What Is Marketing Automation and Why Should You Care?

What Is Marketing Automation and Why Should You Care?

By name, Marketing Automation sounds like the sort of thing that anyone with even an ounce of personality would fall asleep reading about. 

By nature, though, Marketing Automation is actually the exact opposite.

If you’re serious about growing your business and improving processes internally, Marketing Automation is something you should be very excited about because not only can it save you serious amounts of time, it can also make you a lot of extra money at the same time – the holy grail of business growth.

To be honest this isn’t even new technology. It’s been around for ages now and is likely used by every big business that you’ve ever come into contact with.

Simply put, if you’re not using Marketing Automation techniques now, you’re missing a huge trick. 

Before we get into that though, be sure to subscribe to our blog emails to get more great content on business strategy and marketing sent straight to your inbox:


Ok, so What is Marketing Automation?


Marketing Automation is a method of having technology do all of the heavy lifting for you in the background while you go about your day-to-day.

A good analogy would be a butler.

Sure, you could wash your car at the weekend, you could wash the dishes after you’ve cooked, you could clean the house and make the bed, but why on earth would you want to when Geoffrey can do it for you?

Get your butler trained right and it leaves you much more time to do the stuff you actually want or need to do yourself.

We use marketing automation to complete a lot of the boring, mundane tasks that need doing over and over again, but that we really can’t be bothered to do ourselves and would rather have done for us:

  • Send follow up emails
  • Schedule social posts
  • Share content
  • Set tasks in team member’s diaries
  • Set new tasks depending on activity and other completed tasks
  • Move people through the sales pipeline
  • And much, much more.

This effectively frees us up to spend our time doing much more valuable tasks (that’s what we tell the directors, anyway).


Marketing Automation in Practice

Let’s say you downloaded one of our guides – How to Generate Leads That Close, for example.

You would receive an email from me with the guide attached and then be added into a workflow of emails with more information about Catalyst and our philosophy on business.

You’d then be added into an email workflow with a few more emails that are quite close to the bone and comedic, designed to grab some attention and make a few key points about what makes us different.

Once you’ve finished that workflow, I receive an automated task which goes straight into my diary, telling me to give you a bell and see if there’s anything we can help with.

When I click into that task, I can see all of your previous activity on our site: blogs you’ve read, emails you’ve opened, where you came in from initially, the lot.

You’re then also added into our mailing list and will receive more relevant content from us going forward.

While pretty simple, this system is a very powerful way of saving resource, ensuring nothing slips through the net and improving the way you do things across the board.

It’s also a great way to bridge the gap between different departments. You could have the marketing team putting new content out there and your sales team receiving the tasks to get in touch, for example.


How do Big Businesses Use Marketing Automation?


Amazon is probably the granddaddy of Marketing Automation.

Although every top business on the planet uses automation in some way, shape or form, Jeff Bezos and Co. are truly the pioneers of using automation techniques to build an empire.

Odds are that you’ve purchased something from Amazon at some point over the last decade or so.

Whether you thought about it or not, you would then have been put through a rigorous automation process in Amazon’s marketing systems.

Here’s a breakdown of how Amazon use automation:

  1. After you purchased, you’d have received an email to thank you for your order.
  2. Then, a few days later, you’d have received another email to say that the product had been shipped.
  3. A couple of days after that, another email recommending similar products, probably with a subject along the lines of, “If you like ABC, you’re going to love this too…”.
  4. The next time you visit the site, your dashboard will be filled with products based on what you recently purchased, usually masked as “People who purchased X also liked:”.
  5. What’s more, a few days after you’ve received the product, Amazon will automatically send over a review form, asking for you to give your feedback on the product.
  6. Internally at Amazon, your data would also have been processed, contributing to reports, the pricing of their advertising space, consumer insights for third parties and so on.
  7. That data will be used to send custom, relevant new products and offers to you on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, depending on your communication settings.

When you write it down like this, Amazon actually sound pretty creepy and slightly mental too, but done right, marketing automation doesn’t make your contacts feel as though they’re being stalked; it has the exact opposite effect, making your whole marketing process more personalised and relevant.

More to the point though, it generates revenue.

That automated cross-sell technique mentioned in points 3 and 4 will have no-doubt earned Amazon billions and billions of dollars in recent years, yet would have taken their tech team only a few months to put together.

Why is Marketing Automation Important for Your Business?

It goes without saying that not all businesses need the length of process Amazon have.

That said, the marketing automation example above should have hopefully got your juices flowing with regards to the possibilities for your own business.

Targeting lost customers, cross-selling, up-selling, customer service, feedback requests and much, much more are all possible (and very easy to set up) using an automation system.

Key Stats on the Importance of Automating Your Marketing

  • Marketing Automation is so important that when used correctly, it can boost sales productivity by 14.5% and reduce marketing overheads by 12.2%. (nucleusresearch.com)

  • 63% of companies outgrowing their competitors are using automation. (lenksold.co.uk)

  • Marketers say the biggest benefits of automation are saving time (74%), increased customer engagement (68%), more timely communications (58%), and increased opportunities, including up-selling (58%). (adestra.com)

Imagine your sales team reallocating 14.5% of their time to finding new leads or closing existing deals, and 12.2% of your marketing spend being reallocated to ad campaigns, new technology or taking it away from the marketing team altogether and investing in a shiny new Range Rover for yourself.

The board probably won’t sign off on that, but it’s a nice idea nonetheless.

The point is that you can save a lot of time and money that could be better spent elsewhere if you get Marketing Automation setup correctly.

“So if I get this setup, can I sack my marketing team? Because that Tom we hired last year is a right wally”

Unfortunately, no, you still need a marketing team.

Unlike industrial automation, Marketing Automation can’t be used as a total replacement.

Marketing is ever-changing and you need people to write new content, build campaigns, evolve your website and manage the automation process itself.

What’s more, one of the key benefits of automating your marketing output is the analytics and data that comes with it. With nobody to manage the process properly, you’ll lose the knowledge and insight to know what the next step is.

Automation can massively progress your business, putting your current marketing and sales efforts on steroids, but you need proper know-how to manage everything that goes into the system itself.

You could sack Tom though.

“So How do I go About Setting Marketing Automation up?”

There are loads of great systems out there that all do pretty similar things when it comes to automation. What you really want is a system that can do the lot – send emails, manage your website, post new articles and so on.

The reason you want one system rather than various tools is because you lose the data and analytics between different activities and can’t automate different tasks off the back of one another.

If you’re using one system to send emails, for example, and another to manage your content, you can’t automatically have relevant content get emailed to prospects based on stuff they’ve already read.

Personally, we use HubSpot and think it’s great, mainly for its ease of use.

Most systems have free trials, too, so do some shopping around and figure out which one looks right for you.

You can also jump on a call with us if you’re looking to get Marketing Automation processes setup in your organisation, need recommendations on which system is right for you or just generally want to ask questions around automation techniques.

If you’d like a quick chat or have any questions, please feel free to drop me an email and mention this article in the subject line. Click here to get started.

We also put together a great guide recently titled How to Get HubSpot Setup for Lead Generation in 30 Days or Less, which you’ll probably be interested to read. You can download that by clicking the banner below.