Marketing Automation: definition, tools and useful examples

Are you wondering what marketing automation is and how it works? Know that with marketing automation software, you can optimize digital marketing activities and improve your business.

In this page, we will analyze the most important aspects of marketing automation:

  • What it is and how it works
  • The tools
  • Examples
  • How to choose the best software for you
  • The situation

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Marketing Automation: definition

The term “marketing automation” refers to the automation of specific marketing activities made possible by using software.

Marketing automation software allows you to group, automate, and monitor analytics for different stages of an inbound marketing process within a single platform.

In particular, with these tools, you can:

  • monitor user interactions with your website;
  • create landing pages, emails, and forms;
  • conduct A/B tests;
  • perform email marketing and lead nurturing (automatic email sending);
  • do lead scoring and grading (assign scores to your database based on criteria you set);
  • integrate with CRM (customer relationship management) and lead information;
  • automate social media, such as post publications;
  • do social listening (analyze conversions obtained from social media platforms);
  • keep track of all analytics.

These are the activities that can be automated using these platforms, and we will analyze them in the next section of this guide. However, not all software has the same functions, and each one can offer different features.

 

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What is Marketing Automation and how does it work

Marketing automation is a digital marketing tool used in the process of inbound marketing and demand generation (acquiring, managing, and converting leads).

Marketing automation platforms come in handy when businesses need to automate certain repetitive processes to increase efficiency, such as:

  • sending emails;
  • creating landing pages;
  • writing posts on various social media platforms and;
  • all other activities mentioned earlier.

Marketing automation doesn’t generate leads from scratch but intervenes after other actions have been taken, such as when a user has visited a webpage or filled out a form.

marketing automation examples

This is the basic functionality behind this technology for form and lead generation. However, these platforms can also serve various purposes, such as posting content on different social media simultaneously and automatically.

Email marketing and lead nurturing

Email marketing and all lead management activities, such as lead nurturing, become easier and more immediate with these software solutions.

As users and email providers are increasingly targeted by newsletters and commercial advertisements, they are reinforcing their spam filters.

It becomes essential to personalize the messages sent to our customers or prospects (such as the industry they work in or the products they are interested in).

Using software developed on an algorithm that allows a high level of customization and is easily received by email servers will enable you to send highly personalized emails quickly.

Automating repetitive actions

How much time do you waste on repetitive actions instead of focusing on genuinely important aspects? A large number of operations can be scheduled using marketing automation software, saving you time and helping you focus on what truly matters.

Activities such as creating emails, landing pages, and forms can be automated using these tools. It will also be possible to conduct A/B tests to discover which of these actions convert better, making the automation process more efficient.

Lead scoring

Assigning a score to leads allows you to distinguish the best, most active leads close to converting from inactive leads of low value. Lead scoring will be calculated based on interactions (opening an email, downloading an e-book, watching a video, etc.).

Recording the level of interest shown by potential customers will help the sales force focus their efforts and, if necessary, learn from and address issues that occurred during a negotiation or a missed sale.

Lead grading

This is still a score given to leads, but in this case, the points will not be assigned based on conduct but rather on strictly personal factors such as demographic data, educational background, age, role in the company, etc.

Monitoring and analytics

In marketing automation, with monitoring and analysis, you can view all points of contact with potential customers, from downloaded files to exchanged emails.

The activity history provides valuable insights to make the sales process more efficient, optimizing actions taken and to be taken.

From information collected from social media, and emails, to remarketing: what they clicked, and what they saw on your website can allow you to personalize their conversations and offers.

Recording and notifying events

With marketing automation, you can activate and receive real-time alerts every time a customer is active on your site: visiting the pricing page or downloading content.

You can also record the number of phone calls and emails exchanged with a customer before completing a transaction.

Integrating CRM

Combining a CRM solution with automated marketing tools allows you to go beyond basic demographic information offered by analytics tools or the CRM itself and delve deeply into the customer decision journey.

