According to the Email Marketing & Marketing Automation Excellence 2017 report, sponsored by GetResponse, budget, data quality and knowledge (e.g. on how to develop a strategy, use the available tools or create relevant content) were the top challenges in marketing automation (MA). These challenges have strongly influenced the leading trends MA in 2018.
GetResponse surveyed more than 2,500 marketers from 126 countries across 19 industries on the effectiveness of email marketing and MA. Let’s dig in and see the benefits they bring for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs):
Affordability, and availability
More companies within the marketing technology landscape offer affordable MA solutions. As a result, what used to be reserved only for businesses with the biggest marketing budgets is now available for those of all sizes. Consequently we have seen growing adoption of MA amongst SMBs.
Whether for email marketing, social listening or content publishing software companies of all sizes can now find a plan for their business needs. Most software as a service MA applications are easily scalable, so that businesses can start small and upgrade as they grow.
Improved user experience (product development + content)
Over one-third of participants to the report said that one of the biggest challenges holding back MA adoption is the lack of knowledge on how to set up different types of automation (e.g. rules, lead scoring). We are seeing that issue being addressed in 2018. There is now tight cooperation between product development, design and content to provide best possible user experience. MA vendors not only provide intuitive and easy to use products, but they also make sure that users get access to various types of educational content that helps them use it to the fullest.
GetResponse marketing automation workflow template library. Users can build a workflow from scratch choose one of the ready-made templates.
Together with marketing automation tools users now have access a wide range of resources. These include onboarding campaigns, educational courses with certification programs, ebooks, guides, infographics and blog posts written by experts sharing practical tips.
GetResponse Digital Marketing Certification Program allows users to become professional online marketers.
Above all, relevance
Relevance remains the key trend in marketing automation. We want to send the right messages to the right people at the right time. But also we want to track and prove the return on investment (ROI) from MA.
That’s why we track customer behaviour, including engagement, website activity and purchase history. We want to get information that help us serve customers’ needs and achieve business objectives.
Top features that provide valuable insights:
Scoring: helps users track and rate customer actions. They can decide which user behaviour to award with extra points and which to ignore, such as message opened, link clicked, visited URL and purchase made. They can use scoring points to measure engagement and the value of the contact database.
Basic workflow applying scoring points when email is opened.
Tagging: allows labelling anyone in the contact database. Users can assign any number of tags (e.g. engaged, loyal, kids, runner, VIP) and use them to build personalized and relevant communication with contacts in their lists.
CRM integration: Customer relationship management (CRM) software lets users manage their companies’ interactions with their current and potential customers. It allows them to create pipelines, which are visual representations of sales processes, indeed any type of interaction with their customers that involves a series of steps.
CRM enables businesses to track sales ready leads and conversion. It is extremely helpful when it comes to measuring MA ROI.
Targeted communication features
Customer journey workflows: a workflow is a compilation of the different conditions, actions and filters users put together to communicate with the customers. It’s a clear visual representation of communication patterns.
A workflow may be as simple as sending a particular message to someone after they open a message, or as complex as an extensive online course or promotion. Users can create as many workflows as they wish and use them along their customer journey, from initial consideration through evaluation, purchase and loyalty.
Businesses can test individual elements of a workflow or the entire communication patterns for conversion. This way they can constantly optimize their online marketing efforts and improve online marketing key performance indicators (KPIs).
Easy contact list segmentation: users can create MA workflows that automatically divide their mailing lists according to interests, age, sex, purchasing behavior and location. Properly segmented contact list is the key to relevant communication and effective online marketing.
The future of marketing automation
In the article I briefly described the three dominating trends in MA this year: availability, great user experience and focus on relevance. I also outlined the key insight-generating features available in MA solutions.
We’ll see what the future brings, but I’m sure that we can expect further breakthroughs in the areas of cross-platform communication in order to provide unique customer experience. Marketers will choose the right tools according to their business needs and grow their business on a custom martech ecosystem.
I wonder what’s your experience with marketing automation. If you haven’t tried it yet, I hope you are now inspired to do so.
Irek Klimczak is content marketing specialist with GetResponse. He is passionate about creating valuable and engaging content for all customers. He always eager to advise on online marketing strategies that bring results.