Marketing Automation: What You Need to Know

thinkstockphotos-482557164Marketing automation” is more than just a buzzword – it is a very real practice that is empowering marketers around the world to accomplish more than ever in a shorter amount of time. At its core, marketing automation is a term used to describe a set of software, technologies, and other platforms that automate marketing on certain channels. These can include e-mail, social media, websites, and more. The idea is that by automating certain repetitive tasks that, while hugely important are also time-consuming, you unlock a host of additional benefits that can’t be ignored.

Reaching Customers on a Deeper Level

Targeted marketing has always been the bread and butter of many businesses in terms of increasing customer engagement. People don’t want to feel like they’re just one of a million different people being marketed to simultaneously – they want to feel like your business is taking time out of its busy day to speak to them directly. This helps increase the effectiveness of your marketing materials and is also a great way to take an average customer and turn them into a loyal brand advocate at the same time.

The issue here is that this historically takes a lot of time – or at least, it used to. Marketing automation is one of the best tools that you currently have to reach your unique customers in a meaningful way. Previously, you would have to manually segment customers based on things like your buyer personas. You would have to spend time creating these niche groups of customers based on their personalities, their needs, their likes and dislikes and more. While effective, this takes a great deal of time.

With marketing automation, however, you can simply create restrictions that will allow your software resources to segment these customers automatically based on whatever criteria you want. You get the exact same beneficial end result, but you only had to spend a fraction of the time in order to get there.

What Marketing Automation Is NOT

When people hear the term “automation,” they often call to mind images of technological solutions or other IT developments that are designed to completely replace the jobs of human employees. While that may be true in an environment like a factory floor, this couldn’t be farther from reality in terms of marketing.

Marketing automation is not designed to be a replacement for your marketing team or the hard work they’re doing – it’s designed to be supplemental to the existing experience. Automation isn’t an excuse to hire one less employee, but to free up that employee’s valuable time to put to better use elsewhere within your organization. Maybe Thomas shouldn’t be spending so much of his day writing and sending out new tweets or Facebook updates every time you publish a new piece of content – maybe that should happen instantly so that Thomas can work on something a bit more important to your larger business objectives.

These are just a few of the major advantages that marketing automation is bringing to the table in terms of what the industry looks like today. By automating certain basic marketing functions, it’s enabling your employees to do better work in a more fundamental way. It gives them the ability to work “smarter, not harder,” so to speak.

Ways to Ensure Everyone Has their Favorite Type of Content

Imagine three friends walk into the local grocery store. They’re roommates in a nearby apartment building and are planning a fun get-together with their friends that night. The friends split up, each with a separate shopping list, and plan to meet up at the cash registers in half an hour.

Thirty minutes later, they reconvene and look over each other’s selections. The one tasked with selecting salsa pulls three jars of Brand A out of her bag. The other two roommates grimace slightly.

“What?” she asks.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” another roommate says. “It’s just that I prefer Brand B salsa. I always find Brand A a little too watery.”

The other roommate chimes in, “Really? I always prefer Brand C. I find Brands A and B both to be too mild.”

They each laugh. “Wow!” exclaims the first roommate. “I had no idea there were so many different opinions regarding salsa. How about I get one jar of each? Then, we can all have our preferred flavor at least some point in the evening.”

Like the friends in this story, your customers often have different tastes and preferences. When planning your marketing, you must remain considerate of your customers and recognize that it’s possible for different customers to have different content ‘tastes.’

The Different Types of Content

The digital world has long been dominated by text, but in many ways this is changing. People are realizing how critical and engaging images are when added to text. In fact, tweets that contain images are known to receive up to 5x the engagement of those without images.

People like images because they give them something to relate to. When you see a picture of a company’s customer using their product or service, it becomes easier to see yourself in that position. As a brand, you can take advantage of this by beginning to build a stronger relationship with potential customers and enticing them to do business with you.

Videos have also become an increasingly important aspect of digital content. Customers have begun demonstrating their preference for this form of content in many ways, and customers upload 300 hours of video every minute on YouTube alone. Visuals allow people to process information up to 60,000 times faster, making it a valuable way to communicate with page visitors.

There are also other valuable forms of content to consider. For example, on social media, memes and other fun images are easy to create and share with audiences. These types of images fit well with the casual attitudes of many social media platforms, while also communicating basic ideas about the business and industry.

Infographics are another generally appreciated form of visual content because they communicate valuable information in an easy-to-digest format. Infographics can be used nearly anywhere, from your website and blog, to your social media platforms.

The content of digital marketing continues to evolve as marketers realize that not all customers will respond to the same type of content. Just like the roommates who all like a different type of salsa, you can be confident that different customers appreciate different types of content. By producing a variety of content types to nurture your relationship with all these different groups, you’ll create a strong digital marketing campaign.