If you’re interested in building a business that keeps customers’ needs consistently at the core of your enterprise, you may want to consider the benefits of marketing automation. That may seem surprising or counterintuitive, depending on your understanding of marketing automation, since myths abound about what it is and how it really works. Marketing automation is a way to systematize routine, but important, tasks in response to clients’ attributes and behavior, and send actionable insights to sales and marketing professionals. In another article, I’ll recommend some tips and tricks to make it work effectively. In this article, I’ve outlined five common myths about marketing automation, and explained why things aren’t always as you might have believed.
Myth 1: Marketing automation is complicated and burdensome.
Fact: Marketing automation actually simplifies the life of business owners, and the sophisticated tools now available do much of the heavy lifting for you. While the business owner is focused on service delivery, marketing automation processes are behind the scenes, monitoring where on your website customers visit and what they do there. Customer preferences and visitor behaviors trigger the sales and marketing system to send information to customers related to their interests and needs, and alerts business owners of key information about new business leads. All of this happens in a matter of minutes and without manual input, which would be time consuming and complicated if done without automation technology.
By automating repetitive or complex tasks, marketing automation frees the business owner to focus on product innovation and service delivery. This is a win-win for both parties, as the client receives what they want and need, and the business owner maintains customer loyalty and satisfaction. Over the short- and long-term, offering what the client needs also positions the business to upsell, or make engagements with clients more satisfying and profitable. To implement marketing automation, you’ll need to have a marketing plan and a marketing technology capable of:
- Identifying your ideal customer
- Directing them to your website
- Finding creative ways to collect their contact information
- Beginning and sustaining a meaningful dialogue
- Inspiring them to become a customer by offering what they need
- Ensuring your company remains attractive to your ideal buyer
- Refining and repeating this process in successive marketing campaigns
Myth 2: I will lose the personal touch if I implement an automated sales and marketing process.
Fact: The opposite is true in the realm of digital marketing. Without a personalized and consistently-applied sales and marketing process, you will, by default, offer more of a cookie-cutter approach to each client. Once you’ve gleaned information about visitors’ interests and attributes, you’re in a better position to personalize future communications with them. When clients and leads receive personalized information, they are more inclined to believe you are aware of (and interested in meeting) their needs. This responsiveness builds trust in your brand and steadily cultivates leads and repeat visits.
Marketing automation is also an insurance policy of sorts. Without a scalable process to help you communicate in a timely and relevant way, you are subject to the whims of life and life cycles. For example, if you’re depending on an associate to monitor which items visitors view or download from your site, then you are destined to experience human error and leave gaps in knowledge about them. When the unexpected (a sickness or prolonged absence from the office) happens, it’s easy to forget or impossible to execute routine tasks. By implementing marketing automation, you’re able to ensure that you acknowledge (via email or text message) each time someone takes a desired action on your site.
Myth 3: Only big businesses can benefit from marketing automation.
Fact: Whether you employ 10 people or 50, you’re almost never too small to adopt a process that helps you identify and meet the needs of current and prospective clients. The size of your payroll has no bearing on your responsibility as a business owner to understand what motivates your customers. Since “one-size-fits-all” approaches aren’t effective, you’ll need to implement a system that gives insight to help you make more informed decisions on the service offerings of interest to your audience.
In other words, no business is too small to implement a system that provides information on what matters most to clients. Since marketing automation obtains information on your customers preferences, everyone should consider the process if they want to keep the customers they have while growing their business. After all, if clients can’t count on you to provide relevant information and personalized services, they’ll get what they need elsewhere.
Nonprofit organizations, as well, are not exempt from the benefits of automating the flow of information to and from multiple audiences: donors, constituents, journalists, volunteers and the public at large. If you aren’t consistent and intentional about reaching and responding to a receptive audience with messaging that communicates your value and mission, then you may miss out on critical service, funding and recruiting opportunities.
Myth 4: Marketing automation is for robotic spam email blasts.
Fact: Savvy marketers and business people should know by now that marketing automation is not synonymous with spam any more than the telephone is with robocalls. Technology merely enables and augments the magnitude and impact of whatever drives it, whether that be good or not-so-good practices. By definition, spam is unwanted and mostly irrelevant communication focused squarely on pushing out the same message to the masses. In contrast, attracting and engaging a receptive audience with content that resonates with an individual contact’s unique needs and goals represents an effective and responsible use of marketing automation tools.
Today’s best marketing automation tools are aware of visitor preferences, responsive to their actions, infused with personalization, and result in higher response rates and customer satisfaction. A properly-designed and implemented marketing campaign is compliant with anti-spam laws, sophisticated enough to know who to target with the right message, and tailor-made for an ongoing dialogue with your ideal customer.
Myth 5: Marketing automation is a set-it-and-forget-it system.
Fact: Although marketing automation is designed to operate without manual intervention to perform many routine tasks and carry out complex online marketing campaigns, that does not mean that significant human effort is not required to create thoughtful and effective campaigns and evaluate their effectiveness over time. At its worst, marketing automation can simply make it easier to perpetually communicate the wrong message at the wrong time to the wrong prospect, and send meaningless and irrelevant alerts and reminders to business owners and sales representatives.
An understanding of your ideal customer and the ability to create content that resonates with their needs and goals are essential components of a marketing automation system that really works. A relevant and timely exchange of information that carefully adheres to the interests and expectations of a particular audience or individual is built upon quality content and the knowledge of when it should be delivered. Even after you have a marketing automation system in place, you’ll want to ensure you are automating quality content and triggering appropriate actions that meet the goals of your business and clients alike.