Marketing automation software is a tool for streamlining and automating marketing tasks and workflows to help businesses increase their overall productivity and efficiency.
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Marketing automation focuses on the long-term nurturing of prospects and customers, using multiple marketing channels. It helps businesses improve their customer engagement and satisfaction levels, as well as convert prospects into customers and existing customers into repeat customers.
Based on a report four in five users of marketing automation software saw an increase in leads, 77% saw higher conversions, and 74% felt that the time savings were the biggest benefit. As a result, 63% plan to increase their marketing automation budget.
These numbers highlight the benefits that businesses can reap from marketing automation software. We recommend using the software to reap the same gains as other businesses achieved. This buyers guide aims to help businesses like yours invest in the right marketing automation software.
Here’s what we’ve covered:
Marketing automation software is a tool for streamlining and automating marketing tasks and workflows to help businesses increase their overall productivity and efficiency. It offers features such as campaign management, content publishing, marketing analytics, and customer segmentation.
Automating repetitive tasks and workflows using the software allows businesses to spend more time on campaigning and communicating to their customers.
The software lets you categorize customers based on behavioral trends, interests, and demographics. Customer segmentation lets you develop targeted communication and dynamic content based on user preferences and activities. For instance, you can email customers who frequently search for discounts on social media and your websites.
The target communication can be for specific individuals, customer segments, or both. You can also integrate different marketing channels to offer users a cross-platform experience. The software lets you measure the impact of your multichannel marketing efforts to improve your marketing strategy.
Marketing automation software has several functions such as email marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), and inbound marketing. Below, we’ve listed the various types of marketing automation software for each function:
CRM software: Buyers looking to effectively collect, store, and retrieve customer data (including their purchase history, interaction data, and personal details) to improve customer service need this software. It helps buyers communicate with customers in a personalized way, using push notifications, emails, SMS, etc.
Email marketing software: This is a standalone emailing tool that sends automated and targeted marketing emails to different customer segments. It allows you to personalize the subject lines, body text, and call-to-action buttons. This software can be used for both inbound and outbound marketing.
Social media marketing software: Buyers who have an inbound marketing strategy and need tools to engage with prospects on social media should opt for this software. They can automate messaging, schedule updates, and measure their social media efforts.
Marketing analytics software: Buyers could also invest in standalone marketing analytics software as it provides vital data such as visitor behavior and activity across channels. This data is used by marketers to develop marketing strategies that drive the maximum return on investment (ROI).
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: What is more beneficial for a small business—a marketing automation software suite or a set of tools from various vendors that perform different functions of marketing automation?
Businesses can opt for on-premise or cloud-based marketing automation software depending on their needs. These solution types offer features such as email marketing, content marketing, SMS, and social media marketing.
On-premise marketing automation software: The software is hosted on the client’s location and requires a dedicated IT support staff to manage it. Vendors sell the software as a per user licence, which includes setup and installation costs. You would need to purchase additional hardware to run this solution.
Cloud-based marketing automation software: This software is located in a remote data center and operated by a third-party cloud service provider. Users can access it at any time and from any place.
GetApp.com focuses specifically on cloud or SaaS software as these are the obvious choice for small businesses over on-premise. Cloud solutions have lower up-front costs, faster implementation time, automatic updates, better ability to scale up or down, better remote work capability, as well as minimal need for IT support staff and real estate.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Which type of marketing automation software—on-premise or cloud—would suit my organization?
Buyers should know about the software features before they purchase a solution. This way, they can better understand their business needs. Here’s a list of some common features offered by marketing automation software vendors:
Lead management: Helps users capture, score, and nurture leads from acquisition to conversion. They can segment the leads on certain attributes, such as gender, age, and location, to send targeted communication.
Lead management in DailyStory
Campaign management: Allows users to create, execute, and measure campaigns. This way, users can easily monitor the real-time performance of a campaign.
Campaign management in DailyStory
Email marketing: Lets users create and send automated emails to customer segments. You can send emails based on trigger events such as when a customer abandons their cart or clicks discount links. You can also track the performance of your email marketing campaigns.
Email builder in Campaign Monitor
Social media marketing: Offers users the ability to create, launch, manage, and execute social media campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Users can also monitor social media conversations to develop their market strategy and tweak it to target specific customer concerns.
Monitor social media marketing efforts in HubSpot
Analytics: Allows users to measure the impact of marketing activities across channels. Users can gauge the effectiveness of their marketing efforts and modify those for better ROI.
Get marketing analytics in Campaign Monitor
A/B testing: Lets users test variations of their marketing campaigns and gauge insights from each campaign to optimize their efforts and get the best results.
A/B testing in Campaign Monitor
Visitor tracking: Allows users to track website visitors in real time. You can get information about the source of clicks and the page that your visitors are viewing.
Track user activity in Hatchbuck
Landing page creation: Helps users create landing pages using the customized or prebuilt templates. You can also add various features, such as a call-to-action button, to convert leads into customers.
Create landing pages with Instapage
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Are there any special or additional features that you offer in your software?
Marketing automation software makes all the processes efficient by letting you automate workflows. Therefore, it’s important to invest in a solution that integrates with your other applications. Here are some popular integrations that you need to know about:
CRM software: This integration with marketing automation software will help you merge and collate all customer data in one place. This way, you avoid duplicate entries and make the customer data easily retrievable for your marketing efforts.
Sales software: Integrating marketing automation software with sales software combines the marketing and sales functions. Both teams will be able to score leads and prioritize important ones based on recent customer activity.
Billing and invoicing software: Integrating marketing automation software with billing and invoicing software would allow you to offer payment options within marketing emails to customers. The moment a bill is paid, an invoice is sent to the customer’s email address.
Key questions to ask your vendor before you buy: Do you provide API integration? How often do you add integrations with new tools or functionalities?
The latest market trends should influence your decision about choosing a software vendor. One trend that is most likely to affect the industry is artificial intelligence (AI). Here’s why:
AI and chatbots to see wider adoption: A study notes that 53% of small and midsize businesses are using or planning to use AI by 2021-22, with 39% believing that AI is critical to their business. AI will offer businesses the ability to track user behavior and needs. The technology could also automate subject lines and email content based on specified trigger events.
Meanwhile, chatbots can help businesses answer customer queries in real time. It would provide users relevant, related content when they seek answers on your website. For instance, chatbots can provide discounts to first-time visitors so that they are more likely to make a purchase or convert.
We have referenced the following documents while creating this guide:
GetApp marketing automation catalog (Date accessed: 5/15/2019)
Top 5 Tech Trends for Small Business (Date accessed: 5/15/2019)
*Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context, and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations, obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.