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Rapid advancement in technology is constantly shaping the marketing landscape. Today, marketers have access to various tools that help them improve their strategies and earn more profit. They are able to target the right people at the right times through the right channels.
From sending welcome emails to new subscribers to interacting with website visitors using chatbots – automation has invaded every facet of marketing. Therefore, it is crucial for marketers to stay abreast with the recent marketing automation trends.
Before we take a look at the most important marketing automation trends, let’s understand what it actually means.
Understanding Marketing Automation
Marketing automation enables you to use certain tools or software to automate marketing tasks and workflows.
You can automate various small and repetitive tasks such as identifying qualified leads and sending follow up emails. It can also be used to provide website visitors with personalized user experiences.
One of the most common examples of marketing automation is the use of chatbots. Instead of employing dedicated personnel to answer standard queries from website visitors, you can use software for this purpose. The most important queries can be routed to customer service reps.
Another widely used form of marketing automation is sending behavior triggered emails. Let’s say a user abandons their cart after adding a product. You can use email marketing software to automatically send reminder emails to such users.
There are several other applications of marketing automation. These include delivering personalized content that caters to the preferences of a particular user. In addition, you can use it to provide round-the-clock customer service, even when your reps are not there.
The Power of Marketing Automation
The biggest advantage of marketing automation is that it frees marketers up from carrying out menial and repetitive tasks manually. This saves you a significant amount of time and effort. In addition, it allows you to focus on what you are good at – developing better marketing strategies.
It also saves you the trouble of recruiting employees for such manual tasks. As a result, you save on your marketing budget and can use it for important purposes such as content creation. It improves the overall efficiency of your marketing strategy.
Another big advantage of marketing automation is that it provides the scope for scalability. It becomes increasingly difficult to handle things manually as your business starts growing.
Automation software, on the other hand, carries out tasks with the same efficiency even when the volume of work increases.
In addition, marketing automation allows you to create a seamless customer experience. The use of chatbots that can function round-the-clock enables you to handle customer queries and grievances more effectively. This, in turn, boosts customer retention and loyalty.
Marketing automation also helps you deliver personalized product recommendations and send timely purchase reminders. This helps drive conversions and enables you to earn increased profits. Thus, automation increases the ROI of your marketing campaigns.
Most marketing automation tools are also equipped to track and measure the success of your campaigns. In today’s data-driven world, this is extremely helpful in determining which strategies yielded the desired results. Advanced tools can also help you predict the performance of your campaigns.
It is evident that marketing automation makes your campaigns more effective in terms of cost, time, and effort. In fact, 91% of marketers said that automation is extremely crucial for the success of their overall marketing strategies.
Let’s now take a look at the biggest marketing automation trends of recent times.
1. Advanced Use of AI
Artificial intelligence is no longer a far-fetched novelty. It is fast becoming reality as more and more businesses are starting to recognize its importance.
One of the most prominent marketing automation trends is the enhanced application of AI for different aspects of marketing.
According to TechRepublic, 61% of businesses implemented AI in 2017. Traditionally, AI has been used to power chatbots, analyze behavioral patterns, and automate email campaigns. It has also been used to personalize email subject lines and for sending push notifications.
Today, its applications can be seen in content creation, influencer marketing, and PPC advertising. From finding the right influencers to predicting the success of your campaigns – AI offers a plethora of new possibilities for marketers.
AI is also being used to gather insights on customer behavior and engagement. This helps you deliver personalized content at different stages of the buyer’s journey. In addition, AI also helps create a personalized website experience based on how a user interacts with your website.
Considering the fact that AI has invaded almost every aspect of marketing, its growth and rise are evident. AI should not be seen as a tool that will replace marketers. Instead, it should be used to facilitate marketers to hone their strategies and manage their time and resources better.
2. Sophisticated Chatbots
Chatbots are computer programs designed to carry out textual or auditory conversations. Many companies have implemented chatbots on their websites to improve customer experience. You can integrate them with social messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
Initially, chatbots were equipped with a fixed set of answers to handle standard user queries. However, consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical about such automated responses. Which has created a need for sophisticated chatbots that can simulate interactive human conversations.
The rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning has enabled the creation of such improved chatbots. They are capable of modifying their responses based on user behavior and other demographics.
This helps marketers create a personalized customer experience for different stages of the buyer’s journey.
For instance, when a chatbot receives a query from a first-time user, it can direct them to the FAQs page. This helps such users gain more information about your business before they make a purchase. On the other hand, a returning user can be offered a free trial or product demo.
In addition, they can also deliver personalized product recommendations based on a user’s browsing history and online behavior. This facilitates lead generation and enables marketers to drive conversions.
It is evident that the use of chatbots is no longer restricted to providing basic customer support. Many retailers have adopted AI-powered chatbots to close deals much faster by recommending the right products to the right users.
For instance, H & M, the Swedish apparel brand, uses a chatbot to provide personalized outfit recommendations to consumers.
