What is Marketing Automation – A Complete Guide

You may have heard of marketing automation. But do you know how to maximise its potential within your business?

This article will lay down everything you need to know about marketing automation and will help you leverage it to your advantage.

What is marketing automation?

Simply put, marketing automation refers to various tools and technologies that are designed to make marketing more effective on multiple channels. Particularly, automating repetitive tasks.

Various factors contribute to more effective marketing other than improved efficiency. These factors include scheduling, tracking outcomes, customer segmentation, customer data integration and more.

Marketing is the lifeblood of any organisation. Without marketing, there are no customers. And, without customers, there is no business. The marketing process is closely associated with sales. The sales process is marketing in its most embryonic form.

But as a company grows, it becomes impossible to maintain close and personal relationships with customers and prospects. A business can hire additional staff, but, eventually, it will require marketing automation to avoid wasting money on repetitive tasks. These tasks include emailing new customers or sharing a new product launch across multiple channels.

What marketing automation isn’t

Many marketers confuse email marketing with marketing automation. However, it is important to recognise that email marketing is merely a component of marketing automation.

Marketing automation can help your business combine all of the different customer acquisition channels and incorporate them seamlessly into your conversion funnel.

Let us explain…

Customers may find your company through an online search or via a sponsored post. They may decide to start following your Facebook page or subscribe to your newsletter. There are various paths to conversion, all of them unique. Attempting to keep tabs on all of them is an exercise in futility.

Here are just some of the ways marketing automation can help:

  • Automation connects multiple touchpoints, including social media channels and email marketing. It helps nurture prospects long-term.
  • There is a misconception that marketing automation is cold or impersonal. However, this is a myth and here’s why. Automation enables you to send personalised and more targeted messages. With customer data collection and customer segregation functionality, you can craft laser-focused campaigns. Segmented campaigns allow you to speak more directly and more relevantly to your target market.
  • Eliminate spam. Another misconception persists that says automation is spammy. No way. Automation is arguably the most user-friendly form of marketing. That’s because each message or campaign is tailored for a truly personalised experience.

Types of marketing automation software

There is a variety of different software available in the marketing automation space. Each platform is uniquely designed to serve different requirements best.

It is vital to conduct proper research on all of the available options before you decide which is best for your business. Options include GetResponse, MailChimp, Infusionsoft, HubSpot, Act-On, Marketo and more.

Most marketing automation software allows a free trial. Take advantage of this.

As there is no one size fits all, it is difficult for us to recommend one over the other. All of these brands are great in their own right.

More than just software

Understandably, you may consider marketing automation to be all about software. After all, it seems all of the thought leaders driving his space are the software companies.

And that is great; there are some great companies involved in this arena. However, we recognise that marketing automation differentiates itself from automation software, even with software being a core component.

What we see is a lot of people claiming to be experts in marketing automation. But, in reality, they are experts in utilising automation software.

Marketing automation’s essence begins with specific strategies and tactics. And, it starts by distinguishing the differences between strategy and tactics.

Strategies refer to the creative yet structured side of marketing. It is the framework that takes into consideration the big picture.

Tactics involve the execution of specific marketing actions that directly influence particular marketing goals. For example, whether or not to use action verbs in your email subject line or whether to include pricing in promotions.

To be successful with marketing automation, you will need the right balance and a combination of strategies and tactics.

To succeed in marketing automation, you need a healthy mix of strategy and tactics.

How does marketing automation relate to inbound marketing?

Marketing automation and inbound marketing are terms almost used interchangeably. The two go hand-in-hand. But what exactly is inbound marketing? And, what is the relation to marketing automation?

Inbound marketing is the broad term for a technique for drawing customers to products or services via various marketing channels and branding.

The term was coined by HubSpot back in 2006. HubSpot says of inbound marketing,

“the most effective marketing method for doing business online”.

It flies in the face of traditional outbound marketing, which involves paid ads, and other forms of direct response marketing. Inbound marketing – on the other hand – is the art of attracting prospects to your products and services via quality content. It is marketing more naturally and less aggressively.

As per HubSpot“Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t want, inbound marketing forms connections they’re looking for and solves problems they already have”.

The mechanics of inbound marketing

  • Attract by creating content: generate targeted, high-quality content that speaks directly to customers’ needs. The higher the quality, the better. If it entertains and delights, it is more likely to be engaged with and shared.
  • Engage by nurturing prospects: Engaging strategies should take into account most customers will not be ready to buy when discovering a business. They are simply looking for a solution. Ensure communication fosters long-term relationships, rather than an aggressive buy now call to action.
  • Delight by supporting customers and prospects: long after a prospect joins your email list or a customer makes a purchase, you should have strategies in place that ensure they are happy and supported.

Businesses need to ensure that they are maintaining customer relationships long-term. Customer acquisition is just the first piece of the puzzle.

Marketing automation can help streamline the mechanics of inbound marketing. Analytics will be crucial to formulate strategic planning and implement marketing strategy. Your marketing automation and analytics software need to work seamlessly. Ensuring your message is delivered to the right demographic at the most opportunistic time.

Marketing 101

The most important thing to remember in marketing is that consumers are driven by emotions and are only concerned with what is in it for them.

Businesses shouldn’t be trying to convince prospects about how awesome they are. Instead, they should focus on how their product or service can benefit the customer.

Marketing and marketing automation should always be driven by value.

People get caught up with analytics and split testing when it comes to marketing automation. What they should be focused on is understanding the customer’s needs. Stop using pushy tactics and replace them with tactics that pull the audience in with a considered, empathetic message.

Incentives have long proven successful, and they don’t need to be monetary. They can free guides or consultations. These tactics can be highly effective at moving prospects through your conversion funnel.

Feedback Loops

Marketing automation is centred around feedback loops. That is, processes using customer feedback to create better communication.

Businesses must be steadfast in monitoring feedback loops. Consumers are hyper-sensitive to aggressive salesmanship. And, as such, you need to be vigilant to remain a trusted source of information for your customers and prospects and be careful not to step over the line.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I emailing users too much? Metrics to guide you: Unsubscribe rates, abuse reports.
  2. Is my content interesting?Metrics to guide you: Click-through rates (CTR) to your website, email open rates.
  3. Are users engaging with my content?Metrics to guide you: Response rate to emails, actions taken on your website.
  4. Who are my most and least engaged segments?Metrics to guide you: Response rates and engagement rates of each segment.

Marketing automation or sales?

Marketing automation is a solution to communicate with customers and prospects at scale effectively. It can feel like you’re doing more in regards to creating long-term value for your business rather than selling.

There needs to be a delicate balance between the two.

So, it’s ok to sell in the marketing automation process?

Yes! The is one of the most divisive pain points about marketing automation.

The marketing industry is divided on this topic. One side of the spectrum are the marketers who are always striving to make the sale, and their tactics can sometimes be deemed borderline pushy. And, on the other side, are content creator types who are reluctant to ever ask for the sale.

You need a blend of both. You need to offer value to the point it would be a disservice to your customers and prospects not to sell them.

But, it is far from a black and white situation. Different instances will call on different tactics. Sometimes you will want to sell aggressively, while at other times, you just want to deliver high-quality content that builds rapport and fosters a long-term relationship.


Marketing automation can help not only communication to your target audience at scale, but, it can provide valuable insight to help with advertising campaigns.

An effective marketing automation program can have a profound effect on your business, delivering positive results which can clearly prove its value.

 Talk to our friendly team today about implementing marketing automation in your business.