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Sales - 8 min READ

What is marketing automation?

How marketing automation works and how it can fit your business

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Author photo: Katrina Oko-Odoi

Katrina Oko-Odoi

Sr. Content Marketing Manager

Your customers might expect you to be available around the clock, but you aren’t superhuman.

The problem is that 82%* of consumers want an immediate response to their needs—day or night. That’s nice in theory, but if you’re running a scrappy business with just a few staff on hand, you can’t manually send emails, respond to every query, post information to social media, review your ad performance, or perform all of your communication duties 24/7. That’s why more marketing and sales departments are investing in marketing automation software.

So, what is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is a type of smart software that does repetitive marketing tasks for your team. Done well, automation runs in the background of your business, taking nagging tasks off your team’s plate, while you also take care to keep up personalization and important outreach that feels authentic and sincere. Reminders, announcements and relationship maintenance are great ways to use marketing automation.

And what’s great about marketing automation is that it happens without any human intervention. Just plug in your content and a predetermined set of rules to set off a series of triggers. These triggers will send each customer customized content based on their interests, specific events, dates and more.

The magic of marketing automation software is that it gives you an army’s worth of marketing power without the sky-high costs of a huge marketing department. There’s no need to hire dozens of employees: just set up a marketing automation strategy and you’re in the clear.

What problems do marketing automation platforms solve?

You don’t have time to handle every little thing in your marketing department. And honestly, who does?

Marketing automation platforms eliminate the finicky to-dos so you can keep customer relationships moving without burning out your team. Marketing automation software is especially good at solving problems like:

  • Being genuine while speaking to hundreds or thousands of people: A generic email newsletter doesn’t exactly scream “genuine,” you know? Instead of blasting out the same message to your thousands of potential customers, marketing automation makes it possible to segment your audience based on nearly any criteria. When you can make your marketing automation messages personal and genuine, it’s way easier to personalize your content at scale. Since studies have shown that the majority of shoppers find personalized marketing more appealing, finding that fine line between mass emailing and personalized messaging is a must.
  • Sales and marketing misalignment: If you feel like your sales and marketing folks live on two different planets, time for some couples counseling action items. Create one automation workflow for both sales and marketing so it’s easier to pass qualified leads between the two departments. Plus, sales and marketing alignment can increase revenue, so how well our teams play well together has a very real impact on your bottom line.
  • A burnt-out marketing team: From late-night social media replies to sending urgent emails, 24/7 marketing is no joke. Marketing automation gives your marketing team a little breathing room. Instead of asking your (very expensive) internal staff to manually send hundreds of emails, rely on your marketing automation tool to save them time. Let the humans work on high-level strategic work while the automation robots handle execution.

Do any of these problems sound familiar? You’re hardly alone. 92% of businesses are doubling down on their automation efforts as a cure-all for these expensive marketing headaches.

How to build a marketing automation strategy

It’s easy to get carried away with cool tools and features when you start automating your marketing. But remember: your automations need to work for your situation. The best way to get more ROI out of your marketing automation system is to back it up with a marketing strategy.

Your strategy should touch on four areas: automation for your sales funnel, lead generation, email nurturing and retargeting. Let’s dive in:

Sales funnel

We would love it if every customer had a simple path to purchase, but that rarely happens. Very few leads will take the plunge and convert as soon as they learn about your solution. You need to use automation for your marketing funnel so you space out each customer interaction, giving leads the perfect piece of content right when they need it.

Marketing automation platforms help you create customer journey maps. These maps give you the power to create hyper-personalized sales funnels for every persona, at every stage of their journey, on every channel. Neat, right?

If you’re investing in marketing automation, make sure your strategy accounts for personalization. Start with building a more complex sales funnel in your automation platform to create personalized experiences.

Lead generation

Brands that invest in marketing automation can see a 451% increase in leads. We’re willing to bet you’d love to get 4.5X more leads, so lead capture automation is a must. Make sure that your marketing strategy touches on:

  • Lead management: Marketing automation works on a 24/7 basis to bring customer data into your system. From customized landing pages to lead forms, automation funnels interested leads into a smart CRM like Copper.
  • Lead nurturing: Don’t let leads languish in your CRM. Copper makes it easy to nurture leads with smart email sequences that warm up leads before you ask them to buy anything. By sending people the exact content they value at the right time, you’ll foster deeper customer relationships.
  • Lead scoring: Is it the right time for your sales team to reach out? Or does a lead need to see case studies before they make a decision? Marketing automation scores leads by their interests, browsing history, demographics and more to make sure your team is only following up on leads that are ready to convert.

