Keeping up with the ever-evolving digital marketing landscape can be overwhelming for many businesses. Whether it’s updating your client list, sending promotional emails or maintaining a social media presence, the demands of marketing a business in the modern age are seemingly relentless. Do you wish there was a way to simplify all of those repetitive but essential tasks? Or maybe even take them off your plate completely? Well, that’s where automation comes in.
Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just getting started, this article will give you an inside look at the future of marketing and how automation is helping businesses of all sizes achieve success. From boosting efficiency and freeing up time for strategic thinking, to personalising campaigns at scale, we’ll take a closer look at how automation is revolutionising the marketing landscape. And don’t think that this is confined to the marketing industry. Research from McKinsey suggests that 60% of all occupations have at least 30% technically automatable activities.
What exactly is automation?
In the simplest terms, it is the use of technology to perform tasks without human intervention. With advancements in technology, it’s now possible to automate many of the repetitive tasks that once consumed valuable time and resources. This is allowing businesses to streamline their efforts and focus on other important areas of their business, especially those that require a human touch. There has been a massive shift towards automation in recent years. In 2019, eight out of ten companies had already adopted automation for some tasks. The COVID-19 pandemic also accelerated the use of automations across many industry sectors as businesses pivoted to adapt to the forced change in business operations and customers’ increased interaction with digital channels.
A business can utilise automation in marketing in a variety of ways, from automating email campaigns, to lead nurturing, and more.
Personalised emails improve click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 11%. They also generate up to eighteen times more revenue than non-personalised emails. Managing this manually would be a difficult task for most businesses but automation makes this relatively simple. Businesses can easily set up triggered email campaigns that send highly personalised emails to specific segments of their email list. These segments can be based on a range of parameters, from age or location, to interests and preferences or specific actions taken by a user, such as opening an email, clicking on it or purchasing a product. These automated emails can include welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, upsell and cross-sell promotions and post-purchase follow-ups.
Take this example: if someone subscribes to your website, your automation program will send a personalised welcome email. This will usually thank them for their subscription. Studies have shown that subscribers who receive a welcome email increase their long-term engagement with a brand by 33%. This ultimately leads to a higher chance of conversions and increased revenue. At this point, most businesses will also adopt new subscribers into their ‘workflow’. This is a series of automated emails sent daily/weekly/monthly that encourage the subscriber to take an action, such as purchasing an item or registering for a service. Here’s another example: if someone adds to cart but doesn’t complete their purchase, your automation program can send a reminder. You can set a time delay to wait a number of hours or send a reminder at a specific time.
This study suggests that emails sent on Tuesdays yield the highest open rates. Emails sent on Fridays produce the highest conversion rates. Whilst this finding is echoed in studies from a range of other companies too (Hubspot and Klaviyo to name just two), it is important to remember that this might not fit your business. As with everything in marketing, we’d recommend split testing your email sending times (and content, and calls to action etc.) before putting all your eggs in one basket.
Social media is a critical component of any modern marketing strategy. But managing multiple platforms and the constant need to post fresh content can be time-consuming and overwhelming. This is why automation is becoming increasingly popular, with 44% of marketers saying they use automation to manage social media.
One of the main uses of automation in social media is scheduling posts in advance. This allows brands/public figures to maintain a consistent presence on social media without having to be constantly online. Most of these schedulers work with various platforms. This allows you to curate relevant content for each one before publishing or scheduling for an optimal time. This reduces time spent posting on various different platforms at different times of day, saving more than 6 hours a week on average. Not only this, but it maintains consistency across social channels and boosts your online presence, as well as allowing you to plan content out ahead of time.
Automated responses to common questions can save you time and provide customers with a faster response time to their queries. You can create automated responses within platforms such as Facebook Messenger, or use chatbots to respond. For example, you don’t need a human to tell someone your business’ opening hours or location. With automation software integrated with your CRM, you can also update customers on issues such as refunds and tracking. It is important to remember that some enquiries – such as those from a frustrated customer – do need a human response. Even if you have automated responses in place, make sure you review this regularly. This ensures you don’t ignore customers and alienate them from your business.
Lead nurturing and scoring
Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with your prospective customers, aiming to move them through your sales cycle. You will always have prospective customers at different stages. Some might be ready to buy, some might be interested but not yet ready to buy and some may need more information about your company to make a decision about whether they are interested or not. To move someone towards a purchasing decision, you need to ensure the messages they receive resonate with their prospective interest. If they don’t, you risk losing the potential lead.
Automation tools allow you to create lead nurturing campaigns that send messages at specific intervals based on a prospect’s actions or behaviours. ensuring they receive the right message at the right time. According to the Annuitas Group, businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. They also found that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.
Lead scoring is somewhat different. It involves assigning a value to each lead based on their level of engagement and readiness to buy. This allows sales teams to prioritise their efforts and focus on the leads that are most likely to convert. You can automate lead scoring using a variety of metrics, such as website activity, email opens and form submissions. If someone doesn’t open your weekly email for 6 months, it is safe to assume that they are not interested in your company or product (at least at this point), so their lead score would be lower than someone that opened every email. Someone that clicked on every email would have an even higher lead score than someone who just opened them.
Lead nurturing and scoring done manually would be a mammoth task. For companies with more complex nurturing campaigns, it would be impossible to manage this effectively and would ultimately fail. Automation is your friend here!
Something to note
Automation is not automated. As much as automation is a time-saver for business operations, there is more to it than just clicking a button. The automated workflows that educate your audience, shorten your sales cycle and capture those opportunities that might otherwise be missed still have to be physically created by a real person with an understanding of your business. As the Digital Marketing Institute explains, marketing automation is not a replacement for you or your skillset. It will simply enhance your existing capabilities and augment and support your marketing strategy. While there may be some upfront costs for automation programs and a learning curve for staff, the potential return on investment makes it well worth the effort.
With research suggesting that 50% of today’s work activities could be automated by 2055, one thing is for sure: automation is here to stay.