You can see which pages your leads are visiting and what types of content/products they are interested in.

If you have an automated marketing system integrated with a CRM, the connection between ROI and campaigns becomes much simpler to determine.

Bidirectional synchronization ensures that campaigns created with marketing automation software are also mapped in the CRM, making it possible to link offers to the campaigns that generated them.

This reporting capability allows you to calculate revenue from campaigns, track expenses, accurately measure return on investment, and make decisions based on actual data.

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Marketing Automation: purpose

Once you understand what marketing automation is and how it works, the purpose of this activity becomes evident. The purpose of marketing automation is to:

  1. optimize customer acquisition processes;
  2. increase efficiency and sales;
  3. maximize revenue from lead generation campaigns.

automation purpose

The main benefits that such an activity can bring are:

  • improved efficiency in lead acquisition, management, and conversion;
  • increased revenue, as expanding the database leads to higher conversions and consequently, higher earnings;
  • optimized email marketing;
  • time savings due to automation of repetitive actions;
  • assigning statuses and lead scores to increase CRM;
  • the ability to record and notify events;
  • the connection between ROI and campaigns becomes much easier to determine.

The possible disadvantages of integrating this strategy can be:

  1. high and fixed expenses for the software;
  2. dependency on the software (if you decide later not to use the tool anymore, you will lose all the work done);
  3. relying solely on automation without a clear strategy is dangerous and inconclusive.

In a nutshell, one must consider the pros and cons of marketing automation to see, financially speaking, whether this could be a winning strategy to use for your business or not.

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Marketing Automation examples

Now that we know what it is, how it works, and the purpose of marketing automation, let’s clarify everything with some specific examples of marketing automation.

Email example: workflow

Below is an example of a marketing automation workflow related to a form.

automatic marketing workflow example

The image shows a typical marketing automation workflow regarding a form. Based on the user’s behavior, the marketing automation software will take opposite actions.

For example, if the user opens the form, it will send a downloadable ebook, which, when opened, will lead to a free offer of a demo version of the product.

Marketing automation workflows follow automation logic, and various activities are customized by the software based on how users interact and what actions they take.

Lead scoring example

Here is an example of lead scoring (assigning scores to leads).

lead scoring example

When interactions occur, such as clicking on a link, adding an item to the cart, or any other operation, a pre-defined score is assigned.

You can distinguish positive leads nearing conversion from those in earlier funnel stages (awareness, interest) and thus segment lists. In the example case, scores are assigned when a page view is recorded, a site search is performed, an opt-in form is filled out, a download is made, or an email click is registered.

Lead grading, on the other hand, follows different criteria based on the general information acquired in the initial stage of filling out an opt-in form, such as place of origin, industry, job role, title, and job function.

Social automation tools example

Below is an example of automatic marketing applied to social media.

social networks automation

Through this type of automation, you can simultaneously manage various social media platforms by scheduling an editorial calendar for automatic post publishing and selecting the dates and times of publication.

This way, you can plan everything to be published in the following month right from the start, saving significant time. All of this will enable you to efficiently maintain continuous relationships with leads.

Some tools also offer a quick overview (as shown in the image) for a glance at all the planned content, allowing you to quickly make any necessary changes.

Marketing Automation Software: how to choose

When selecting the best and most suitable marketing automation software for your business, certain variables need to be considered, such as business objectives, the strategy you’re pursuing, digital channels and tools relevant to your plan, budget, and platform costs.

It’s evident that to choose the right tool, you need to start by analyzing your own company, compare it to the platforms available in the market, and find the one that fits best.

In particular, it will be useful to analyze:

  1. The budget available for the software;
  2. The number of contacts you wish to have in your database (tools often have different pricing tiers);
  3. The channels you intend to use in your communication strategy (SMS, email, blog, website, social media).

