Senior Marketing Manager and copywriter for Articulate Marketing. Specialist in writing about writing, marketing, strategy, technology and geekery. Writer of puns and the words between puns. They say talking to yourself is the first sign of content marketing. Expert parenthesis user (so it is said).
The B2B Brand Differentiator
Is your business brand more milquetoast or marketing genius? Bland or bold? Try our Differentiator to find out!
Read this article in our brand new Speed Reading Mode
A variant on Doc Brown’s Flux Capacitor, marketing automation doesn’t make time travel possible, it makes time.
When you automate your marketing activities, you make time to focus on your marketing strategy. You make time for research and development. You make time for data, analysis and reporting on marketing metrics. You make time for your customers.
You make time for a proper lunch break.
With more time, you can build the momentum you need to propel your business into the future.
Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is the process of using technology to streamline marketing activities. It saves time by reducing repetitive tasks and removing the risk of human error in a process. Typically, businesses will invest in one or more platforms or tools to automate marketing efforts such as lead capture, email, or social media.
Examples of automated marketing in action
Within any marketing activity, there’s room to automate, accelerate and innovate. Here are some examples of areas where businesses often use automation:
Lead capture with gated content. Put your best content behind a form as a downloadable asset. When your site visitors provide their contact details, they gain access to this content, and you get leads in your database that you can qualify and pass onto Sales.
Queued smart forms. Short forms that ask as little as possible are more likely to encourage conversions. So, if you have a returning contact fill in a second form, you can use queued fields to ask a different question. If first you asked for their name, next you ask for their job title. That way, you get more information over time to inform a and enable further automations.
Marketing and sales emails. Build pre-written emails that you can send to contacts after they’ve performed an action, such as downloading a piece of gated content. For example, a week after such an action, an automated email could say something like, ‘You recently downloaded our eBook on cloud migration. Here’s a relevant article about how to optimise your cloud infrastructure once you’re in Azure.’ A week later, you could then send an email with a meeting link from one of your Sales team. This is one of the best uses of marketing automation.
Re-engagement. Keep you database clean and tidy by automating your re-engagement process. After a certain amount of time without activity, this automation would send an email the contact. And, if they do not engage, could remove them from the database.
Process workflows. These automations are triggered by an action, behaviour or time. You can use them to streamline parts of your processes. For example, if you’re trying to target a certain vertical, then you can set an automated task and tag incoming leads from that vertical as a priority for Sales to follow up.
Content personalisation. A marketing automation platform like HubSpot unlocks this powerful functionality. With it, you can create content like emails that address the recipient by name. Or, you can refer to their company name or, indeed, any other data you have in your system about that contact, such as location. We use this one a lot!
Smart content. Taking personalisation one step further, you can use the data you have to completely change what a person sees on your website. So, a returning site visitor might see a ‘Welcome back!’ on the homepage. A current customer might get a navigation that prioritises their portal login. The possibilities are infinite.
Social media and digital advertising. Again, depending on the tools you use, there are many opportunities to automate social media posting, from having AI write the content to digital ads that encourage people to return to your site. Yes, the uncannily observant ones on your Facebook feed.
Benefits of marketing automation
We’ve already said marketing automation saves time. How much time is relative, but we’ll leave XKCD to explain how you might prioritise automating your activities.
That’s the point, really. It makes everything you do more efficient. So, you can do more of it, or spend less time doing that task and more time on something else.
But that’s not the only benefit of marketing automation. It can also:
Prompt contacts to return to your website and move further along the buyer’s journey, while always being exposed to content that’s relevant to their needs.
Help to bring a personal touch (a.k.a. Hi [First name]) to your brand, without a lot of human input.
Ensure all your leads are properly qualified and prioritised, so no-one slips through the net.
Keep your marketing team accountable to follow-up on triggered tasks, reducing the number of mistakes or missed opportunities.
Give you the ability to reduce spend on new hires for marketing. (Instead, you give your existing team super powers!)
Provide the fast connection and engagement you need to get your potential customers’ attention, before your competition can spin up their spreadsheet.
Marketing automation software and tools
To do any of these clever things, you need a marketing automation platform. Not all are built the same, and not all automation platforms do everything. It’s up to you whether you want to invest in an all-in-one solution (perhaps with one or two integrations) or to work with a suite of tools that perform specific functions.
For social media automation you could use Buffer or Hootsuite. You can curate third party content to share on social media with Quuu or our own tool, Fizz+Ginger. There’s Mailchimp for marketing emails. OptinMonster is a useful tool for building lead capture forms.
HubSpot - the most popular marketing automation platform on the internet
All of the functionality we’ve talked about today is available with HubSpot, particularly if you combine the Pro Marketing and Sales Hubs with website hosting. That’s the holy trinity, in our book.
We recommend HubSpot to all our clients. Were you to hire our team to automate your marketing, that’s the tool we’d use to do it.
A word about Artie
Artie the Articulate robot mascot is the face of our marketing automation efforts. You can find him all over our website and gracing Twitter with marketing insights and robot puns.
And, if you opt in to receive emails from us, many of those emails will come from Artie. It’s a cheeky nod and wink to the fact that we know that you know what a marketing email is, and how it came to be in your inbox.
Spoiler: it’s automation. A person wrote the email, yes, but a robot is sending it to you.
We won’t pretend otherwise.
Contact a marketing automation specialist
The team at Articulate Marketing (Artie included) are old hats at this marketing automation game. As multi-certified HubSpot experts operating in a HubSpot Diamond Solutions Partner agency, we know our stuff.
If you’re ready to automate the heck out of your marketing, then book a chat.
Promise, no robots. No cylons. You’ll be meeting with a real human.