Marketing Automation – only for Automatons?Leave a Comment (0) ↓
If you have any exposure to digital marketing, you cannot have escaped the debate about the uses and abuses of automated techniques that aim to process the Big Data that is out there on all of us, and turn it into usable sales and marketing information. I for one have reported upon it in its various aspects.
What I want to ask right now is at what point blanket marketing automation turns activity into bland, meaningless campaigns with no creative spark? If everyone is beginning to use the same tools, how do you achieve that stand-out effect?
Firstly, let’s look at what systems are available and what they claim to do. The market all really stems from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and the software that organises that process, of which the best-known are Salesforce and Sage’s add-on product. These will take care of your internal processes, including email management, which until recently was the main conduit for interaction with prospects. And if you wanted to add new prospects in big numbers, you bought an email list – which became a decreasingly successful tactic.
The big addition in recent years has been the ability to process social web traffic, and generate new lists of differentiated people who are identified (according to your desired prospect profiles) as being of interest: they are then presented with your online sales messages. These can be tailored according to the targets’ interests and the locations at which they appear online.
There then follows a very challenging task of integrating this mass of external data and making it compatible with your various (often discrete) internal data streams. And that is probably why the take-up of social media management using such services has been relatively slow. The main applications for marketing automation software are still:
• Creating Dashboards
• CRM Integration
• Campaign Tracking
• Email Management
• Customer ‘Nurturing’
• Monitoring Landing Pages
These are just some of the many software houses that offer (at a basic level at least) to analyse and manage your inbound data, and organise your campaigns:
Marketo is quite complex but when mastered can be a good multi-function tool for lead generation from the wider sphere of blogs and social media. Oracle’s Eloqua and Salesforce’s Pardot are other high-end, higher-budget products.
Hubspot is a popular, cheaper tool mostly used for ‘inbound marketing’ where the prospect has visited your own website, blogs or posts. It is highly rated for its ability to cope with the basic task of marketing automation – the handling of repetitive tasks.
Salesfusion focuses on mid-sized B2B operations and claims to work as a ‘native’ integration with CRM applications, adding a Marketing overlay to the Sales material. It is probably more appropriate for email campaigns rather than for social media lead generation.
Infusionsoft is aimed at smaller businesses and it aims to be a sort of ‘Salesforce Lite’, focusing on identifying your hottest leads, following them up automatically and prompting you to convert them into orders.
Message, not Medium
What we need to do as marketers is to cut out what Hubspot rightly describes as “irrelevant, spammy, automated messages”. Too many people confuse the technology with the end result. All the automation in the world will not generate a meaningful email, PPC ad or other web campaign – that still requires creativity and insight.
This is why we at Hannon Digital insist on infusing the automated marketing process with good old fashioned account management and a creative team that helps generate the right message for each type of prospect, the sort of communication that buyers will respond to because it is relevant to their requirements and aspirations.
And if you are fazed by the array of competing software would-be solutions on offer to automate your marketing life, don’t be: we will advise on, and manage where needed, the streamlining of your day to day tasks, selecting the best-in-breed products for your particular needs.