What, in a nutshell is Marketing Automation?
To understand the same, we take a trip down memory lane and link it to the present.
Not very long ago, when wood was in abundance, we used it in the kitchen for cooking. With drastic deforestation and availability of other resources, we converted to gas ie LPG and then on to microwave/ induction cooking. One thing which remains the same across this transition is the need for a cooking medium. With the advent of technology and concurrent depletion of resources as also need for ease, heating medium moved from wood to gas to microwave.
Something similar is happening in the field of marketing. A while back, it was fliers, news paper and banner advertisements. Then along came TV commercials and infotainment. With communication increasingly going online over the net, it was only a matter of time before advertisements followed suit. Under the overarching reach of CRM, Marketing Automation is a small subset. Its main objective is still the same as any other marketing efforts ie., to get more leads which can be converted to business going forward with one essential difference. Context. Communication can be changed according to context and specialized material can be fed to parties depending upon their circumstances like personality traits, area of specialization, time of the campaign etc.
Marketing automation the way we see it started with sending e-mails, keeping track of and gauging their responses. With time, this activity has now encompasses a lot more which seems to increase with each passing day. This diversity is not a conscious doing. Given the kind of competition being faced, both parties, the service provider and the client do not want to leave any stone unturned which ends up making the product quite complicated. Though it sounds humongous, MA is of fairly recent origin with maximum focus on it being in the last 1-2 years. As a matter of fact, close to 90% of MA buyers are first-timers! Being the latest buzz word, a lot of expectation is riding on this product(s) with competitors galore who come in all shapes and sizes. That being the situation, without precedents, taking a decision may turn out to be a rather tricky affair.
As discussed earlier, the earliest avatar of Marketing Automation were the Email service providers (ESPs), who specialized in sending large numbers of standardized e-mails with hardly any variation per recepient. Over time everyone got onto the bandwagon and there was hardly any differentiation. Recepients typically got bored and most termed such communication as SPAM. Some ESPs did try to evolve onto the next stage but were hamstrung as their database was attuned more to send mails of similar kinds than to differentiate and send specialized communication which could engage a possible lead.
To rectify these shortcomings, most seller organizations invested in CRMs. Customer Relationship Management tools are packages which borrow from various departments like an ERP and create readymade marketing data. These were data-heavy in that these stored vast amounts of information about the clients and their working. Most CRM are the exclusive preserve of its owners and are ideally meant to store information.
In the absence of any front-ending, websites and landing pages were created which in addition to picking out information about the clients could give the latter precise solution(s) they expected. In the B2B domain, MA assists in lead generation and its nurturing and then turns it over to the sales and marketing department for further processing. B2C seems a variation to this activity in that the MA package handholds a prospective customer through the entire process from lead to finally closing the deal and taking care of future business.
MA is here to stay and we are here to providing you information about various aspects of the same.
Do keep an eye on this space and you shall come to know a lot about MA in days to come.