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Marketing Automation for Beginners

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Marketing Automation for Beginners

Marketing automation” is a bit of a misnomer.

There is no such thing as a truly “automated”, hands-off approach to internet marketing. Rather, marketing automation software is designed to semi-automate many aspects of a marketer’s day-to-day tasks and free up more time for an organization. For some businesses, marketing automation enables faster, easier email personalization, timely information dissemination, and lead nurturing. For other businesses, automation software is essential for processing, fulfilling, and tracking orders accurately and efficiently.

Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Platform

The first best practice of successful marketers is simply choosing the right platform for a particular organization. As of 2016, 49 percent of companies are using marketing software, while 98 percent of those who don’t currently have it are at least looking. Choosing a marketing automation platform is extremely difficult due to disparities in features and pricing structures that make comparing apples to apples nearly impossible. Beyond that, there are still dozens of companies jockeying for market share. Simply going with “the most popular” isn’t necessarily the best approach.

Related: 8 Ways to Quit Sabotaging Your Professional Success

When you’re getting started with the shift to automated marketing, you’ll want to do a little soul-searching and ponder: “What are the most IMPORTANT aspects to automate in my business?” Other questions to ask include:

  • Where are you sinking a tremendous glut of time?
  • What tasks do you really dislike doing?
  • What channels are making you the most money?
  • Where do you need to see improvement?

Many business executives enlist the help of a digital marketing consultant to begin cutting through the chaos and mental clutter of getting started. A consultant will take a look at your existing business structure to identify areas of need. For instance:

  • Some companies benefit from a total organizational overhaul that involves Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software connected to lead nurturing campaigns.
  • Other companies may have a handle on their client/customer list, but could use a more powerful way to send out email promotions and newsletters, monitor social media conversations for selling opportunities, or create landing pages with e-commerce integration that will double as a search engine visibility booster.
  • Fledgling startups may be concerned with starting off on the right foot with everything automated that CAN be automated, and build their manual marketing processes from there.

Here are a few good places to start searching for solutions:

  • Hatchbuck – if you don’t need all the social media / analytics bells and whistles, but would like to run successful email drip campaigns, segment your audience better, and improve lead generation.
  • SharpSpring – if you expect amazing customer support and a robust platform that lets you track visitors — before you know their names — throughout the entire sales process, and you don’t mind paying a little more.
  • HubSpot – if you are interested in a popular option that is easy to use with a robust list of features from A/B testing and analytics, to responsive web design and lead management.
  • Wishpond – if you are on a shoestring budget, but need all-in-one automation for social media, lead management, email marketing and landing page creation.
  • Simply Cast – if you want a truly “bare bones”, $5/month way to manage social media a little better, create surveys and landing pages, and track campaign data.
  • InfusionSoft – if you have less than 5,000 contacts that you sell to; you only need basic analytics reports, email automation, easy landing page generation, and form creation; and you like the idea of mandatory training.
  • Oracle-Eloqua – if you want to go with one of the first all-in-one automation tools on the market, which offers over 100 third party integrations and is used by big companies like Sony, LinkedIn and American Express to manage complex campaigns.
  • Salesforce-Pardot – if you are an SMB looking to grow your business through real-time lead nurturing opportunities and lead scoring, sales lifecycle reporting, prospect tracking, and SEO.
  • Act-On – if you want a better way to track Key Performance Indicators, analyze the competition, and determine your marketing Return On Investment.
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