Marketing Automation 101By Ryan Cochrane On
There's no shortage of marketing automation tools.
But where, and when, is it of value to use one?
A marketing automation tool is typically a piece of software that can perform a given task or series of actions for you, with the goal of saving you time, saving you money, or helping you make more. However, as we learned from Jurassic Park (the cornucopia of marketing theory, of course...):
“Scientists are actually preoccupied with accomplishment. So they are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to ask if they should do something.”
While automation tools can be a fantastic time saver and give you a real edge in terms of your marketing operations, it's equally important to consider that not every task is going to be right for you and your organisation to automate. We'll be publishing our review of the top marketing automation tools soon, which will help you cut through the noise and get to the most worthwhile on the market. For now, let's focus on key marketing tasks, and whether they're right for automation.
E-mail marketing has been around since the earliest days of what we now consider the internet. And while the evolution of spam filters has weakened the effectiveness of e-mail strategies, they're still a key part of any worthwhile content marketing approach. Commonly used tools such as Mailchimp have helped this considerably, by requiring users to use opt-in e-mail addresses only. While the vetting on this is somewhat lacking, it highlights the idea to marketers that an opt-in e-mail is worth considerably more than an acquired list.
Marketing is moving into an era where quality has a true value - it's better to have 1000 high potential value customers who have expressed an interest, rather than 20,000 from a list you bought. Automation is useful for e-mail marketing for two key purposes. Firstly, it allows you to schedule and maintain regular contact with your list, increasing your chances of conversion. Secondly, it allows you to track and monitor your interactions, increasing your understanding of what works for your customers. By segmenting your list, you can deliver tailored content to each group, and create effective buyer personas - an idea mentioned in our engagement blog.
Advertising represents one of the clearest cases of automation providing value in hard currency. Tools that enable real-time bidding ensure that ads are paid for at a price that lowers the customer acquisition cost.
Companies like RedFox Media have managed to go a step further than this, allowing for data matching - you upload your data, the system refines it and pairs the data against other profiles, and produces new prospects. Automation in this field allows you to access the right people, at the right time. If you're going to spend money on digital advertising, strongly consider exploring this field in depth or contacting agencies.
Social media automation strongly divides opinion in the marketing world, and with good reason. Let's consider what social media was initially designed as - a way to connect people, and enable conversation. The question is, if using an automation tool, are these conversations and interactions genuine. A blog from social automation media tool, SoGrow, addresses this issue well in a piece on automation and sincerity.
We argue that the issue lies in communication, as opposed to automation. If a poorly crafted communication reaches 20 followers, it's unlikely to cause much upset or unrest. Automation however, gives everyone a loudspeaker. As such, that same poorly crafted message can reach far more people, and cause far more damage. The flip side of course, is that it can be a tool for tremendous good - causes such as Thunderclap have shown this to good effect.
As with all arguments with a strong for and against case, the best solutions are found in the shades of grey. At Orla, we've worked hard to reflect this, and enable users to control the extent of what they wish to automate, action by action. No two brands and use cases are ever truly the same, and by allowing users to use automation tailored to their field, users can find the level of AI involvement that is right for them.