Marketing technology, or “martech”, is the set of technologies that make digital marketing possible. Marketing automation is a single specific type of martech, which is designed to automate a range of marketing actions.
What is MarTech?
The majority of marketing today is impossible without marketing technologies. Strictly speaking, all the disciplines involved in digital marketing involve marketing technology- everything from website analytics to business intelligence. Newer specialisms include gamification, digital asset management and online loyalty scheme management.
One element that is consistent across all the different types is the ability to handle large quantities of data, particularly relating to customers’ behaviors and preferences. The ability to manage this information in real time has been the enabler behind data-driven marketing. While data-driven marketing itself may not be a new idea, the latest developments in MarTech have taken this concept to the next level by enabling the programs to make decisions and take actions based on that data.
Examples of MarTech
The difference between older and newer marketing technologies is how intelligent and proactive the programs are able to be, in terms of data analysis and decision-making.
For example, classic email marketing platforms can send different content depending on what list a contact has been placed into. In contrast, content management tools use the customer’s demographic information, purchase history, and recorded preferences to create and deploy tailored content like web pages, emails and blogs in real time. Programmatic advertising platforms can manage the creation, placement and bidding for advertising space specific to the user in question.
Marketing automation platforms, sometimes known as MAPs, are one of the most complex forms of MarTech. They manage customer segmentation and campaign management by collecting and integrating data from a range of marketing sources up to and including electronic point of sale (EPOS) and ecommerce systems.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is sometimes misunderstood as an advanced email system. While it is great at managing complex email lists, to use automation only for email ignores a huge amount of potential. Automation can utilize multiple channels, update and execute complex campaigns in real time, and integrate multiple data streams.
Marketers strive to make their campaigns as targeted as possible, but the more detailed the segments become, the more time and work it takes to execute. As well as analyzing the data and designing the segments, there’s a considerable amount of work involved in mapping out campaign variations, downloading and uploading lists, creating a much bigger range of content, scheduling its delivery, and monitoring the response.
Marketing automation takes on a lot of this repetitive work. It’s able to integrate information from a range of sources and use it to automatically create and update segmented contact lists, deploy relevant content, and take further action based on the audience’s response.
What is marketing automation used for?
One of the most powerful uses of marketing automation is to handle lead nurturing activities.
As they move through the decision-making process, customers require different information. Their preferences for how that information is provided also changes. Managing this process for multiple leads is time-consuming, even with the help of a CRM, and there is always the risk that a customer will get lost, particularly if they stop responding.
By monitoring the actions of customers in response to different types of content, marketing automation platforms can pre-emptively provide the information they need. They can also automatically attempt to re-establish contact if the lead goes cold or pass an unusual enquiry to a sales or customer service advisor.
Post-sales, automation can help organize delivery, send follow-up surveys, prompt customers to schedule training or installation, and keep them updated about the latest developments: all the things you need to do to turn a customer into an advocate.
How MarTech and automation can help other departments
The ability of MarTech, and particularly marketing automation, to integrate multiple data sources can be hugely beneficial beyond the marketing team.
It’s common for different departments to own different sets of customer information in their own silos: for example, different marketing teams, customer service, sales and accounts. This arrangement means that no one team has the whole picture. Messages can become inconsistent and strategies can start to diverge.
Integrating the data from as many sources as possible into a “single data truth” can ensure everyone is on the same page. This also gives automation systems the greatest amount of data from which to work.
What can MarTech not do?
A common misconception is that MarTech systems are ‘set-up-and-ignore’. In reality, the technology still requires a large amount of human input to operate.
The performance of an automation system is dependent on the quality of the planning behind its setup. This means MarTech cannot overcome a bad strategy or poorly chosen tactics.
Data needs to be kept clean: bad data, such as an old or deteriorating client list, will result in poor campaign performance and a low quality of lead. Customers will quickly notice if your campaigns are recycling the same old content, so a continual supply of fresh material across all your segments, purchase stages and channels needs to be provided.
However when implemented properly, MarTech can make marketing campaigns exponentially more effective and deliver significantly increased returns on time and investment.
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