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There is an old adage: “Work smarter, not harder.” This, in a nutshell, is at the heart of marketing automation.

What it is

As explained by HubSpot, marketing automation is software that prioritizes and executes your marketing for you, freeing you up for other tasks. Rather than you taking your valuable time and money marketing to those who may not be interested in your services or products, marketing automation nurtures your leads with highly targeted and specific messages throughout the buying process. It allows you to follow up with your leads based on their behavior, rather than on a hunch.

Other benefits of marketing automation, HubSpot notes, include:

• Avoiding the failed marketing strategy of broadcasting spammy, general messages that likely won’t be seen or read.
• Keeps your current customers in the loop, rather than focusing solely on attracting new customers, nurturing those relationships with customer-only, informative content.
• Streamlines the process so that you can quickly see which content is being accessed and utilized by which leads.
• Can be integrated across all of your marketing channels, including email, social media, landing pages, lead generation activities, management, and more.

How to make marketing automation effective

HubSpot reports that companies who effectively use marketing automation to nurture their leads through the buying process see a 451 percent increase in qualified leads. However, it also reports that companies who invest in marketing automation frequently fail to fully implement it and, subsequently, don’t see enough benefits from it to consider it worth the money and effort. So, how can you maximize the benefits you can see from marketing automation? HubSpot offers a few tips:

• Rather than simply automating your current process, revisit your goals. Know precisely what you’re trying to achieve from your marketing efforts and don’t use marketing automation to execute strategies that don’t help you to reach your goals.
• Be sure before implementing marketing automation that you have a sufficient amount of traffic from which to attract leads. When building up your traffic, avoid buying mailing lists as those consist of people who have not expressed any interest in what you’re doing and leads to spam.
• Marketing automation is not something you simply set up and forget about. It does require care. Plan to take the time to fully implement your marketing automation strategy so that you can save time in the future. Implementation requires setup, training, integration, campaign planning, the development of content, and the ongoing management of the system.

To sum it all up

Marketing automation can be well worth the time and effort it takes to implement, leading to a vast increase in qualified leads for your company, HubSpot points out. In order to make it work for you, however, you must first be willing to do the background work it requires. Indeed, the foundation of a successful marketing automation process is good marketing. With a reported decay rate of 23 percent per year for lead databases, good marketing is about consistently generating new leads. It’s about being nurturing and interactive with your customers. It’s about being open to utilizing and automating not just your email strategy, but all of your marketing channels in order to expand your leads instead of limiting them. It uses behavioral inputs from all of those channels to give you a fuller picture of where your potential customer is in the buying process and, therefore, how you can best lead them to the finish line.