Back in the 1980s, when marketing automation was first introduced, only business giants with enormous customer bases could use it. It was a highly expensive and incredibly custom-made tool that could be built in-house only.

Thanks to the advancements in technology and the emergence of third-party suppliers, today, marketing automation platforms are made available to even small and medium-sized businesses. And due to their unmatchable benefits, the number of businesses adopting it is increasing with each passing day.

Stats say that 51% of companies are currently using marketing automation. And 75% of marketers say that they are using at least a single type of marketing automation software. This is because it lowers marketing costs by 12.2%, increases sales productivity by 14.5%, and heightens conversions by 77%.

Read on to know what marketing automation is and how it leads to conversions.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation involves the employment of software to automate the manual marketing processes. You can automate several repetitive activities involved in the marketing of your business. These activities can include:

  • Running ad campaigns.
  • Sending out emails.
  • Posting on social media.
  • Qualifying website leads, and more.

Marketing automation aims to simplify these tasks, reduce the pain points involved in doing those, and make those efforts highly successful at scale.

Where do businesses use marketing automation?

Businesses use marketing automation for many purposes. The most common ones are listed below.

  • Recognizing, tracking, and engaging prospects online
  • Combining marketing campaigns across various channels
  • Segmenting leads based on different criteria
  • Personalizing email campaigns
  • Personalizing marketing content for every prospect based on their phase in the buyer’s journey
  • Automating workflows based on customer actions and responses (triggers)
  • Automating lead nurturing
  • Tracking and evaluating the performance of your marketing campaigns

These are only the most common purposes for which marketing automation is used. You can automate all digital marketing initiatives in some way. A few instances are up-selling, cross-selling, etc.

What are the benefits of marketing automation?

Marketing automation is used by businesses to enjoy the following benefits.

  1. Run successful marketing campaigns: By automating their marketing, businesses can reach the right person with the right message at the right time.
  2. Save resources: By automating many manual processes involved in marketing, businesses and marketers save a significant amount of time, manpower, and money.
  3. Create robust content: The time saved by marketing automation can be used by businesses and marketers to come up with more robust content and concepts that they can deliver across different channels.
  4. Deliver better customer experience: Marketing automation enables businesses to provide their customers and prospects with a better customer experience through relevance and personalization.
  5. Nurture leads and automates the sales cycle: With marketing automation, you can educate your leads about your brand to get them to buy from you.
  6. Track metrics: You can track several useful metrics by employing marketing automation. These include
  7. Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
  8. Sales Accepted Leads (SAL)
  9. Lost/Won/ Closed deals
  10. No. of Inquiries
  11. Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQL)
  12. Returns on Investment

What are the objectives of Marketing Automation?

Firms employ marketing automation to organize, automate, measure and track their marketing activities and workflows. With it, they seek to increase their operational efficiency and income made through-

  • Bringing in qualified sales leads.
  • Nurturing qualified sales leads to become loyal customers.
  • Lengthening the customers’ lifetime value.

How does marketing automation lead to conversions?

Marketing automation helps convert your visitors into leads and then leads into buyers. Here are the ways by which it achieves these.

1.      Aligning the sales and marketing processes

In the traditional model, businesses have two teams, including the marketing team and the sales team to bring in customers. The marketing team uses different tactics like advertising, email marketing, content distribution, etc., to generate leads, which they pass on to the sales team. The sales team nurtures the leads into buyers, often by employing CRM (customer relationship management) software.

The drawback of this system is the lack of mutual agreement between the sales and the marketing teams. Often, the sales team grumbles that the quality of the leads delivered by the marketing team is poor and the marketing team that the sales team isn’t productive enough.

The use of marketing automation eliminates such a lack of alignment between these teams. It accomplishes this by letting the teams mutually agree upon the activity or sales stage to be performed or achieved to become ‘sales ready’. Its sales intelligence enables tracking real-time data for each lead to be automatically handed over to the sales team’s CRM system.

2.      Centralized control of the lead generation process

Today, most of the interactions that people have with a company are done online. And the internet presents multiple pathways like social media, website, ads, emails, etc., for such interactions. So, marketers combine different online marketing techniques like social media, landing pages, advertising, content marketing, SEO, email marketing, lead nurturing campaigns, etc., to nurture new leads.

They use a new set of marketing software for each one of these channels and mechanisms. Some of these include landing page software, social media software, live chat software, email marketing software, etc. This spreads and splits the info about each lead across different marketing software pieces, which makes it impossible to get the whole picture.

Marketing automation emerges as an ideal solution to this problem by centralizing the entire generating, and nurturing mechanism leads to becoming buyers.

3.      Automating a lead generation workflow

Marketing automation allows you to design and automate a lead generation workflow for your business. You can personalize your interactions with each lead based on his/her details and the sales readiness stage he/she is currently in. This way, you can deliver marketing materials to a lead in a more apt, targeted, and timely manner. So, your campaigns perform more successfully.

The ‘automation’ allows delivering your best responses to specific triggers (an activity performed or your lead gave response). This way, your leads stay engaged with your brand and move actively through the stages of your sales funnel. Below is the outline of the steps involves in marketing automation for generating qualified leads and turning them into buyers.

Step 1. Turn a visitor to a lead by educating him/her about your brand.

Step 2. Nurture your lead over time by re-engaging him/her with your content and offers that solve their pain points.

Step 3. Close the sale by handing over the lead to the sales team once your lead has attained a specific level within your automated sales funnel.

Can you leave marketing automation to itself? Or does it need a human touch?

Yes, marketing automation should be a combination of software and strategy and requires a human touch. Mere automation that works on the “setting it up and then forgetting it” will not work. For, it is humans that you are dealing with. And only humans can handle their complex blend of behaviors and decisions. So do incorporate some space for some invaluable human interactions in your marketing process.

This way, your customers will be long-term, productive ones. Additionally, this will also allow you to discover new horizons for expanding your marketing.

Wrapping up…

Marketing automation platforms, which were once too expensive for common business people, are now made available to even the smallest of businesses- thanks to technological advancements! Numerous businesses now adopt these for increasing their conversions and promoting customer loyalty. These can help turn prospects into leads and then leads into buyers.

However, remember that even after employing marketing automation, you need to give your interactions a human touch. For, you cannot simply force your leads down the sales funnel. So, have some space for a real human staff in the loop. This way, you can make it a contextual experience for each of your leads.