Image via Automate
It is evident that the use of AI-powered chatbots will continue to be on the rise. Marketers who utilize this technology will be able to win more customers. This makes it one of the most crucial and useful marketing automation trends.
3. Emphasis on Omnichannel Experience
A major benefit of marketing automation is that it allows the integration of marketing channels to provide consumers with a seamless experience. This includes email, search engine, social, mobile, and content marketing. In addition, you should also provide a consistent user experience across multiple devices.
The key is to provide the right information at the right time to the right user. And to do so regardless of the channel through which they land up on your website or social media pages.
Automation enables you to identify these touchpoints and deliver relevant information. It eliminates the need for using different marketing tools for different channels.
Let’s say you want to buy a new camera. You can run a Google search to find the best camera manufacturer and visit their website. And you can take a look at the social media profiles of top camera manufacturers to find the best one.
You can also send them an email asking for product recommendations. Likewise, you can go directly to their website and use the live chat option to inquire about the latest products.
Regardless of the channel used, you expect comprehensive information that will help you finalize your purchase decision.
This is exactly what an omnichannel marketing strategy aims to deliver. However, while 87% of retailers agree that it is crucial for their business, only 8% claim to have achieved it. This has led to the demand technology that integrates marketing across multiple channels.
Take the recent takeover of Marketo by Adobe for instance. It has enabled Adobe to use Marketo’s technology and integrate different marketing strategies including email, mobile, and social. And it has facilitated the creation of more engaging and user-centric content.
As marketers become aware of the benefits of omnichannel marketing, the demand for integrated marketing tools will increase. It is one of those marketing automation trends that you should definitely look out for.
4. Predictive Lead Scoring
Not all leads will be equally willing to purchase from you at any given point in time. This makes it important to qualify leads and identify the most potent ones.
Conventionally, sales reps were required to pick qualified leads by calling them and asking certain questions.
The manual method of lead scoring is time-consuming and redundant. This time could be used by your sales reps to nurture hot leads and convert them into paying customers. This is where marketing automation can be of help by introducing predictive lead scoring.
Predictive lead scoring is the process of identifying qualified leads based on certain parameters. Each lead is assigned a specific score depending on their demographics, online behavior, personal data, etc.
This helps you determine the quality of each lead and eliminates the need for contacting them in person.
For instance, let’s say a user has been returning to your website very frequently in the past week. It is likely that they are making up their mind to make a purchase. Identifying such qualified leads and handing them over to the sales department will increase conversions.
Most marketing automation tools come with an built-in predictive lead scoring feature. Recently, many businesses have ditched manual methods and adopted predictive lead scoring. It is one of the marketing automation trends that will continue to rise in the future.
A one-size-fits-all marketing strategy is no longer sufficient to grab the attention of your target audience. A personalized approach to marketing is crucial for targeting different types of users.
In fact, 98% of marketers agree that personalization helps to improve customer relationships.
However, you can’t expect to entice consumers with personalized email subject lines anymore. The demand for personalized content and product recommendations has increased significantly.
It is crucial to monitor user behavior in real-time and create an overall experience that is tailored according to their likes and preferences.
This has introduced a new concept called hyper-personalization. It has invaded almost every aspect of marketing, from banner ads to search results. New-age data-driven AI platforms are equipped to help you achieve this.
As the demand for personalization rise, the use of marketing automation tools to analyze user interaction and behavior will also increase. The latest marketing automation trends indicate a shift towards delivering communication that consumers want to receive.
6. Prevalence of Consumer Skepticism
Despite significant developments in marketing automation, consumers will continue to be skeptical of automated responses.
If a user is looking to purchase your products, they’d want to get more information from human customer service reps. Basic chatbots that only provide scripted answers can put off prospective customers.
Likewise, automated email replies can do more harm than good. You can no longer woo subscribers just by including their name in the email subject.
Therefore, the latest marketing automation trends suggest that brands be increasingly careful when implementing such strategies.
It is becoming crucial to add a personal or human touch to all the automated processes. AI-powered data analysis helps personalize your communication with different users. However, you can’t rely on such systems solely to grow your business.
7. Increased Use of A/B Testing
While split testing has existed for a while now, many marketers are yet to get the hang of it. They often run their tests for a longer or shorter durations than required. They also make mistakes such as changing the variables too often or altering them during an ongoing test.
One of the most important marketing automation trends suggests that marketers are finally recognizing the significance of A/B testing. They are striving to uplift the quality of their tests. This is likely to improve the accuracy of data and insights derived from these tests as well.
Marketing automation trends enable modern marketers to stay up-to-date with recent developments in technology. It is crucial for marketers to be aware of the latest marketing automation tools built on cutting-edge technology.
The latest marketing automation trends point towards extensive use of AI to improve chatbots and gather accurate insights about consumers. There is also an increased emphasis on tailoring your communication and delivering a hyper-personalized experience to users.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.