Digital and social media have fueled the growth of businesses. With marketing automation, brands can increase their visibility, connection, and customer interaction on multiple touch points. 

While web traffic and social engagement are ranked second and third most important marketing metrics and KPIs for business in 2023, more than using digital marketing channels alone is needed to guarantee success. Businesses must still learn to integrate and automate all these touchpoints into a system that generates and nurtures leads and converts them into loyal customers. 

Such a system is only possible with marketing automation.

What’s marketing automation?

A marketing team using successful marketing automation strategies for their digital marketing initiatives

Marketing automation is a process that computerizes your systems or workflows to streamline and simplify repetitive marketing tasks, and integrate marketing channels into one optimized process. Using marketing automation software and strategies, businesses can nurture customers to develop a personalized relationship with them that converts them into brand advocates.  

As of October 2023, internet users worldwide stood at 5.3 billion or 65.7% of the global population. Almost all of them (4.95 billion or 61.4%) are social media users. Meanwhile, 80% of top-performing businesses worldwide saw a significant increase in earnings and customer engagement after using marketing automation technologies.  

What do these numbers mean? Businesses—especially small and medium enterprises—should definitely look into using a marketing automation platform to strengthen customer relationships.

The core purpose of marketing automation 

Put simply, the purpose of marketing automation is to streamline and optimize marketing processes. This enables sales and marketing teams to spot and eliminate bottlenecks, get rid of unnecessary steps, and reduce errors. 

Check out these numbers:

  • Marketing Technology Insights found that it increases lead qualification by 451% and may improve income by more than 10% in just 6 to 9 months. (Martech Series)
  • It drives  an increase in sales productivity by 14.5% and a reduction in marketing overhead by 12.2%. (Salesforce)
  • It’s no wonder 77% of marketers use AI automation with 74% of them anticipating more than one-fourth of their tasks to be automated in the next five years. (Drift)

Why should businesses look into automating marketing processes?

A marketing team discussing their successful marketing automation strategy and the customer journey funnel

A good marketing automation strategy is a linchpin that puts together elements of the marketing process and ensures that all parts of the business work seamlessly and efficiently. Here’s why businesses should invest in the right marketing automation platform, tools and strategy:

Broader reach

Automating marketing processes will enable you to reach more customers and target a specific demographic that would be most receptive to your product. With manual marketing, you can only cover a limited area.

Personalized customer interaction and flexibility

You can directly communicate with customers and know from their actions where they are in the buyer’s journey. Are they just there for the free trial? Are they considering buying? Do they need more information? You can then adjust your marketing strategy appropriately.

Money saver

With marketing automation, you can use tools to keep to a streamlined, and therefore, a cost-saving strategy. Manual marketing does not have these tools in one platform. 

Customer segmentation

This helps classify customers according to their characteristics, behavior, preferences, so you can customize your strategy accordingly. Marketing automation tools do this on their own, instead of junior marketers pouring over thousands of customer data manually trying to group customers into categories.

Omnichannel and consistent

Automating marketing allows you to use multiple channels and be consistent in messaging and branding all throughout. This can be costly and time-consuming in manual marketing. You also run the risk of inconsistent messaging and branding from the lack of communication and inability to find or access assets and to collaborate.

A word of caution: while marketing automation strategies are the way to go, it cannot wholly replace the value that the human touch brings to a marketing campaign.

12 key components of marketing automation 

Diagram or illustration of marketing automation solution with components or features like lead management, social media management, ad campaigns, etc.

1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration

A CRM platform acts as the control center of marketing automation for businesses. These platforms compile valuable customer data and track interactions across touchpoints. They help businesses understand their customers’ behaviors, preferences, and buying patterns, enabling marketers to come up with tailored marketing strategies. CRM systems have become so useful to business such that 82% of organizations use these for sales reporting and process automation.

Example: Use tools like HubSpot to track your sales pipeline. You’ll be able to see your leads, and track quality leads who progress into MQL or SQL stage. This helps you track metrics like how many leads drop off after the MQL stage, or how long it takes a lead to move from one stage to the next stage.

