What is marketing automation, and why should I be using it?
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What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is relatively new to the marketing space. If you’re reading this, there is a good chance you’re either not using marketing automation. Or using marketing automation, but not using it very well.
Most business owners assume that marketing automation involves putting computer robots to work to automate repetitive marketing tasks. And while marketing automation can take care of your repetitive marketing tasks, it can actually do a whole lot more.
When used correctly, marketing automation can help you dramatically increase qualified leads by building trust and educating your audience. And it can dramatically increase client retention by helping you better connect with and care for your existing customers.
Let’s first start by clearing up some confusion.
Marketing automation basics
There is a good chance you are already doing some kind of marketing automation. If an automated response is sent to a client when they sign up for something on your website, you have automated some part of the marketing process within your business. This could be considered marketing automation. But this is nothing new.
When you hear people talk about marketing automation nowaday, they are talking about software that allows you to automate your marketing process. The software side of things basically means you sign up for a monthly or yearly marketing automation plan, and are given login details to your own account. You can store and manage clients, kind of like you would with a CRM or booking system, but unlike a general CRM or booking system, you can segment your audience, build workflows to send unique and personalised email and text messages and progressively build information about your clients.
The important thing to take into consideration, is that marketing automation software can be as simple as a feature allowing you to create an autoresponder email to send when a client signs up. Or as complex as a feature allowing you to build a sequence of emails to send a new client as they move through a series of varying paths based on their online behaviour and buying history.
Marketing automation software is offered in many different shapes and sizes. Companies like MailChimp now offer marketing automation services as an additional feature to an existing product like email marketing. Other companies like AutoPilot and ActiveCampaign offer marketing automation as the primary service. And it gets more confusing. HubSpot offer marketing automation as an additional feature to a high-end inbound marketing and lead generating service, and LeadPages (a drop and drag landing page building service) have recently acquired a marketing automation company. CRM’s are also now offering automation services. There are literally hundreds of these companies now. In addition to all of this, companies who offer marketing automation as the main feature may also offer a range of additional features. Things like form builders, inbuilt CRM’s, landing page designers etc.
The main output or deliverable to your client via marketing automation is email. But most services will also allow you to send SMS, generate site messages, and by the time you read this, probably send messages via Facebook Messenger.
So why use marketing automation software?
From the very first moment a client shows an interest in your product or service, a relationship forms. It’s your job to nurture these relationships. Truth be told, the future of your business depends entirely on your ability to maintain and build relationships. We are always online. From the moment we wake to the moment we sleep. As is the case with any relationship, you need to connect with and nurture your client regularly without being too aggressive or annoying. If you can’t do this, your competitors will. Forget the specifics of whatever product or service you are selling, what you are really offering your client is a healthier lifestyle. And this is not something that can be achieved in one or two hours a week at your studio, gym or health consultation. If you are unable to regularly connect with your client and become part of their life outside the walls of your business or service, you are unlikely to keep them.
Every single relationship your business creates, builds, retains or loses, will be influenced by your online interactions. Each client will be at their own unique stage of the relationship. You need to provide the smoothest possible pathway for this relationship to grow with the least amount of friction. As a business owner, you don’t physically have enough time in the day to do this as well as you should.
Think of marketing automation as your personally appointed relationship advisor. Marketing automation will tell you which relationships are worth pursuing, which relationships are providing the most value, and which relationships require more attention. Better yet, marketing automation will help you increase the value of your relationships all while reducing the amount of time and money required to do so.
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