Exploring the Marketing Technology Landscape – Part 3

Autopilot and Marketing Automation

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series, we asserted the importance of simplifying all that customer data into an integrated system. We also asserted the importance of visualizing it in a user-specific way where we can see all the relevant info on each user in one place, in real time. Besides the obvious implication of a need for simplicity, this also says something about how much time we want to spend on things.

As technology makes our lives move faster, each second becomes more valuable. As people realize they don’t have the time to manage everything at once, they want to put more things on autopilot. We see it playing out very acutely through the increase in marketing automation technology.

Inbound marketing is one of the most time-intensive parts of the marketer’s job. Finding a steady source of promising leads, figuring out how to target those leads, finding the right messages to send and finding the right information to include in those communications are all matters of trial-and-error. This can be a slow process, which isn’t helping the time-poor marketer of today.

New leads visiting the site could automatically receive welcome communications. Triggers on each page could send leads information about different products or services depending where they spend time on the site. This behavior could be analyzed to understand the buyer journey for different buyer personas and persona-specific communications could nurture these leads along the buying cycle. All of this can be automated; it just takes a little work up front.

Consider the analogy of autopilot on an aircraft. Autopilot is only used mid-journey; take-off and landing are still done with the pilot’s full attention. In the middle of the flight, that intense focus is unnecessary because the work is not as hands-on. Autopilot controls the routine parts of the flight while the pilot just has to oversee the autopilot.

Marketing automation is similar. It allows some inbound marketing processes to be put on ‘autopilot’ at one point or another, freeing up time to focus on the ones that can’t (although, the marketing activities that can’t be automated is continuing to shrink).

Finding a good source of leads to feed into the sales funnel is a crucial first step and can’t be automated. And while analysis of the data can be as simple as opening up a dashboard, it’s the human manipulation of the data that actually provides the insight. So it doesn’t automate everything, but like autopilot on an aircraft, it takes the arduous work out of the middle part of the journey.

The question is really about how much you can invest to set up these automated processes. There is no arguing that marketing automation can have a huge ROI, but it can require a significant investment up-front. But if you consider the routine marketing tasks that don’t need attention day-to-day, any level of automation stands to save time and money. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so the question is: how much of your inbound marketing can you automate, and when?

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