What is Marketing Automation and How is it Changing?
As anyone with access to Google will know, Marketing Automation is the use of software technology by marketing departments to simultaneously communicate with potential, current and former customers on multiple channels such as websites, social media and email newsletters.
Having one central function controlling all platforms ensures a consistent brand message and negates the need for individuals to undertake repetitive tasks. These might include sending secondary emails depending on an individual’s response to a primary email, or reposting social updates at times when interaction is highest.
Good examples of Marketing Automation software are Hubspot, Campaign Monitor, Hootsuite, Constant Contact, SEM Rush, Marketo, Pardot and iContact – although there are literally hundreds if not thousands of others.
A Brief History of Marketing Automation
I recently read a great article by Jon Miller, co-founder of one of the companies above: Marketo. In it, he talks about the advent of Marketing Automation, and how it’s now changing again.
From my own experience at MarketingMoves, prior to circa 2000 Marketing was often seen as a minor department. Activities included branding mugs and pens, ordering umbrellas and booking parties. In short, it was the last to get built and the first to get let go when times got bad.
From circa 2000 – 2010, Marketing started learning how to use generic tools like Mailchimp, Hootsuite and WordPress to start mass-marketing. This embracing of new internet-based marketing technology delivered brilliant results. Suddenly, people who were once looked down on by Sales had the ability to become demigods who could deliver multiple leads instantaneously. They could email multiple people at once! We could know who’d opened it! Marketing knew who’d clicked which links! Sales could know at what time! Both of us knew where they were!
Victim of its Own Success
So successful was this that it started to get too much. Suddenly, Marketing was in danger of spamming its audience, sending too many campaigns, to too many people. Ironically, this was driven and pressured by a lust from Sales, for sales.
Enter Marketing Automation. From circa 2010, Marketing Automation took on the heavy workload, but also acted smarter. A bit like a story book from when you were little, where certain actions took you to different pages, suddenly people received different communications depending on their behaviour. And marketing was back on top, where it should be (I always think as marketing as the RAF, Sales as soldiers! Who knows what the Navy is!).
And so it has been ever since. Until now. Several things have happened which are beginning to reduce Marketing’s influence, such as GDPR, Outlook automation tools (ie putting marketing automation in the hands of Sales (!)), the increase in post-sales revenue (aka account management) and the shifts towards SaaS.
There’s too much in Jon’s article to cover in this article but the crux is that Marketing Automation is shifting, and we need to either adapt or die.
In turn, it’s of paramount importance that marketers ensure their skill set is kept up to date as this is what companies will be looking for when hiring. If they don’t, chances are they might become extinct too.
What do you think – do you think Marketing Automation is here to stay, is it evolving or will it die?
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