Marketing automation seems to be on everyone’s mouth this year. Everyone from SEOs to traditional marketers are talking it up and providing their own recommendations on how to automate activities.
However, is this just the latest buzzword or is marketing automation here to stay?
Let’s explore this hot topic together by starting from the basics.
What even is marketing automation?
Generally speaking, marketing automation refers to any software solution that has the power to automate repetitive marketing activities, such as launching campaigns, publishing ads or social media posting.
This way, automation reduces the workload and allows marketing professionals to focus on what’s important: creative activities and customer interaction.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore what marketing automation can achieve, or better said, why it has become so popular.
The power of marketing automation
The popularity of marketing automation primarily comes from its utility and versatility.
Regardless of what type of marketing you’re working in, automated workflows can help improve efficiency and productivity. Marketing automation software does this by utilizing its raw power to process data and produce valuable information, which can later be used to run marketing campaigns.
Workflows have another, indirect consequence: they improve employee happiness, as they relieve the employees of their most mundane and boring tasks.
However, workflows aren’t the alpha and omega of marketing automation. They are merely the most popular iteration of it.
Advanced software solutions like CRMs and ERPs integrate workflows and provide additional functionalities. This allows companies to achieve even better results from their marketing efforts.
CRMs and ERPs have the power to:
- Increase the value of each customer and their engagement
- Improve the conversion rate
- Improve the overall return on investment
- Streamline communication, both internally and externally
- Manage multichannel marketing campaigns
By now, you may have realized that we’ve been focusing on all the positives. But marketing automation has its own negatives as well.
The downsides of marketing automation
For all its benefits and advantages, marketing automation has one notable downside. It’s practically unusable on any marketing activities that involve offline work.
As you can imagine, marketing software is primarily designed for companies that operate online. It improves the efficiency of online processes and activities.
This means that traditional marketers can’t really use it to notably improve their own work.
On top of that, marketing automation software is still somewhat pricey. Small businesses and local shops can find it hard to justify the added expenses that marketing automation often requires.
The upcoming trends in marketing automation
If past trends are anything to go by, marketing automation tools will gradually become more and more accessible to small business owners. They will also become more specialized and cater to specific niches, rather than provide generalist solutions that can be applied to a number of wildly different industries.
This means that CRMs and ERPs will quickly shift to the most profitable industries, like real estate and law. Over time, more and more niches will have their own automation solutions.
As solutions become more specialized and the competition grows, automation software will become considerably cheaper. While it may take some time for the prices to drop significantly, it’s only a matter of time before even marketing freelancers and individuals are able to afford them.
Further down the line, you can expect powerful brands to offer automation tools for free. This trend has already begun with Neil Patel making his digital marketing tools available to the public.
How to determine if you need marketing automation
Now, we’ve already mentioned some downsides to marketing automation, so you may be wondering whether you should explore its possibilities and implement it in your organization. If you want to find out whether your company could benefit from the marketing automation software that’s currently on the market, keep reading.
First and foremost, if your company still predominantly functions offline, you may find it hard to utilize marketing automation principles in your organization. If you don’t have a notable online presence, we recommend that you first focus on setting up an online portfolio, before exploring any automations.
Similarly, your employee structure could play a significant role here. If your team isn’t tech-savvy, you’ll likely need to invest in some marketing automation courses first. You’ll need to acquaint your team with the basic principles of automation and marketing software before you start adopting such solutions in your company.
If none of these are an issue for your business, you’ll likely find it easy to transition to a more automated work environment. However, you should still evaluate your business before deciding for such a big move.
To help you determine whether automation software makes sense for you, we’ve come up with the following questionnaire. If you answer yes to the questions below, your business is likely a prime candidate for automation.
- Is your marketing process undefined or prone to changes?
- Do you lose leads or opportunities because you forget to follow up?
- Do you send company newsletters and fliers manually or through the post office?
- Does your team respond to all customer enquiries manually?
- Do you spend a significant percentage of your time on marketing activities?
In case you answered no to most of the questions, your business likely doesn’t require any additional automation. You can continue growing your company in the same way, until more specialized and extensive automation solutions are developed.
There you have it! Everything you need to know about marketing automation explained in less than 1000 words. Now, tell us what you think about marketing automation and its upcoming trends in the comments.