Automation can be the holy grail of running a successful business. After all, what could be better than doing work once, then sitting back and watching as the results come pouring in? With marketing automation, the general impression is the same.
However, just as with any automation process, it’s important to note that automating marketing campaigns comes both with benefits and limits.
Are you looking for the best way to include marketing automation in your business operations? If yes, here’s the info you should know before you get started.
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is best defined as the process of automating various marketing processes across different channels through the use of software solutions.
Having had its boom in the last five years, it has grown into an industry worth over $1.65 billion.
But what’s best about marketing automation is that today, it’s available to all businesses, big or small. With affordable monthly or yearly plans and varied solutions (from HubSpot to Buffer to Salesforce), anyone can create successful campaigns that work (almost) on their own.
Benefits of Marketing Automation
If you’re looking to automate all (or some) of your marketing campaigns, we’ve got great news for you. Not only is it a relatively easy thing to do, but you’ll see quick results at an affordable cost.
According to SMT’s State of Marketing Automation Survey 2019, 75% of businesses already use some form of automation tools in their marketing strategies. The most common ways to use these tools include social media post scheduling, email marketing, social media advertising, and chatbots.
Naturally, there’s a lot to gain from investing in the right tools and software solutions. The following are the most significant gains for businesses when it comes to automating marketing efforts.
The most obvious benefit of investing in automation is the fact that it saves time. It allows you to put your resources into more important tasks such as content creation.
With just a few clicks, automation software can help you distribute content over multiple platforms. It can take care of follow-ups, and some solutions even automate reports or sales.
You can create custom, password-protected B2B portals for your customers, automate orders, and focus your attention on more profitable actions than creating separate price lists for every single one of your vendors.
As with most business processes, marketing is also subject to the 80/20 rule. In plain terms, it’s a theory that suggests that 80% of work tasks only attribute to 20% of the results. And with many marketing actions, this is definitely the case.
Repetitive actions like post scheduling can take up lots of time. Of course, they’re necessary for the smooth operation of your strategies. But, they’re also a valuable resource being spent on actions that don’t bring in the most results.
With marketing automation, you’re doing a great deal to eliminate this problem. As tedious tasks are automated, your team will not only have more time to spend on high ROI tasks, but you might even be able to do more with less.
Automating Pricing Updates
E-commerce stores can benefit from the right automation software. Of course, sales depend on product quality, product pictures, and website UX. But you mustn’t forget that pricing plays a big part as well.
However, with large quantities of items in your offer, it can be difficult checking each and every one of your competitors and adjusting pricing accordingly. So, a smart automatic repricing tool could come in handy in such cases.
When set up correctly, it can ensure that it’s your products that gain the most consumer attention, all the while mitigating the risk of lowering prices too much and driving you into a loss.
The best business decisions (and that goes for marketing as well) are always based on data. And one of the best benefits of automation is that it generally relies on AI, which means it provides quantitative and qualitative evidence of its processes. This allows you to invest in actions and strategies that are sure to work.
Repeatability and Scalability
Finally, don’t forget that automation software gives you the analytical information that shows which of your choices worked and which still need improvement.
With a study-improve-repeat approach, you can not only get great results now, but you can also scale them to meet your long-term goals.
The Limitations of Automating Marketing Efforts
Regardless of its many benefits, marketing automation does come with some limitations as well. To be able to make the absolute most of it, marketing teams and business owners need to be aware of the common pitfalls and risks. It is only through knowing what to look out for that they can ensure their business efforts are rewarded with high returns instead of losses.
Tactics vs. Strategy
One of the biggest misconceptions business owners have about marketing automation is that it’s the answer to all their woes.
But the thing is, even if you use automation tools and tactics, you still need a stellar marketing strategy to answer the most pressing questions regarding your business.
So, before you start investing in automation tools, make sure you know the why behind your actions. Then, you can focus on the how.
Poor Integration and Processes
Think about this: what good is automating a process if you don’t make the absolute most of the results you get?
Poor integration and faulty processes are one of the main reasons your brand new marketing tool isn’t bringing in the desired results. And you’re not alone. According to the IDC Document Disconnect survey, 80% of business leaders deal with issues arising from poorly integrated automation software.
So, while you’re choosing the best solutions for your marketing needs, make sure that you can integrate them to work for you, instead of it being the other way round.
Jack of all Trades, Master of None?
Before you go deep into the world of automation, make sure you understand that there’s always a learning curve with new software.
Instead of implementing five new tools, take things slow.
Make sure that you or your team are well-acquainted with all the functionalities of an automation tool. Furthermore, give yourself some time to adjust, and find out whether your choice has any drawbacks.
The good news is, most of these tools have free trial periods, as well as in-depth how-to pages that’ll give you the knowledge you need to make the most of them.
But, on the flip side of the coin, be prepared to dedicate at least a few weeks or more to every software solution if you really want to master it (and avoid spending on multiple tools that, essentially, do the same thing).
Automation isn’t the Answer to Poor Team Performance
Last but not least, remember that very few software tools work so well as to boost your team’s performance by 100%. Yes, they can save time on tedious tasks. But, as a business owner, it’s still your job to choose and motivate the people who play key parts in your company’s success.
So, in addition to investing in tech, you also need to remember to invest in developing a healthy company culture.
Find ways to motivate your employees. Encourage rest to boost productivity. Build relationships based on trust and honesty. This way, your business endeavors will have a much bigger chance of succeeding. And, you’ll have the support of a great team to share your accomplishments with.
When combined with a solid marketing strategy, automation can lead to stellar results – and not just in terms of ROI.
As these tools become more advanced and developers find new ways to implement AI into their software solutions, you’re sure to find that marketing automation is an excellent investment for your long-term goals.
But, of course, as you’d do with adopting any new solution, make sure you’re well-acquainted with all its pros and cons. Because, in the end, a tool can only serve you as well as you’re equipped to use it.
The original version of this article was first published on V3Broadsuite.
- The Benefits (& Limitations) of Marketing Automation - October 1, 2020