What is marketing automation

What is Marketing Automation and How Does it Affect Social Media?

marketing automation social mediaWhen we talk about automation in the world of social media, we often think it’s a bad word.  And yet, when it’s done well, it’s actually an essential part of social media marketing.

One-to-one communication is not possible with a large audience, so you have to find ways of keeping communication channels open with all of your audience and then, over time, identify the real prospects.

This is where marketing automation comes into play.  So, let’s take a deeper look about what marketing automation is and why I consider that marketing automation tools are in the social media tool category space!

 

What is a Marketing Automation Tool?

It’s a broad term, so it could include any tool that provides any level of automation in the marketing space.

But, typically, you are talking about relatively expensive tools that provide a broad range of functionality that help to automate your marketing process.

What Type of Functionality is Typically Provided?

This is not an exhaustive list of all functionality but, as a  general rule, any marketing automation tool would have the following kinds of functionality:

Email marketing

Email marketing is often central to what a marketing automation tool provides.  They offer the capability to embed forms onto your website so that you can collect any email addresses that are entered, directly into their database.  You can then communicate with your email subscribers through email newsletters/messages etc. and also through automated sequences.

Automated Workflow Tools

This is a core module and is probably the most important within a marketing automation tool, because this is where the automation happens.

Within this tool, you can set up a series of actions that happen as a result of another action so that, if one thing happens, it triggers an action elsewhere.  You can create contact records and build those contact records over time, based on the users’ activity.

It’s all about keeping communication channels open, building the relationship and nurturing a person to a sale.

For example, imagine if you knew that 10% of the people who attended a webinar would buy your products or services.  You would then need to work out an automated sequence to get people into your webinar.

This could be:

  • They sign up as an email subscriber
  • You send them a really good guide for free, two days later
  • If they click on the guide, you send them an invite to a webinar as they have shown interest.
  • If they don’t click on the guide, you send them an automated email two days later to remind them to click on it. You know that when they read the guide, they will be more impressed with you and your company, so are more likely to do business with you.
  • Behind the scenes, you are creating a contact record.  You start off with an email address.  When someone gets the guide, you add this to the contact record.  When they click on the guide, this is noted.  When they sign up to the webinar, you collect some additional information about them and then you use that for targeting in the future.
  • After the webinar, you automatically send the people who didn’t attend a message about another webinar they can go to.
  • You automatically assign people who attended the webinar to a sales person who tries to close the sale.

Now you can see where the automation kicks in.

The majority of tools have some type of visual interface that allows you to create these automated sequences, because they can become quite complicated.  But can you see the benefit?

Here’s an example of a basic sequence in Infusionsoft.   The sequence is kicked off when there’s an email sign up.  The user’s details are registered in the database and an initial email is sent.  Then, three days later a follow-up email is generated.

 

Infusionsoft Sequence

This is the sequence of events that happens when you sign up to a newsletter

 

Lead Scoring

Most tools provide lead scoring capabilities, so you can assign a higher score to a lead as they progress through the sales funnel.  This provides an easier way to identify leads with real potential.

For example, imagine if you decided that it’s worth ringing your email subscriber up when their lead score was 100.  To get to a lead score of 100 they will have had to perform a series of actions.  The communication that kicks of these requests for action could be automated, and the lead score could be automatically calculated, for example,

  • Sign up as an email subscriber = 10 points
  • Download a guide = 20 points
  • Download a second guide = 20 points
  • Refer a friend = 20 points
  • Attend a webinar = 30 points.

 

Landing page software

As you want to capture as many leads as possible, the tool providers often include facilities for creating custom landing pages for your site, that you can use to get people to sign up for webinars, product launches, email subscriptions etc.

With this software, you can easily create custom pages to add to your site that will help with your conversion rates.  Here is an example of the landing page creation tool provided by Ontraport.

 

Ontraport Landing Pages

Ontraport provides a tool for easily creating landing pages

CRM Database

Your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) database is where all the details of the people/companies you are interacting with are stored.  Marketing automation tools may have a basic CRM database, with integration available to some third-party CRM providers (e.g. Salesforce), or it might include more advanced CRM functionality built in.

Social Media Integration

As a lot of interaction with your current and potential customers happens through social media channels, it’s really important that this is part of your marketing automation tool.  You can monitor, kick start and record conversations.   We will talk  more about social media integration shortly.

Content Creation Capabilities

Consider your marketing automation to be a beast that needs feeding. You can feed it with new people, and one way of doing this is to create content that attracts people to your site.  For example, HubSpot have a facility for creating blog content, and this helps feed the beast.

Analytics

There is typically some analytics integration within marketing automation tools so that you can track which of your existing subscribers visit your website.  You can even include this within some automation.  For example, if someone from a particular IP address visits the ‘buy now’ page on our website, we could send them an email with a discount to our product three days later if they don’t make a purchase.

Different tools will also have more general analytics so you can see your pipeline, the status of your lead nurturing, sales generated etc.

E-commerce

The degree of e-commerce functionality can vary from just being enough to integrate with payment gateways (e.g. Paypal and Stripe), or it could be more advanced and integrate with shopping cart facilities.  If you have large, complex e-commerce requirements it’s unlikely that any marketing automation tool will have all the functionality you need, so you’ll have to consider a third-party tool.

 

How does marketing automation affect social media?

