What’s Marketing Automation and Why Should I Care?

A term you may have heard is “marketing automation”. You may not know exactly what that means, though.

Marketing automation is focused on providing your leads and prospects customized information based on their behavior and interactions with your website and company. And it means doing it automatically.

Most of us are familiar with standard list management system features. You put an opt-in form on a web page, the person subscribes to a list, you usually give them a gift for joining, and then you send them your newsletter (if you have one) and sales messages trying to convince them to buy whatever you’re selling. You can also set up automated autoresponder messages that go out to your list on a fixed schedule based on when they joined it.

You can have multiple lists and, depending on your list management system, you might be able to send messages to multiple lists, send to a list minus the people on another list, or unsubscribe someone from one list when they are subscribed to another. All these features are baby steps on the road to true marketing automation.

True marketing automation adjusts the messages going to people based on not only what list they’re on, but what they’ve bought, which pages on your site they’ve visited, what features in your software they’ve used, and what topics they’ve indicated they’re interested in. It allows you to send a personalized stream of messages to each person in your system that will appeal to their interests and lead to more sales. Instead of promoting all products and services to all prospects at the same time, you can only promote those items a particular prospect is most likely to buy at the time they’re most likely to buy it.

Can you see how powerful this is?

How about this scenario? Four hours after a subscriber visited your sales page but didn’t buy, you send an email to her with a discount code she can use to buy the product. That might turn no sale into a sale. Cool!

Many of the highest earning marketers online are using list management systems to do things exactly like this – and that’s what helps them to be the highest earning marketers online.

Marketing Automation Systems

The best known marketing automation system is Infusionsoft. It includes not just email marketing automation, but also Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which is useful if you do a lot of one on one selling and want to track that process with prospects. You can read their perspective on marketing automation here:

http://www.infusionsoft.com/features/automated-marketing

The pros for using Infusionsoft are that it’s well-known and widely used. They provide lots of personal training. You will be able to find assistants to help you that are familiar with it.

There are two primary downsides to using Infusionsoft. The price is pretty hefty. You’ll pay $300/month minimum if you want to sell anything on your site, and there’s a $2,000 fee up front for training – although sometimes you can find discounts to bring that down to $1,000-$1,500. Unless your income is quite healthy and you have a list big enough to make the cost of automating it worthwhile – that is, you can expect to make enough additional sales through automation than the system costs – it’s a pretty big bite.

The other challenge with Infusionsoft is that it’s not the easiest system to use. It has lots of features and they’re not always named and organized in ways that make it easy to accomplish what you wish. Having used many list management systems, I find this one the hardest to navigate.

Other systems similar to Infusionsoft in both features and cost include:

  • Ontraport starts at $300/month and is used a bunch as well.
  • Marketo starts at $900/month. I’m not familiar with this system.
  • Pardot starts at $1,000/month and is owned by Salesforce.com.

A relative newcomer to this market is Drip. In its own words, “Drip is lightweight marketing automation that doesn’t suck.” Drip doesn’t include a CRM, so it’s not best for companies using sales forces that want to track prospects through their sales process.

But it does have the ability to trigger an action based on any action a user takes, be it expressing interest in particular topic, downloading a sample chapter of your book, starting a trial of your software, or viewing your upgrade page but not upgrading.

The difference between Drip and other marketing automation platforms is that their mission is to make it easy and cost effective to get started, and to provide the email tools, guidance, content blueprints, and metrics you need.

Drip has a 21 day free trial and then it’s $49/month. I haven’t played with it yet, but I’m intrigued and impressed with what I’ve seen on their site, so I probably will.

They also have a terrific article, Why Marketing Automation Is the Future of Email Marketing, that explains marketing automation and why you might want one solution over another. If you’re at all interested in marketing automation, I highly recommend this article.

So, have I piqued your interest? Maybe you should look into getting more sales from your list with marketing automation.