2016 Google trends data showed an all-time high in searches for “marketing automation”, reflecting a sustained interest in the term and the concept. Focused more on nurturing rather than selling, marketing automation is centered on content that is relevant, personalized, and in line with what customers want.
Marketing automation makes use of various web-based services and software to carry out, manage, as well as automate a host of marketing processes and tasks. It allows firms to replace repetitive and manual tasks such as social media, emails, and a number of website actions in order to save time and money as well as improve overall performance. It helps companies prioritize marketing tasks in a manner that is more efficient and streamlined. The ultimate goal, like most automation tools, is to generate significant revenue for companies. This can be done by attracting more traffic to their websites, converting traffic into leads, and eventually turning those leads into customers.
Marketing automation software is used by both small and medium enterprises as well as large companies. While early adopters of this technology were primarily restricted to B2B industries such as software, manufacturing, and business services, in time, a host of B2C industries have also adopted the technology to attract and retain customers. These include sectors such as media and entertainment, financial services, retail, and healthcare. A booming online presence across the globe also bodes well for the growth of this technology, with a number of participants in the B2B e-commerce and B2C e-commerce industries looking for more efficient and accessible solutions. The marketing automation software market is projected to cross US$7 billion by 2025, based on findings by Grand View Research.
Global marketing automation market, by application, 2015 (%)
Source: Grand View Research
Companies are adopting the software to follow a more engagement-oriented approach to building and retaining customer relationships. Prominent features may include landing pages and forms, email marketing, campaign management, prediction and scoring, engagement marketing, customer lifecycle management, social marketing capabilities, CRM integration, mobile marketing capabilities, and marketing analytics.
Rising Adoption by Small to Mid-sized Companies
Choosing the right marketing automation tools is key to making the most of the numerous benefits they offer. Forbes identifies two market leaders in the enterprise marketing automation arena: Marketo and Eloqua. These heavyweights have gone head to head in the industry, the former catering more to mid-sized businesses and the latter being a popular choice for large enterprises. Areas such as pricing, ease of use, integrations, features, and support are often taken into consideration to identify which of these solutions is best suited for users.
Key players looking to cater to smaller businesses as well as mid-market companies include HubSpot, Act-On, Pardot, Infusionsoft, and Salesfusion. This space is more crowded than the enterprise tier, especially with new entrants lining up with their offerings each month. Factors such as user experience, user interface, content abilities, data, and price are key when it comes to choosing the right automation software for small to mid-sized firms.
Global marketing automation software market, by enterprise size, 2014 - 2025 (USD Million)
Source: Grand View Research
Role of Big Data and Analytics in Marketing Automation
If there is one place where big data truly shines it is in sales and marketing; in fact, it has emerged as an integral ingredient in digital marketing. Big data and marketing automation have both been established for a while now and although earlier the former was considered to be merely a way of enhancing the latter, today, they are becoming inextricably linked. Together, they create an effective way of gathering, sorting, and gaining insight from massive volumes of data about campaigns, customers, services, and products.
Predictive analytics is how giants such as Amazon have mastered the art of predicting what you want and when you want it. Just how Amazon collects information through one’s past purchases, customer ratings, wish lists, and similar purchases to predict shopping patterns, companies can use their treasure trove of data captured in their support systems, internal sales, and marketing systems to make predictions and deliver gains.
Considering a large number of companies are still using marketing automation software merely as a glorified email marketing strategy, the scope for growth is enormous. Its benefits go way beyond just collecting information and automating actions. Its ability to leverage unfathomable amounts of data to garner true insights for competitive advantage can be unlocked if enterprises can learn to recognize its potential and widespread impact.