If you had to pick one word that’s consistently associated with marketing automation, “optimization” would be a fitting choice. After all, the leading marketing automation platforms help marketers optimize their time by skillfully handling workloads that would otherwise require much larger teams.
Also, marketing automation platforms optimize potential client reach, allowing you to resonate with both new and existing customers in ways that maximize outcomes without wasting resources.
Marketing Automation Reaching the Mainstream
Marketing automation platforms aren’t new, but many analysts think 2018 could be the year the technology becomes particularly popular. According to 2017 data from Salesforce’s State of Marketing Report, 67 percent of marketers currently use a marketing automation platform and 21 percent plan to within the next two years.
Let’s take a look at some of the likely trends in the marketing automation sector and how they’re poised to change the industry for the better.
Streamlined Social Media Outreach
A 2015 MarketingSherpa study found 92 percent of 35-44-year-olds follow brands on social media. That amount of potential impact means it’s more important than ever for companies to be consistent on social media. Marketing automation can help them do that.
A purposeful platform makes it easy to meet customer expectations by scheduling posts at times when people are most likely to be using the platforms and ready to respond favorably to the feedback. That means content gets read instead of overlooked
Also, news travels quickly on social media. If consumers ask for help on various feeds but don’t get prompt responses, they could advise their entire networks not to do business with a company that showed a customer service shortcoming. Luckily, marketing automation platforms facilitate seeing people’s immediate interactions with social media pages, allowing marketers to intervene when necessary.
Today’s marketing automation platforms that focus on social media capabilities help marketers determine the best ways to reach out to audiences. Then, they provide the tools needed to excel at the task.
Facilitating More Efficient Processes
Many marketing automation platforms feature analytics suites that allow professionals to see what’s working well and what isn’t. The knowledge needed to make that determination is something familiar to organizations that are applying for ISO 9001 certifications. Those distinctions relate to quality management systems and are recognized all over the world.
The current version of the ISO 9001 standard references something called a process approach, which involves the efforts made to define and manage processes to maintain high-quality output and keep an organization progressing according to its strategic plan. In its own way, marketing automation depends on a process approach too.
Even though the goals marketers hope to achieve differ across companies and industries, most of the outstanding professionals continually put processes in place, then manage them with marketing automation systems.
After you invest in a marketing automation system, it could become evident that some of the techniques that were working well at one point are no longer meeting minimum standards. In that case, an automated platform helps make meaningful tweaks for better results.
Marketing Automation as a Trust Builder
Another way you can expect to see marketing automation becoming more prominent in 2018 is for fostering trust among consumers. Something as seemingly simple as an e-newsletter sent out on a regular basis without fail could help customers realize a company is worth supporting.
Once marketers start targeting audience preferences, they can set up their automation tools to dispense relevant content to the individuals who want it most. Such a practice might capitalize on different stages of the purchase process and discourage people from abandoning their online shopping carts before going through the checkout process, for example.
On the consumer end though, people feel like your company has put forth the effort required to understand what they truly want and need. As a result, they’ll conclude your business fits their lifestyles and is credible.
You can emphasize the credibility aspect by sending out material that showcases your company’s authoritative stance in its industry too. Infographics, links to e-books and news briefs about awards won are just a few of the many types of content you could feature on a landing page or in a newsletter that gets distributed via marketing automation.
Assisting Customers Outside of Business Hours
Just like a marketing automation platform could send out scheduled newsletters and social media tweets, it can also help with real-time communications if a marketing automation option includes chatbots.
Statistics indicate that 70 percent of people will open a marketing message sent through Facebook Messenger compared to a 25 percent open rate for emails. That’s why it’s such a good idea to consider chatbots as part of your marketing automation plans.
Unlike human customer service representatives, chatbots never need breaks. They’re always ready to respond even if your company’s building is empty because it’s after business hours.
Also, developers can program chatbots to respond to the most common queries customers have. This function gets your audience the answers they need so they can get back to their daily activities, rather than having to wait until your establishment opens.
Although some of the trends covered here were also present during other years, there is growing evidence they’ll gain substantial momentum in 2018. Regardless of your marketing goals and the nature of your business, making the most of your time is a priority. Automation tools help you do that, maximizing your resources and gathering insights that help you reach more educated decisions than you had in the past.
Bio: Nathan is a writer, blogger and techie living in Pittsburgh. He loves staying up to date on all things business tech. You ca find more from Nathan at his blog, Finding an Outlet, or by following him on Twitter @nathansykestech.