What it is and why you need it
In a world fraught with over-messaging and brand de-personalization, one tool, born of fire and flame, has stood out and given hope to a new generation of marketers: Marketing Automation.
But what is it? Why is it here? Why do I need it? Which creature has fallen from the heavens and delivered to us, both, a symbol of hope, a new way of reducing workload and a reason to live by the saying, “work smarter, not harder”?
Well, first off, it wasn’t a creature, but rather a company (surprise, surprise) that was created way back when in 1992 called Unica. Even though the internet was nowhere near what it is now back then, it was enough to inspire new ideas for marketing technology (martech).
As a result, Eloqua was born in the late 90s and innovated a new product in the early 2000s, a combination of marketing and email resource management, including web analytics, that would change the landscape of marketing forever and start a new wave of digital outreach.
From that point, it only took about 5 years for the marketing automation industry to grow from a $225 million industry to a $1.65 billion industry.
Now that the history lesson is over, we can answer that all-encompassing question that has been burning a hole into that brain of yours as you’ve been reading that you just can’t seem to shake: what is it?
Well, technically, marketing automation is a means to allow marketers to automate daily and monthly tasks and operationalize multichannel communications to manage all the repetitive tasks that come with it.
I know what you’re thinking: “Thanks for the textbook answer. But what is it?”
Marketing automation is an evolving tool to make every marketer’s life easier by doing just that – automating. In my experience, whether it’s streamlining the tedious day-to-day tasks or campaign implementation, it gives us the ability to do so by giving you more time to spend on doing what you can’t automate, like strategy development.
Marketing automation also gives you the ability to grow your digital outreach by allowing you to engage prospects and leads through highly pertinent content that, combined with personalization, converts those very prospects into leads, and leads into clients.
Most companies have been using marketing automation for at least three or more to help see more web traffic, which could lead to more client retention and loyalty and when used successfully, it helps generate more revenue.
Now, I guess we’re on to the “why.”
Why? Never mind that most of marketing automation users say that it’s “very important” to their overall online marketing activities, as published in a 2018 post by Demand Gen Report.
From my personal observation, when people hear the term “marketing automation,” they tend to think only about email marketing.
Yes, while email marketing is a very productive marketing channel, as well as one of the painless to automate, there are many other gears to help keep the marketing automation machine moving, such as social media, lead generation workflows, and landing pages, which, by association, extends your digital outreach.
GetResponse has a great downloadable that describes this new understanding of marketing technology where it’s stated, “Business Owners, Executives and Marketers asked to identify the biggest benefit of Marketing Automation for them, say it is Saving time (30%) following with Lead Generation (22%) Increase in Revenue (17%) Customer Retention (11%), Tracking and Monitoring of marketing campaigns (8%) and a shortened sales cycle (2%).”
Now, when you put aside those antiquated connotations of marketing automation and try to understand the usefulness of what automation can offer for every one of your utilized and unutilized marketing channels, it’ll become increasingly clear just how automation can help save you both time and money over multiple, if not all, channels.
If that doesn’t raise an eyebrow, consider this: marketing automation has become such a huge part of a company’s marketing strategy, that CMOs are now budgeting at least 29% of their budget to marketing technology, which, as Gartner states, makes “martech the single largest area of investment when it comes to marketing resources and programs”.
Any way you cut it, that’s pretty impressive.
With all of that being said, it’s important to understand that, to invest in your digital outreach marketing, investing in marketing technology is a must – there’s no one without the other.
The hopes of me writing all of this isn’t to try to convince you to spend on all kinds of money on tools just because everyone else is. No, the reason behind all of this, is to arm you with the knowledge and understanding that, by not equipping yourself with the right tools to help get your brand, your voice, or your story out into the world, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity.
That doesn’t mean go out and buy the most expensive marketing automation tool that’s currently on the market because chances are, you honestly don’t need all of those fancy bells and whistles to start with.
Do your research. Do your due diligence, just as a potential client would do when considering you as a solution for their problems.
Regardless of where you stand with marketing technology and marketing automation, the truth is, this is only the beginning and how companies’ market and consumer purchases will continue to evolve. Martech Today has forecasted marketing automation tools to reach $25.1 billion annually by 2023 and believe me, this is no fluke. Don’t do yourself a disservice by standing static while the world continues to spin on.
Be a part of the story. Be the hero of your journey. Invest in marketing automation to maintain your competitive edge. Don’t be the business that looks back in three years’ time and says, “I wished I had paid attention sooner.”