2. Lead capture and generation

These are tools that help businesses nudge leads and potential customers along the buyer’s journey until they become buyers and brand ambassadors. This can be done through capturing and generating leads through a landing page or form so they can access materials such as any of the following: 

  • Valuable content like how-to guides, checklists, ebooks, or cheat sheets
  • Free tools such as calculators, grades, quizzes
  • Free trials and consultations
  • Newsletters
  • Webinars
  • Tutorials or courses

Seventy-four percent (74%) of CRM users report improved access to customer information that are used for lead capture and to initiate the lead nurturing process. 

Example: Use Landingi or LeadPages to create a landing page where you can offer access to a free ebook. Using the collected email addresses, you now have leads who you can begin to nurture with more content and offers.  

3. Email marketing automation

Whoever said that email is dead? Email is very much alive. In fact, it drives at least 20-40% of eCommerce brands’ revenues, and provides ROI of USD36 for every US dollar spent.

Small businesses consider email as a top marketing channel—they put it in the top 3 of retail price index-generating marketing channels.

Email marketing automation makes your marketing campaigns almost intuitive through these capabilities:

  • Advanced segmentation allows a personalized and targeted customer experience.
  • Reporting capabilities enable business owners to optimize their campaigns and increase conversions.
  • Automated emails like cart recovery and customer winback flows can be set up to trigger specific actions based on customer behavior, increasing engagement and conversions.

Example:  With Klaviyo, you can trigger email flows to go out to the right segments of your leads, wherever they are in the customer lifecycle journey.

4. Lead nurturing and scoring

Lead nurturing involves interacting and establishing a relationship with leads using a flow of useful, targeted, and quality content aimed at converting them into buyers.

Meanwhile, lead scoring is classifying leads depending on their level of engagement with your brand. Lead scoring promotes efficiency because it makes the business focus on leads more likely to convert.

Forrester Research found that companies that properly implement a lead nurturing strategy gain 50% more qualified leads at a 33% lower acquisition cost.

Example: Use InsideSales to zero in on customers who are really interested in your brand and offer the product/s that they need through the marketing channel where they prefer to be contacted. InsideSales makes the sales process easier and less painful for the buyer with its artificial intelligence-automated marketing that scores and nurtures leads.   

5. Reporting and analytics

Marketing automation tools usually come with analytics tools to track and measure the key performance indicators (KPIs) of your marketing campaigns and generate reports to assess the overall effectiveness of marketing efforts. 

With marketing automation, businesses can get insights without having to spend hours extracting and analyzing data.

Example: Improvado is an automated reporting tool and marketing analytics platform that provides you with vital data on ad spend, revenue, return on ad spend, purchases, cost per acquisition, average order, customer lifetime value, and other indices that enable you to make accurate and timely decisions in your marketing strategy.

6. Segmentation and targeting

Your audience can be grouped based on comparable qualities, habits, and preferences such as demographics, geographical location, interests, behavior, engagement level, and buying pattern.

Knowing the key characteristics and desires of your target audience allows you to create a tailored brand messaging and hyper-personalized advertisements that speak directly to your audience.

Example: Use Klaviyo to create an email marketing campaign that will go on sale on Black Friday for an air fryer brand targeted to people who work in the culinary industry and love to cook and are in the 25-50 age range in the US.  

7. Social media marketing

Marketing automation platforms can also help with automating social media posts, scheduling content, and monitoring social media platforms—and in some cases, allows social listening to track mentions or relevant keywords.

According to business leaders surveyed on social media marketing strategy, 94% believe that social media marketing builds brand reputation and loyalty; 92% of them agree that social insights have a positive impact on improving competitive positioning; and 91% say that social data helps them gain a better understanding of customers. 

Example: Use a content calendar tool that schedules your social media posts across different channels. This can be integrated with a CRM that can capture information or activity of any social media leads and contacts and a marketing automation tool to send automated messages, emails, or notifications to your social media metrics and KPIs for maximum effect.

8. Personalization

Personalization is necessary for a brand to survive the intense competition. After all, 80% of customers are more likely to buy from brands that provide personalized experiences.

Paradoxical as it may seem, marketing automation can help deliver one-to-one personalized marketing content to customers at scale while still maintaining efficiency and accuracy. Automated marketing will enable you to collect data, segment the audience, and determine the messages that need to be sent.

