The day in the life of a marketing professional ranges from high-level content strategy development to the minutiae of responding to Facebook comments and likes to trolling Google analytics data.

So it is no wonder that the term “marketing automation” is such a buzz word in the industry at the moment.

Automate part of my job? Yes please.

But what is it exactly? And more to the point, how much work is it going to take to set it up?


What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation generally refers to software which assists in some of the more onerous tasks in our roles – including collection of data, categorising customers and nurturing customers at different stages of their buyer journey with relevant content.

The most common use of marketing automation is somewhere between a customer relationship management system (CRM) and email or newsletter distributions system.

But what brings it together is the ability to plan, personalise and target messages to your customers based on their behaviour and how they align with your customer journey.

Have you ever received those emails from retail sites reminding you that you have items left in your shopping cart? Or purchased something online and shortly after received emails for similar products?

It’s not big-brother watching, but effective marketing automation. And when it’s humming along, there is no doubt that it makes life easier. But like all great marketing tactics, planning is key.


How can marketing automation help?

Unlike your so-called “smart-car”, marketing automation leaves you in charge.
You identify the key messages, align them with your customer journey and just automate the delivery.

But unlike the process of sending out email blasts to all customers, you can create different messages depending on the buying phase of your potential customer.

What this does is reduce burn-out or brand fatigue in your target market, while also allowing you to continuously nurture your sales funnel without spending hours at your desk or on the phone.


How does marketing automation work?

Put simply, marketing automation works by capturing data from your website and then nurturing and converting that traffic with pre-planned messages.

What do you need to do to set it up properly?

Identify your audiences, map their journey, create responsive content and prompt them to move through sales funnel.

As an example, here is what a basic automated email workflow could look like:

Step 1: a prospect visits your website and ads certain items to their “watch” or “buy” list

Step 2: You send a thank you note for visiting your site and remind them of the items in the cart, with a link directly back to their shopping page

Step 3: A few days later, may wish to send them some information on the product or an invitation to participate in a sale

Step 4: Finally, when they make a purchase, you might offer them a cash-back discount when they buy again, thereby creating a repeat customer.

At the receiving end, this process feels more personalised, and meets the customer where they are at in our decision making, which in turn increases the chances of them converting.

This is the foundation of marketing automation.

It offers you, as a marketer, the ability to stay in touch and stay relevant to your customers.

You’re giving them the information they need when they want it. You’re gently leading them through the customer journey to the point of sale.

And as a result, your conversion rates (and revenue) will increase.