When it comes to marketing automation, we mainly talk about certain marketing automation systems like Activecampaign, Hubspot or Marketo. However, all systems that automate individual marketing processes, such as Hootsuite (social media posting), Smartly (FB paid advertising), Zapier (integrations), and Ahrefs (search engine tracking) could also be included.
Regardless of the limitation, however, there is talk of automating repetitive marketing processes so that human work is not repeatedly needed. Although automation is often referred to as a way to remove certain tasks from humans, the introduction of marketing automation rarely reduces the amount of work involved. However, this is because marketing automation is being introduced in a situation where there is not even a processes to automate. The term has just been heard and decided that we too need marketing automation.
Marketing automation systems
Perhaps the most well-known marketing automation system is Hubspot, which has been sweeping the market in recent years. Hubspot’s rise has also given rise to a huge variety of marketing automation systems like ActiveCampaign, Marketo, Pardot (SalesForce), Klaviyo, Mailchimp, SharpSpring, Drip, Infusionsoft, Oracle Eloqua and so on.
Often, when it comes to marketing automation systems, the marketing automation system is actually synonymous with the email marketing system because the primary purpose of the systems is often in email marketing. Many systems like Hubspot, of course, have features such as advertising, SEO tools, cms, content personalization and so on. However, the reality, especially for small and medium sized businesses, is that many of these features are not very relevant.
Personally, I prefer marketing automation systems as follows:
- Activecampaign – Preferred for all but the online stores (also used by Trustmary).
- Mailchimp – Preferred for smaller online stores
- Klaviyo – For the Bigger Online Stores (though no recent experience)
Things to consider in marketing automation
The automation for small volumes is almost as useless as having no automation at all. If your company has 100 leads, does it make sense to build a multi-step, great email automation when you can call each leader in a fraction of the time it takes to build the automation? …
Small volumes also make it very difficult for you to make any data-based decisions, because with a sample of 100 people, you can forget statistical significance.
2. There are no processes to automate
The marketing processes for most companies are at a level where there is nothing to automate at all. This mainly stems from the fact that marketing does not have the resources to produce content in sufficient volume to require processes.
Marketing automation systems are largely ways to automate content distribution, and sometimes you seem to forget about the whole conversation that content does not just appear magically.
3. The systems are not free
The idea behind automating human work seems to be that it brings savings. However, the systems themselves are not free. Take Hubspot’s cheapest package with marketing automation tools, for example: Professional – Starts at $ 740 per month. And this package does not yet include the ability to create automations based on “custom events” on websites. This feature would then require an Enterprise Plan starting at € 2,944 per month … Okay, cheaper options like ActiveCampaign can be found and Hubspot also offers reasonable discounts.
In any case, systems pay the same way as human labor and often human labor is still cheaper, although taxation favors automation.
Using marketing automation systems requires expertise, which again requires money. And while the industry is moving forward, finding the right talent is often a challenge. Often, the implementation of marketing automation requires the involvement of an external consultant or partner agency.
Summarizing things to consider in marketing automation
The cost-effectiveness of marketing automation is not self-evident. I recommend that you open up different scenarios and how much sales the investment in marketing automation really needs to bring in order to be profitable. Based on that calculation, you can then ask a company that has already implemented similar system before, how much sales growth have they achieved with marketing automation and how accurately it can be proven to be due to marketing automation.
(Consultants and agencies may not be worth asking if you want objective information. Impartial testimonials will drive your buying process in a different way.)
When to consider implementing a marketing automation system
As a rule of thumb, you might want to start with content marketing first, and then start looking at what processes automation could help to bring marketing to the next level.
When it comes to content marketing, it’s important to keep in mind:
- Content production and its resources
- Content Distribution
- How to drive potential customers from content to sales (funnel)
First, content production needs to be fine-tuned so that relevant content is constantly coming. At Trustmary we publish, for example, 1-2 blogs in Finnish, 1-2 in English and 1 in Swedish every week.
After that, you have to think about how content distribution works, that is, how people find that content. Social media, Search Engine Optimization, Email Marketing and so on.
After that, we’ll think about how to get those readers to purchase.
Of course, this process can also go the other way, as content readers are wasted if you cant convert them to sales. But it is difficult to make decisions based on data before that data is available.
When these 3 things are in order, or even at some level, then it becomes clear what the marketing process is and how much benefit a marketing automation system could have.
If your company is still strugling with content marketing, I recommend that you completely forget about marketing automation systems. Automation does not save marketing if the right things are not done in marketing.
In summary of marketing automation
Marketing automation is a trendy term that has gained a major foothold in marketing circles. However, it is not a good idea to get involved with every stroke, even if there is potential. And I’m not saying that marketing automation would be completely silly, but common sense says that some of the discussion around the topic is quite silly.
On the other hand, marketing processes will certainly be increasingly automated in the coming years. What matters, however, is not what others do, but what your business might want to do, and from my point of view, enterprise content marketing is largely on a level that the discussion of marketing automation is relevant to only a fraction of businesses.