However, there is also a significant downside to all this added complexity, especially if you have a small business with relatively few resources to spare. Keeping tabs on multiple social media accounts, while creating new content and managing ad campaigns: suffice to say, things can get overwhelming pretty quickly.
The problem with digital marketing is that it is a continuous process. Things don't end once you start connecting with your target audience. You have to follow up and evaluate the performance metrics, making any necessary adjustments to improve future iterations. Naturally, this can take a lot of time.
Enter digital marketing automation. Using specialised computer software, it is possible to remove many of the more repetitive and monotonous marketing tasks out of human hands, to the benefit of your organisation.
What Does Digital Marketing Automation Involve?
Automation utilises specially designed software suites and online platforms to handle the many time-consuming tasks involved in online marketing, such as sending emails, posting on social media platforms, and handling customer queries.
There are several critical steps involved in digital marketing automation, which we will outline briefly here:
Pick the Right Tasks to Automate
Identify those specific tasks in your marketing campaign that require the highest number of repetitions. For instance, email marketing is a common starting point for automation for most firms. Prioritise those tasks that take up a lot of your employee's time.
Pick the Right Automation Software
As automation is an in-demand technology right now, there is a wealth of options out there for businesses of all sizes. Finding the right one that matches your requirements can be quite tricky, but with the right amount of due diligence and research, you should be able to identify the best service for your needs.
Prepare and Train Your Staff
This is where the early growing pains of digital marketing automation can be felt the most. Since your business will be using new software and tools, at least some members of your staff will have to familiarise themselves with this software. Most software suites provide handy training guides to help make this phase easier.
Perform Periodic Evaluations
We cannot stress the importance of this step enough. Without proper evaluation, you cannot gauge the effectiveness of your automation project. It is essential to derive maximum value from your investment in digital marketing.
Automation Practices in Digital Marketing
Ultimately, your aim in digital marketing automation should be to achieve these three things: save money, improve time management and, most importantly, provide a better experience to your customer and target audience.
Often, that last step gets overlooked during the planning stage of automation, leading to more harm than good from the eventual execution of the project. Here are some key things to keep in mind while crafting your marketing automation strategy:
Start With Email Marketing
Since email marketing can be a massive time-sink, it makes good sense to start with this. Pay special attention to the content in automated emails with the time you have freed up and ensure that you are in line with current trends.
Have a Clear Idea About Your Lead Generation Strategy
Heading into automation without understanding how your business creates and manages leads is futile. For successful automation, create a map of your lead flow, understand the major trigger points, and focus on only one or two key processes that work across the board.
Leverage Your Customer Data More Effectively
These days, even small businesses can collect a lot of data on their customers and potential clients, using online forms, surveys, and other digital sources. For maximum efficiency, try to segment your target audience based on the data you have. Add personalisation and targeting to your automated email campaigns.
Always Conduct Reviews and Test Runs
If automation was involved in the sending process, then there is the possibility that there could be errors in your content. This is especially true in the case of email and social media marketing. Conduct all the appropriate editing and proof-reading checks, and ensure that all relevant data has been entered correctly before you start automating.
Marketing Automation Tools to Consider
While there are many different options, including comprehensive software suites and standalone apps, we have focused on the former due to their superior feature set, ease of use, and overall flexibility.
Here are some of the top automation software get you started:
Part of the renowned Adobe range, Marketo is one of the most mature automation software suites for digital marketing currently available. It has tools for every element of your online strategy, including email marketing, social media, website, lead generation, and more. It also has customised solutions for different business sectors. With excellent scalability and a focus on end-to-end engagement, Marketo is a reliable option for small businesses.
With a more dedicated focus on email and messaging automation, Customer.io is an excellent option for small businesses looking to enter the "shallow end" of the marketing automation pool. It is a lightweight, yet extremely capable tool, with key features including targeting, easy personalisation of messages, website and app integration, and more. The best part? Customer.io is free (if you have a relatively small pool of target customers).
For businesses looking to focus more on automating their inbound marketing strategies, HubSpot might be the ideal choice. It has an excellent beginner-friendly interface, replete with guidance from the renowned HubSpot Academy. As an all-in-one solution, it offers basic automation across all the major marketing channels, and also has excellent CRM integration capacity.
Oracle's marketing automation software brand is mainly targeted at B2B businesses. Launched back in 1999, the software now offers automation options across email, social media, mobile, and more. Though it had an original focus on lead generation, Eloqua has since added features that boost personalisation and analysis as well.
As the name suggests, this 2012 startup focuses on automating lead generation for small businesses. It offers the ability to introduce automation in email marketing, website landing pages, chatbots, phone calls, and more. The pricing structure is relatively affordable when compared to other enterprise software, too, and there are tiered levels based on the number of contacts a business has.
Was this article helpful? How are you looking to implement automation into your digital marketing campaigns this year? And what tools would you recommend? Let us know in the comment section!