The initial conversation with your potential customer can happen anywhere and doesn’t have to kick off with an email.  For example, when someone mentions your brand in a tweet, you can look up your contact database and see if you have got them listed.  If you have, maybe you want to record that they have tweeted.  This can be done automatically.

Do you want to automate any messages through social media?  It may seem like a bad idea but, if handled correctly, it can work.

For example, Insight Pool allows you to build up automation around social media.  You can target specific Twitter followers and send them a personalised message based on their previous tweets, perhaps something like, “Hey John,  as an existing customer I thought you’d like to know about our 25% discount offer”.

Of course, you can’t send out 1,000 of these messages in one day, but how about selecting the most relevant and targeted people and delivering this to a small list?

So, social media is an important part of marketing automation and, increasingly, you will see marketing automation vendors integrating more with social channels.  You can already see that some of them are starting to provide social media management capabilities, so we can expect to see more of this.

What are the tools in this area?

There is a wide variety of tools to consider in this area and maybe this is a topic for another post!

Here is an example list of some of the tools:

There are many more, it’s a fast growing space!

How to achieve Return of Investment with Marketing Automation

I recently did a report for VentureBeat on how to achieve return of investment with Marketing automation and  the research produced was very interesting.  Based on the survey here’s some of the issues people had achieving ROI:

Complexity of software 18.5%

Lack of Resources 26.9%

Lack of Skills 18.5%

The full report (paid report) is on Venturebeat.

Summary

Marketing automation is a very important area of business, and the vendors of these tools will start doing more work around the area of social media integration and automation.  Because so much of the conversation is happening over social media channels, it’s a key aspect of marketing automation.

Have you got any plans or experience with marketing automation tools?  I’d love to hear your feedback.

Related Posts

Infusionsoft Review

Ontraport Review

 

Image from Shutterstock




 

About the author

Ian Cleary

Author: Ian Cleary is the Founder of RazorSocial and is super passionate about helping people leverage tools and technology to improve effectiveness of your social media presence.

  • intouchcrm

    Great post Ian. Very informative! I absolutely agree with you that automated marketing can very nicely complement a business’ social media strategy and vice versa. I would however disagree that these tools are relatively expensive. Here at InTouch for example, we are proud to offer entry level Sales and Marketing Software that has been created to meet the specific needs of small businesses (that includes their smaller budgets). Personally, I am a firm believer that good marketing doesn’t need to be too expensive or too complicated!

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Thank you so much, I’ll take a look at your product! I really appreciate your feedback, Ian

      • intouchcrm

        Thank you Ian. I really enjoyed your article!

        • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

          Thanks!

  • Shibani Roy

    Hi Ian. I strongly believe that social media can do wonders for a company/product or just create awareness about a specific topic. Moreover, it’s free so there is absolutely no reason why businesses and marketers shouldn’t use it. I have come across businesses (some of our clients) who aren’t using social media as well as they should and are therefore, not being able to generate enough traffic. As you rightly said, marketing automation definitely affects social media and one should strike the right balance between the two, to streamline their marketing process.

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Thanks Shibani!

  • http://blog.digitalinsights.in/ Omkar Mishra

    Great post Ian. From a cost perspective, which one of these options do you feel adds the best value?

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Hi Omkar, difficult to say because there are at least 100 vendors and there is such a variety of functionality available. You really need to work out your requirements first and then see which solution works for you. For examples Salesformics is $99 per user with no limits on emails. If you have a massive database and you’re the only one working on the automation then this is an appealing solution!! Ian

  • Marco Peters

    PARDPT (belongs to SalesForce) is a nice tool too. Much more intuitive than MARKETO

  • Marco Peters

    Sorry, I meant PARDOT

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Thanks Marco.

  • http://www.terrafrance.com Gijs VAN BREUGEL

    Good to see all in one post ! Thanks for this overview.

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Thank you!

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    I was introduced to Infusionsoft after reading one of your articles, and although the beginning was a bit confusing (their UX is not so great), after a while the results are fantastic. Thank you for your good advice.

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Thanks Antonio, Infusionsoft is great and really powerful but if you’re not technically minded you’ll really struggle to get value out of it. Ian

      • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

        I’m not an IT geek, but I think I know my way around technology… and still took me a while. However, the effort is totally worth it and once you know your way around, everything is smoother.

        • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

          Thanks Antonio, I agree. I’d be lost without it now!

  • http://www.jumplead.com/ Matt Fenn

    Great post Ian,

    Can I add Jumplead http://jumplead.com to your list?
    We have a ‘free to play’ plan, designed to allow people to get their heads around setting up the software without risk.

    Worth checking out, this is an exciting space to be in at the moment.. :)

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Thanks Matt, delighted to add Jumplead. I’ll be doing more around this area so I’ll definitely check you out. thanks, Ian

      • http://www.jumplead.com/ Matt Fenn

        Thanks Ian! Anything you need, just let us know… :)

        • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

          Thanks Matt.

  • http://warrenwhitlock.com/social-media-expert Warren Whitlock

    Marketing automation is a must today. We don’t want to waste time doing mechanical things… leaving us more time to connect with people and do the human, relationship building needed for success today.

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Sorry Warren I missed this comment. I agree with you. I’d be lost without our marketing automation platform!

  • Mason Isabella

    Marketing automation is very important these day. I like it & also like Social Media Marketing