Automation is the latest buzzword. It is changing industries after industries. No more manual work, overtime or missing deadline - automation saves time and eliminates follies.
In this article, we’ll have a look at the growing importance of automation. We’ll then discuss how automation is extending beyond email marketing and encapsulating several areas of SMB marketing.
To begin with, here are some eye-popping stats on automation:
- More than 75% SaaS companies use marketing automation.
- Among the top performing companies, 84% decided on moving to automation in 2014.
- 75% companies reported they received a positive return in just a year.
Many hitherto email marketing solution providers like Getresponse are now pivoting into an all-in-one marketing automation solution for SMBs. Programmatic ad buying is a great example of how deeper automation has penetrated into digital marketing.
Below are the key aspects of marketing that automation affects.
Most marketing automation platforms come with CRM integration. The in-network CRM syncs with other features. For example, you can track customer details and send them bulk emails, from a unique dashboard.
If you use Hubspot, you can import CRM contact database. You also get a better overview of prospect movement. Top platforms track customer behavior, making it easy for you to target and retarget them.
CRM integration shortens the sales process. An overly long sales-cycle causes customers to lose interest and turn to another enterprise. Automation platforms harness the CRM database to quickly sort leads and send them relevant information at the right time, reducing the turnaround time.
Below is an infographic showing how marketing automation benefits the sales workflow. Take a look:
Email marketing return rate is over 4000%. Automation platforms merge CRM with drip campaign to re-engage with inactive customers. Drip campaigns personalize email content. It is highly conducive to sales as 60% customers search for a product after they read content about it.
Sales Team Notification
Another important feature of a marketing automation platform. Getresponse, Hubspot, Marketo - all the top automation platform gives real-time sales alert to users.
Here also integration comes in handy. Customer details received from CRM, email marketing insights and lead score enable the platform to track every move of a prospect. The more advanced a platform, the better it gauges sales-readiness.
If the sales-readiness reading is way above the mark, the platform provides real-time alerts to the sales team. In the absence of such alerts, sales reps fly blind. Doing guesswork in a line of sales is risky. You may call up a customer when he’s least expecting the call.
The sales-alert life cycle revolves around:
- Final stage form submission;
- Previously disengaged prospect showing interest;
- Capturing qualified leads.
State-of-the-art marketing automation platforms are smart enough to distinguish between interest and intent. They follow the BANT method and suggest the most opportune prospects to the sales reps.
Landing Page Builder
Of all the marketing automation platforms I’ve used, Getresponse landing page builder is undoubtedly the best. Hubspot is also good, but it’s way too expensive for the mid-market.
A landing page builder has several customizable templates. Some platforms even allow users to search templates based on conversion rate. Landing page builders come with interfaces that are easy to navigate through drag and drop.
When selecting a platform, make sure it has the A/B testing feature because that feature is necessary for building a quality landing page. Poor marketing automation platforms like Aweber and Constant contact lack half the features that one needs to build high-quality landing pages. Lead management and SEO plugin are two of them. Getresponse has both, So do Hubspot, Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, and Act-on. Select the one that suits your budget.
Another great feature that comes with a complete marketing automation solution. Often known as lead scoring, customer scoring is automated guesswork of a customer’s propensity to buy.
The automation platform weighs the likelihood of an imminent purchase. It gets all the hints from:
- Page views
- Form submission
- Size of the company
- Industry type
Here’s how customer scoring integrates with email marketing and landing page building. The system monitors email open and response rates. It also tracks the number of people who remove the blacklist and become re-engagement baits. Such insights are key to assessing the probability of purchase.
Then the platform builds landing pages accordingly - from template selection to creating submission form, everything is done according to the scores assigned to customers. To make the package exciting to SMBs, most providers keep it affordable.
A webinar is among the proven ways of generating revenue. Automation market leaders Getresponse, Hubspot, Infusionsoft, and Pardot - all come with webinar integration.
Check out some webinars from TemplateMonster
Here’s how SMBs can leverage marketing automation platforms for webinar marketing:
- The platform can give them an idea of what prospects want to learn. They can choose a relatable topic for a webinar.
- Find industry experts who might want to join the webinar. They can act as conduits bringing prospects along.
- Personalize the webinar title, description and email invite subject line.
- Whenever there’s a new registration, the automated system adds him to the mailing list.
- Host the webinar. SMBs don’t need to choose a separate hosting platform.
- Keep a tab on the attendees by sending follow-up emails.
Webinar marketing is a game-changer, especially for B2B companies. See the infographic below:
In 2014, an Israeli tech startup called Implisit found webinar contributing to almost 18% of its lead to sales conversion. The same year, 34% B2B technology firms in the US used the webinar to measure the likelihood of a sale.
Hence, a B2B firm has every reason to pay for marketing automation.
We’ve discussed how automation impacts marketing. It’s clear from the discussion above that automation benefits both large and small businesses.
However, automation marketplace for large firms is different from that for small and medium enterprises. That’s because large companies need automation to increase their profit margin while small businesses need it for survival.
Hence, the automation marketplace boils down to binaries. Since this article caters specifically to the needs of the SMBs, we need to understand which aspect of automation they value most after quality output. This brings us to our next point.
For SMBs, nothing matters more than affordability. Unless affordable, an automation platform has a very narrow pool of customers.
Here’s a pro tip for SMBs: choose a platform the pricing of which suits the mid-market. In this regard, the best marketing automation platforms are Getresponse, Ontraport, and ActiveCampaign. The ones that come with features galore but are way above the affordability margin are Hubspot, Marketo, Act-on, and Pardot.
If you are a small or medium-sized business, choose from the former group. That’ll ensure a robust 360° automation solution at a pocket-friendly price. If you take my opinion, I’d recommend Getresponse because the tool has an amazing visual workflow editor, cart abandonment feature, which customers expect in online shops and the affordable pricing.
We saw in this article that marketing automation goes beyond mere email automation. A holistic automation campaign has no beef with email marketing. As a matter of fact, it has features that require insights, collected from email marketing.