Marketing automation is a software platform or set of technologies for managing and improving customer experience through automation of various marketing tasks. The focus is on improving individual customer experience, since that will ultimately drive up sales and build customer loyalty.
The Marketer’s Responsibilities
A customer is now much more informed and actively involved in the buying process by researching different websites, interacting on social media, watching videos, reading product emails, and so on. The marketer therefore has to optimize all these channels, to make the customer experience engaging, positive, and consistent across all these channels.
Marketing automation was initially focused on email marketing, but now has embraced many more functions and is also integrated with CRM. A typical platform will include:
* Lead database
* Email marketing engine
* Lead scoring
* Landing pages
* Tracking of website visitors
* Integration with CRM
* Integration with web events
* Social media marketing
* Reports and analytics
Marketing automationplatform can be implemented anytime, even after the business has collected considerable leads through email marketing. In fact, that would be the best time for implementation, since the platform will be able to help in segregating and categorizing leads, designing various campaigns for different leads, generating reports and analytics for optimizing the campaigns, and managing customers at different stages of the sales process.
Understanding customers and developing marketing plans based on such understanding will be main objective of implementing the platform. The platform is therefore designed to perform five very important core tasks:
- Lead Generation
- Analysis of prospects
- Designing and managing marketing campaigns
- Tracking, reporting, and analyzing campaigns
- Organization and storage of all data connected with the customer
A Wider Focus
Considering the above tasks, it has a much broader scope in internal marketing processes and needs to be integrated with existing CRM and other systems to achieve optimum workflow automation. These areas would include planning and approvals, budgeting, marketing calendar, collaboration with the sales and marketing teams, and CRM.
Platforms and tools will also differ depending on the type of business such as B2C (Business to Customer, B2B (Business to Business), B2G (Business to Government), and B2B2C, where products or services of the company are distributed through intermediaries, who sell it to other businesses, who in turn sell to customers. Even though the basic principles of marketing remain the same in all these types, there will be major difference in functions and implementations of marketing campaigns.
There are many vendors of marketing automation platforms, and selecting one will depend on the features and tools provided by the system and the degree of simplicity. Some platforms can be quite complex, which can delay implementation and increase implementation costs in terms of training of staff and so on.
Another important point to consider would be the level of integration possible with existing systems, especially CRM. Most platforms offer seamless or tight integration, but it also depends on the type of the existing CRM platform. Select a marketing automation platform that is user-friendly, effective, and which can be integrated seamlessly with existing systems.