Example: Email marketing software allow you to personalize emails with customers’ names, company details, and other information. For eCommerce brands, they can send cart abandonment emails personalized with the actual items in the customer’s shopping cart and even browse recovery emails with the most recent items they looked at.

9. A/B testing

As a marketer, strategies should be formulated with a combination of intuition and data. An A/B test is a marketing experiment wherein you split your audience to test two versions of an element of your campaign and determine which one performs better. Most marketing automation software include features for A/B testing.

Examples: HubSpot has an A/B testing feature which you can use for landing pages and email campaigns. Other email marketing software like Klaviyo and ActiveCampaign also have this feature.

10. lntegration with other tools

Marketing automation integration  is necessary to ensure that all marketing tools used by your business has an essential function and work well with other tools. This synchronizes the marketing effort, ensures the integrity of branding, unifies data, information and messaging, and rids your business of silos.

Example: ActiveCampaign is a marketing automation leader that gives businesses of all sizes access to 500+ pre-built automations that combine email marketing, marketing automation and CRM for powerful segmentation and personalization across social, email, messaging, chat, and text. Plus, when all else fails, and you have a new tool that doesn’t have a native integration for your existing tools, you can always turn to Zapier.

11. Omnichannel marketing                               

Customers research about their purchases from a variety of platforms. Thus, omnichannel marketing has become the way to go as brands strive to heighten their visibility and accessibility on relevant platforms. Brands that implement omnichannel customer engagement strategies, for example, see a 9.5% yearly increase in annual revenue.

Of course, it’s important to note that the key to omnichannel success is quality and not quantity. It’s not about being present on all marketing platforms—but maximizing presence on the relevant ones.

Example:  HubSpot recommends starting an omnichannel experience with the basics—your website and social media—and nailing these down first before adding other platforms. Connecting your CRM also helps you keep track of visits and leads.

12. Customer retention, referral, and loyalty programs 

Aside from customer acquisition, the most successful marketing strategies involve customer retention and customer loyalty initiatives. After all, retention is a critical component in long-term growth because it contributes to a higher customer lifetime value. This approach focuses on keeping existing customers satisfied, which will result in repeat purchases and even possible referrals.

To fully maximize your existing customers, you can look into implementing loyalty programs and referral programs. Referral programs, while successful, can also be difficult to track and monitor manually. Loyalty programs are customer services that enhance engagement, drive retention and business growth. However, managing loyalty programs manually could be error prone and time-consuming, thus the need for successful marketing automation strategy. Thankfully, there are many marketing automation platforms that can manage these initiatives.

Example: ReferralCandy can be easily integrated with eCommerce stores. You can choose rewards for referrals, and track data seamlessly.

7 benefits of marketing automation 

A graph or charts showing the success of a marketing automation strategy
  1. Efficient use of time and resources. The main advantage of marketing automation, according to 49% of companies surveyed, is that it saves time on repetitive tasks. Additionally, studies found that for each dollar spent, businesses realized USD5.44 on average.
  2. Enhanced lead generation and conversion. Automation enables hyper-personalization for marketing teams to customize content and tailor-fit them at an individual level. This promotes engagement and encourages leads to convert into customers. Companies that use marketing automation see 53% higher conversion rates
  3. Personalized communication. Improving the customer experience is the biggest goal with personalization of 88% of marketers who use AI. Marketing automation helps deliver personalized messaging to leads and customers to keep them engaged. Automated emails can also deliver relevant content at the right time, triggered by actions made by the customers as they move through the buyer’s journey.
  4. Precise targeting. 96% of B2B marketers say segmentation is the most valuable method for improving conversion rates. Through lead scoring, marketing automation can prioritize leads that are more likely to convert. In fact, 80% of marketers witnessed an increase in leads after investing in marketing automation. 
  5. Detailed analytics. Marketing automation helps keep track of the progress of marketing efforts and enables marketing teams to make decisions that are data-driven. Triggered emails have a 70.5% higher open rate and have 152% higher clickthrough rate than regular email newsletters. This shows their potential for keeping customer engaged throughout the buyer’s journey.
  6. Centralized data. Effective marketing automation is data-driven. Automation consolidates and organizes information into a centralized database to keep teams aligned.
  7. Potential for increased ROI and revenue. According to Upperscore, almost 80% of organizations earn the ROI within the first 12 months of working with an automation platform.

