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What is marketing automation?

This article will be updated as new information about the topic comes to light

Marketing automation is a big topic in 2015. But many people are confused on exactly what it means and how to best harness it. This is an article to help people make better decisions on whether marketing automation fits into your business (hint: it probably does).

Marketing automation is the process by which companies use tools and software to trigger marketing events without requiring human resources (at the time of action). Simply put: marketing automation is a system that makes it easier to immediately reach customers who have, by their actions, expressed interest in a company’s products or information.

A common application is the use of e-mail. If a registered user on a company site visits a product information page and that user has opted in to messages, the company’s software could be set up to send an e-mail to that user with more information about the product and a discount code.

This one example shows how automation can provide much higher ROI than a manual process. In this scenario, real-time, immediately customized content was sent to the user specific to his or her interest. Manual e-mail, on the other hand, may come a week later, with a broad message to all users, many of whom have no interest in the product.

It can also automatically segment customers in distinct buckets and send those groups tailored messages on a recurring basis.

While e-mail has long been associated with marketing automation, the reality is that the technique now spans all manner of marketing, from social to websites to even direct mail. Thus, it requires a significant overhaul of existing processes and the creation of a lot of new content

If you remember that automation is the process of creating responses due to user activity, you can easily see how it can go beyond even digital initiatives.

This Entrepreneur article provides a good infographic that can visualize the process. 

Why is uptake low

·      It is still a relatively new process and awareness is low

·      Setting up takes some time and could disrupt immediate activities

·      It takes a revamp of systems and likely a license to a third-party vendor that powers a lot of this technology.

·      Also it is sometimes difficult to get management to understand this process.

·      It can seem a bit scary to customers. Users are sometimes concerned when they receive a message that is tailored to their actions

How to get started

Before you even start contacting third-party providers, you need to take an inventory of the actions you want your customers to take (e.g. trial, purchase product, refer a friend) and the touchpoints where these might get triggered (contact us, product page, FAQ). Then you should map out which touchpoints could and should trigger which actions.

Then you’re ready to work with a third-party companies that help the marketing automation process. 

For more information on marketing automation, click here.

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