Marketing automation sounds like something you’d hear in some Transformers-style, futuristic robot movie. If that’s what you’re thinking, we’re about to burst your bubble—because the future is now. Marketing automation is already being used by businesses small and large to engage with prospects and earn more business.

We’re not going to tell you it’s a complicated process, but it does take some mind mapping. Fortunately, there’s all kinds of help available to make sure your marketing automation efforts work effectively to your advantage. It’s like choosing to work with Bumblebee instead of Megatron—taking a little help from the robots is great but allowing them to rule the roost isn’t a good idea.

This week, we’re going to cover three important ways marketing automation software is beneficial and three ways to activate both internal and external teams to help you achieve those goals.

How Marketing Automation Helps Businesses Thrive

Tracking prospect engagement and activity

Any good marketing automation program is going to track the movement of your audience across the channels you’re using to reach them. That’s actually crucial to the base definition of marketing automation: marketing automation is technology that manages marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns across multiple channels automatically.

So, instead of your marketing teams sending out emails, waiting for replies, crafting replies and worrying about every little touchpoint they’re creating with a prospect, email marketing automation uses a strategic plan to take on the heavy lifting. It gives you and your team the ability to use the real-time results of a campaign and make adjustments that will impact the user experience and increase conversions.

With marketing automation, you’ll know immediately when someone opens the email you sent them, if they click the provided links, how long they stay on your landing pages and all kinds of awesome nuggets of information that will help you in your future efforts.

Qualifying leads

When you’ve got a huge list of potential customers, it can be daunting to try and suss out who’s in need of your services now, who will be ready in the near future and who may never be ready to work with you. Marketing automation tools make it easy to figure out who your ideal buyers are. It does so by baking “lead scoring” or “lead grading” modules directly into your campaign which gives prospects a “score” based on their engagement with your materials.

Think of this example: You’ve started your automated marketing campaign. Two individuals on the list get your first email. The first person opens the email. The second person opens the email, visits your landing page, travels to other pages on your site from the initial landing page and downloads a helpful document you’ve offered them. Which person would you assume is more likely to be in need of your services now?

Nurturing relationships

One of the oldest tropes is actually one of the truest when it comes to marketing your services: The more you reach out, the more likely you are to make a sale. While statistics vary, experts say it takes an average of anywhere from 6–18 calls before a prospect is ready to purchase an item or service.

Marketing automation emails allow you to introduce new touchpoints with potential customers. Simplifying that communication gives your sales professionals more time to do the boots-on-the-ground work—calling, setting meetings and getting face-to-face time with potential customers.

Using Internal and External Teams to Boost Marketing Automation Efforts

Use your internal teams

When you’re crafting an automated campaign, it doesn’t help to throw spaghetti at the wall to see what works. What helps is empowering your internal teams (especially your sales team) about what they’re hearing from prospective customers regarding your services.

The people who make the most contact with your audience have the best insight regarding what they want and what’s most important to them. Keep your marketing and sales teams in the loop when you’re considering implementing automated marketing campaigns because they’re the folks who can direct your early planning stages in a customer-centric way.

Understand the limitations

Marketing automation software is not a substitute for a living, breathing marketing professional. Just like a hammer can’t build a house without human intervention, marketing automation systems don’t work unless you work them.

While it’s great you’re willing to use technology to your advantage, people won’t respond to a campaign without the human touch. People respond best to people, so use your best people to talk to people, people!

Ask for support

If you’re new to marketing automation, the process can seem daunting. There’s a lot of planning that goes into everything that cascades from your first email. What happens if someone opens an email but doesn’t go to your website? What happens when someone doesn’t open the initial email at all? What happens when a prospect opens your first and second email but still hasn’t clicked any of the links you provided?

These are all questions for which marketing automation professionals will have a plan of action. It’s better to ask for help from a professional than to spam your potential customers with a campaign that hasn’t taken into account all the potential paths it could take. In fact, giving your audience too many emails that don’t provide information they find helpful can alienate your audience and lower your engagement. Using a professional team to help you strategize and set up your campaign will ensure your audience is more likely to view your efforts as helpful rather than spammy or annoying.

Whether you need help with just a part of the process or you’re overwhelmed by the whole thing, Firespring has the experts you need to start your first automated marketing campaign. Contact us when you’re ready to talk shop—we promise we’re way more Bumblebee than Megatron.