Is there anything that couldn’t be made better by outsourcing it to some software program that’s way smarter than us? That’s the question that led to marketing automation: a set-it-and-forget-it approach to guiding your prospective customers through the sales funnel that’s still totally customized to their personal buyer journey. Brilliant.

How, exactly, does marketing automation work? And how soon should you start using it for your business?

Marketing Automation 101

Marketing automation is based on the premise that not everyone on your mailing list fits into the same box. It shouldn’t be an earth-shattering revelation that a person pursuing, say, body contouring surgery after drastic weight loss and a person interested in cosmetic breast augmentation have very different motivations and goals. And yet, both dumped right on the same email marketing list to receive all the exact same offers from your plastic surgery practice.

Sounds ineffectual and sorta silly when you see it written out. But come on, who’s got the time to develop separate email marketing campaigns for each subset of your mailing list?

Automated marketing platforms, that’s who!

Marketing automation can transform formerly manual processes into much more efficient tools, including lead tracking, customer segmentation, campaign management and more. In short, automated marketing lets you manage your prospects better and in less time.

Not to imply there isn’t any initial setup. There will be. But once you’ve invested a little virtual sweat equity, the system is designed to self-maintain with a minimum of fuss on your end. We don’t know about you, but we’re all on board with some up-front time if it means clear benefits like less micromanagement and bigger rewards.

Our Take on Automated Marketing

In many ways, automated marketing can be equated to inbound marketing. The old way of marketing, outbound marketing, involved blasting your message indiscriminately at whoever happened to be listening to the radio or driving past a billboard. Some ads stuck, but most didn’t.

Then came inbound marketing: the idea that your next customer is already out there looking for you, and your job is to make sure your website’s visible enough for them to find. Not surprisingly, it is a crapload easier to sell your service to someone who’s already looking for it than some Joe Schmoe off the street.

Similarly, traditional email marketing campaigns rely on either lumping all recipients into one long list or painstakingly creating a jillion separate audience segments after gobs of time-consuming research to figure out who goes into which pile. Conversely, automated marketing takes care of the heavy lifting so you can personalize campaigns better and faster, improving your email marketing efforts from head to toe.

We think it’s likely that this sort of behavioral dynamic response marketing is the future, and will only become more involved over time. Even in the earliest stages of this technology, customized automated marketing was way more effective than just treating an entire list as though they thought, felt and acted all the same way. (Shocker, right?)

If there were a “One to Watch” award for marketing strategies, our money would rest squarely on automated marketing. And yours probably should, too.

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