Alongside content analytics, DAM, and content management, marketing automation is a major category of content technology. While there is a wide variety of software out there, the platforms you choose can seamlessly manage and automate recurring tasks from your daily, weekly, or monthly to-do list. From bulk uploading and pre-scheduling social media and email campaigns to automating lead nurturing for sales teams, marketing automation is a category of technology every content marketing team should consider carefully. For tips on how to get it right, read the CSR feature, 5 Tips for Making Marketing Automation Work For You.
Techopedia defines marketing automation as this:
The use of software and Web-based services to execute, manage and automate marketing tasks and processes. It replaces manual and repetitive marketing processes with purpose-built software and applications geared toward performance.
However, in B2B content marketing, marketing automation should not replace engagement. At the end of the day, automation systems and software can save time and money but they can’t replace relationships. Where automation serves B2B marketers the best is by saving time with programs that offer lead scoring and grading and tools to track activity, which allows for prioritizing which customer relationships to pursue.
54% of companies with marketing automation capture intelligence for the sales team, compared to 25% without; 49% of companies with marketing automation customize content to the Buyer Journey stages, compared to 21% without, Fathom, 2016 Marketing Automation: Why It’s Leading the Nurture Marketing Revolution
eMarketer research reveals a host of benefits associated with mature marketing automation adoption. 66% of marketers report “enhanced targeting” abilities, 64% experience “seamless campaign execution and tracking,” and 61% are more efficient, eMarketer, 2015 What Are the Benefits of Marketing Automation?
Like most everything within content, in order for marketing automation to work effectively, it must be credible, well thought out, and maintained. Nothing is worse than a scheduled, ill-timed automated email or tweet. This can really start to impact your company’s credibility. On the credibility front there is still a long way to go since the CMO Council reported a whopping 91% of people see some types of content as not trustworthy. The study found that among B2B buyers, only 9% consider vendor content as trustworthy. However, 78% of consumers will trust your brand if you create more customized content according to Neil Patel’s Content Marketing Stats that Every Marketer Needs to Know.
Mailchimp now has 12 million users and sends more than 1 billion emails a day, totaling more than 30 billion emails every month. Whether you’re sending regularly scheduled emails to monthly subscribers or one time, automated formats should be a part of your content marketing strategy and overall system.
In the same vein as email management systems is a social media management system, or SMMS. Social automation can help companies maintain a consistent posting schedule with automated publishing platforms such as HootSuite, Vitrue, and Sprinklr, most of which are relatively easy to use. A list of impactful Twitter tools used by top brands can be found on Business2Community and Kissmetrics. However, much like email management systems, social automation should not replace engagement. One main function of social media is to build community, and that takes real people sharing in a real exchange of thoughts and ideas.
According to Hubspot and Focus Research, marketing automation has seen the fastest growth of any CRM-related segment in the last five years. In the world of content marketing, these tools are very useful for workflow efficiency. Several tools like Hubspot, Pardot, Oracle Eloqua, and Marketo all rank quite high in marketing automation software products. These software systems help you convert, track, and categorize lists and target emails for nurturing marketing leads. For a comprehensive look at general content technology read our Content Technology Fact Sheet.
Marketing automation has come a long way but to be effective, the overall automation system cost must be competitive – this means hardware, technology, design, planning, and installation all must align. The CSR article, Exploring the Early Days of Engineering Automation looks at just how far automation has come in a relatively short amount of time. Ryan Johnston, from B2B marketing automation software provider Pardot, reiterates that while useful, the data from automation cannot tell you everything. He says, “Most enterprises look at aggregate level data such as a piece of content downloaded 10 or 50 times in a month. You see users engaging with the content, but you don’t know why or how it’s affecting them.”
There are plenty of distractions for content practitioners in the digital space so it can be a challenge to define and stick with a clear goal, especially when new features or technologies seem cool. As Colleen Jones, CEO of Content Science and author of “Clout” notes, “No IT product, feature or widget alone will give you results.”
While not a panacea, the right marketing automation software can streamline many processes so you can focus on developing content to nurture customer relationships.
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