Marketing automation has produced nothing short of a revolution for small and mid-sized companies who need to accomplish more with less. Large corporations as well have found tremendous productivity and cost savings from adopting marketing automation solutions to drive business goals.
Of course there are a number of providers to choose between and each may offer a slightly different suite of tools. In this article, learn about the most common tools found in today’s most popular marketing automation solutions.
“Marketing Automation” Defined
But what is “marketing automation,” precisely? The term “marketing automation” refers to a platform (software + technology tools) that can organize multi-faceted marketing activities simultaneously and automate any routine, repetitive tasks. In this definition it is easy to see the advantages marketing automation has to offer to any size company. If you’re looking for a marketing automation solution, download this free requirements template:
Tool #1: CRM (Customer Relations Management) Integration.
Combining marketing automation with customer relations management produces nothing short of a powerhouse stand-alone technology-based marketing platform.
For this reason, CRM integration has become one of the most requested – and thus most common – tools offered by marketing automation providers today.
Tool #2: Email Marketing.
Engaging in email marketing is not an option for companies that want to stay competitive in today’s global e-commerce-driven marketplace. From email newsletters sent at regular intervals to drip campaigns for new prospects and repeat customers, so much of email marketing efforts are already designed to keep your company’s brand in front of your customer base’s eyes on an ongoing basis.
As such, with so much of email marketing coming down to routine, repetitive tasks performed over and over again, marketing automation provides the perfect solution to free up marketing staff time and improve results at the same time.
Tool #3: Exceptional security!
It simply goes without saying that any marketing automation provider you choose should provide the highest level of cutting-edge data security. From your proprietary business and marketing strategies to sensitive vendor and client data, mobile devices and remote users to sales tactics and profitability analytics, you absolutely have to know that your data will be safe and secure at all times.
Luckily, it won’t take much time at all to figure out if the provider is serious about securing your data. Look for encryption during data transfer and storage (128-bit SSL or higher), remote device management, password-based logins, data and use logs and other security-based features.
Tool #4: Lead nurturing and management.
Technically, these are two separate tools within a greater marketing automation package, but they are both vital and thus nearly inseparable from the concept of marketing automation itself.
The right marketing automation package will give you the ability to generate and nurture leads until they become loyal repeat customers.
Tool #5: Social media management and/or integration.
With very few exceptions, any company that wishes to remain viable and competitive today must be active on social media. With social media comprising such a large daily percentage of key marketing staff’s time and energy, it just makes sense that social media management must be a part of any solution focused on streamlining and automating marketing activities.
Here you will notice two options: the first will give you an in-house social media management tool and the second will offer seamless integration with a tool you already use.
Tool #6: Intelligence (Analytics, Reports)
Without access to proprietary sales and marketing intelligence, you will find that simply automating your marketing efforts yields few truly profitable benefits. You must know what is working, what is not working and what and where to adjust in order to get full value from marketing automation’s many benefits.
Sales intelligence will give you insights into what stage of conversion new leads and existing prospects are in. Analytics will tell you which social platforms are experiencing the greatest engagement levels and which facets of your email marketing campaigns are generating the most inbound traffic to your landing pages. Reports will show you how different facets of your overall marketing effort are performing over time. You need all of these tools in order to ensure you are spending your marketing time and budget to best effect.
Tool #7: Customer and Technical Support.
Here, the key boils down to “accessibility.” Marketing automation, like most technology and software-based tools today, is an ever-evolving art and science. Just when you think you understand everything about what automation can do, an update provides even greater functionality.
So you simply must choose a provider that offers accessible customer and technical support services along with their software tools. Ideally, you want support that is offered by phone, email, chat, forums and online so even remote staff in different time zones can get the help they need when they need it.
For updates and maintenance, you will want training and support for your marketing staff so they can maximize the value of new and updated tools. And if at any time security becomes an issue, you will want to know the protocols for rapid response and lockdown.
These are by no means the only seven tools that today’s most popular marketing automation software solutions have to offer. They are, however, the tools that businesses most commonly look for. Figure out what you need in a marketing automation solution by defining your unique requirements: