5 Good Uses For Marketing Automation Tools (And 5 Ways They Can’t Help You)
Automation has become an increasingly popular method for handling online marketing, and its prevalence is only going to increase in the future. The earliest forms of automation software were simple, allowing marketers to automatically handle specific, tedious tasks, such as scheduling social media posts in advance, but now, automation is becoming far more sophisticated.
Now, “marketing automation” is something of a buzzword, and people have accepted or rejected it based on that status. Technology enthusiasts and futurists love the sound of marketing automation because it’s high-tech and will likely make them seem more cutting-edge. On the other hand, luddites and traditionalists often avoid automation because they believe it to be unnecessarily mechanized.
The truth, of course, is that there are many types of marketing automation; some of them work well, and some of them don’t. So let’s dig deeper into these specific applications.
When Marketing Automation Works
In these applications, marketing automation can be highly effective:
1. Organizing and delegating tasks. Keeping track of things is hard, which is why automating your calendars, schedules, and task assignments as much as possible is a must for modern-day marketers. Apps that automatically add things to your calendar, such as features on your website that let prospective clients schedule time with you, will make your life simpler. You can also use marketing automation to automatically assign tasks to various members of your team, such as notifying team members when a follower on social media requires a response.
2. Taking care of off-hours responsibilities. Social media runs on a 24-hour clock, and no matter how efficient you are at managing your campaign, your mind and body aren’t made to run on that 24-hour schedule. Finding ways to automate your social media accounts, email blasts, and other forms of communication, so that you don’t have to be online all the time, is necessary for modern marketers. Marketing automation can help you schedule those tasks in advance, so you don’t have to worry about it.
3. Making recommendations for campaign direction. Some new analytics platforms are also able to make recommendations for how to change your campaign. For example, you may find a keyword research tool that automatically generates a list of recommended keyword terms related to a “root” keyword you entered to begin your research. Obviously, you’ll need to do a manual review and make the final call here, but there’s no reason automated algorithms can’t point you in the right direction.
4. Generating more leads. Most lead generation software is now able to help you optimize your campaign, making recommendations for how to build your forms, what information to ask for, and how to attract higher-quality traffic. Some are even able to subjectively “score” your leads, so you know the value of a lead before proceeding. This type of automation can drastically improve your sales team’s performance (and make their lives easier at the same time).
5. Accomplishing more (in general). When automation was first introduced, it was used almost exclusively for handling tedious tasks that were easy to program, such as making schedules for email blasts or mining the web for information. Today, that level of automation is still incredibly valuable. If used correctly, it can spare anyone on your marketing team from hours of manual labor, and can help you all accomplish more in less time.
When Marketing Automation Fails
However, these are the areas where marketing automation fails:
1. Creativity and ingenuity. AI isn’t at a level to come up with truly creative ideas; it can only mimic what already exists. For that reason, we’re still many years away from automating content marketing. For now, we’re still relying on the innovation of the human brain to come up with new marketing concepts, advertising ideas, and creative pieces of content.
2. The personal touch. People still prefer to talk to other people, rather than corporate brands, bot accounts, or other types of cold automation. For that reason, you still need to have personal representatives at each stage of customer interaction — even on digital platforms like social media. That personal, human touch goes a long way in securing brand loyalty, and for now, it can’t be mimicked by automated algorithms.
3. Excessive costs (if you aren’t careful). Marketing automation companies aren’t charities. They’ve spent years of effort optimizing their software, and they want to make a profit. Accordingly, you’ll usually pay a monthly subscription to each automation service provider you use. Those costs can add up fast.
4. Platform variance. There are millions of apps available on the market, and not all of them offer the same degree of quality. Many sound high-tech and useful, but only a fraction of them will actually be beneficial for your organization. Try different platforms and seek recommendations from experts you trust before landing on a final decision for any one application.
5. The learning curve. Nobody is “good” at employing marketing automation at first. It isn’t an instant method to improve your marketing ROI. Instead, you need to carefully integrate that automation into your campaign, and gradually make tweaks until you’ve optimized its performance. It takes time and patience to perfect your approach.
Undoubtedly, there are some serious advantages to using marketing automation tools — but only if you know what you’re doing. Like with most marketing tactics, there are advantages and disadvantages, so your success comes down to your unique needs and approaches.
Do your research, experiment with different solutions, and avoid becoming over-reliant on your assumptions. Measure your effectiveness, and make changes as necessary.
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