This article sets out a guide to small business marketing automation over email marketing.
Marketing Automation is a confusing term. It doesn’t really mean anything and indeed a lot of small business marketing automation vendors are trying to carve out new positioning with terms such as ‘multi-channel marketing’, ‘behavioural based marketing’, ‘all in one marketing’ or the ‘marketing system of record for the modern marketer’.
Unlike email platforms, marketing automation has a memory and true automation. By this we mean it can track an individual’s behaviour over time, record the engagement and then automate the subsequent next action. It can remember campaigns, assets, workflow, opt-outs, unsubscribes, and preferences.
An overview of the key benefits
Marketing automation is currently the hottest sector in the SME/CRM space with 40% year on year growth.
First adopted by technology companies, who of course adore new technology, it has now permeated into many other sectors including publishing, financial services, business services and manufacturing.
The technology is fast changing. It can incorporate both inbound (PR and social media) and outbound (email and web intelligence) functionality, as well as traditional CRM integration and digital asset management.
Some look at just the functionality, but for all the lead scoring, automated lead nurturing, CRM integration, dynamic content and preference centres, the real key benefits of deploying marketing automation are:
- The ability to scale & save time - Running multiple campaigns at the same time to satisfy demand management and the demands for quality business pipeline.
- A single view of the customer - Relationships and behaviour tracking, not transactions and spreadsheet juggling.
- It puts marketing back on the front foot - With continuous campaigns running longer than the buying cycle it is now possible to not just measure campaign ROI but really forecast future revenues.
Those organisations that invest in marketing automation and then execute it properly are at a major advantage to those organisations that don’t. More importantly, they place themselves on the front foot for additional credibility within the rest of the organisation.
Main Features of a Small Business Marketing Automation Platform
Unless a platform has the following core characteristics it cannot call itself a small business marketing automation platform, and is frankly of little use to you. It must have the ability to:
- Send email(outbound)
- Store campaign assets in a library
- Store customer and prospect records
- Automate a multi-touch marketing campaign
- Score customers and prospects based on who they are and their engagement.
- Talk to other platforms (an API) e.g. CRM or Webinar integration
- Automate tasks and map the organisation workflow
Social media is also an important feature, and the pace of development is rapid. Marketers know it is important to balance the outbound with the inbound and so the following social media functionality is now included in a lot of platforms.
- Social listening e.g. listening for conversations on Twitter
- Share to social e.g. adding the ‘likes’ and ‘forward to a friend’ functionality
- Social sign-on e.g. the ability to market content on platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook and
- automatically embed the user profile data within the platform for seamless behavioural tracking
What is it really about then?
It is fundamentally about you and your willingness to drive change for the better in your organisation.
For all the feature differences between email and marketing automation, the real benefits of an effective deployment is the ability to drive change positive change. Marketers that adopt small business marketing automation are drivers of real change in a business, and those that don’t do it or don’t do it well, will simply be left behind.
I hope that this article has provided some food for thought if you’re looking to roll out such a platform.
Once you’ve decided that it is the right choice, why not get in touch to see if there’s anything that I can help you with to make it an even greater success. Or for more on this topic, follow the link below: