How does marketing automation work

Marketing automation - what is it and how does it work?

Marketing automation is one of those "fancy" buzzwords that has made many people sit up and take notice in online marketing over the past few years. Most companies also want to automate marketing processes in the course of digitization. However, the term is Marketing automation for most of them still quite diffuse and spongy.

This is exactly what this blog post is about: What is marketing automation anyway? And what can it be used for in practice?

A good software tool is of course required to automate marketing processes. Since we work with HubSpot, this article refers to an implementation with this all-in-one software.

What is Marketing Automation?

When it comes to marketing automation, many in online marketing primarily think of email marketing funnels. Something like this: A lead is generated, sent "at the top" of the funnel to an automated process with various actions - and at the end a customer comes out "at the bottom".

The automation of marketing processes is much, much more than that.

Essentially, marketing automation is about reducing manual effort through the use of software, achieving systematic processes and controlling processes in a data-driven manner. Much of this is only possible through software tools.

It goes without saying that marketing automation is rapidly changing and developing thanks to technological possibilities.

Let's take a look at how automation options are often used today.

10 typical uses for marketing automation

1. Lead generation and capture

Lead generation is often a primary goal in digital marketing. The generation of high-quality leads plays a major role, especially in inbound marketing. This always means that a lead has to be recorded. That means z. For example, a website visitor fills out a form or engages in a dialog with a chatbot and their data is transferred to a CRM or database. There they are now available for all further processes. Ideally, these are also triggered automatically.

The easier it is for the data of new contacts to flow into a CRM and the more additional information (e.g. websites visited) it contains, the more effectively and quickly it can be used.

2. Email Marketing and Lead Nurturing

A classic example of marketing automation is email marketing. When a new lead or customer has been captured, an automatic process is often set in motion. Many speak of this as an email funnel.

This usually begins with a double opt-in email to confirm the email address. It is typical that this is followed by a sequence of several e-mails, which ideally react intelligently to how the lead behaves in the meantime (lead has opened / not opened e-mails, lead has visited certain pages, lead becomes a customer, etc.) .

Further areas of application for email marketing automation:

  • Follow up emails in nurturing processes to maintain and develop leads after completing a form
  • Campaign emailsthat are often used for cross- or up-sell measures with existing customers or to activate cold leads
  • Trigger mailsthat are triggered when certain events take place, e.g. B. when a lead returns to your website after a long period of abstinence
  • Sending newsletters to certain groups of contacts, e.g. B. Buyer of product A and B

3. Segmentation of leads

The maintenance and management of leads is essential in order to properly serve prospects and ultimately turn them into customers. The segmentation or tagging of leads - that is, their classification according to certain properties - is therefore very important as a basis for automation processes.

It is ideal if a CRM is used as the basis for the complete work with leads and the control of processes. A large number of properties and behavior-based values ​​can be accessed for segmentation.

A few typical standard segmentations:

  • Lifecycle phase (e.g. subscriber, lead, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, opportunity, customer, advocate)
  • Lead status
  • Buyer personas

In HubSpot's CRM, segmentation can also be carried out according to numerous activities (e.g. page visits). So could z. For example, a list of all contacts with the property "Marketing Qualified Lead" can be segmented who have visited a specific page in the last 30 days and have already received a specific marketing email. Or customers who bought product A and B but not product C.

This segmentation then often serves as a criterion and trigger for further processes, such as B. Email Marketing.

4. Social media management and planning

The importance of social media marketing has increased significantly in many companies - also in the B2B area. With a social media management software you can not only create an editorial plan, but also define the publication of the articles in advance so that this can be done automatically at the desired time.

Another advantage is that you can easily post the same social media post on different channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram in this way and only have to make slight adjustments if necessary.

The monitoring and analysis of social media posts are also aspects that are automatically solved in a good tool.

5. Progressive lead forms

Marketing automation is usually behavior-driven and, above all, data-driven. The collection and enrichment of data therefore plays a major role.

The more you know about leads, the more effective and relevant they can be. If you z. For example, if you know which topics a lead is particularly interested in, you can deliver more interesting content. Therefore one should always try to enrich the data of leads with further information.

This can be done via progressive fields in lead entry forms, which are exchanged automatically. Are z. B. First name and surname of the visitor to a landing page already known due to a previous form submission, further fields can "move up" in which additional data is requested - z. B. Company name and role.

6. Lead scoring and routing

In modern online marketing, marketing and sales processes are growing together more and more. If both teams work on the same database, there is a tremendous amount of potential for the company. This results from the much better transparency and controllability, which in turn greatly increases the effectiveness.

An important distinction between leads is whether or not they are Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) or Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) acts. Above all, this decides whether a contact receives marketing messages or is contacted directly by sales.

This distinction can be made with intelligent marketing automation. For this purpose, lead scoring is usually used, which depends on the behavior of the lead (page visits, form submissions, opened marketing e-mails, etc.). Depending on the behavior, the score increases or decreases.

For example, if a lead has achieved a certain score and thus becomes an SQL, there is a high probability that it is open to sales measures, such as B. a call from a sales representative.

In this case, automation can both change the properties of the lead (change MQL to SQL) and take over the routing to sales by creating corresponding tasks for the responsible sales staff.

7. Appointment booking

Coordinating appointments and meetings can often be a nuisance and turn into a ping-pong game with suggested dates. It is much easier if interested parties can book appointments for certain events (workshop date, online presentation, initial interview, job interview, etc.) and this is compared directly with the calendar of the person (s) concerned.

It is easily possible, for. B. to connect and synchronize the Outlook calendar so that only free times are offered. Various parameters such as availability (on which days and at which times can be booked) and lead time can also be configured.

The automation of the appointment booking not only simplifies the appointment finding, but it also increases e.g. B. in sales also the commitment of a prospect, because he has chosen and booked the appointment himself. Invitations and reminders are also created automatically and sent by email.

8. Chatbots

In addition to live chats, which have now become firmly established on many websites, chatbots are also being used more and more frequently. They offer the possibility of (mostly simple) dialogues with website visitors and in this way to offer them assistance. Chatbots are also increasingly being used for messaging tools such as Facebook Messenger.

Typical areas of application of chatbots:

  • Prequalification of leads
  • Collection of data
  • Forward to appointment booking pages
  • Assistance in finding knowledge articles

The behavior of chatbots is configured in a chatflow. Most of the time, questions are dealt with here. B. predetermined answer options can be clicked. Depending on the answer chosen, different processes or further questions are triggered.

9. Personalization with SmartContent

Modern content management systems, such as the HubSpot CMS, are able to display different content on the website or landing pages based on parameters such as CRM data, reference sources (e.g. social networks such as LinkedIn), the device used or the country.

So you could z. For example, in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the appropriate language conventions or word variants can be incorporated into texts. Or display a call-to-action with a special purchase offer to a lead already in CRM.

By displaying more specific content, the user experience - often referred to as the customer experience in marketing jargon - can be made much more specific and relevant.

With direct personalization, in the form of salutation by name, one should act cautiously, as this irritates and unsettles most people rather than appreciating the personal salutation.

10. Retargeting

So-called retargeting is in principle a special form of personalization. Basically, it is about addressing people with specific marketing messages that are triggered by previous behavior.

A very typical example that most of us are familiar with is retargeting with social ads. They have
z. E.g. you visit a certain website and see an ad from the company in your news feed the next time you visit Instagram.

For this, the company has z. B. created a so-called custom audience with all visitors to the service page XY in the last 30 days. This ad will then be displayed to all members of this group.

Retargeting is available in many forms and variants as well as on other channels - e. B. Google - possible.

Retargeting is often used to bring people who have obviously already shown a certain interest in the offer closer to a deal - e.g. B. through special offers or discounts.

Conclusion

Marketing automation offers fantastic opportunities to take online marketing to a whole new level. The interface and connection to sales is particularly crucial, as this opens up completely new opportunities to gain leads and customers more effectively.

However, the same applies to marketing automation: a lot doesn't always help a lot. There are so many possibilities that you can get bogged down very quickly, lose track and ultimately achieve little.

It is therefore very sensible and advisable to start small and with narrowly defined tasks. In this way, valuable experience can be gathered and the automation can be expanded step by step. With HubSpot, an outstanding and market-leading tool is available for this.

If you want to know more about how you can digitize your marketing and sales processes with HubSpot, we would be happy to give you a non-binding consultation. Book an appointment now!