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    What Marketing Automation is and How It Can Grow Your Startup

    Today we live in the age of automation. This phenomenon allows many business-related activities to be automated, including marketing. Marketing automation refers to data-driven apps or SaaS (Sofware as a Service) that are designed to automate repetitive marketing tasks by planning, coordinating, managing, and measuring all parts of the campaign both online and offline. 

    Marketing-Automation-grow-startup

    In a nutshell, marketing automation allows startups and growing businesses to expand by efficiently delegating marketing activities to be executed and tracked by tools that increase productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness. The ultimate goal of these tools is improving the bottom line by increasing traffic, generating new leads, and closing sales. 

    It's ideal for those with limited resources and requires flexible pricing structures.

    Strategically using marketing automation in growth hacking phase of a startup, thus, is key to long-term success.

    According to a study by 2017 MarTech conference in San Francisco, there are 5,000+ marketing technologies available today. This industry is experiencing massive growth, considering there were only 3,500 marketing automation tools in 2016, 2,000 in 2015, 1,000 in 2014, 350 in 2012, and 150 in 2011. 

    These companies are ready to help businesses with their automated marketing technologies. However, before you choose which tools to use, it's important to understand these fundamentals.

    In this article, we'll discuss the 4 notorious myths and facts about marketing automation, the top 5 functions of marketing automation and the 10 most important marketing tools to be incorporated on your site. We'll mention several popular SaaS tools as a point of reference.

    Myths and Facts about Marketing Automation

    At least there are 4 common misconceptions surrounding marketing automation that must be clarified. 

    Myth 1: Marketing automation is automated email responding.

    Automated email response is a part of marketing automation, but it's not the only thing. Marketing automation encompasses much more than email autoresponders. It includes campaign management, social media marketing, content marketing, lead management, CRM, and analytics, which cover the overall the sales funnel right from the top part (attracting visitors and lead generation) down to the bottom part (servicing and nurturing your existing customers).

    Myth 2: Marketing automation is identical to spamming.

    Absolutely not. Marketing automation is ethical, personalized, and targeted. It doesn't spam people nor sends off unwanted messages or ads, as it's against the law (CAN-SPAM Act in the USA, Data Protection Act in the UK, and Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications in EU). Instead, marketing automation allows communications to occur flawlessly, strategically, and legally.

    Myth 3: Marketing automation is impersonal and cold.

    On the contrary, marketing automation makes personalization and segmentation simple and efficient. With pre-designed tailored communications, customers would feel special and be catered to with personal touches and relevant offers. They wouldn't be bombarded by unwanted and irrelevant messages, such as those in conventional offline ads.

    Myth 4: Marketing automation is entirely hands-free.

    Yes and no. Marketing automation provides automated integration and processes. However, you still need to strategize, monitor, and track the results in order to optimize its usage.

     Top 5 Functions of Marketing Automation 

    In general marketing automation serves these 5 functions well. 

    1. Database

    Having a large database is a good start, but to be effective, you'd need to segmentize them into smaller and targeted groups. This way, you can strategise better with laser-focused sharpness. Marketing automation allows you to do so early on before you even send the first contact. 

    1. Dissemination

    Marketing automation allows customised and scheduled distribution of messages. One-on-one communications can be pre-determined and tailored to each segment or, even, individual based on chosen metrics, such as time zones and other preferences. This allows subscription publications and personalised messages based on the buyer's journey to hit right to the targeted intention.

    1. Engagement

    For social media, blogging, and other content marketing activities, meeting with the targeted audiences can be pre-set to increase the probability of participation. Following and unfollowing social media accounts can also be set to execute your tactics.

    1. Sales integration

    The comprehensive CRM software integrated with other marketing apps provides seamless flow with the sales department. It allows the marketing and the sales departments to work closely together, in which the leads can be nurtured appropriately depending on the maturity of the customer's buying decision. 

    1. Analytics

    Web and marketing analytics is another essential feature of marketing automation. Today, most automation tool comes with their analytics, which can be used in conjunction with other analytics instruments, such as Google Analytics. Since each analytics sheds light on a specific area, a combination of them provides a comprehensive perspective on the business.

     10 Most Important Marketing Tools

     

    As stated by ChiefMartech, there are 5,000+ marketing technologies available today. Each comes with its own features that may overlap with other technologies, but many of them serve its distinctive functions. Out of the various services provided, the top 10 tools that your business may want to consider are below.

    In brackets, several tool names are mentioned, so you can use as a starting point in comparing with similar technologies. We don't endorse any of them.

     

    1. Campaign management (Hubspot, Marketo, Wrike)
    2. Social marketing and management (SharpSpring, Act-On, ActiveDemand)
    3. Content marketing (BuzzSumo, Buffer, CoSchedule)
    4. Email marketing (Campaign Monitor, MailChimp, GetResponse)
    5. Landing pages (Unbounce, Leadpages, Sleeknote)
    6. Lead management (Pardot, CallidusCloud, Enabler)
    7. CRM integration (Salesforce, Growlabs,
    8. Prediction/scoring (LeanData, SalesWings, Velocify)
    9. Web analytics (Google Analytics, Piwik, Zap)
    10. Marketing analytics (Looker, Funnel.io, Bizible)

     

    In conclusion, in this highly competitive digital world, marketing automation is a necessity, no longer a luxury. Thriving businesses are already using marketing automation one way or another. With over 5,000 marketing automation tools available today, there must be several that you can integrate with your business.

     Start today - Grow tomorrow

    Takeaways

    1. Marketing automation has several misconceptions. However, the facts are far from the myths.
    2. Marketing automation refers to data-driven apps or SaaS (Sofware as a Service) that are designed to automate repetitive marketing tasks by planning, coordinating, managing, and measuring all parts of the campaign both online and offline.
    3. Marketing automation serves at least these top 5 functions: database, dissemination, engagement, sales integration, and analytics.
    4. The top 10 marketing automation tools every business must have are campaign management, social marketing and management, content marketing, email marketing, landing pages, lead management, CRM integration, prediction/scoring, web analytics, and marketing analytics.

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    Jennifer Xue

    Skrevet af Jennifer Xue

    is an award-winning author, columnist, digital strategist, and serial entrepreneur based in Northern California. Her byline has appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Business.com, Business2Community, StartupNation, Good Men Project, Addicted2Success, Positively Positive, and others. She is the author of White Paper Writing for Business (BookBoon, 2016).