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Marketing Automation Part II: Which Marketing Automation Tools Should I Use?

We started off last week with an introduction to marketing automation and a brief overview of how it can increase revenue and build a stronger brand for your company. In this week’s segment, I’m going to walk you through the specific automated tools that marketing automation can offer you and the benefits to each. By the end of this segment, you should be able to identify what kind of automation your company should implement.

Each organization has different goals and thus different marketing automation needs. MarTech has expanded to such an extent that choosing a program and even beginning to address what tools you need can seem overwhelming. The options presented in the infographic below might look a little like how your brain feels when weighing all the marketing automation tools available.

First, we will get a handle on what types of marketing automation exist, so you can get a big-picture view of what is available. Remember, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) start out automating everything at once. There will always be a learning curve when you implement any new software – it will take time to get your team up to speed so that programs can be maximized to their full potential.

Process, Process, Process

Luckily, all automation tools fall into five main categories: CRM, email marketing, overall marketing, social media, and analytics. Before we look at how to identify what might be the best fit for your company, here is an outline of the five different ways software can automate your processes, compiled by Marketing Insider Group.

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) means treating each individual customer as if they’re your only customer. CRM software means timely communication at the customer level with personalized content. Automating CRM can mean anything from having a programmed bot respond to social media inquiries to adding completed submission forms to your list of leads. CRM automation is for a forward-focused company with lots of leads to handle or new segments to explore. While you don’t necessarily need to go with the biggest name out there, many companies choose to use Salesforce for CRM automation and with great success.
  2. Email marketing automation might seem outdated (or at least a platform that’s losing its footing), but it’s still one of the most engaging aspects of digital marketing. Email marketing automation means reaching more people with greater ease and an automated process for using all the data you collect to both reach a wider audience, as well as connect with your existing audience on a more personal level. Among other things, you can set up triggers to initiate messages (such as auto-replies if a customer leaves items in their virtual shopping cart or follow-ups to promote reviews after purchase), implement A/B testing, and encourage them to take actions they haven’t already.
  3. Marketing automation software takes care of everything to do with overall marketing operations like website traffic or implementing specific initiatives. Most of the marketing automation platforms you’ve probably heard of fall under this category of general marketing automation. Marketo, Hubspot, and Eloqua are the big three that people are quick to recommend because of their versatility and expansive services. Just be mindful of the price of your package, it can be easy to overpay for programs without reaping all the benefits.
  4. Social media automation does exactly what it sounds like. Short-form social posting can seem like a waste of time, but connecting with your audience on social media is one of the best ways to define your story in a more casual, conversational setting. By itself, social media is a free tool that can make or break you. With automation, it turns into an increasingly valuable way of engagement. Social media automation can be especially useful for bigger businesses who don’t have the time or resources to respond to all social interactions. In 2018, the best software for social media automation is Hootsuite, Crowdfire, Buffer, and Agora Pulse.
  5. Marketing analytics software will help you gauge data to figure out the next steps to take. Data such as traffic and engagement rates can be the jumping off point for determining where to angle your next marketing initiatives, where to improve, or where to cut back. Efficiently measuring analytics is an essential step to maximizing ROI. If you implement all of the above strategies but don’t measure the results and turn them into actionable insights, then what’s the point? The most popular tool for measuring analytics is inevitably Google Analytics, but there are plenty of other options if you want to branch out.

 Identifying What You Need

Once you’re familiar with the options available, you can start sorting out what the right choices are for your business. Sitting down and planning out your exact needs will ensure that you choose a program best suited to meet your unique goals. It also helps ensure that you’re only paying for what you need, not buying into programs that aren’t worth your time or resources.

Try thinking of marketing automation in categories depending on the overall size, need, and experience of your company. GetResponse separates marketing automation into three levels.

Level One:  Software geared toward entry-level users and those who are only looking for basic levels of email marketing automation. This level of automation uses basic automation tasks like email templates, analytics, and A/B testing. To use this to your advantage, you can set up triggers to send certain emails, and create auto response sequences. If you’re a company just starting out, one with a small budget, or one with basic needs, then level one should be the extent of your focus.

Level Two: Software that mid-sized business can use with the intent of growing and excelling past the initial level of email automation. GetResponse clarifies that level two is primarily for a marketing team who manage less than 100,000 subscribers. Businesses on this level need more in-depth features to their software that will expand the business’ online presence. This starts to encompass automated CRM, social media, and more advanced tools that handle your marketing automation as a whole.

Level Three: Software intended for businesses up to the enterprise-level who have a strong marketing team intent on all-encompassing automation. They have the resources and opportunities to draw in customers across all possible platforms and can invest in the most optimized experience to suit their needs. These tools can handle all of the listed processes above.

After you’ve identified approximately where your business goals fall and what level of marketing automation software you need to start looking at, you’re ready to dive into software-specific research. As shown in the infographic above, there are more than enough options to sift through.  Lists like this one from NG Data or this grid from G2 Crowd pepper MarTech sites; choices are easy to find, it’s just a matter of narrowing them down. Always remember to weigh your options, allow for optimum training time before you judge the results, and use your resources to the fullest capacity.

Join us next week as we dive into Part III of our marketing automation series: How to Create Workflows. Workflows are the next step in the automation process and we will discuss how to use the marketing tool you’ve chosen in Part II to create active, workable strategies that align with your story. In the meantime, make sure you subscribe to keep up with the latest in Transformational Marketing.

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