Buzzword Breakdown: What is “Marketing Automation”?

what is marketing automationMarketing automation. It’s a buzzword in the marketing industry but many have no clue what it does or whether it can benefit their business. But there’s no need for confusion, marketers, because we’re here to help. Below, we explain what exactly marketing automation is and debunk a few widespread misconceptions.

What is Marketing Automation?

In it’s simplest terms, “marketing automation” refers to software that streamlines and automates digital marketing efforts. Marketing automation in no way replaces marketers—rather, its purpose is to maximize their productivity with minimum time spent, freeing them up to pursue other tasks.

Many marketers use marketing automation software to improve the effectiveness of their marketing emails. Instead of sending generic email blasts to an entire list of prospects and customers hoping a few will bite, the software allows marketers to set up a series of automated steps (a workflow) that will ultimately deliver qualified leads to their sales teams.

An automated email workflow might look like this:

Step 1:

Send an email to a targeted contact list inviting them to download an eBook.

Step 2:

Send a follow-up thank you note to contacts that downloaded the offer.

Step 3:

A few days later—send another email to the list of contacts that downloaded the eBook offering a more bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) piece of content on a related topic.

Step 4:

When a contact downloads the BOFU content offer (indicating that they are a qualified, more purchase-ready lead) notify the sales team so that they can reach out and close them into customers.

With marketing automation software, marketers can hack their email marketing efforts to deliver highly targeted and personalized emails that are tailored to their prospects’ and customers’ needs—ultimately boosting open, click-through, and conversion rates more than a standard email blast. And there are a plethora of other marketing tasks, from building your contact list to lead scoring, that marketing automation software can also streamline.

2 Common Misconceptions about Marketing Automation Debunked

Now that we’ve elaborated on what marketing automation is, we’ll explain what it’s not:

1. Marketing automation software = lazy marketing

Many marketers are under the impression that it is considered lazy to use marketing automation software, but this simply isn’t the case. Marketing automation isn’t just “set it and forget it”—it’s a single moving piece of a more comprehensive marketing strategy. It takes care of the distribution of content, but it’s up to marketers to add touches of personalization and to engage with interested prospects their content generates to convert them into customers. Software can’t quite do that

2. It’s too difficult to implement

Our simple and blunt response to this misconception is: no, it’s not. If marketing automation were so confusing and complicated to use then how does one explain the 79 percent of marketers who reported they feel confident they can stay up to date with marketing automation best practices? What’s more, most marketing automation providers—such as HubSpot—offer a variety of resources for new users, including templates and workflow formulas, that marketers can take advantage of.

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