In 2014, Coca-Cola sought to expand their market share in Australia, so they created their “Share a Coke” campaign aimed at Millennials. They chose 150 of the most popular Millennial-era first names, created Coke bottles with those popular names in place of the Coca-Cola logo, and brilliantly matched those bottles to customers and prospective customers with those names. The strategy, as Coke explains, worked amazingly well:
"Coke sold more than 250 million named bottles and cans in a nation of just under 23 million people. The campaign has since made its way around the world, reaching more than 70 countries to date. Coca-Cola teams from Great Britain to Turkey to China – and, most recently, the United States – have put their own creative spin on the concept, while preserving the simple invitation to Share a Coke with (insert name).”
That strategy would not have been possible without marketing automation.
What IS Marketing Automation?
Branding Magazine defines marketing automation as follows:
“Marketing automation is at the forefront of this new era where marketing and big data overlap. Marketing automation refers to software that mechanizes a marketing campaign by sorting, grouping, analyzing, prioritizing and executing marketing tasks.”
Often combined with Customer Relationship Management or CRM, Marketing automation doesn’t come without its challenges. For example, it often means that departments which have historically had limited need to collaborate—for example, IT and marketing—need to effectively integrate their activities through a common platform.
What marketing automation sometimes lacks in ease of implementation, however, it more than makes up for in visibility to your sales process, efficiency, increased productivity, and return-on-investment. In a study by Forbes, marketers who embrace automation are shown to be 3 times more likely than those who don’t to see a competitive advantage in customer engagement and loyalty (74% vs. 24%)—and almost 3 times as likely to increase their revenue (55% vs. 20%). Given marketing automation’s potential to boost both sales and productivity, it’s surprising that marketing automation has been adopted by less than 10% of companies.
One key criteria Imagine That uses to assess whether marketing automation makes sense for one of our clients is to understand the value of a typical sale for their business. For example, if a company is a small business selling a low profit consumable product, spending time and money to capture leads and create a marketing funnel is not likely to be a worthwhile investment. On the other hand, if a business’s average sale is several thousand dollars, then investing in developing a buyer through a decision path and staying in touch with a customer through their buyer journey makes tremendous financial sense. Conclusion – dog treats are not appropriate for marketing automation, while real estate sales are.
Getting Started: 5 User-friendly Tools for Marketing Automation Novices
One of the reasons so many businesses have been reluctant to embrace marketing automation is the scores of automation tools on the market—tools for lead generation, social media engagement, email marketing, analytics, customization and personalization—and the need to analyze the benefits of each prior to selecting which to purchase and then implementing them within their organizations. To help make it easier, here are our 5 marketing automation tools recommendations, which is a great place to start, especially for beginners:
- GetResponse is a multifaceted automation tool which simplifies the creation of an effective conversion funnel, using click and drag functionality. Its “workflow builder” helps marketers push out welcome emails, social media links, coupons, and automatically sends additional emails in response to recipient actions. Its analytics package identifies which recipients are opening emails, as well as the ROI of email campaigns, and provides important metrics for website visitors. For users who encounter problems, GetResponse offers outstanding customer support via phone, email and live chat.
- SharpSpring offers a multitude of automation features for targeted emails which respond to recipient actions, lead capture, customization and personalization. Its behavioral-based email automation is powerful, allowing marketers to send highly personalized emails which match recipients unique stage in the buying process. You build buyer personas and use workflows to engage leads, and receive the most sales-ready leads to your inbox daily. Plus, with SharpSpring you can easily design customized landing pages and conversion-friendly forms. SharpSpring is the tool of choice for Imagine That – we have loved it and can set your company up through our partnership and get the program launched and optimized
- Infusionsoft is among the most effective marketing automation tools for lead scoring. It tracks and records lead behavior and automatically sends emails triggered by key lead actions, like abandoning a shopping cart, filling out a survey, or completing an online purchase. Infusionsoft also provides a mobile application with comprehensive mobile lead form and email building capabilities.
- Marketo is among the most popular automation tools on the market, in part because of its user-friendliness, which makes it ideal for automation novices. Its principal focus is enhancing lead generation with effective landing pages and forms. Marketo also includes a powerful user resources library to help beginners leverage search marketing and social media. Like Infusionsoft, Marketo performs automated lead scoring based on demographics and online activities.
- Hubspot provides campaign “recipes” which simplify campaign content generation. Its “campaign wizards” ensure campaigns are not launched until they’re ready to go. Its dashboard displays all campaign-related analytic metrics to help marketers determine what’s working, and what isn’t. Among its stronger features is its individual web page SEO analysis, which tells you what problems exist, and then goes one step further, offering a to-do list of recommendations to enhance search engine discovery for that page, and displaying how particular keywords are performing.
Marketing automation, when effectively implemented and used, can increase your company’s productivity and boost your sales. The tools highlighted here are a good start, but an experienced digital marketing agency can help you make all the pieces of your marketing strategy work together, seamlessly—from web design to digital marketing to brand strategy. To learn more about the ways our digital marketing services can help you grow your business, contact us at Imagine That today for a free one-hour consultation!