Common myths and misconceptions in the use of marketing automation

A checklist or comparison list of pros and cons or positives and negatives of using effective marketing automation to streamline customer journeys

Myth # 1: Automation is impersonal and robotic.

Truth: On the contrary, marketing automation works and helps businesses personalize messaging and engagement—at scale! A marketing automation platform enables businesses to know their audience more. Automation features also gives marketers an idea on how to add the human touch and create a personalized experience for each customer.

Myth # 2: Marketing automation platforms are expensive.

Truth: They may seem costly because of the upfront cost. However, statistics from Salesmate prove that the long-term effects are very much worth it:

  • 14.5% increase in sales productivity
  • 63% of companies outperformed their competitors
  • 80% increase in leads

Clearly, the benefits (and the profit) from using a marketing automation software outweighs the cost. 

Myth # 3: Marketing automation is only  for enterprises and big teams.

Truth: Many marketing automation software plans are actually made for small or mid-sized businesses. It’s important to conduct due diligence and see which software matches your needs. In fact, several small businesses have reported an 800% growth in revenue after adopting a marketing automation strategy and software. So yes, even small businesses can start leveraging marketing automation strategies and tools.

Myth # 4: Automated marketing is only email marketing. 

Truth: Marketing automation platforms can integrate a full spectrum of other tools. You can manage marketing efforts across multiple channels such as email, social media, SMS, and web personalization

Myth # 5: You can just set it and forget it.

Truth: Not true. There are things that you can set up and hand off to automation, such as the repetitive tasks and manual processes. However, you will still need to check in from time to time to keep your processes optimized. Plus, you cannot automate your entire range of work in marketing automation.

Myth # 6: It’s too complicated to use and requires expert technical knowledge. 

Truth: A training program should get you well on your way to sailing through the use of the marketing automation platform. While there might be a learning curve for some tools, you can easily take advantage of their customer support team and their onboarding program.

Myth # 7: It fixes all marketing problems. 

Truth:  It’s not the be-all and end-all in marketing. Marketing automation is but a strategy and a tool that helps marketers and businesses level up their strategies.

How to get started with marketing automation

  1. Define your goals. What challenges in marketing do you want to address? What do you want to achieve with the help of automation? Write out your goals and make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
  2. Get to know your customers and audience better. It will greatly help your marketing automation journey if you already have some idea of your target audience and existing customer demographics, behaviors, and preferences. These will help you set your benchmarks.
  3. Choose the right marketing automation software and tools that best suit your needs. Do your research and book demos or calls before you make any decision on which tool to invest in.
  4. Start with one component at a time and then scale gradually. Start small and define your success metrics early. Keep track of key performance indicators to help you make decisions on the tactics that you can choose to use or invest in  your campaign.
  5. Strategize content and campaigns. Plan a content strategy based on the customer journey. Marketing automation bridges the gap between giving a personalized touch and creating personal experiences for many customers at once. Provide extra value to attract new customers and build long-term customer relationships and possibly convert them into brand ambassadors.
  6. Monitor and optimize constantly. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can relax once your campaigns are automated and are up and running. You need to keep a constant eye on customers’ behavior and actions and watch out for pain points and opportunities to improve your campaign. Use data in order to understand the revenue generating opportunities, look out for tasks like connecting customer relationship management to ticket handling, and other opportunities to improve your campaign.

Marketing automation is no longer optional—it is a strategic imperative

Illustration or image of marketers working with right marketing automation tools for audience segmentation and revenue growth

Marketing automation is definitely cementing its presence in the digital world as it continues to make digital marketing campaigns more efficient, effective, and economical. Plus, marketing automation is showing no signs of slowing down. It will continue to revolutionize businesses as technology continues to advance.

This is why it should no longer be looked at as an option or a “nice to have.” To truly succeed in this dog-eat-dog digital world, marketing automation is a critical tool for success. Book a call with AI Operator today and unlock the full potential of AI for your business.