Marketing automation sounds nice, and any kind of automation can make life easier when used properly. However, as with most technologically fueled tasks, it may not always live up to the hype. Maintenance, oversight, and glitches may throw a marketing team off balance, creating more work in the long run.
Whether you’re looking at streamlining social media or making many processes automated, we’ve got the details you need to make an informed decision for your business.
Defining Marketing Automation
Marketing automation isn’t one solution, but a collection of solutions that help marketers create a faster, more efficient workflow to reach a larger audience. Email marketing platforms exist under that umbrella, but marketing automation includes a vaster landscape.
Other types of platforms that fall under the term include: CRM systems, CMS systems, and the ideas and tactics behind the use of those platforms. Everything from the way you structure your emails to what you post on social media nests under the term “marketing automation.”
The Concept Behind Marketing Automation
Ideally, a marketing team already has the strategies and tactics for a marketing campaign in place, and the automation software serves as a facilitator for sending out content in an organized and measured way. However, it often becomes a tool for spamming consumers instead of providing value.
Some companies get in the habit or on a schedule of sending out content without thinking about the meaning and value behind the activities they share. For marketing automation to work, the marketing team’s focus must remain on providing value to the consumer – i.e., showing him or her what makes this content so special and relevant personally.
The Benefits of Marketing Automation
When used appropriately, marketing automation makes the lives of marketers easier with simple workflows that keep pushing a company towards its marketing goals. Marketing automation:
- Enriches the marketing department. Marketers can only do so many hands-on activities in a given period of time. With marketing automation, they can take advantage of the slow times while reducing their workloads during busy times. The right software can make a team of three marketers seem like a team of ten.
- Allows companies to reach a wider market. Many automated solutions allow marketers to do more with less. They can create the text for a campaign, and then spread it out across the website, social media, email, and other marketing channels from one centralized platform.
- Facilitates success measurement. When marketers produce campaign content in a piecemeal fashion, some of the measurement process may take added effort or fall to the wayside completely. Marketing automation solutions may allow anyone on the team to login to an account and keep track of how well a campaign fares daily.
- Saves money. Any time a solution helps marketers do more with less, the company saves time and money. In fact, marketing automation earns money over time.
The Drawbacks of Marketing Automation
Before you ask where to sign up, you may also consider these drawbacks that can hinder marketing goals in the long run. Marketing automation can also:
- Encourage laziness. Readers can sniff out canned messages a mile away, and they don’t appreciate them. Unless it’s an immediate response to an opt-in or some other routine correspondence, personalization works best. Automation is so easy to preset that many marketers can pawn off activities to the software without thinking about their true goals first.
- Start out rough. Rollouts of new technology don’t always go as planned. Data migration, training, and software integration take time to do properly. Without the right rollout, the in-house users may never fully embrace the technology, turning this newfound asset into a waste of time and money.
- Get confusing quickly. Marketers need to fully understand how to use the system before starting. Without a clear understanding, a company could send out the wrong messages or fail to send the right ones out at all. Too many marketing campaigns can also present problems; consumers may see it as spam. Marketers may accidentally leave some campaigns unfinished or put too much content into others.
- Require lots of updates. Without quality data, marketing automation doesn’t do much good. Companies need proper opt-in and opt-out channels in place as well as managed campaigns to facilitate the introduction of quality customer information. The wrong data could lead to the wrong campaign focus.
Should Your Company Invest?
Most experts would probably agree that automation offers one more step into the future of marketing. When approached with the right understanding, it can make the practice much more effective. However, you may want to start slow and with something not as vital to workflow processes. Get used to the technology and how it can work for you before trying to add another automated technology. Develop company policies with each new integration to prevent some of the drawbacks.