Emerging Marketing Automation Features in 2021
How much time do you spend on marketing tasks?
According to HubSpot, marketers will use about one-third of their 40-hour workweeks on routine tasks. Gathering and combing through that marketing data you’ve aggregated takes about 3.55 hours. Creating that perfect email with an awesome open rate sucks up roughly 3.48 hours.
Other tasks are time-consuming in different ways. For example, HubSpot says that marketers will dedicate more than 3.1 hours every week to creating landing pages and about just as much time on social media posting and scheduling. List management–a very crucial task–is the least time-intensive of them all, taking about 2.5 hours every week.
If your marketing job requires you to do even more than the above tasks, it’s a wonder you have time for much else work-related at all.
Fortunately, marketing automation is here to help.
If you’re not familiar with marketing automation, or if your company is toying with automating tasks but hasn’t yet committed, then this is the post for you.
First, we’ll delve into marketing automation in full with a thorough definition and examples of available software. Then we’ll discuss five of the most emergent marketing automation features driving marketing in 2021. Yes, the year has just barely started and automation is already at the forefront.
Let’s dive right in.
What Is Marketing Automation?
Okay, so what exactly is marketing automation anyway?
When you use marketing automation software, you’re relying on technology to automate or auto-complete tasks for you. These tasks can include those discussed above, such as collecting and assessing data, scheduling posts and emails (including follow-ups), and list management.
You have a variety of tools and software you can rely on to automate your tasks in the marketing sphere. These are campaign analytics tools, data management platforms or DMPs, demand-side platforms or DSPs, customer relationship management software or CRM, and customer data platforms or CDPs. Here’s a closer look at each option.
Campaign Analytic Tools
Analytic tools that your company relies on to oversee the progress of your campaign may also feature automation. According to a 2020 article from KoMarketing, 55 percent of marketers use some form of campaign analytics and measurement tool. Up to 37 percent of them operated these tools with advanced features and functions.
Data Management Platforms (DMP)
A data management platform or DMP, as the name implies, is software for gathering and analyzing large amounts of data. KoMarketing notes that 41 percent of its surveyed marketers trust in a DMP, with 18 percent running an advanced version of the software. Up to 24 percent of marketers plan on investing in DMP software in 2021 or later.
Demand-Side Platforms (DSP)
Most marketers work in digital advertising, at least in part. With a demand-side platform or DSP, you can oversee your data exchange and ad exchange accounts in one convenient place.
Fewer marketers use DSPs per KoMarketing’s data, only 41 percent, with another 18 percent running more advanced software. DSP has become more important among marketers though, with 24 percent planning on adding the software to their routines soon.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A marketer’s best friend is CRM. Besides its automation potential, CRM can also assist with marketing tasks such as contact management, communication records, and sales funnel progress tracking.
It should come as no surprise then that a whopping 52 percent of the marketers surveyed by KoMarketing already trust in a CRM for their day-to-day operations. Another 33 had moved on to more advanced CRM.
Customer Data Platform (CDP)
The last marketing automation software is a customer data platform or CDP. This software pulls together all records on a customer, including their history of transactions, their device preferences, their engagement levels, their online shopping and browsing behavior, and their demographics.
Up to 43 percent of marketers that KoMarketing surveyed had a CDP and 11 percent an advanced CDP. Up to 20 percent of marketers planned to add this software in the year ahead.
5 Marketing Automation Software Features
Whether you prefer a CRM, CDP, or something in between, your marketing automation software should have–at the bare minimum–the following five features.
As a marketer, you know the importance of personalization.
In case you need a refresher, according to a 2018 report from Epsilon, a huge bulk of customers–80 percent–will purchase something if the company personalizes the buyer journey. Even by making product recommendations the customer cares about, you could see more customer loyalty at an astonishing rate of 90 percent, notes this 2018 Accenture report.
