What are the benefits of using automation in marketing?

There are several compelling reasons why marketers like — actually, make that love — marketing automation:

  • 80% of marketers credit marketing automation for a 451% increase in generating qualified leads, and 77% higher conversion rates.
  • 58% of marketers use marketing automation workflows upselling and cross-selling.
  • 72% of customers say they will only pay attention to personalized marketing messages that fit their specific interests and objectives.

What is marketing automation used for?

Marketing automation can automate time-consuming, repetitive tasks, and enhance and elevate every phase of the end-to-end marketing lifecycle, including:

  • Lead generation
  • Lead nurturing
  • Lead scoring
  • Cross-selling
  • Upselling
  • Syncing omnichannel customer experiences
  • Customer retention

What are some of the best real-world examples of marketing automation?

1. Welcome emails
Automated welcome emails achieve two pivotal objectives:

First, they provide prospective new customers with relevant information, such as confirming a newsletter subscription. Secondly, they make a positive impression that can foster customer loyalty and long-term relationships.

It is important for brands to send automated welcome emails immediately, while the interaction and relationship are new, fresh, and top-of-mind. What’s more, brands should anticipate a receptive audience: research has found that, on average, welcome emails have a 50% open rate, which is 86% higher than typical email newsletters. Furthermore, some brands choose to send a series of automated welcome emails, rather than just one.

2. New customer onboarding
Surprisingly, 60% of brands admit that their customer onboarding function is unsatisfactory and under-performing. Fortunately, this is an area where marketing automation can make a significant positive difference between new customer engagement and ex-customer estrangement.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for email marketing automation, many brands craft their automated customer onboarding content marketing strategy across three core areas:

  • Welcoming new customers, assuring them that they have made a smart choice and pointing them to resources to help them take their shortest path to value. These resources can include how-to guides, “explainer” videos, FAQs, quick-start manuals, compliance and safety details, and so on.
  • Providing new customers with more focused and comprehensive training. The goal here is to educate customers, while at the same time enhancing and evolving the customer relationship.
  • Providing new customers with ongoing emails featuring relevant content that helps them optimize usage on a day-to-day or regular basis.

3. Social proof
Social proof — i.e., the opinions, experiences, advice, endorsements, and in some cases dire warnings of peers — has emerged as a dominant factor that largely determines whether many customers move forward along the customer journey, or head for the exit and never look back. Consider that 97% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase, and 49% of customers trust online recommendations from strangers as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.

Through marketing automation, brands can push recent and relevant reviews and other types of social proof — such as highly influential user-generated content (UGC) — to different customer segments based on variables such as purchase history, location, and website behavior (e.g., downloading a brochure, watching a video, etc.).

Indeed, the right type of social proof delivered at the optimal time could make the pivotal difference between nudging an existing customer forward and into a transaction or permanently losing a customer’s interest and attention.

4. Requesting customer feedback
We just finished highlighting that brands that feature and promote customer reviews generate more competitive advantage and sales — and the more reviews there are to showcase, the greater the impact.

However, less clear and standardized is when brands should tap customers for feedback. It turns out that the “right” time is after customers have had an opportunity to meaningfully use and evaluate a new product or service. For more familiar consumer items (think laptop bags or cosmetics), this could be a day or two after receiving a purchase. For more complex items (think a SaaS solution or smart home automation), it could be a month, or even several months.

What’s more, brands can use marketing automation to scan various websites for new reviews, in order to respond to them promptly and professionally.

5. Special event outreach
Wishing customers of your email list a “happy birthday” is not just good manners — it is also smart business! A research study found that compared to other promotional emails, birthday emails had a 481% higher transaction rate and a 179% higher unique click rate, resulting in 342% higher revenue.

Birthday emails do not necessarily need to have a transactional element or purchase incentive (e.g. “As our gift to you on your birthday, you can save 20% on your next purchase!”). For customers, “personalization” is not only about money — it is also about emotion. As stated in McKinsey’s Next in Personalization report: “When asked to define personalization, customers associate it with positive experiences of being made to feel special. They respond positively when brands demonstrate their investment in the relationship, not just the transaction.”

6. Cross-selling and up-selling
Marketing automation software can take cross-selling (promoting complimentary products or services) and up-selling (promoting similar but more expensive products or services) to the next level — which is good for customer experience, and even better for the bottom line. Research has found that up to 15% of a brand’s most loyal customers account for 55%-70% of total sales.

To craft and target cross-selling and up-selling messages for your target audience through vehicles such as series of emails, pop-up notifications, and hero banners, brands can leverage customer data such as:

  • Purchase history for known customers who have logged into their account
  • Website interactions (e.g., pages visited) and activity (e.g., videos watched) for unknown visitors

7. Transaction-related messages and updates
It is important for brands to follow up and proactively keep customers informed about where they are on the journey before, during, and after the sale.

Marketing automation can fill this information gap and provide customers with relevant, updated transactional messaging and updates across various touchpoints, such as order confirmations, shipping timelines, etc. While this content is essentially administrative rather than promotional, it nevertheless helps customers know and feel that they are important and valued — which can certainly promote additional sales and referrals in the future. Roughly 60% of customers say they will happily become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience that makes them feel like a unique human being vs. a generic number.

8. Topical and subject-matter-specific content
Just as epic rock groups have a collection of “greatest hits,” successful brands have an inventory of evergreen content that performs well above average across key metrics such as views, social shares, click-through, comments, impact on the sales cycle, etc.

To improve their marketing efforts, brands can use marketing automation to identify and distribute the best-performing topical and subject-matter-specific content to different customer segments to foster engagement and drive momentum along the customer journey. This content could include blog posts, “thought leadership” articles, social media posts, gated content, webinars, infographics, videos, landing pages, and more.

9. Abandoned cart emails
Shopping cart abandonment results in a staggering $18 billion USD a year in lost sales. These days, cart abandonment rates hover around 70%, but can be much higher in sectors like travel, fashion, and automotive.

Brands can use marketing automation tools to capture and apply everything they know about a customer in order to increase the likelihood they will follow through with a purchase during that visit, or return and complete their purchase.

For example:

  • A customer adds a pair of shoes to their cart and is instantly presented with reviews from other delighted customers who made the same purchase.
  • A customer adds a pair of shoes to their cart and is instantly presented with a 10% discount offer if they complete their purchase within the next 30 minutes.
  • A customer adds a pair of shoes to their cart instantly receives an offer to add a pair of socks and enjoy a 10% discount.

10. Customer re-engagement
Customers drift off the roster for a variety of reasons. Brands can use their marketing automation platform to launch win-back email marketing campaigns that aim to re-engage and re-energize former customers and bring them back into the fold.

Such campaigns can be personalized for different customer segments (e.g., buying history, past interactions, how recently they left, location, etc.), and potentially include discounts and incentives to re-ignite the relationship.

The final word

Marketers embrace and endorse marketing automation strategies as an ally that helps them deliver unforgettable customer personalization at scale — and turn a growing number of new leads and potential customers into loyal, long-term fans. By automating repetitive marketing tasks, (when done right and driven by the right technology infrastructure), the impact of marketing automation is not just impressive, it is truly inspiring!

Learn more about how Sitecore can help you automate and streamline your marketing processes here.