Marketing automation (MA) used to be simple. Send an email with an offer, track which prospects clicked on the link and filled out the form on the landing page. Maybe add a little lead scoring to spice things up and pass the leads along to the sales team.
But with customer experience becoming an increasingly important aspect of marketing, marketers are taking a more sophisticated approach to their campaigns. But not all of them.
According to a recent report, only 43% of marketers are already using MA software, with 69% planning to adopt MA in the next 12 months.
It is essential for marketers to understand the key trends set to shape marketing automation in the immediate future. By adopting these trends, both the sophisticated and underachieving marketers can meet their goals.
1. Dynamic campaign management
Campaigns are a key aspect of modern marketing, and it is marketing automation that is crucial in running those campaigns. Sometimes they are simple and follow a linear course of action. But with marketers becoming increasingly more like artists and scientists, campaigns can become complex with multiple variations of results. It is now possible to design campaigns that can adapt and respond to real customer activities, and not some limited and prescribed customer journey.
Marketers design these campaigns with a simple drop and drag interface that is as intuitive as drawing on an office whiteboard. This makes campaign creation faster and easier, meaning marketers don’t need to go back to school to learn complex programming languages.
Some platforms have difficulties changing live campaigns, forcing marketers to create whole new campaigns to make those changes. The latest marketing automation tools can now change and update campaigns on the fly. Simply pause a campaign and then update a segment; add or change a decision step; insert a new email, landing page, or other content; and even trigger a new action. Restart with a click once the changes are done, and all the changes are live.
2. Integrated content marketing
Marketing automation platforms make it easy to set actions as triggers and ensure prospects and customers get the right information at the right time. While most marketers know the importance of personalised messaging, many are unable to execute on this goal simply because they do not have the resources to create the volume of quality content necessary. A lack of quality content will result in lost opportunities and according to the Content Marketing Institute, only 34% of marketers believe their content marketing is effective.
One of the most important keys to marketing automation success is an effective content marketing strategy. Content must be created according to personas and distributed in ways that track to those personas. Without true integration with content marketing tools, it is challenging to send the right message.
Aligning content with personas is step one, but in a marketing technology stack where marketing automation and content marketing are tightly integrated means that is the only step. If set up correctly, the right content automatically feeds into marketing activations based on persona-based segments.
3. Account-based marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) is the new way that marketers are thinking about how they communicate with their most important accounts. This allows them to better target, engage, and convert opportunities by effectively linking activities and data across a single account. Econsultancy’s The Convergence of Marketing and Sales report revealed that 80% of marketers say AMB outperforms all other marketing channels in terms of ROI.
This is a big change in marketing automation, as the organising structure changes from the individual profile to the account level. Contacts are mapped to parent accounts, which allows marketers to run specific campaigns targeting these parent accounts. In fact, marketers can target the entire buyer committee from their most important accounts and deliver a consistent experience across the organisation.
One of the most important aspects of marketing automation, the prospect lead score, also changes with ABM. There is now an account score, which shows the level of engagement at the account level, rather than just among individuals. ABM is the strategy that is finally bringing marketing and sales teams together to better compete in the market and win customers.
4. Open platform
Marketing technology tools need to work together, and marketing automation is no different. Many of the more robust tools connect with systems already in place. And many platforms promote an ecosystem of partners. These marketing platforms provide access to additional tools in their own marketing app store, modelled after Apple and their app store.
But all ecosystems are not created equal. In fact, eConsultancy found that 56% of marketers rate non-integrated tech platforms as a leading obstacle to integrating marketing activities. Some vendors just provide a list of partners, but the best ones provide pre-built integrations. This means marketers can get up and running, adding functionality, without extensive IT support.
Marketing automation can change the ways that marketers communicate with their prospects and customers, and whether that’s a small change or a big change depends on keeping up with the latest technology trends. The right marketing strategy coupled with the right marketing tools will drive more leads and more sales, along with improving the ROI. What more could a modern marketer want?