Why is marketing automation important?

By Stellan Björnesjö

Why is marketing automation important?

The number one task of most marketers is to grow a business. And as it grows, it's typical for the workload and the fragmentation of marketing efforts also to increase. Unfortunately, this often happens in parallel with expensive investments in sophisticated marketing tools, whereby questions about the ROI of marketing ultimately arise. In this article, we'll focus on explaining the three main reasons why marketing automation is vital in breaking this cycle.

Increased efficiency

Modern marketing happens across channels and each campaign, whether inbound or outbound content, can target different audiences, drawing them into various funnels based on interests or demographics. Doing this manually at scale isn't very efficient. While hiring more administrative staff is one solution, the added value is low. Hence, this is where marketing automation typically comes in and takes over manual tasks, allowing the marketing team to dedicate more time to content and the creative components. Thus, efficiency doesn't necessarily lead to fewer resources needed in the marketing department, simply that resources shift from manual tasks to higher-value tasks.

Examples of increased efficiency with marketing automation

There are many ways to automate manual tasks and many tools you can use to do so. Here are a few examples:

  • Zapier: An online automation tool that connects your favourite apps, such as Gmail, Slack, Mailchimp, and more. By doing so, you can automate repetitive tasks without coding or relying on developers to build an integration. The underlying logic is "if this happens in one tool, then do that in the other tool".
  • Automate.io: Focused more on the Enterprise segment with customers like Adobe, Intel and Uber. Here you can create more complex logic and workflows between apps that include adding delays, conditional logic, format the data and so on. Apps include Office 365, Salesforce, Trello, Shopify etc.
  • PieSync: Focused on keeping data in sync between apps for marketing, CRM, invoicing and e-commerce. You can decide the direction of your sync; one way or two-way, and also sync historical data which not all automation tools do. HubSpot recently acquired PieSync, but the company and the service continue as an independent subsidiary. 
  • HubSpot: Their workflow tool is centred around automating email communication, but not limited to email. You can also automate internal tasks, alerts and take actions with contacts in different ways to keep your CRM updated etc.

A more personalised experience

As marketing efforts evolve from printed adverts, radio and linear TV to becoming substantially or even entirely digital, it offers both challenges and advantages for marketers. One such benefit is the opportunity to learn more about customers, potential customers and increase loyalty and conversion with a more personalised experience based on content tailored for them. To be able to do this at scale, content and distribution logic needs to be automated.

For brands such as Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, personalisation has been an integral part of their business models from inception. But all brands who are great at personalising apply the same basic principles of using past data about you to predict and influence your future behaviour; viewing history, interaction history, purchasing history, time, location, device type and hundreds of other parameters.

Some of these companies were - and might still be - even listening in to private conversations, to illustrate the length to which they are willing to go to try to be relevant in advertising or improving their service. (If you ever wondered why you got lawn mover robots in your news feed hours after talking with your spouse about buying one, then this is the answer.)

It's easy to understand that the most significant challenge to doing personalisation well is the amount of time and investment involved. But on the other hand, when done well, the results are overwhelmingly positive. Personalisation based on automation is what has built some of the most dominant companies on earth at the moment, and there is no sign of it becoming less significant.

Better insights and analytics

Truly effective marketing automation both relies on and enhances, data about those that engage with your content and the content itself. In short; it helps marketers measure the success of campaigns, understand how to tweak them and to find actionable trends in the information. 

Here are a few examples of data that HubSpot can store for marketers to use to create segments or provide individual contacts and sales teams with relevant content through automation (if you're curious about the full list view HubSpot's default contact properties):

  • Annual revenue
  • Became a sales qualified lead date
  • Contact unworked? (an indication the contact isn't engaged)
  • Days to close (from becoming a contact to becoming a customer)
  • HubSpot score (based on lead scoring criteria you can define)
  • Last modified date (the last time the contact was modified)
  • Likelihood to close (Enterprise feature; the probability that a contact will become a customer within the next 90 days)
  • Marketing emails delivered (quantity of emails for a contact)
  • Marketing emails clicked
  • First and last marketing email open date
  • First and last marketing email name
  • First and last page seen
  • First and last referring site
  • First and last touch converting campaign
  • Time of first and last session
  • Average page views
  • IP city, country, state/region, time zone
  • Number of unique forms submitted
  • Recent conversion
  • Recent deal close date
  • Number of times contacted

Did this article make you curious about marketing automation? Through our extensive marketing automation guide: what, why, when and how to use it you'll find much more to read, and it's also available for download!

Want to learn more? Click here for the full guide!

Stellan Björnesjö
Online Strategist at Zooma since 2012. 15+ years of experience as a manager, business developer and specialist within online and e-commerce.
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