What is marketing automation?
Imagine a world where all your marketing processes are working perfectly fine without you tweaking them every other day….
…..where your target customer is automatically receiving all your messages across email, web, social media, and text…
…where you (and/or your employees) have plenty of time to focus on ‘bigger’ tasks than sending out your weekly newsletters and other advertising material…
Want to go to that world?
Now you can with….Marketing Automation.
Marketing Automation is often seen as a buzzword. And, there’s a lot of confusion around it.
People think marketing automation is too complicated to understand. But, that’s not how it’s supposed to be.
Generally speaking, marketing automation is about subscriber management.
You create a system that allows users who haven't seen your Product A to get notified about it.
But, if they've seen Product A, then they can get notified of Sales Page B for Product A, and so on.
Unfortunately, marketing automation is overdone and overhyped.
A couple of years ago, Frank Kern decided to invent something called Behavioral Dynamic Response Marketing, which is a fancy way of saying marketing automation.
But, he has abandoned it.
Why? Because simple works better!
And that's the ultimate truth: When it comes to marketing automation, simple does work better.
In This Article
- What marketing automation is and how it can help you to simplify your marketing and sales efforts
- The 3 best marketing-automation tools out there
- Which marketing automation tool you should choose, and why
Let’s get rolling.
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is all about using software and tools to automate your marketing processes and strategies.
Your marketing strategy involves a number of repetitive tasks like email marketing, social media posting, and other advertising strategies.
You can automate all these practices not just to improve your company's productivity, but also to offer a more personalized experience for your customers.
This is where a marketing automation strategy steps in. It uses technology to make these actions easier and hassle-free.
Stats About Marketing Automation
Not sure where the world is heading with marketing automation? Take a look at these stats:
- On average 51% of businesses are currently using marketing automation, while 58% of B2B companies plan to embrace the technology.
- The US marketing automation software industry is a $6.1 billion market in 2019, increasing more than 20% every single year.
- 75% of marketing professionals claim they presently use at least one type of marketing automation software.
- 48% of digital marketers are using marketing automation to create bespoke customer experiences.
- Mapping the customer experience (53%) and use of bespoke/dynamic content (51%) are considered to be the most effective for improving marketing automation strategies.
Misconceptions About Marketing Automation
Due to the popularity of marketing automation, people mistakenly believe that marketing automation tools can be the silver bullet for any stoppages in their marketing growth, which includes the need for lead generation.
As a result, many marketing professionals use sophisticated marketing software to automate the middle of their funnel, without focusing on lead generation BEFORE lead nurturing.
They start purchasing lists of email addresses to nurture, rather than capturing qualified leads.
It sounds like an easy way out, but it's not a lasting solution. And, it doesn’t construct the productive ground needed for a healthy, long standing connection with your customer.
Here’s another misconception about marketing automation…
Countless marketing specialists visualize marketing automation in the context of a sales funnel, meaning you generate leads, place them in an automated email queue, and transfer hand-raisers to Sales, which then goes on to sell them your product or service.
This produces an incoherent experience for your customer as they travel from Marketing, to Sales, to Customer Service.
And, this is where the problem lies…
Rather than developing an appropriate, effective experience based on every person's requirements, you’re using marketing automation to push prospects through a funnel with illogical touch points and unrelated content.
Using marketing automation in a silo like this can introduce several friction points that get in the way of nurturing prolific, longstanding customer relationships.
What Is Marketing Automation Primarily Used For?
Suppose you have thousands of people opting into your list each and every month…
…. hundreds upon hundreds of people are visiting your checkout page every single day, and...
…..you're bringing-in hundreds or thousands of customers per month….
How do you keep track of all these without losing sanity?
Marketing automation is the answer, my friend!
You can leverage marketing automation through cart abandonment sequences, or through kind of just dynamic follow up sequences that essentially help people find out about more products that are similar to what they want.
But the problem with marketing automation is that since it became a buzzword, most people are trying to automate things they haven't proven to work yet.
The opportunity cost of spending months of time, thousands of dollars, and all of your energy, to automate things that don't need automation, means that you don't have enough visitors and subscribers going through the system to matter.
And this, in turn, means that you're not doing the real work, which is growing your audience and growing your list.
Take A Look At This Example, To Better Understand
When starting out, I ran one follow up sequence. I still have one follow up sequence that leads people to a broadcast list, and then I email that broadcast list.
