In the world of marketing, we sometimes find ourselves using certain marketing terminology in a context that makes sense only to us. This can be evident in daily interaction between media buyers, account executives and clients. The other day, I asked a co-worker what they thought marketing automation was. The response, although pretty much correct, was given with a sense of uncertainty. In marketing, marketing automation is a term we know and utilize, but rarely refer to when speaking about how we use it. In its simplest definition, marketing automation refers to the software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions. So said coworker responded with, “Is it like using Programmatic?” Although Programmatic is ad-buying software, the concept of using software to make our jobs as marketers easier is where automation comes into play.
As a company grows, the task of keeping up with regular e-newsletters/emails, social media and other digital website actions can be daunting. This is when you should start thinking seriously about investing in some form of marketing automation software to help keep track of these interactions and reach potential customers. Like any marketing tool or software type, there will be many options. Starting your search may be overwhelming, but if you can pinpoint what you want to achieve through marketing automation software, it can make the process easier. The ideal goal for the software you choose depends on how willing you are to put the time into understanding its capabilities and utilizing it to its full extent. The software you choose may handle some of the simple tasks your employees deal with day to day, any it should help make these simple tasks easier and the overall process more efficient.
If you are still tuned, at this point you are probably thinking “Software that could make my job easier and more manageable, why wouldn’t I invest in something like this?” Remember, unless you are willing to put in the effort, resources and time to see lasting results you may not be getting the most out of what you are paying for (no matter which software you choose). Results will not be immediate, even though the main intention will be to automate digital interactions. As a marketer, you will need to be patient and realize that the ROI with any marketing automation software will set the groundwork for a fertile system of managing new leads.
Let’s focus on some of the more popular options, you may see some familiar companies in the crowded industry. Take a look at the options below and research which one would be best suited for your unique business goals and a long-lasting partnership. Hubspot, Pardot and Marketo are the current market leaders based a multitude of factors (see linked articles for more information). The following website helps funnel your search based on customer satisfaction and market presence: g2crowd.com/categories/marketing-automation. G2 provides comparison knowledge of the many options you have. The site also helps you get a better understanding of the steps that you should do before even starting your search.
For example, you should start by documenting your strategy. Next, ask yourself, will you want to focus more efforts on inbound or outbound marketing? This will play a significant role when choosing which software is best for your company. Another thing to consider when choosing the right software is the size of the company you will be working with, the size of your company and your customer base. Two other main considerations when choosing software are industry (strategies and requirements of B2B vs. B2C clients) and integration with other software your company currently uses. This reduces the amount of stress for your employees by taking up less of their time with the initial training. Most of the software options focus on four digital channels: web, email, social and mobile. Determine which of these will be your main focus for reaching potential customers and take that into consideration during your selection process. Along with price and other factors, you should have a good start with the platform(s) you are considering investing in.
If you have read to this point, you should have a general understanding of what marketing automation is and how finding the right software will help make repetitive day-to-day actions easier and more efficient. You may either be thinking “I should look into this more” or “At this time it is not something my company needs to worry about.” Either way, marketing automation is something to consider as your company grows or your industry changes. Good luck with your research, and remember, you are not alone. Please reference the following articles for more information.
Elise Braun is the Digital Media Specialist for KK BOLD and would like it to be known that KK BOLD is not trying to sell any software on anyone else’s behalf. Buy whatever software you want. It’s a free market.