Afterward, you’ll need to choose the software based on:

  • Price;
  • User-friendliness;
  • Speed of data reading and extraction from web pages;
  • Ease of configuration;
  • Feasibility of integration with your platforms;
  • Preference between software with integrated CRM or without but that can connect to yours;
  • And finally, your needs and useful communication channels (email landing pages, webinars, social media, etc.).

The best Marketing Automation Software

Here is a list of marketing automation software – some of which are free and open source – that you can consider based on your needs:

  • Infusionsoft
  • Eloqua
  • iContact
  • IBM Marketing Cloud
  • Marketo
  • Pardot
  • Teradata
  • Act-OnSimplyCast
  • SharpSpring
  • SAS Institute
  • SalesManago
  • Ontraport
  • Net-Results
  • Adobe Campaign
  • MindMatrix
  • Salesfusion
  • MarcomCentral
  • LeadSquared
  • Clickfunnels

Among the best marketing automation software on the market, there are certainly: Hubspot, Marketo, and Mdirector.

Hubspot

Hubspot is the market leader. This tool is the most comprehensive and complex but also the most expensive. The free version of the software is not very feature-rich.

hubspot platform

This platform boasts thousands of customers in over 120 countries. The software provides all automation services: marketing, sales, and customer service, and includes a free CRM.

Among its key and most popular features are lead generation, marketing automation, analytics, email tracking and automation, and meeting scheduling.

Marketo

Marketo is another leading market platform focused on selling.

marketo platform

It allows measurable results in lead management, email marketing, consumer marketing, and mobile marketing. This tool has more than 500 corporate clients.

Mdirector

Mdirector is the only email marketing and SMS platform that incorporates a landing page generator and programmatic purchases (RTB) in the same tool. This tool allows you to create landing pages, and subscription forms, generate automated emails, and integrate CRM.

Marketing Automation in United States

In United States, marketing automation is widespread: more than half of the companies use tools to automate activities. As we know, America often leads trends that will later develop in the rest of the world.

Marketing automation has been developing in recent years, and we hear more and more about marketing automation topics.

However, there are still obstacles to the spread of marketing automation, such as:

  • limited resources;
  • difficulty integrating with the company’s existing software;
  • lack of necessary skills;
  • complexities related to managing this software;
  • high costs.

In 2019, a survey on CRM and the spread of marketing automation was conducted. The data says that:

  1. Around 75% of businesses in America already use marketing automation tools.
  2. The top three marketing processes that businesses automate are social media post scheduling, email marketing, and social media advertising retargeting.
  3. The biggest challenges that businesses face with marketing automation are integrating it with other systems, optimizing campaigns, and executing their marketing automation strategy.
  4. Subsequent data confirms this, indicating that among the most widely used marketing automation software, there are:
  • HubSpot
  • Adobe Marketo
  • Salesforce Marketing Cloud

email marketing tools

An interesting book on marketing automation is entitled “Marketing Automation for Dummies” by Mathew Sweezey (2014).

This comprehensive guide offers valuable insights into the realm of marketing automation, a powerful tool within customer relationship management (CRM).

The book simplifies complex concepts, making it accessible to readers seeking to enhance lead conversions, refine forecasting techniques, and optimize customer segmentation. It serves as a practical resource for businesses aiming to stay ahead in the competitive landscape.

By providing practical tips and best practices, Sweezey’s book equips readers with the knowledge and skills needed to implement successful marketing automation strategies, integrating them seamlessly into their business processes.

Conclusion

In today’s business world, marketing automation has evolved from being an innovative approach to becoming a vital requirement for all types of companies. Implementing an automation platform that enhances sales and boosts productivity is now more accessible than ever before.

The evolution of marketing automation has been remarkable, progressing from basic email marketing to intricate software platforms. This transformation has revolutionized how businesses promote their products and services.

Modern marketing automation platforms offer an array of features, enabling businesses to craft personalized campaigns and target specific customer segments.

As technology continues its advancement, we can anticipate even more sophisticated developments in marketing automation. These advancements will empower businesses to achieve greater success in their marketing endeavors.

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