Rev It Up: Going From Email Marketing to Marketing Automation

Email marketing has been around for decades. And despite all the tools now at marketers’ fingertips, email marketing remains the most effective way to reach their audience. In fact, according to the “Adobe Email Survey 2016,” which surveyed more than 1,000 white-collar Americans, time spent with email is up 17% year over year.

However, today’s customers are demanding more personalized and valuable messages as they work their way through the marketing funnel. That’s where marketing automation comes into play.

As I talked about in a recent iContact post, “marketing automation can help schedule a comprehensive campaign, move prospects through the marketing funnel, use data to send customers the information they want, and make the appropriate adjustments to your campaign in real time.” The result? An increase in both leads and conversions.

But how do you know when it’s time to rev it up to the next level and embrace marketing automation?

Two Different Missions

First and foremost, let’s briefly outline the differences between email marketing and marketing automation; there’s often a misconception that they are one and the same.

Email marketing is simply communication via email. Organizations use email to send direct commercial messages such as advertisements, upcoming promotions, business requests, or sales or donation solicitations to their audience, in order to strengthen that relationship.

Marketing automation, on the other hand, is software that is used to automate repetitive marketing tasks that include everything from sending and responding to email, to updating social channels, and to testing, measuring, and optimizing marketing ROI and the impact on revenue. In short, marketing automation streamlines, automates, and measures tasks and workflows so you can get more done in less time, as well as boost leads and conversions.

Think of it like this. Email marketing is like a reliable and trusted family car that gets you to your destination; marketing automation is the spaceship that will help you reach the stars.

Knowing When it’s Time for Marketing Automation

Now that you know the difference between email marketing and marketing automation, how do you know when it’s time to rev up the engines and shoot for the stars? Here are 10 signs that you are ready to go:

10th Sign that you need marketing automation

Your website is not generating leads. Marketing automation allows you to build a convincing landing page in conjunction with an automated lead nurturing campaign.

9th Sign You Need Marketing AutomationYou’ve outgrown your current email marketing solution. Your specific needs and challenges are no longer being met by your existing email marketing solution. It may lack alerts and notifications, website analytics integrations, prioritization of leads, multi-channel tracking, and integration with social media and webinars.

8th Sign You Need Marketing AutomationYou do not have a CRM tool. A customer relationship management tool can be used to store the contact information of your customers and prospects, accounts, leads, and sales opportunities in one convenient location.

7th Sign You Need Marketing AutomationLeads are not converting at high rates. Do you have low lead-to-customer conversion rates? That’s another telltale sign that you need marketing automation, because marketing automation can help you engage your audience and build long-term relationships.

6th Sign You Need Marketing AutomationYou have a long and complex sales cycle. Some customers require multiple touches over an extended period of time. For example, automation can be used to welcome new subscribers and then send them a bi-weekly newsletter instead of doing this manually.

5th Sign You Need Marketing AutomationYou have too many leads. This isn’t the worst problem you could have, but if you can no longer respond to all of your leads as they arrive, then it’s time to automate this process so you can still communicate with them as they move through your sales funnel.

4th Sign You Need Marketing AutomationYour marketing efforts are no longer effective. Without marketing automation, it’s challenging to gather data that’s needed to determine whether your marketing efforts are effective or not. A marketing automation platform gives you the chance to make data-driven decisions regarding your marketing strategy.

3rd Sign You Need Marketing AutomationCross-channel consistency is lacking. Consistency is essential in marketing. That means you need to be sending your audience the same message in the same voice across the board. Marketing automation can assist in this area, because it allows you to schedule email, social media, and blog messages in advance and then use one to promote the other.

2nd Sign You Need Marketing AutomationYour messages aren’t personalized. The most effective emails are those that are personalized by demographic, location, shopping behavior, and stage in your sales funnel. Marketing automation allows you to easily segment leads and target them on a more personalized basis.

1st Sign You Need Marketing AutomationYour sales and marketing departments aren’t on the same page. Marketers have struggled with aligning their sales and marketing departments in the past, and a marketing automation platform can remove this friction within the buyer’s journey. For example, the information obtained through sign-up forms can help your sales team make more informed pitches. Also, lead scoring can help make sure the marketing and sales teams have the same goals defined for prospecting.

Assessing Your Marketing Automation Mission Readiness

Still not sure you are ready to start using marketing automation? Here are several questions you can ask yourself:

  • Are you generating leads through your website and social media?
  • Do you have the resources, such as the budget and a capable team, to successfully run a marketing automation platform?
  • Are you tired of the poor quality of leads coming in?
  • Do you have a documented lead nurturing process?
  • Do you have metrics in place to know exactly how many leads come in and how many turn into sales?
  • Have you identified your buyer’s journey?
  • Are your blog posts converting to email sign-ups?
  • Do you have quality content that you can share with your leads during different stages of their buyer journey?
  • Are you having difficulty keeping up with emails from prospects who have various needs and/or are at different stages in the sales process?

If you’ve answered yes to most of those questions, all systems are go for marketing automation.

You can also use the marketing automation checklist in our blog post, to help guide your selection of the best marketing automation platform for your organization.

Ensuring a Successful Liftoff

Think and write down the goals you want to accomplish with marketing automation. It will be your roadmap both for improving the customer experience, as well as your overall marketing strategy.

Don’t make it a mission to Mars, if you think a trip to the Moon is what you are ready for! If you’re new to marketing automation, there’s no need to go all-in from day one. Take your time so you can get the most out of the platform. Start with your top marketing priority and go from there.

Remember: trying marketing automation is a no-fail mission. If you’re uncertain, you can always try the platform before you buy it to make sure it works for your organization. Begin by registering for a free 30-day trial of iContact Pro. Before you know it, you’ll be shooting for the stars.

This article originally appeared on iContact and has been republished with permission.