Personalization, while crucial, is not exactly the quickest process, as we’re sure you’re painfully aware of. You first need to segment your audience, which is not just a one-and-done process.
After all, if your company is growing as it should, then that means your list of leads is as well. As new leads enter the sales funnel to begin their customer journey, they too need segmenting.
Then, once you’re organized your leads into buckets, you need to tailor all the content they receive as if each individual audience member was being separately addressed.
That means adding their name to the subject line and the body of the email. You also need to know what each lead or customer’s pain points are so you can recommend them the appropriate product or service.
You also must time this whole process, because if you rush in too early or wait too long, you can blow it.
Fortunately, today’s marketing automation software can complete more of these tasks for you than ever before.
Segmenting your audience? Sure! Creating email templates and even inserting relevant information so each email is personalized? You betcha. Scheduling when emails go out based on the lead or customer’s browsing and shopping behavior? Yes!
From social media to website messaging, SMS campaigns, and email marketing, automation can reliably add personalization along the way.
Personalization is one of those areas of marketing that’s only going to continue to grow in the years to come. By using automation now, by the time personalization comes down to every little finite thing in a customer email, you’ll be ready.
The age of the chatbot is upon us. Back in 2018, Outgrow said that by 2021, 80 percent of companies that weren’t already utilizing chatbots would begin doing so. The year has still just begun, so time will tell if that prediction comes true, but it should.
Why? Well, because technology has changed the way that businesses run.
Before the Internet was the global sensation it is today, it used to be that you would visit a bricks and mortar store to see what they sold. If the store wasn’t open, then you had to go home.
Now stores not only have bricks and mortar buildings, but online shops as well. Some companies exclusively sell online to save money on buying or renting a building.
Oracle, in an infographic on chatbots from 2018, said even then that customer expectations were beginning to change. As many as 50 percent of surveyed customers believed that companies should be open around the clock, every day, 24/7.
When the pandemic forced millions of businesses to work or operate online, that expectation, we’d say, was even further strengthened.
You, as a living, breathing human being, cannot work 24/7. It’s just not possible.
Yet a bot can, and hence the need for chatbots is ever-growing.
Chatbots can keep up that illusion that your company is “open” 24/7, even when all your employees went home for the day or logged out. The bots can answer a customer’s question, check on their order status, update shipping information, and address concerns.
A chatbot can’t handle everything, of course, but they can bridge the gap while your staff takes some much-needed time off.
Salesforce predicted that by 2020, up to 45 percent of customers would abandon their favorite brand if it failed to meet their needs quickly enough. The age of instant gratification is upon us, and with same-day deliveries by brands like Amazon and Target, companies have no choice but to give in.
Having a chatbot provides that sense of instant gratification for customers. Sure, sometimes the customer has to call or send an email the next day because they had a complex problem the bot couldn’t solve. Those instances though will be rare.
The best thing about chatbots? They’re largely automated. Once your bot is deployed, it does most of the work.
You should check the bot’s logs every month or so to ensure the chatbot is efficiently answering customer questions and complaints, but otherwise, it’s hands-off.
Do you know what desensitization is? More than likely, yes.
Desensitization occurs when you’re exposed to something so much that it doesn’t bother you anymore. Maybe you go noseblind to your coworker’s offensive perfume or the glare from your morning drive to work doesn’t hurt your eyes quite as much.
Your customers are becoming desensitized too, and not in a good way. They’re growing desensitized to advertisements.
That’s not surprising in the least. Forbes said in a 2019 article that we see up to 10,000 ads every day. That number is only going to keep increasing.
Whether it’s billboard ads, TV commercials, Spotify ads, or website pop-ups, people grow tired of being bombarded with ads.
This is where multichannel marketing comes in.
As the name suggests, multichannel marketing is about using all the marketing avenues at your disposal. Some of these avenues are a little old school too, such as mail-order catalogs and retail storefronts.
You combine old school and new school, so you’re not abandoning email marketing or social media marketing. You’re just expanding your horizons.
