Business development 31 August 2016

Automation is not just a tool for big corporations

marketing_automation

Kraig Swensrud, CMO at Campaign Monitor, outlines the impact automated marketing campaigns on your company’s marketing strategy and overall growth.

Marketing automation continues to be one of the most important tools for driving customer engagement and making the lives of marketers easier. Companies have become increasingly mindful of the benefits, with revenue for B2B marketing automation systems increasing 60 per cent to $1.2bn in 2014, compared to a 50 per cent increase in the previous year. Yet some marketers are still reluctant to jump on board. As more fully-optimised and affordable technologies enter the market, it’s time automation became a part of every company’s toolbox.

In the past, marketing automation has received criticism for being an over-used and even a lazy approach to managing triggered campaigns, but automation shouldn’t be seen as a quick fix solution for sending out messages. Automation tools help to nurture and qualify leads, triggering immediate responses based on recipient behaviour which software can track and interpret. The end result is that marketers can connect with their customers in the right way, through personalised, timely and relevant content that has now become an integral part of the customer experience.

Email marketing is at the core of marketing automation. Brands successfully using email marketing and automation include the likes of BuzzFeed, which engages its customers with newsletters specifically catered to their interests. It has reported email as one of the top five referrers of website traffic. The Swiss-based running company ON Running has also seen great success, with automated email marketing driving 20 per cent of its online sales. ON collates data about its customers’ specific running habits, which it then uses to send automated emails reminding customers when they should start shopping for their next running shoe.

Marketers are united in wanting to take the manual effort out of sending email marketing campaigns to customers and prospects, while capitalising on the impact of these campaigns.  The problem is that the cost and complexity of marketing automation suites have historically been available exclusively to the Fortune 500. A case in point being that 60 per cent of marketers at today’s biggest brands in the Fortune 1,000 use automation to deliver relevant emails while smaller, growing brands have been far slower to adopt the service. For many small companies, it’s simply not feasible to adopt one of the many advanced marketing automation tools currently on the market, tools so complicated they often require official (and expensive) courses and accreditation to use properly.

Today, only five per cent of businesses outside of the Fortune 1,000 are using marketing automation, despite the fact that those that do are generating outsized leads, conversions, and revenue.  Concerns remain around the cost of integrating automated communications into existing marketing and email campaigns. Almost half of senior marketers in a recent survey citing insufficient budget as the main thing holding them back from investing in the technology. However, this sentiment is somewhat out of date. Today there are plenty of email marketing platforms available that offer low-cost pay-as-you-go packages featuring fully-integrated, data-driven automation services at no additional cost to the base product. In fact, small companies will generally have the agility and flexibility to implement automation software more quickly than at a larger company.

Small companies wishing to achieve fast growth need to engage in a first-class marketing strategy, of which email automation is a key factor. While the benefits of email automation are crystal clear to the companies that implement it, too many underestimate the power of this marketing tactic and turn a blind eye to affordable products on the market. This is a huge missed opportunity. Thanks to the fast evolving technology in this market, today’s marketing automation tools are readily accessible to businesses of all sizes, regardless of budget.

Kraig Swensrud is CMO at Campaign Monitor.

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