You may have heard marketing automation isn’t good for your business, or it’s hard to manage and can get you into trouble—and while there will always be freak, one-off examples that give TMZ a run for their money, marketing automation is inherently great for your business.
Not all companies will have a controversial tweet that goes out at the wrong time harming the brand, and not all companies need to dig into the myths that marketing automation won’t help them convert and close more leads. But what exactly is marketing automation?
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is a tactic that allows companies to nurture prospects using highly personalized, valuable content that helps convert these prospects into leads, and turn those leads into customers.
Marketing automation is an important piece to your marketing puzzle—and by no way a means to an end. You need to constantly reshape and analyze your strategy to discover what’s working, and what isn’t in order to be successful.
Nurturing your leads is an ongoing process and marketing automation can help that process by synching your strategy throughout all of your efforts (blog, social media, email, forms, etc.), helping to organize your plan of attack. That being said, remember, your plan of attack is just that—a plan and you need to take action to engage and convert your leads if you want to achieve your desired results.
Where Can You Apply Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is a great way of guiding potential customers through your website, social channels and email to generate new leads, all while converting existing ones. Applicable uses include:
Social Media Marketing
Metrics and Analytics
There are many businesses that know what marketing automation is, yet refuse to get involved. Most of us have heard stories or have seen for ourselves how poorly implemented automation can lead to some embarrassing blunders (just type “Marketing Automation Fails” into Google). But it doesn’t mean the process is any less necessary! So before you go believing the overhyped horror stories, take a minute to read about the 5 Dangerous Myths of Marketing Automation and how you can avoid them for success.
1) Once and Done
What It Means: A popular myth about marketing automation is that marketers abuse automation and leave engaged visitor responses hung out to dry.
Why It’s A Myth: Marketing automation needs constant care and awareness for it to work effectively. Too many companies skimp on these details and think they can let their automation do all the work—not exactly the best way of accomplishing your goals. Marketing automation works as a supplement to your sales strategy, allowing you to strategize the path ahead. It’s not meant as something you can set and forget.
For example, take A/B Testing. The benefit of that is you can test two or more pages to see what resonates more powerfully with your audience. That same due diligence is necessary with your marketing automation. You need to test what your audience is engaging with most, and make sure the content you’re projecting is doing its job of that.
Additionally, customers are more likely to engage with the brands that engage back, and if you’re posting thought provoking content without responding to your audience’s thoughts, all you’re doing is provoking them. They’ll catch on quickly and are likely to ignore the rest of your social fodder.
2) It’s Only for Email
What It Means: Many business owners think marketing automation is only relevant for email marketing.
Why It’s A Myth: As we alluded to above, there are many other channels where marketing automation is relevant. While email marketing is certainly one of the stronger channels for automation, it can be utilized with social media, landing pages, lead generation activities, management activities, and much more.
One of the major reasons this myth exists is that the majority of people are used to ineffective marketing—hence the juxtaposition of spam and marketing automation. But when you realize the benefits that marketing automation can add to other channels—how it can make your processes quicker and simpler, and how it can literally guide countless leads through the conversion process—you’re well on your way to saving your business time and money.
3) Marketing Automation is Lazy
What It Means: Many people believe marketing automation is a lazy way of tackling your content publishing or email campaigns.
Why It’s A Myth:Lazy marketing automation is easy, but the keyword here is “lazy.” Quality marketing automation on the other hand takes work, and it’s well worth your effort in the end. It’s an easy stigma to assume since you can auto-schedule out your content for the future, but quality automation isn’t finished once you send it. You don’t have the ability to sit back and relax because, in reality, marketing automation is only a small piece to a much larger strategy.
You need to be aware of what you’re saying at all times, across all channels, and how your scheduled content could affect your company if it’s left unmonitored or unchecked. It’s like cold calling someone on the phone and leaving a voicemail. If the prospect actually calls back (think about that… would you?) and all they get is a dial tone of a disconnected number, they’re going to be annoyed, confused, or offended.
This is something you, in a perfect world, want to avoid and it’s why your marketing automation needs to work in tandem with your other channels. Automating your marketing and content is the first step, but be sure to reach out and personalize your content before and after they engage with you. No one likes dead air.
4) Automation’s for Robots
What It Means: Prospects think marketing automation is too impersonal and often marketers sound like they’re talking to a wall.
Why It’s A Myth: Like the second myth, this isn’t the fault of marketing automation—this is the fault of bad marketers. Too often, companies don’t even take the time to sound personal, sending emails, messages, or calls from mad-libbed scripts. If your email or landing page starts with, “Hello Customer #24948,” that customer is going to be less inclined to dig into your offer and rightfully so. Our world today is full of offers, ads, and constant attempts at luring away our attention. Because of that, customers now are savvy and want to feel like more than just another number.
Good marketing automation plays both sides of the coin, leveraging automation for what they need, while responding to prospects and productively interacting with the audience. Automation is not the end-all-be-all of content publishing, yet it’s an important way of supplementing your existing content strategy—cutting your work in half and streamlining certain practices for increased business success with quality leads, not just an empty quantity.
5) All Spam, No Glam
What It Means: Another dangerous myth is that marketing automation is just a different form of spam.
Why It’s A Myth: While many companies may choose to automate their marketing in this fashion, it doesn’t mean you can boil the entire process down due to one negative use. Spam is spam because of its irrelevancy, not because it showed up without warning in your inbox. In the end, if the content isn’t resonating with your audience in a personal way, it probably wasn’t worth the “send” to begin with.
With marketing automation, you can trickle information and content down to your prospects based on who they are, what they like, and how they found your business to begin with. It’s an opportunity to engage with your prospects conversationally while guiding your prospects through the sales funnel.
It’s important because businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. As any business could attest, qualified leads are the most highly sought after, and if you’re able to guide your leads in a way that only the most qualified make it through the funnel, you’re well on your way to success.
The Bottom Line
When you disarm the myths and nay-sayers, it’s evident that marketing automation is a great way to improve your business. You need to be well versed in the best practices before you take it on—a step far too many businesses disregard.
Your goal should be to maintain and scale your business profitably and successfully, and you need to remember that not all marketing strategies are created equally. Like I’ve said, marketing automation is just one piece of a greater puzzle, and it needs constant care in order to flourish.
Originally published Mar 21, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016