Email nurture

Sure, one-on-one emails feel more personal, but they’re a huge time suck. Plus, automated emails earn 320% more revenue. When you need to save time and earn more with your existing marketing resources, email has to be part of your marketing automation strategy.

You can use your automation platform to segment leads and send hyper-personalized emails. Whether it’s for:

  • Abandoned carts
  • Cross-sells or upsells
  • Birthdays or anniversaries
  • New customer onboarding
  • Promoting your latest white paper

… email automation can be there for your customers 24/7. For example, Copper’s Email Sequences feature makes it a cinch to nurture relationships right in your CRM.

Retargeting marketing campaigns

Remember, the customer journey isn’t linear. People will visit your website, follow you on social media, and watch your YouTube videos without buying anything. It happens.

Retargeting is a great tool for reengaging with leads so they come back into the fold. In fact, retargeting gives you a 70% better chance of converting leads into buyers, so it’s worth a try.

The best part about retargeting is that it’s available on several platforms so you can connect with shoppers wherever they are:

  • Paid search: Serve in-the-moment ads when your leads want answers. Marketing automation makes it easy to retarget existing leads with paid search ads that bring them back to your website.
  • Display: Google is the king of paid search, but it also has a huge display presence. With display ad retargeting, you can use browser cookies to “follow” leads as they surf the web. You can even include the exact product photos from your website in these ads to turn more heads.
  • Facebook: Want more B2C leads? Facebook offers Automated Ads to easily send multiple versions of your ad to a tailored audience.
  • LinkedIn: B2B companies, on the other hand, can see a huge boost by retargeting automatically through LinkedIn for B2B marketing. For example, you can display retargeting ads to the people who downloaded your latest white paper.

3 marketing automation tools

Automation is the best way to earn more revenue in less time. The thing is, you need the right automation tools in your marketing stack to get the most bang for your buck. If you’re in a hurry, use these 3 marketing tools to power your automation strategy.

For email: Copper

Sick of switching between your different martech tools? Marry email automation with your CRM thanks to Copper’s Email Sequences feature. Set up custom logic flows and write hyper-personalized emails to simplify customer nurturing with Copper.

For social media marketing: Buffer

Social media is important, but let’s be honest: it takes a lot of time to do it right. While you’ll still need to engage with your followers daily, Buffer’s automations make this as easy as pie. Use this tool to automate content curation, schedule evergreen content and promote new blogs.

For ads: AdRoll

That’s right: you can put a lot of your advertising efforts on autopilot with AdRoll. This platform works with tons of integrations, including Marketo, email lists and more. Use AdRoll to optimize your advertising efforts across multiple platforms and significantly reduce abandoned carts in the process.

Is marketing automation right for you?

Now, marketing automation looks neat and shiny, but it isn’t a fit for every business. A small to medium-sized business (SMB) needs to carefully weigh the pros and cons of marketing automation before investing in an automation platform.

You might not need marketing automation if:

  • You frequently deal with sensitive situations: A funeral home might not want to go all-in on automation because you can risk sending insensitive content at a really bad time. You can get around this by fine-tuning your strategy and double-checking your automation logic, but some businesses don’t want to chance it.
  • You have a small lead volume: If you have a small lead volume and you’re fine with that, marketing automation might be too bulky and unnecessary.
  • You sell bespoke experiences: Businesses that specialize in luxury or super-custom experiences might not get much from marketing automation because every customer is so different.

On the flipside, if you want to:

  • Do more complex marketing campaigns with a small marketing staff.
  • Personalize every customer interaction without losing your mind.
  • Convert more leads with marketing that delights your customers.

… then you could benefit from marketing automation. It all comes down to where your business is today and your plans for the future.

Automate to go from good to great

Automation isn’t a fit for every SMB, but if you need to save time, improve customer interactions and personalize your marketing at scale, marketing automation is a helpful tool. Make sure you support your automation tools with a solid marketing automation strategy that improves both your employee and customer experiences.

Done right, marketing automation makes sales a more pleasant experience for everyone involved—and isn’t that how business should work? Kick off your adventures in automation with Copper. We’re more than a CRM: we help you nurture deeper relationships that lead to lifelong customers. See the difference for yourself with a quick Copper demo.

Try Copper free

Instant activation, no credit card required. Give Copper a try today.

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