“The core problem we’re going to have going forward is that you have two forces [that will] govern much of what [happens] in the future. The first is globalization, which we’re not going to repeal, and the second one is automation, which we’re not going to repeal.” – Eric Schmidt, Former Executive Chairman of Google, Inc
With the marketing world moving more and more towards automation, it’s natural to take a step back and wonder: what is automation, exactly? Automation has been around since the printing press, the loom, and even the wheel. Throughout history, humans have found ways to automate repetitive or laborious tasks to machines, and automation in the digital age is no exception. While automation can conjure up images of machines from the Matrix, it’s less dystopian and more beneficial than you might think.
Properly understood, automation allows humans to do more with less. Think about it this way: where would the automobile industry be without the creation of the assembly line? Where would we be without the machine-based search algorithm that google built? Automation is a part of your washing machine, your coffee maker, and countless details of your everyday life. Marketing automation can be thought of in the same way that every other form of automation can be: it allows you to do more with less. Think of marketing automation as a way to do the work of a large marketing department, but for the cost of a single marketer.
Marketing Automation Basics
With automation, you can scale your marketing team without hiring a bunch of new employees. In essence, you can create a marketing machine. Marketing automation consists of software and tools that allow you to efficiently market to your customers throughout the entirety of their buyer’s journey. You nurture prospects with engaging and relevant content and then turn those prospects into customers. It’s the reason that Amazon is ranked one the most reputable companies on the planet: they don’t just sell to their customers, they provide value-added service to them at every stage of the funnel. They have built a marketing machine that removes the friction between the customer and the company. Don’t get me wrong, this is not easy to do—but as you can see it’s worth the required investment.
5 Steps to get started with marketing automation:
- Generate relevant leads by creating great content and driving traffic to your website. Focus on making your content informative, not promotional. By providing educational information, you help solve your prospect’s pain points which allows them to move smoothly through the rest of your funnel.
- Build your marketing funnel using landing pages, email marketing, and content that is valuable to your prospective buyers, whether that’s a blog, an ebook, a whitepaper, etc.
- Create content that includes calls-to-action with other relevant content that will help your prospects to solve their problems. If you’re discussing obstacles in the recruiting world in an article, you should link to another piece of content at the end that helps solve those obstacles or presents new ideas.
- Send out relevant and timely messages to your prospects at the various stages of the funnel. Your prospects are always on the move, their information and needs change everyday–it is your job as a marketer to figure out what information will help them progress along their journey. Sending the right information at the right time is critical to building trust with your customers, and solving their problems, even after they’ve become a customer, is how you build a reputation as enviable as Amazon’s.
- Work with your sales team to integrate your marketing and sales efforts, by creating a delightful sales experience for your prospects and customers, your sales team will begin to understand your customers from their perspective. Rather than interrupting your leads with irrelevant messages and cold calls, marketing automation allows your marketing and sales department to work in harmony to understand and help your customers every step of the way.
The key to successful marketing automation is remaining customer-centric. Much like Amazon’s mission of being the most customer-centric company on the planet, marketing automation is all about your customer, not you. Where I see many fall short with marketing automation is that they only focus on their existing mailing lists and ignore the rest of the 99% of the market out there. Marketing automation is not just emailing your leads to death; it’s a holistic approach to creating great marketing that is non-intrusive, relevant to prospects, and delights the customer at every stage of the funnel.