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Marketing Automation is a hot topic right now. It’s being heralded as the future of marketing. The link between sales & marketing and the tool to deliver personalised journeys at scale…

But what is Marketing Automation? How does it work?

I work with our Marketing Automation tool – “Sonar” – on a daily basis and I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to explain what marketing automation is. There’s a lot of ways to describe the outputs of marketing automation, but I want to explain how it actually works. Once you understand how it works, you can really start to appreciate what it can do.

To fully understand Marketing Automation we need to define it and marketing is too broad. This blog will focus on the smart bit, automation. Automation is a broad term, but it defines the core of every Marketing Automation system.

The ability to automate actions based on triggers

Automation means being able to automate an action in response to a trigger. Simply put: If this happens, then do that.

This can be expanded so you can start to understand how this might work in the context of a website.

  • If a user does this, then do that.
  • Then if a user fills in a form, send a thank you e-mail.
  • When a user visits a product, add them to the “interested in product” list.
  • If a user is on the “interested in product” list, then personalise the homepage with that product.

And so on.

Marketing Automation comes together when you start to build a web of these triggers and actions. You can map out entire user journeys and ensure that every touch point is covered, and all usable data is captured.

The complexity and effectiveness develop even further when you introduce filters which work as an extra layer on top of the “if this, then that” scenario.

If this and this, then that.

E.g. if a user visits the homepage, and they’re a returning visitor, then personalise the content.

Any number of filters can be added to an action to create extremely specific automations.

Marketing Automation systems use workflows to handle the data to control the vast number of triggers and actions that are created when building a campaign. Workflows allow for multiple actions to be strung together and include “gated triggers”. These are triggers that can only be activated if all previous actions in the workflow have been completed.

Now you have an understanding of how Marketing Automation tools can automate actions, the next thing to understand is how these actions target individuals.

People not visitors

The biggest benefit Marketing Automation platforms have over personalisation tools, is the ability to target individuals, not visitors.

When a user firsts visits a website with Sonar system they’re given a cookie, a small piece of information stored on their browser that will collect information as they browse. In Sonar, and all marketing automation systems, the information collected is then passed back to a CRM and collected as you browse. Pages visited, downloads, time on site, forms, data etc. All this is collected and added to your profile. (Ed note: Sonar comes with a built in CRM but can be integrated with 100s of other applications).

However… how do we know who your customers are? There’s three proven methods:

  1. Your customer identifies themselves in a form
  2. They visit the website from an e-mail sent through the system
  3. We use reverse IP lookup

Reverse IP lookup is one of the fun little benefits that some Marketing Automation systems have. If you have an anonymous visitor on your site then Sonar might still able to deduce information about them which will help you identify their business needs. The system will use their IP address along with third party services to build a complete picture of the prospect.

Once identified all the information that’s been gathered about them is aggregated into a single entry, what Sonar calls “Life of Lead”. The Life of Lead is essentially a time line of all the events that you (the lead) have done since you first visited the website.

This gives a holistic view of the complete user journey. Allowing you to understand at glance, where a lead is in their buying journey and what steps they’ve taken to get there.

Points mean prizes!

Which leads us onto one of the most valuable elements of any Marketing Automation system. Lead scoring.
Depending on what system is being used this is known by different names but essentially it equates to a lead’s intent to buy.

Points are added or subtracted based on actions made and then assigned to individual leads. Actions can be weighted with more points depending on their significance. For example, viewing a single page may be worth a point. Downloading a brochure could be worth 10 points.

Teamed with the life of lead, you know exactly how far an individual is along the buying cycle based on their score. Then using a workflow that’s triggered by a lead score, you can automate actions with the goal of increasing their score.

Just scratching the surface

This covers the basics of Marketing Automation, well done if you made it this far. But Marketing Automation is capable of so much more. They can integrate into third party systems.  They can allow you to track and automate based through platforms like social, webinars, forms, adwords, direct mail… the list goes on.

Need a hand?

Not every business has the skills and know-how in implementing a successful marketing automation strategy. Talk to us, and it’s done for you. We even have our own marketing automation platform, Sonar. For more details, contact us today. Fill out our contact form below to get started.

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