Marketing automation tools make it simple for marketers to enhance the customer experience (CX), enabling them to do things like send out personalized welcome emails or quickly handle problems involving abandoned carts.

But marketing automation technology provides efficiencies in other areas that make a marketer’s life easier and improve CX.

Prioritize Marketing and Sales Efforts

When setting up a marketing automation system, the sales and marketing teams should discuss and agree on what distinguishes a hot, sales-ready lead from a cold lead, said Kerry Nelson, senior director of field marketing at Infor, a New York-based enterprise software company. 

“The sales team can also help marketing identify the best behaviors to score a lead and give advice about the timing of the campaign in terms of when to send certain pieces of content,” she added. “As sales helps marketing, the sales team will be able to see the results in a more robust flow of leads, and this alignment is a win-win for both departments.”

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Data Collection and Analysis

Kristin Hambelton, CMO at Marketing Evolution, a maker of marketing optimization software, argued that one of the most important uses of marketing automation software is for the collection of data. 

“I can think of dozens of uses in addition to abandoned carts and welcome emails, but no matter what the use case, the data resulting from campaigns is one of the most valuable levers for success — or failure — that marketers have to work with,” she said, pointing out that marketers must capitalize on the information they collect in order to identify both opportunities and problems.

“Using marketing automation, specifically unified measurement and optimization, enables marketers to shift their measurement and optimization lens from siloed to holistic. In doing so, marketers can most accurately assess what’s working versus what’s not, but more importantly, act on those insights in a meaningful way,” Hambelton added. “Only through unified marketing measurement and optimization can marketers maximize their campaign performance, sales and engagement [in a way] that delivers the brand impact and return on investment.”

Masterson noted that adopting automated data analysis processes can be an enormous time-saver that will free up employees so they can focus on more important things that aren’t “mind-numbingly monotonous.”

Onboarding Customers

Marketing automation tools can also be helpful for onboarding users. This is especially true for sofware-as-a-service companies, because automated systems allow them to send the right messages to the right users at the right time, said Josh Brown, customer success engineer at Helpjuice, a provider of cloud-based knowledge management systems. 

“You can create various workflows that are based on where a user is in the onboarding journey and then trigger emails to be sent in response to an action a user has taken — or lack of one,” he explained. “For example, if you offer a free trial, you might create workflows for active users, partially active users, and inactive users, with each of the workflows having a unique sequence for helping with the onboarding process.”

Learning Opportunities

Active users would be people who dive right in and start using a product immediately. But just because they are using it doesn’t mean they are getting the full benefits, Brown explained. So the onboarding automation might focus on the particular feature someone is utilizing and send resources to help that user get the most out of that feature, with the goal of inspiring the user to take the next step with the product.

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Moving Customers Through the Sales Funnel

Kristien Matelski, a digital marketing specialist at Vizion Interactive, said the Irving, Texas-based digital marketing agency uses marketing automation tools to move customers through the sales funnel.

“The most valuable marketing automations to us have been our sales funnels that usher the user in from the top of the funnel — the research stage — down to the bottom of the funnel — the purchase stage,” said Matelski.

Vizion has set up its marketing automation with four emails in its average sales funnel, and Matelski said the firm has found that those automated emails work best “spread out over a month or two.” However, she noted that other businesses may find a different number to be more effective.

“The key is not overselling yourself too hard in the first email or two, but instead answering the questions consumers have in the research stage, perhaps by offering a free guide with the answers to their questions, and then introducing yourself and slowly working toward that sales pitch at the end,” Matelski explained. “The best part about sales funnels, and marketing automation in general, is that they may take more work in the beginning to get set up, but once they’re created, they run by themselves and can be very effective.”

Immediate Responses to New Contacts

“One of the best applications for marketing automation is to respond to a prospective client immediately when it comes to large batches of sales leads generated from trade shows and other events,” said Peter Gillett, managing director of Zuant, maker of lead capture platform built for iOS. “Without it, you end up with long delays before talking to interested individuals again, which makes you appear slow and inefficient and creates entirely the wrong impression — especially at the start of a new relationship.”

Gillett explained that Zuant uses marketing automation, both for itself and its customers, to offer quick responses via email — literally as someone leaves a trade show booth, for example — and then uses a digital platform to organize leads into segments so the data can then flow straight into a company’s marketing automation platform.