Marketing Automation: What Is It and Do I Need It?

Marketing automation is a big buzzword these days. It’s being touted as a silver bullet that can alleviate a myriad of marketing woes. The very term, Marketing Automation, could lead one to believe that marketing can, indeed, be automated. But wait, not so fast.

Technically speaking, marketing automation is a type of technology that allows for the scheduled distribution of content across multiple digital channels, and the best marketing automation software is pretty user-friendly and has some really slick dashboards.

So, can marketing automation software solve your particular marketing challenges? Consider this…

It’s Hungry for Content

Before you can distribute your content, you’ve got to have it. And marketing automation software is a hungry beast. As it turns out, creating all that meaningful content that your marketing automation software requires is a very challenging and burdensome part of ‘doing’ marketing automation.

Marketing automation can be a very efficient tool for distributing your content…but not for creating it. It’s best to leave that to the humans.

It’s Best for an Inbound Marketing Model

If you have thousands of prospects in your database who are already active in a variety of channels and who need to hear from you frequently as part of their buying decision, and if you have a lot of content to distribute to those folks, then marketing automation software can help you distribute the right message to the right people at the right time.

On the other hand, if your prospect or client list is relatively short and exclusive, marketing automation software might be overkill.

It Requires You to Know Your Target… Very, Very Well

Crafting genuine messages that resonate with your clients and prospects requires a deep understanding of what makes those people tick…what they care about, what keeps them up at night, what nagging questions they have.

You simply have to know—intimately— who your clients and prospects are and how (and when) to speak to them in a way that will move them to do business with you. No software—no matter how user-friendly—can do that for you.

It’s Pricey

A subscription to that cool user interface and flashy dashboard can cost thousands per month. So be sure to assess the ROI of such a tool.

Know how much you can spend on acquiring a new client (depending on your industry, it’s usually15-20% of revenue) and evaluate the price of marketing automation software plus the costs associated with producing all the content this new software will require.

There’s a Learning Curve

Learning to use this new technology takes time—in man hours (i.e. $$) as well as time span. You’ll want to have at least one person on your team become an expert on how it works and you may need to invest time and money into training them to use it effectively. So, identify or recruit someone on your team who has the aptitude and desire to learn a new technology—and who will be around for the long haul—and dub them your marketing automation guru.

The gist of the story: Marketing automation can help you effectively distribute very targeted messages to a segmented database of clients and prospects. But like with any software, it’s a specialized tool designed for a specialized set of marketing challenges.

If you have questions about whether marketing automation is right for your business, or want to learn how to use it to create and maintain relationships with customers and prospects, we can help you sort it all out. We love this stuff!