My customers then go through the same list as my leads. Leads from opt-in A, leads from opt-in B, leads from opt-in C, all go through the same list.
And I’ve made millions of dollars using this approach… because I’ve focused on simplicity!
I’ve focused on the core of ‘grow the audience, grow the list’.
You want to make sure that your list knows about all the cool stuff that you have available for purchase, when the time is right for you to buy.
So, honestly, marketing automation is overhyped. You don’t need fancy automations to improve the efficiency of your marketing tasks.
For a small segment of marketing experts making 10, 20, or 30 grand per month, you can definitely recoup the costs of having a professional do integrations for you. In that case, I recommend Dave Wooding from IntegratePro. He's the mastermind behind all our marketing automation, and he's a boss.
But, until you can afford outsourcing at 100%, marketing automation isn't on your radar. It's a distraction for the company owner. For the solopreneur, for the person creating content, for the person sending the emails…it's an absolute mess of a distraction.
Now there's one caveat on this….
If you're like an engineering-minded person, and if you like to code, the software and the developer mindset works for you. But if you're a creative, it’s going to be mind-boggling.
So, it's better to keep your business simple and to get help with marketing automation software that needs little to no coding.
So, Should You Automate All These Things?
You don’t necessarily need to automating everything… especially at first.
Because when you get down to the numbers and look at how many people take all those little steps and how many hours it takes for you to build out all these different automations, it's easier just to treat everybody the same.
I’m a big fan of having them all on one list and reminding them that the doors are closing on the special offer at midnight.
Those who already bought are going to ignore it.
Those who went to the checkout page and are compelled because the deal closes tonight are going to buy.
And, those who went to the sales page but didn't go to the checkout page, they're either going to buy it or not.
The nuances of separating everything out and triplicating the amount of work are not really worth it in the long run.
Here’s what I STRONGLY suggest to do instead, ESPECIALLY if you are a beginner…
Simplicity is the best policy when it comes to an automated marketing strategy.
What Are The Best Marketing Automation Tools?
The internet is full of marketing automation tools, each one promising to be better than the rest.
And here, you will learn the 3 marketing automation softwares that are most commonly used.
(Get a free trial here: https://www.milesbeckler.com/activecampaign)
ActiveCampaign is a powerful marketing automation tool that allows you to send super personalized, responsive, and beautiful emails in just a few clicks.
You can trigger personalized emails based on customer actions, and also send automated follow-ups.
It also supports Sales + CRM so that all your customer data is well-organized. You can also use it to respond to customer behavior, and boost calls-to-action with messages directly on your website.
Key Features of ActiveCampaign
- Sign-up forms for better lead nurturing. You can capture contact information, tag people based on their interests, start a welcome series, and send follow-up notifications to your team.
- Email segmentation to make your marketing strategy more personal (and to get better results)
- Dynamic content to let you change the text and images in an email, serving up different messaging to different groups of people
- Split testing all your email campaigns; from subject line, to the call to action (CTA), to email content
- Robust site and event tracking so that you can stay on top of your marketing game
- Goal tracking to see who’s moving through your marketing funnel – and where people tend to drift off
- Automation Map to see how automations connect to each other, making it easy to refine your marketing tasks
- Customer attribution to find out your top-performing marketing channels
ActiveCampaign offers four simple pricing plans, with no setup fees.
Lite ($9 per month, paid yearly) includes unlimited sending, email marketing, marketing automation, chat and email support, and up to three users.
Their most popular package, Plus ($49 per month) includes all of the above plus CRM with sales automation, contact and lead scoring, deep data integrations, custom user permissions, custom branding, SMS marketing, and up to 25 users.
Professional ($129 per month) includes everything from Plus, along with site messaging, attribution, predictive sending and win probability machine learning, split automations, and up to 50 users.
Enterprise ($229 per month) includes everything from Professional, as well as custom reporting and mail-server domain, dedicated account rep, in-depth onboarding, free design services and social data, and unlimited users.
You can also take ActiveCampaign on a test drive via its free trial.
(You can find it here: https://keap.com/lp/infusionsoft)
Infusionsoft by Keap is a top-tier offering ideal for established service-based businesses looking for a CRM with advanced sales and marketing automation.
It allows you to run fully-customizable campaigns and you can even integrate it with your existing apps.
