The successful use of marketing automation depends on the size of a business, its sales cycle, advertising channels and a number of other variables. It is important to know the features your business needs and those that are superfluous to your efforts. You should consider pricing, usability, and integration with your current software – especially if it is an option without a built-in CRM. It is also important to understand the support and resources provided by the platform. You may want to think about signing up for a free trial to test features of the platforms you are considering and to understand your feel for the interfaces. This also allows you to do a hands-on comparison of choices.
These platforms automate daily tasks to boost efficiency and minimize errors. Artificial Intelligence, or smart, marketing tools can assist with content creation and curation, SEO, and customer acquisition through data analysis that allows informed marketing decisions to be made based on tracking and understanding of consumers’ online behavior. Typical features include lead generation and scoring, behavior tracking, social media management, and sales forecasting.
The purpose of automated marketing is explained by financesonline.com as, “This set of advanced tools helps businesses organize the data their prospects share online, and use it to send the right content to the right prospect at the right time.” The automated marketing platforms automate marketing tasks, streamline workflow, and provide analytics of marketing campaigns. They also provide a centralized database for information and interactions.
For example, when a consumer requests a free consultation from a landscaping business, he provides his email address in order to be connected with the business. That person’s email address is added to a track in an automated email marketing campaign for prospective customers and he begins receiving a series of emails about landscaping and the services the business offers.
The following are common features to look for (from financesonline.com 2018 List of Expert’s Choices):
Key Features of Marketing Automation Software
Email Marketing. Your marketing automation system is supposed to allow you to compile a contact list from the various sources you’re using, send targeted messages, onboard customers, and share both informative and promotional content.
Online Marketing. This feature refers to the possibility for companies to produce, launch, compare, measure, and optimize automated and personalized marketing strategies, ideally via both desktop and handheld devices. Advanced management automation systems allow also brand resource management and provides creative landing pages templates.
Lead Management. Great marketing automation systems are also empowered to handle lead management, namely to generate, onboard, nurture, and automate their leads. Some of them will even forecast lead generation and measure the ROI impact of your marketing automation strategy.
Analytics and Reports. When choosing a marketing automation system, check the analytics and reporting suite, and look for features, metrics, and key performance indicators that can help you generate accurate reports, and to use them when prioritizing tasks and creating management campaigns.
Resource Management. Features related to resource management are supposed to facilitate marketing resources management with the main purpose of making and executing smarter marketing decisions.
Social Marketing. A good marketing automation platform is expected to revolutionize the way in which your social marketing efforts generate ROI. Nowadays, marketing platform are imperative for companies to make the most of their social media presence.
Lead Generation (common, not compulsory). In some of the cases, marketing automation platforms empower businesses to schedule resources depending on their lead generation capacity, namely to use dynamic landing pages, SEO, and automated lead scoring in order to attract new customers.
Landing Pages. Marketing automation software empowers the development of entirely email-based marketing strategies, and therefore offers a variety of dynamic landing pages to attract and retain customers. Businesses can also create their own landing pages and convert visitors in a highly-personalized way.
A/B Testing. A/B split testing is one of the essential marketing automation software features which enables companies to use advanced email segmentation to compare results, and to optimize the effects of their marketing strategies.
Mobile Optimization (ideally both iOS and Android). Ideally, your marketing automation system should be mobile-optimized, and allow you to use it from all possible devices even when on the go.
API. Marketing automation platforms have inbuilt developer APIs which allow users to integrate them easily with their already existing software architecture. Open APIs, in fact, are desirable to guarantee that the system can blend with any system/app you’re planning to use in future.
While the choices of features may seem overwhelming, it’s important to remember that automated marketing platforms are not a one-size-fits-all resource. Here is some information about a handful of options that are available on the market.
ActiveCampaign offers intelligent processes that use personal and behavioral customer data to learn about customers and allow brands to market to their specific needs and interests. Consumers have stated that the interface is intuitive and easy to learn and that software upgrades have been creating a consistently more effective product. ActiveCampaign offers a full set of email marketing features with a custom email builder and variety of email templates.
It is device responsive and has A/B testing features as well as SMS (text) notification capability. This platform provides a smooth experience from automated marketing, to email campaigns, SMS, and the CRM/sales tools. It centralizes data into one source and makes it easy to sync contact information from a third-party platform.
ActiveCampaign does not, however, provide landing pages or a landing page builder so a third-party tool is required. The least expensive option is $17/month which allows for up to 1000 contacts and unlimited emails. This “Lite” plan is lacking in features, though, and doesn’t include the CRM or sales automation tools.
Infusionsoft was one of the first automated marketing options and is still a powerful tool but not as flexible or affordable as some of its newer competitors. It is a comprehensive app with everything from a CRM and sales tools to email marketing automation. Infusionsoft provides a landing page builder and templates and has a robust offering of marketing automation features such as abandoned cart and SMS communications. It also offers customizable email templates.
On the downside, consumers have found it challenging to learn and it is relatively expensive. The basic plan is $99 per month and includes the CRM and marketing tools. However, this plan does not include the sales automation or other e-commerce features. Full access to the platform is $299/month. Infusionsoft requires an annual contract and also requires businesses to invest in a training program ($999-$2999).
Hubspot has more than 18,000 customers worldwide and offers a variety of tools, one of which is automated marketing. The platform is an all-in-one that integrates blogging, social media (both publishing and monitoring), contacts, SEO, email marketing, marketing automation and analytics. Consumers claim it is intuitive and easy to learn and that it has a powerful analytics component. Hubspot is fully functional with the free version though there are paid plans that provide additional support and resources.
MailChimp has competitive pricing for its marketing automation. It features comprehensive reporting with geo-tracking, social media, and integration of Google Analytics. MailChimp has a powerful template editor and large number of sophisticated templates as well as robust email automation with rules for follow-up communications. The platform offers segmentation capabilities and makes available over 800 integrations. Most tools are part of the free plan – this happened in 2017 when the company simply made available for free many of their automated marketing email features.
MailChimp targets consumers based on their behavior, preferences and previous sales – allowing businesses to send welcome messages to new customers, reminder emails to people with abandoned shopping carts, and special deals to loyal customers. It offers Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns where you can create, manage and track multi-channel efforts all from within MailChimp. There is also e-commerce incorporation through which businesses can customize order notifications, follow-up with consumer purchases, and push out to customers purchase recommendations.
Among the benefits of using an automated marketing platform are consistency in your marketing strategy and efficient use of resources, to include time. These platforms facilitate data collection as well as analytics and allow businesses to lower their costs and increase the impact of their marketing campaigns. For more information on how to get started with automated marketing options, contact Strategy Driven Marketing today.