consuming. To solve this aspect of modern marketing, we have analytics suites to help. While Google Analytics does a great job of examining activity on your website, a marketing automation tool can track different and personalized aspects of customer interactions.
It’s no marketing secret that if you personalize a message for the recipient, you’ll get better response rates. This can be as simple as inserting the customer’s name in the subject line or intro, but you could go a step further to offer tailored messages based on noted interests from a survey or sign up form, or push the limits of marketing automation by identifying market segments based on demographics, location, site usage habits, and other factors to deliver a wholly personalized set of marketing materials.
In some ways, this is counter to the benefit of efficient messaging, as it requires time to set up properly. But the more time and effort you’re willing to put into setting up your marketing automation, the more effectively you’ll be able to turn prospects into high-value leads.
Marketing automation also encompasses the oft-overlooked issue of organizing communication with prospects. It can be difficult to keep track of every interaction with a given prospect or customer, to identify the best times to follow up with a bride or make a strong pitch to a qualified corporate account lead. Marketing automation software can put all the relevant data attached to a particular customer at your fingertips; you can even use the same principals of personalization to help your sales team deliver a tailored pitch based on prior communication.
Growth and competition
Of course, marketing automation isn’t just valuable for the way it can improve your current sales rates and way of doing business. The most important aspect of marketing automation may be its potential for growing businesses, for letting small companies compete on a level playing field with the giants of their industries. There are a few key ways to leverage marketing automation to this end.
When companies grow, they frequently run into challenges unique to their new size. In other words, they find that their old approach to business falls apart at larger scales. Marketing automation allows a company to scale their efforts to any size. The gains in efficiency and organization mean that you can handle more business with fewer personnel, and when the time comes to add new people to your team, you won’t struggle with integration.
Growth in well-populated industries like floristry often means having to identify new or underserved markets. That, in turn, means effective market research—something marketing automation can be immensely helpful with.
A highly effective and efficient sales team isn’t just useful in extracting value from current customers, it’s critical to your growth. When you successfully close a higher percentage of prospects and leave those prospects more satisfied, you’ll naturally see growth, as positive word-of-mouth spreads.
Making contact at the right time, mentioning the right personal details, remembering prior encounters—all of these strongly influence how your customers perceive your company. When they love your company, they tell people (and the internet) about it. When they hate your company, they do the same. Shaping healthy relationships with your customers via marketing automation and good long-term planning provides a natural, highly effective route to growth.
It can be difficult to adjust to a shift in markets for many businesses, but with a proper marketing automation suite in place, you will find it easier to pursue new opportunities. This improvement in agility is even more noticeable for smaller companies and can allow those companies to seize on opportunities a larger company never could, even if they were to leverage the same set of tools.
Ultimately, marketing automation can be viewed as a tool to make your business more efficient. More efficient at sending out materials, more efficient at parsing data on customers, markets, and competitors, and more efficient at turning prospects into leads and leads into customers. Add it together with enough effort and insight, and even the smallest business can scale up to compete with the top businesses in their industry.