Key features of Infusionsoft
- Built-in database of landing page templates to quickly create professional pages where you can capture leads
- Powerful campaign builder to automatically tag new leads, assign tasks, and send emails that nurture leads based on timed triggers or customer actions
- List segmentation via tags to ensure your customer gets the right message
- Built-in lead scoring to know which of your leads are the most engaged
- Entire ecommerce workflow, right from choosing an ecommerce web page template, to dragging and dropping images, to adding your marketing message
- Easy to setup email marketing automation
- Real-time tracking of daily tasks, appointments, and next steps
Infusionsoft costs around $159 per month. It starts at 500 contacts and 1 user. You can purchase additional users for $29 per month.
It includes CRM, segmentation, quotes, invoices and payments, marketing automation, recurring payments, landing page builder, advanced sales pipeline automation, smart forms, messaging, online selling, checkout pages, and affiliate tracking, reporting and so much more.
Plus, there’s a one-time setup fee starting at $499.
(You can find it here: https://www.hubspot.com/)
HubSpot is a very popular marketing, sales, and service software that helps improve your business intelligence, with a completely free CRM at its core.
Its marketing software helps you grow traffic, convert more visitors, and run complete inbound marketing campaigns at scale.
This time-saving sales software helps you get deeper acumens into prospects, automate the tasks you dislike, and close more deals faster.
And, the customer service software helps you connect with customers, surpass expectations, and turn them into supporters that grow your company.
Key features of HubSpot
- Drag and drop editor to create web pages, blog posts, landing pages, and email templates
- Robust content strategy including real-time SEO suggestions and recommendations regarding the optimal social media posting times to reach the right influencers and followers
- Customer tracking to serve up relevant content, images, headlines, and CTAs based on past behaviors
- Personalized messaging based on location, traffic source, device, persona, user practices, and more, with no coding at all
- A/B split testing landing pages to increase conversions over time
- Real-time chat with website visitors to increase customer engagement
- Dynamic email tools and drip campaigns to queue up a series of emails, triggering the perfect follow-up or next step automatically
- Email templates to turn repetitive emails into templates, measure their performance, and share the best ones with your entire team
- Instant notification on when prospects open an email, click a link, or open an attachment for timely, relevant follow-up strategies
- Automated time-consuming tasks like lead rotation, task creation, and more
- Syncing with HubSpot CRM to track deals won, lost, and in progress, and to see which marketing and sales reps are your best performers
- Powerful knowledge base of information so you can get answers faster
HubSpot offers three pricing plans for its Marketing Hub: Starter, Professional, and Enterprise.
Starter (starting at $50 per month) includes 1000 contacts, but it also includes HubSpot CRM plus advertising management, live chat, conversational bots, forms, contact website activity, list segmentation, email marketing, and ad retargeting.
Professional (starting at $800 per month) includes 1000 contacts, everything in Starter as well as marketing automation, smart content, blog and content creation tools, SEO and content strategy, A/B testing, landing pages, calls-to-action, video hosting and management, website traffic analytics, campaign reporting, and custom reporting
Enterprise (starting at $3200 per month) includes 10,000 contacts, everything in Professional as well as content partitioning, hierarchical teams, single sign-on, social permissions, email send frequency cap, CMS membership, adaptive testing, multi-touch revenue attribution, filtered analytics view, and custom event triggers and reporting.
You can save up to 20% when any of these packages is billed annually.
Which Marketing Automation Tool Should You Choose?
Of all the marketing automation tools discussed in this article, I use ActiveCampaign.
Because it is bullet proof,
When someone reaches your sales page but doesn't go to the checkout page, they could get a specific follow up email.
Similarly, if someone goes to your sales page and then to your checkout page, but doesn’t purchase, they could get a totally different email tailored to someone who took the action to at least go to the checkout page.
And then, someone who actually clicked to the sales page, and then went to the checkout page, and then purchased… they could see a totally different autoresponder sequence or follow up sequence that offers them the next product in series.
All without being buggy or overpriced, and without continually trying to market addons to the subscription you are already paying for.
Hopefully, this post has given you some clarity on the search for quality automation tools.
And hopefully, it has also helped you to understand my own philosophies on this that I have used in my own business.
To a point, automation is a must. But it can definitely be overdone, and can be far more trouble than it is worth in some cases.
The key is to figure out what works best for your business!
So keep testing and figuring it out.
If you have anything to add from your own experiences, please drop it in the comments.
Let’s keep the conversation going!