The market today is abuzz and everyone is talking about ‘Marketing Automation’. Marketing Automation seems to be the topic of interest, speculation and widespread discussion. Surprisingly and quite unlike most fads, this one has not gone away. Organizations that are building Marketing Automation Platforms or MAPs are diverse, the firms that are investing in MAPs are profiting and the companies that are leveraging MAPs are becoming more competitive. So, we can be sure that there is inherent value in the MAP proposition, all-around. And through this article we aim to explore all evidence.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is defined as the technology that is designed to emulate human behaviour. And this through incorporation of continuous feedback, analysing and deriving useful insights, reaching conclusions, being receptive and cognitive, understanding complex data, and exchanging information with people through intelligent dialogues. While ‘Robotics’ is considered to be at one end of the AI spectrum, at the other is ‘Machine Learning’. Machine Learning is the special ability of a machine to learn, decipher information from data, recognize underlying patterns, predict outcomes through generation of hypotheses and make decisions.
Marketing Automation is that arm of AI, and particularly of Machine Learning, that specializes in software meant for marketing tasks and consists of a broad range of automation and analytics tools. Marketing Automation Platforms or MAPs are technologies designed to streamline sales and marketing functions in organizations by replacing high-touch, repetitive and labour intensive processes with automated solutions. Marketers use MAPs to manage, plan, coordinate, measure, optimize and execute their marketing campaigns. So, in short –“Marketing Automation Platforms are technological platforms that automate marketing tasks”.
2. What are the Implications of MAPs for a Growing Organization?
The definition of MAP is rather limiting and does not convey the broader scope for using MAP beyond the Marketing function. It restricts the use to the most menial, tedious and labour intensive Marketing tasks. However, the reality is significantly different. Marketing Automation is a tool for enabling strategy.This ties the use of MAPs to company-wide AI strategy and corporate objectives. Let us consider how.
- With each new feature, MAPs, are poised to further blur the lines between departments, teams and siloed systems. Look at how Sales and Marketing aspects are streamlined in MAPs. How collaboration and inter-departmental coordination is central to their performance.
- Integration is another aspect. Bringing legacy systems and platforms and decentralized and unstructured data sources into the fold. Creating one customer profile, based on a unified Marketing Data-warehouse and using it to create a seamless user experience across channels.
- The third is the enterprise wide usability. Marketing is no longer just another department. It is directly responsible for the profitability of a competitive firm. And MAPs are no longer an investment towards Marketing alone. Every action at every level of the organization should be accounted and made transparent. The impacts of actions towards reduced performance should be studied and corrected. MAPs make this possible. Sophisticated Analytics engines decipher corrective courses in real-time.
- MAPs are bringing new meaning to the term ‘Customer Centricity’. We are in an age where all actions in the marketplace are dictated by the empowered customer. The power of the internet – with Social Media where the customer can review, discuss and promote or discard your products or services, with Mobile technologies where every channel is accessible at all times and at their fingertips, and with Online Marketplaces where they demand and discover your products or service from a plethora of globally available choices – is now present with the customers. MAPs make it possible to dramatically reduce inefficiencies, lower costs and streamline processes, just so that your customers are presented with the best picture.
3. The Promise of Marketing Automation
Organizations may shy away from using Marketing Automation over data security concerns, since most services are cloud based. The suggestion we would make in this regard is to only integrate relevant data, that is not sensitive in nature and that identifies a pattern rather than an individual. High upfront investment costs could be a deterrent as well. In this regard, we hope, that a savvy marketer will take a more long-term view of the opportunities and ROI potential for Marketing Automation.
MAPs offer marketers with a myriad of opportunities.
- Opportunities that arise when software is ‘cognitive’ and ‘thinks’ for itself, completing tasks unsupervised.
- Opportunities that are on offer as MAPs become more and more reliable, inexpensive and diverse. This gives marketers the opportunity to invest their time in more intelligent tasks and broaden their skill sets.
- Opportunities of reduced costs, streamlined processes and an enhanced collaborative environment.
Marketing Automation can reduce the average sales cycle by influencing the customer behaviour, altogether eliminate the error-prone manual tasks, deliver a meaningful customer experience and emphasize better decisions across channels.
Marketing Automation, both, as a strategy and as an opportunity spells win-win for everyone involved!
HubSpot, Inc. (n.d.). What is Marketing Automation? Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-automation-information
Marketing Automation. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing_automation
Marketo, Inc. (n.d.). What Is Marketing Automation? Retrieved March 16, 2017, from https://www.marketo.com/marketing-automation/