Getting Started with Marketing Automation

Today’s buzzword is “marketing automation.”

In the last three weeks, I‘ve heard the term marketing automation used about a dozen times  and so far it seems to mean different things to different people.

The main theme throughout is automation, marketing automation automates some form of marketing activity – who would have guessed that the term actually made sense.  It’s used to describe tools that do one or more of the following:

  • Generate dynamic content and responses for email campaigns
  • Generate integrated dynamic content in email and the Web
  • Managing social media campaigns based on audience behavior
  • Automate dashboards and campaign reporting tools and provide optimization recommendations

There are a lot of different companies and vendors offering marketing automation solutions, so before engaging or even going to your boss and asking for a bunch of money, ask the following:

  • Can I increase engagement with automatic responses or dynamic content?
  • Will my engagements lose value if they are automated?
  • Which ones won’t lose value?
  • What are the potential benefits to the user?
  • Do I have a long purchase cycle, or the need to maintain a brand relationship over time?

Once you’ve asked yourself these things . . .  figure out what you want to do.

Almost anything is possible from custom tailoring your newsletters, to thanking people for transactions on your Website and suggesting new or additional content.

One client I’ve been working with saw an 18% lift in response rate when we used a dynamic content tool. Another client saw an automated retouch program reactivate 21% of users who were previously flagged as inactive.

When it comes to reactivating an audience, people tend to jump to email. But with Facebook having an increasingly important role in the marketing mix, using marketing automation to identify and reach inactive Facebook users is increasingly important. Most Facebook fans never return to your page once they’ve liked it. So being able to reengage those people and get them active on your page, increases the value of your efforts significantly.

Marketing automation can be as complex or simple as you’d like. Many low-cost email tools provide some level of automation. Other tools let you host and manage everything in the cloud, or provide you with code snippets to drop onto your site.

Some good resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing_automation
http://www.chiefmartec.com/marketing-software/

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