There's a lot of confusion in the online front today on what exactly marketing automation is. It seems that any company who figures out how to send an email based on a triggered event calls themselves marketing automation. We've learned from our marketing automation sponsor, Right On Interactive, that there are very distinct characteristics of a marketing automation system that every marketer should look for:
- Data – the ability to collect data, either through forms, or through integrated customer and sales databases. This enables companies to properly segment their communications on demographics, firmagraphics, purchase history, and other critical data.
- Scoring – simply triggering an event is not automation, but the ability to observe multiple interactions of a lead or customer and develop a scoring model that moves the customer along the customer lifecycle is how you truly get the right message to the right recipient at the right time.
- Drip and Triggered Messaging – Sometimes triggering an email, as in the case of an abandoned shopping cart, works well. But other times you need to pass useful information that informs your prospect until they're ready to take an action or make a purchase. Drip marketing is critical, bringing a message to the recipient when they want or need it.
- Social Integration – customers and leads are interacting with brands via social media, not just on their site or by landing page. Your marketing automation platform should be able to measure the impact of those touch points.
Of course visitor identification, landing pages, email and mobile marketing, a simple user interface are all great features of a marketing automation system. Choose your marketing automation platform wisely. We watch as many companies purchase a feature rich system that they never implement – but pay for. And we watch other companies struggle to fully realize the return on their marketing automation purchase because the system is too limited. Many marketing automation platforms are limited to acquisition, and not enough are focused on retention and development of the customer.
For marketing departments seeking to gain a competitive advantage, marketing automation tools offer tremendous possibilities. For example, companies that invest in marketing automation software typically realize 15 percent savings on their creative work. Even better, most companies begin to realize a return on their investment right away – 44 percent realize ROI within six months, and 75 percent see ROI within a year. To do all this, though, you need to have the right people in place.
This marketing automation infographic from Adecco does has a great breakdown of benefits and best practices for putting your marketing automation platform to use.