Marketing automation means a series of marketing processes carried out automatically and efficiently by software. These processes range from assigning tags to a new contact or lead, to sending relevant information throughout the sales funnel. To carry out these actions a special software uses different marketing automation channels. These are typically: Email, SMS, Text-to-speech and Instant Messaging.
The origin of marketing automation dates back to the mid-2000s. Basically, it emerged as an evolution of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software where it was required to manage a large volume of customer data with programmed actions for each contact individually. Marketing automation was born to optimise the management of contacts and nurture them with relevant information throughout the sales process.
In this article we will go deeper into the digital channels, but first we will detail some key points of automated marketing.
How marketing automation works
Marketing automation is part of Inbound Marketing, where strategies focus on creating value and generating content of interest to leads. They are non-intrusive marketing techniques, it does not force the sales, but seek to provide value and encourage the acquisition. The function of marketing automation is to respond with relevant information to each contact at the right time and through automated marketing channels.
The two most important concepts of marketing automation are lead nurturing and lead scoring.
Lead Scoring refers to the process of lead qualification. This means that each lead is classified or scored in a certain way, depending on their interest and/or behaviour. Lead scoring helps to create a segmented database that helps us to know which actions are the most recommendable for each lead. For example, it allows us to know which leads are ready to sell and which need to mature.
Lead nurturing refers to the whole maturing process of a contact, from the moment they give us their data until the final purchase. Throughout this process, the lead is nurtured with relevant information by sending automated emails, text messages, chat conversations or retargeting actions.
We can distinguish between lead nurturing for acquisition, where the goal is to educate the contact and prepare them for the sale. And lead nurturing for loyalty, where customer satisfaction is sought, with actions such as upselling or cross selling.
Stages in a sales process
The sales process is divided into several stages, depending on the status of the lead. These stages are usually represented in the form of a sales funnel. The marketing techniques will depend on each of the stages and will comprise different actions. A lead goes through 4 stages: attention, interest, decision and action.
Phases of the sales process:
- Attracting visitors: To do this, different content marketing strategies are used (blogs and keywords), search engine marketing campaigns (SEM) and SEO.
- Convert visitors into leads: Once we have attracted the user to the website, the next objective is to convert them into leads through web forms, call-to-action or landing pages.
- Close the sale, from leads to customers: This is where the main automated marketing actions come into play, such as lead scoring and lead nurturing, which will help to qualify and mature these leads until they become customers.
- Delight, turn customers into brand ambassadors: once the sale is finished, we move on to after-sales service. Obtain customer feedback at all times and achieve optimal engagement.
How marketing automation channels work
As mentioned above, there are different automated marketing channels, although not all software integrates all of them. The most used channels in marketing automation are:
- Email: This is the most used channel for any marketing automation platform. Throughout the nurturing process, leads receive information via email. A user receives an email after completing different actions: such as filling out a form, requesting information about a product/service or subscribing to a newsletter.
- SMS: Automated text messages are sent when the user completes a transactional action. For example: account validation via passwords (OTP and 2FA), customized notifications or alerts.
- Text-to-speech: These serve as a complement to the email and SMS channels. The advantage of this service is that it is sent to landlines and mobiles numbers, providing greater communications coverage.
- Instant Messaging: Some Apps such as WhatsApp Business can be integrated into an automated marketing platform. This channel aims to send predetermined templates with transactional information.
Benefits of marketing automation
- Automated marketing makes it easier to streamline complex marketing processes that were previously carried out manually. This increased work time and human cost in actions that software can complete in a matter of seconds.
- Greater control and analysis is obtained in the acquisition and loyalty actions. In addition, there is a record of the life of each lead throughout the whole process, from the initial contact until after the sale.
- It allows a better segmentation of the target audience. This makes it possible to send the ideal content at the right time. It helps to plan strategies and action plans more efficiently.
- It enables multichannel management, i.e. reaching contacts through different digital channels such as: SMS, Email, Social Networks or Instant Messaging.
Marketing automation channels integrations
If we want marketing automation to help us achieve optimal results, it will be essential to nurture leads through the most efficient communication channels. There are platforms that only integrate email, which can be a limitation.
At Afilnet we work with all digital communication channels so that they can be easily integrated into any automated marketing platform. We have an advanced API that facilitates the integration of channels: Email, SMS, Text-to-speech and Instant Messaging.