While marketing automation sounds fantastic, it is something that not every business might need. Before investing in this new technology, first ask yourself, “Does my business really need it, or can we do without?” This article addresses that question.
The concept of automation in business is an interesting one, as it has numerous applications and polarises opinion as a result. In manufacturing and similar fields, for example, it is largely considered to be an evolutionary process that is gradually making jobs and older technologies obsolete, while also driving mass-production ahead of quality and bespoke craftsmanship.
While this black and white perspective is not entirely accurate, it is fair to say that automation is better-received in others forms and disciplines. Marketing automation is now an established and extremely effective commercial tool, and one which theoretically enables businesses to manage their time efficiently while driving even the most complex of campaigns.
While there may be considerable benefits of marketing automation in the age of big data, however, this does not mean that this particular, software-driven technology is suitable for your business. So before you invest heavily in the adaptation and integration of automated software, you will need to give careful consideration to the following factors:
In theory, marketing automation can be successfully utilized by both SMEs and large corporations. Despite this, it is more naturally suited to the latter, as it enables bigger brands to seamlessly draw insight from huge swathes of data and connect with large customer segments in a personalized manner.
Although marketing automation does allow small businesses to optimise their time management and even minimal human resources, these benefits need to be measured alongside the total cost of procuring and installing software. While there are numerous marketing automation technologies available in the modern age, many of these have different pricing models while licensing is also a key consideration.
These need to be factored in alongside your budget and needs, while it is worth evaluating the scope of your existing consumer base. If you are at a start-up stage and serve only a small selection of customers, for example, you may be better served by retaining your capital and reconsidering this investment at a later stage of your development.
Even if you own or manage a large company, you will still need to consider the potential pitfalls of marketing automation. There is a risk of over-communicating with your customers through automation, for example, especially when managing simultaneous or complex campaigns across several demographics.
While some of this risk may be negated by the fact that modern marketing automation packages tend to be driven by emails that are triggered by actual browsing or purchasing behaviour, bombarding customers may be detrimental depending on specific factors. If the nature of your business is cyclical or driven by high-end purchases, for examples, customers may not appreciate aggressive communication. Similarly, it can be hard to update or regulate automated pathways as consumer habits change, leading to stale or irrelevant copy being reproduced on a regular basis.
The fact that such pathways are hard to establish in the first instance is also a cause for concern, so ensure that you have the expertise and the required knowledge of your customer segments to make an informed decision about automation.
On a final note, it is imperative that you have a clear understanding of your priorities when creating and publishing content. This will offer you an insight into the validity of automation as a marketing aid, while also providing some clarity regarding best practice.
In simple terms, marketing automation helps you to maintain consistency (both in terms of the pattern and nature of your publications). By automating posts to social media profiles according to a precise and predetermined timeline, for example, you can maintain a constantly updated online presence across an integrated platform. Conversely, scheduling tweets and content too far in advance and without flexibility can also prove counter-productive for your brand, as poor timing can alienate consumers, damage your reputation and cause controversy in equal measure.
An overly proactive approach to automation and scheduling content can also undermine the relevance of your posts, causing mistrust among consumers and potentially impacting negatively on your search engine performance.
Ultimately, the key is to determine your content priorities prior to investing in market automation. So even if you decide that this is viable for your business, you can dictate the way in which this technology is utilized and the extent to which it drives your brand.