Marketing Automation 101: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Posted by Neima Chowdhury - October 30, 2019 • 7-minute read

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is among the most important and reliable innovations used in the digital marketing world today. It helps marketers, as its name suggests, automate tasks such as getting more accurate data, personalizing marketing messages, and nurturing leads. 

But before we go and delve further into the benefits, let’s take a crash course on what marketing automation is, how it works, and find out whether or not you’re maximizing all it has to offer. 

What is marketing automation?

Simply put, marketing automation refers to software and technology that helps automate repetitive marketing tasks. 

Using marketing automation, you can now easily do the following tasks:

  • Sending emails and SMS
  • Publishing social media posts
  • Segmenting and updating contacts
  • Gathering data and reports
  • Other website-related actions

To start, you’ll need to set up a workflow (we’ll elaborate on this in a bit) using your marketing automation software, which will accomplish the tasks you’ve laid out for you.

But more than just automating tasks, marketing automation is also a tool that helps companies send personalized content to the right person at the right time. By leveraging this technology, you can now nurture and engage your contacts more effectively to turn them into customers or promoters of your brand. 

There are several marketing automation tools that you can use, and each has its own capabilities. For instance, there are all-in-one marketing automation platforms that can automate tasks such as social media marketing, content management, web analytics, search engine optimization, and customer relationship management. If you want to start small, choose a software that automates specific marketing actions that you need help with.

How does it work?

Have you experienced receiving an email from an eCommerce shop that left you feeling like they know you and your preferences? Maybe they’ve sent a reminder that the item on your wishlist is on sale or that the item you opted not buy is still available.

These are examples of how marketing automation helps ensure that the right messages are being sent to the right people in your contacts list through the use of workflows. But how do workflows work?

A workflow is an essential part of marketing automation and is made up of predefined conditions that trigger the completion of a specific task. These triggers are usually based on consumer behavior, which you can measure based on how they interact with your website and emails.

To help you better understand how this works, here’s an example of a simple workflow on marketing and sales automation software HubSpot.

Simple Workflow on marketing

As you can see from the sample workflow above, you have to select an enrollment trigger or criteria to be met before a contact can enter a certain automation workflow. In the example we used, contacts are enrolled in the workflow once they’ve filled out a form on a website. Since these contacts are now included in the workflow, they automatically receive a thank you email for filling out the form.

The example we’ve provided is called a linear or simple workflow. There are more ways you can maximize workflows on marketing automation software based on your objectives or goals. For instance, you can use workflows to send a series of informative emails to nurture the contacts or to give them instructions to guide them in purchasing your product. Take a look at this example from HubSpot:

Nurturing contacts workflow

In this workflow, the if and then branches are utilized to send appropriate content to contacts based on their actions. Contacts who opened the first email received the second email; those who didn’t were sent a variation of the first email instead.

Aside from if or then branches, marketing automation software also lets you delay tasks you’ve automated to make sure you’re sending the content at the right time.

For instance, if you’re creating a lead nurturing email series, you can set up your workflow to send the first email message immediately after signup. Then, you can follow up with a second email after three or more days to prevent spamming your contacts with too many emails in a short span of time.

multiple workflow marketing automation

How can marketing automation help marketers?

While marketing automation won’t necessarily solve all your problems, it can give more meaningful insight and understanding on how to best address them, which can help you make informed business decisions. Here are some ways how it does just that:

1) Save time

Sending out emails and SMS messages, publishing on social media, and gathering data for insights on campaigns may sound simple, but these can also be tedious and time-consuming when done manually. Fortunately, marketing automation can help you work more efficiently.

This infographic released by Entrepreneur.com shows how automating social media posts and ads alone can help marketers save more than 6 hours per week. And where email marketing and lead nurturing are concerned, you can set up a workflow to send the right content at the right time to the right people in your contacts list. Both free up your time so you can focus on more meaningful activities such as crafting a strategy.

2) Get accurate data efficiently

Marketing automation is not only an efficient tool that helps get things done. It’s also useful when gathering data and insights based on the performance of your digital marketing efforts.

For instance, using marketing automation for email marketing gives you visibility on the open and click rate, your top engaged contacts, and their time spent viewing your email. This makes it easier to analyze what works and what doesn’t for your email campaigns. Similarly, integrating marketing automation software to your social media channels allows you to track social engagement, top performing content, and how visitors converted.

3) Amplify personalization

The data you gather from marketing automation can help you create and curate more personal and targeted content which can drive your business forward. Based on 2016 data from Publish or Perish, marketers that provide personalized web experiences get double-digit returns in marketing performance and response.

How do you use marketing automation to personalize content? If you have a store for example, chances are you have customers with different characteristics and preferences. Using your marketing automation platform, you can easily draw insights on their preferences, and nurture them with workflow and emails crafted specifically for them.

The targeted content that you deliver will help convert more visitors into leads, who then become prospects and customers, who can eventually become your brand promoters.

Want to learn more about marketing automation? 

Maximize your automation platform with help from digital marketing specialists who are certified in various HubSpot capabilities. Click the button below to schedule a free, no-obligation call with us today.

HubSpot Consultation

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Lead Generation, Email Marketing, HubSpot, email marketing campaign, Marketing Automation, Lead Nurturing

Written By

Neima Chowdhury

Neima Chowdhury

Neima Chowdhury is a Content Marketing Associate at StraightArrow. She enjoys creating written and verbal content for various media platforms, for all stages of inbound marketing, and helping clients deliver their brand messages. When she’s not working on new content, you’ll find her either reading, listening to music, or watching the latest Korean drama.

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