Marketing automation is often construed as mechanical, cold, and impersonal--and its name certainly doesn’t help. The term “automation” conjures images of shiny, futuristic technologies with human-like intelligence. However, marketing automation is designed to help us mere humans work with superhuman speed, while still delivering a friendly, relevant, and personal marketing message to potential clients.
Sorting through some common myths and facts can help us get a more accurate picture of what marketing automation really means for your marketing team.
Myth #1: Automation is expensive.
Fact: A large range of solutions exist at all different price levels, including some specifically designed for marketers with limited resources. Marketing automation platforms often come with tiered pricing, so you can choose the package that’s right for your budget and needs. Some companies offer month-to-month pricing, so you aren’t locked into an annual contract. Cost to implement also varies based on level of sophistication. That said, marketing automation platforms can increase ROI through higher quality leads and higher conversion rates. Effective use of the tool can even lead to a marketing department that can produce much more successful programs, even while using less budget and less headcount.
Myth #2: Automation software is hard to use.
Fact: Marketing software does a lot. There’s email, landing pages, social media, ROI reporting, visitor tracking...the list goes on, but the good news is that marketing automation is made to be used by people with varying degrees of technical skill. The best systems are intuitive and simple, so they can be operated in-house, without having to hire additional resources. For example, many email editors have the option of either choosing a premade email template or creating a template from scratch using HTML. Plus, there’s always an onboarding period where the pros can help you get started with your first few campaigns. These tools are designed to make your life as a marketer easier. Many users are able to launch their first campaign within a few weeks.
Myth #3: Automation is impersonal; my prospects hate that.
Fact: Just because you’re automating a lot of your marketing processes doesn’t mean you can’t personalize your messages. In fact, marketing automation gives you the opportunity to add more personal touches to your campaigns, like personalized emails that come directly from specific members of your sales team, even if they’re automatically generated. Not only are your actual messages tailored, but your campaigns are, too. By collecting data on a prospect’s specific interests, you can tailor future offers so they are more relevant. You can even display different Web site content based on a user’s preferences. Automating some basic tasks frees your team to spend more time interacting with clients and prospects when it counts.
Myth #4: Automation magically generates tons of leads.
Fact: Marketing automation systems don’t procure leads from thin air. They’re there to help you manage new and existing leads that are fed into your system after a prospect fills out a form, visits your Web site, attends a trade show--you get the idea. From there, leads are monitored and nurtured until they’re sales-ready, helping you to maintain positive relationships with potential customers. That’s why marketing automation is just as much about lead nurturing and analytics as it is about lead generation. One thing marketing automation can do is help show you which lead sources are bringing in the most new revenue, allowing you to adjust your spend so that you’re maximizing lead flow in the most efficient way possible.
Myth #5: Automation stifles creativity.
Fact: Actually, the opposite is true. Marketing automation allows you to automate repetitive, administrative tasks, such as sending email and re-entering data. This frees your marketing team to pursue new creative initiatives, like testing social media campaigns, designing infographics, and strategizing on big-picture items. Elements of the software also lend themselves to creativity. Email and landing page templates give you the option to design your own templates and then test which techniques work the best, whether it’s experimenting with different color schemes or trying a new call to action.
Knowing the facts about marketing automation can help take away some of the hesitation when it comes to adopting a new system. In fact, the next time someone mentions “marketing automation,” it might just give you the warm fuzzies instead of sending a shiver down your spine.