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Marketing automation is an ambiguous and somewhat confusing term that means different things to different people. In essence, it is the technology that can both automate and personalise your marketing communications at scale to suit the needs of modern consumers.

Marketing automation aims is to improve efficiencies, increase sales and create more opportunities for customer engagement in a world that demands instant gratification and increasingly expects a personalised experience.

You could say that marketing automation creates a dialogue, rather than a monologue, with your prospects and customers, by listening to them and responding to them in real time.

Why bother?

  • Personalised digital content increases transaction rates on average by 20%
  • Automated emails average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click through rates than ‘business as usual emails’
  • Prospects are 7x more likely to buy if responded to within an hour. 63% of businesses don’t!
  • 69% of the top performers in B2B use Marketing Automation for customer acquisition & 50% for customer retention

The confusing part of the current marketing automation process is its mis-matched growth in the market. Each solution out there will have a different focus, and marketing technology firms keen to jump on the marketing automation bandwagon often appropriate the term. So let’s dig a little deeper…

Marketing automation is the glue that welds together your marketing technology so that everything operates together from one place, creating a perfect one-stop-shop for your marketing needs!

Email, CRM, analytics, segmentation & targeting, CMS… all these fancy acronyms and marketing cornerstones are available under one roof through the use of clever tracking and reporting to ensure a consistent, relevant and profitable customer relationship.

Here’s an example of marketing automation in action…

Lisa became a big fan of K-Tech after meeting them at a TechTown trade show a couple of years ago and giving them her business card. She has since regularly visited their website to check out any new products, on the hunt for a new executive gadget, but can’t decide whether to buy it from K-Tech, or their competitor.

K-Tech is a clever company and has added a marketing automation tracking cookie to their website, allowing them to track and score Lisa’s website activity anonymously.

Even though Lisa is anonymous, her unique Cookie ID (for example cookie ID 123ABC) allows K-Tech to recognise Lisa’s browser and show her personalised web page content based on her previous viewing activity (for example, a promotion for a product Lisa last viewed appears dynamically on the K-Tech homepage next time she visits the site).

So now Lisa’s experience is already much more relevant than the competitor’s non-tracked website.

One day, a K-Tech value adding email promotion lands on Lisa’s desk, and she clicks a link through to the site to check out the latest executive gadget.

This is where the magic happens! An association has now been made between the cookie ID on Lisa’s browser, and her CRM record, so her cookie ID is no longer anonymous…Cookie ID 123ABC is actually Lisa!

(Lisa could have equally completed a form, or clicked a social media link sent to her to create this association.)

K-Tech have hit the marketing jackpot! Not only do they have Lisa’s entire K-tech.co.uk browsing history added to her CRM record, they’re also now able to send her relevant communications based on her past, present and future online behaviour.

So the next time Lisa visits the website, K-Tech know about it! They are now able to target Lisa with timely communications relevant to her (for example if Lisa looks at the executive gadgets product range, K-Tech can wait 1 day and send her an email with a ‘discount off your first purchase’ offer)

At the same time, K-Tech can set up an alert to their sales team, letting them know that Lisa has ‘viewed the pricing page’ or reached a certain ‘score threshold’, they now know Lisa is an engaged lead to follow up.

It all sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Well, it should be! However, the sheer complexity of the underlying technology and the historically huge costs companies charged for marketing automation software has led to lots of businesses getting their fingers burned in the past.

In fact, according to Mark Jones of marketingtechnews.net, a recent survey of 585 B2C and B2B marketers shows that 8% found their use of marketing automation software was not highly effective and 28% said their expertise in the software they use is basic.

Our Co-founder and CMO, Andrew Nicholson tells us he has “heard a number of stories about expensive enterprise-level marketing automation solutions being purchased, only to be left on the shelf unused the moment the expensive consultants move on.”

The dirty secret of 1st generation marketing automation platforms is that although when they work, they work incredibly well, the vast majority of customers that invest in them end up taking advantage of a fraction of their functionality (yes Eloqua – that’s you we’re looking at!).

But don’t despair! There is a way forward for SME’s…

2nd generation marketing automation solutions like Kulea have now hit their stride.  2nd generation platforms are aimed not at global corporations with teams of Phd students and infinitely deep pockets, but at small to medium businesses that up until now have been frustrated and bemused by marketing automation in equal measures.

If you count yourself as working for, or running one of those businesses, now is a great time to be involved with marketing automation, as the technology finally comes of age.  Today we’re seeing costs falling, and more importantly, user experience improving, making the huge revenue and performance increases associated with marketing automation accessible for the first time.

Add to this third-party application integration solutions such as Zapier that allow canny marketers to connect their previously uncommunicative cloud-based marketing applications together, and you’re onto a winning solution.  With a focus on connectivity and open API’s (technological bridges that allow different tools to talk to each other) these new solutions actively encourage third-party developers to create complementary tools that integrate seamlessly with their own platforms (without the need for mergers and acquisitions to get involved!).

Building a best of breed marketing martech stack, rather than paying through the roof for a full stack solution is the way to go, with almost three-quarters of marketers (74%) building their own best-of-breed marketing technology stacks, while only 23% use a single-vendor for everything they need.  Automation through integration ensures you’re only paying for the features that you need, resulting in a cost-effective and easy to implement integrated martech solution that you can have up and running in weeks.

So what are you waiting for, let’s get started?

This article has been updated and adapted from a piece previously written for TFM&A Insights by our founder and CMO, Andrew Nicholson.

To view the original article, click here: https://insights.technologyformarketing.co.uk/the-beginners-guide-to-marketing-automation/

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