Yet the more marketing avenues you use, the more time you’re dedicating per campaign. Even in 2021, we somehow only still have 24 hours in a day–and as we said before–you can’t work all 24 hours. How do you use multi-channel marketing effectively then?
You know the answer by now: through automation.
Automation software can segment your audience, as we already established, and manage your contacts as well. Using this information, you can determine who might be the most receptive to a mail catalog campaign or an SMS campaign versus a social media campaign.
Using software, especially CRM, also allows you to pull all your information together. You can see the customer’s email address, social handles, purchasing history, phone records, and other highly relevant information in one convenient place.
You can also automate many tasks related to multichannel marketing, such as personalizing content (as described above) and scheduling social media posts and emails. This frees up your time to focus more on the old school marketing techniques that are less driven by technology and thus require your careful attention.
A few years ago, we were all talking about video as the best-kept secret in marketing. Now that secret has been blown wide open, and we’re seeing its benefits more and more.
Video production company Lemonlight says that information retention among customers is better when they watch a video versus read a blog post or email. They may retain information at a rate of 95 percent. That’s almost the entire message!
Customers can also find you through video. Lemonlight cited a YouTube stat that mentions how YouTube viewers, at a rate of 70 percent, grow aware of different brands through that platform. This can translate to new customers too. According to Animoto, leads converting to customers because of social media video content occurs for most brands, 93 percent of them.
We still don’t have the tools to automate producing or editing our videos yet, but maybe that’s to come a few years from now. What we do have is automation to guide us through another time-consuming part of making videos.
Tracking the metrics.
It doesn’t matter what kind of campaign you run, be it a mail catalog campaign or an email campaign. If you don’t review your data as the campaign comes to a close, you might as well have not done the campaign at all.
You’ll have no idea what you excelled at and what you could have done better at. Analytics tell us that, including video marketing data.
Yet sludging through YouTube numbers or other pages of video metrics isn’t a quick nor easy process. If it’s then your job to convert the data into reports for the rest of the company to peruse, you’re talking even more lost hours, and many of them at that.
Accelo found that, in 2017, half of marketers still manually examined each relevant video metric. Although that stat is a few years old now, not every marketer is necessarily aware that automation can pull the most important video marketing campaign metrics for them.
Think of how many more hours you would have in your workweek without having to hunt for KPIs in pages-long reports. With automation software, you’re finally on track to reclaim that lost time.
If you’re reading this article on your phone, you’re far from alone.
Statista says that, in 2021, the world has 3.8 billion mobile users. In 2020, it was 3.5 billion, and in 2019, 3.2 billion, so growth is occurring steadily.
You already know–or you should–how all your communications must be mobile-optimized. That goes for everything from your website to your emails, which you might send in plain text if some users can see them better that way.
You can get so distracted ensuring that your website’s navigation bar loads perfectly on a smartphone that you end up doing too many manual tasks related to your mobile approach. This then ends up wasting hours every day, which adds up to dozens of hours every week, hundreds of hours every month, and thousands of hours every year.
There are so many areas of your mobile approach in which automation is highly valuable. You can create an automation workflow to send in-app messages or push notifications at just the right time. By incentivizing the customer when they’re already interested, you could earn their sale and/or conversion.
You can also rely on automation for targeting by behavioral qualifications or location, both of which allow you to use more personalized marketing tactics.
As consumers expect companies to be available around the clock, automation is the future. Through marketing automation software, you can look like Superman or Superwoman, doing 20 things at once when really, automation is taking care of about 17 of those tasks. You have more time, your customers are happy, and everyone wins!
Rohit Prasanna brings in about 15 years of digital marketing experience and has been an advisor to software start-ups in the mobile and SaaS areas. Before getting into startups, Rohit worked in various marketing, and product management roles at Unisys, Dell, and IBM. Specialties: Digital marketing, building and growing companies, marketing,...