Marketing Automation: Definition, Tips and Examples

Updated January 26, 2023

Marketing automation software allows you to increase productivity, shorten the sales cycle and improve your conversions. And because marketing automation allows you to automate tedious and repetitive tasks, you'll be freeing up your marketing team's time to focus on more important tasks. Successfully utilizing marketing automation in your own department takes time as you start small, learning the functionality of the technology as you go. In this article, we discuss what is marketing automation, how it works and share some best practices to help you automate your own marketing more effectively.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is the process of using technology to automate marketing activities, particularly repetitive tasks like social media posting, email marketing or advertising campaigns. Using marketing automation, messages can be sent automatically according to customized instructions called workflows. Workflows can be created from scratch or companies can use pre-defined templates to achieve the automation they're looking for.

Using marketing automation, companies can maximize efficiency and increase revenue, while also personalizing the experience for prospects and customers.

Related: 7 Ways to Use Customer Relationship Management

How does marketing automation work?

There are several different ways that marketers use marketing automation systems to execute strategies.

Utilizing cookies

Cookies are small pieces of data stored on a user's computer. The purpose of a cookie is to keep track of your browsing history or record login information. Companies can leverage cookies for marketing automation, tracking visitors through their website pages, building scores on the prospect and triggering advertising campaigns based on visitor activity.

Related: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples

Specifying criteria

Companies use marketing automation software to specify criteria and outcomes for processes. This is generally referred to as a workflow. The criteria are stored and executed and the pre-set processes are followed with each new lead that comes in. Oftentimes leads are scored based on quality and delivered to sales teams, although this depends on how the workflow was set up.

Using contact forms

Marketers use contact forms to gather prospect information and then use automation to place leads into buckets and communicate with them based on the information you gathered.

Tips for marketing automation

There are a number of best practices that can help you create automation to increase conversion rates, increase productivity, streamline workflows and improve customer relationships.

  • Automate repetitive tasks

  • Automatically score leads and notify sales

  • Segment your leads

  • Be personalized

  • Start simple and scale up

  • Create quality content

Related: 15 Marketing Jobs That Pay Well

Automate repetitive tasks

As you're evaluating the parts of your business that you can automate, look for repetitive tasks that can be time-consuming for your team. Some common examples of this are:

  • Updating your customer relationship management (CRM) software

  • Manually following up with new leads

  • Nurturing prospects

Automating these tasks will save you time and allow you to perform them better than a human would, eliminating the risk of costly mistakes. Keep integrations in mind as you are looking for ways to implement automation as well. Oftentimes, marketing automation software will integrate with Facebook ads or your payment processor to increase the number of areas of your business that you can automate.

Automatically score leads and notify sales

Lead scoring is a part of lead management that allows you to attach values to them based on their interest in products or services. Lead scoring is particularly beneficial for business to business (B2B) businesses because of the longer sales cycles. With a long sales cycle, understanding how your product is interested in your organization makes it easier to convert them into a buyer. For example, using marketing automation software, you can track your lead's engagement with messaging, monitor their behavior on your website and create touch points on multiple platforms, from social media to email marketing. Then the software can assign lead scores and notify the sales team to follow up with the lead.

Segment your leads

One of the most important strategies for successfully automating your marketing is to segment the leads as they come in. Segmented emails are proven to have higher open rates, higher engagement rates and a greater number of sales conversions. Segment new contacts based on their interests and engagement. A great way to start is to have your marketing automation software tag them based on how the lead is acquired. For example, if they are added because they purchased a specific product, they may be interested in other products in that category or similar categories. Likewise, if they signed up to receive something free, they may be interested in products or services that are related to that free item.

Be personalized

Remember that when you send messages, you are still speaking to humans. While the messaging may be somewhat more formal for B2B messages, you are still communicating with people. Use automation to personalize your messages based on the information you know about your contacts.

Start small and scale up

When you're just getting started with marketing automation, start by automating small, simple tasks first, particularly the ones that your marketing team already finds to be tedious. Once you understand how to use your automation software, you can expand the areas of your marketing that you automate and improve the results.

Create quality content

Marketing automation software is highly effective at helping you identify which leads to communicate with, the best time to communicate with them and can deliver the message. However, one of the most important components to making sure this process is successful is ensuring that you create quality content. Make sure that you commit to creating only quality content for communicating with your audience.

Examples of marketing automation

Here are some examples of areas of your business that you could automate to better engage your leads and customers:

  • Welcome sequence: After customers have registered on your website, you can send them a welcome email to tell them more about you, your business or encourage them to start shopping. You could also send them a series of emails designed to move them more quickly through your sales funnel.

  • Personalized follow-up campaign: Based on what customers have purchased, you could send them a follow-up campaign, making recommendations for purchases based on their previous order, asking them to leave reviews or share photos on social media.

  • Reminder emails: You can send emails reminding people about items they have left in their cart without checking out or to those who didn't open your email the first time. If you have an on-site sale going on, you can send reminders encouraging customers to take advantage of the offer before it ends.

  • Win-back campaigns: You can target customers who haven't shopped on your set in a specified period of time. You could send them product recommendations based on previous purchases or coupon codes to encourage them to buy from you.

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