If you subscribe to any blogs or websites that provide marketing advice, you will inevitably come across the term ‘marketing automation’, although it will usually be in conjunction with an advert. I thought it might help to explain what the term means.
Marketing automation is a simple concept in principle but difficult to do effectively in practise. Basically, it means having a system that does your marketing communication distribution for you. If you used a number of different social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, etc., normally you would have to upload and circulate an item to each source individually. A marketing automation system would do them all simultaneously, without you having to do them yourself. So you only post the item once, rather than multiple times.
Clearly this would give time savings and ensure the task was done so could offer great benefits, but there are three significant downsides.
The first is financial as you need to buy the system.
The second is the lack of personal touch. The big benefit of social media is the personal relationships, so using an automated system can detract from this as you wouldn’t be personalising the information for each source.
The third downside is that it often requires integration with your existing IT systems such as databases, websites and ecommerce facilities. Unless these are already appropriately configured, it might not be possible to have a system or to take full advantage of it.
There are other uses for the principle of marketing automation, such as:
- Real-time bidding for advertising on websites, such as banner advertising.
- Production of triggered communications such as checkout abandonment emails. The principle here is that when an event happens, such as a customer abandoning their purchase before they complete it, a communication is automatically sent to them.
The principle of marketing automation is something that all micro-businesses and small business owners can take advantage of, such as identifying opportunities for communications when a defined event happens. But whether a formal system is needed or not will depend on your circumstances.
The more activity you do and the more individual selling opportunities you have, the greater the likelihood there is of a financial case for it, both in cost savings and additional selling opportunities it creates.