Maximizing ROI with Marketing Automation:

Insights and Best Practices

Between 2021 and 2023, this industry grew by ~22% to nearly $6B. That number is expected to more than double ($13.7B+) by 2030 (Statista).

This industry with those mind-boggling numbers? Marketing automation, of course.

The standard, “generic” definition of marketing automation is as follows:

Marketing automation uses software platforms and technologies designed to effectively market on multiple online channels (email, social media, websites, etc.) while automating repetitive tasks.

Leveraging marketing automation tools means organizations can more efficiently target customers based on set criteria and customer actions. The net result? More efficient lead nurturing, rapid scaling of marketing efforts, a more personalized customer experience, and — ideally — more revenue.

This article will discuss the benefits of marketing automation; detail the individuals, teams, and organizations most likely to use it; outline best practices; and share the impacts marketing automation has on customers.

One thing to note before we continue: while Demandbase accepts the above definition of marketing automation, we consider it a bit more broadly.

Specifically, we view marketing automation in the broader context of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Account-Based Experience (ABX). We’ve seen the strategic shift from traditional marketing automation towards a more account-centric approach.

This evolution from “driving leads” to a more integrated approach — one that aligns marketing and sales efforts around target accounts throughout the entire customer lifecycle (awareness >> purchase >> retention >> expansion)) is the big pivot.

We define ABX as ​”a go-to-market strategy that uses data and insights to orchestrate relevant, trusted marketing and sales actions throughout the B2B customer journey. We consider it a customer-centric approach to ABM, focused on delivering the right message at the right stage in the customer’s journey.”

Now that we are on the same page, let’s discuss why everyone loves marketing automation.

What are the main benefits of marketing automation?

How much time do you have? Kidding, but not really.

Why is marketing automation so talked about? Well, according to a recent report, “(91%) of respondents report that demand for automation from business teams has increased over the last two years.”

Ascend2’s The State of Marketing Automation, 2021 uncovered some compelling data, as echoed in this Oracle article, specifically around the main reasons marketers are using marketing automation:

    • Streamline marketing and sales efforts (35%)
    • Improve customer engagement (34%)
    • Improve customer experience (34%)
    • Minimize manual tasks (30%)
    • Increase number of leads (28%)

These benefits are just the tip of the marketing automation benefits iceberg. Let’s examine the above reasons (and more) in more detail.

Indeed, this list is far from all-inclusive, but it hits the main reasons.

Increased efficiency and productivity

Marketing automation centralizes workflows, eliminates manual processes, and enables more to be accomplished with less #DoMoreWithLess.

Automating repetitive tasks — email marketing, social media posts, ad campaigns, lead nurturing, and so on — frees teams to focus more on strategic initiatives.

Improved lead nurturing … and conversions

Sophisticated lead scoring and nurturing capabilities make identifying and qualifying prospects easier. Businesses can quickly (and automatically!) prioritize and tailor outreach, increasing conversion rates.

Customized workflows deliver targeted, timely content to leads to move them through the funnel — trigger email, text messages, and other outreach activated when a lead takes a specific action, such as downloading an asset or visiting a particular landing page.
The net result: highly contextual, one-to-one messages in near real-time.

Enhanced cross-channel coordination

Disjointed campaigns across channels frustrate and confuse customers. Marketing automation, through features like progressive profiling, has the potential to help coordinate omnichannel experiences.

More personalized and targeted content

We touched on this above, but it’s worth repeating: Marketing automation leverages data to segment contacts and create customized content. Dynamic content and behavioral messaging match the right message to the right person at the right time.

Marketing automation enables businesses to segment their audience and tailor messages based on user behavior, preferences, and demographics. This level of personalization can improve engagement rates and customer experiences.

Better analytics and insights

Robust analytics provide visibility into the entire customer journey. Teams can see what’s working across channels to optimize campaigns and experiences.

Increased capacity to scale

A growing business must be able to scale its sales and marketing efforts accordingly. Automation allows companies to manage and maintain consistent interactions with a growing customer base without a proportional increase in marketing staff. Again, #DoMoreWithLess.

More data-driven insights

Marketing automation tools provide analytics and reporting features that offer insights into campaign performance, customer behavior, and ROI. These insights inform future sales and marketing strategies and inititatives.

Money savings

While automation tools require an upfront investment, they usually save time (and money) while increasing ROI.

More consistency

Ensuring a consistent brand message and experience across various channels can be challenging. Automation helps maintain this consistency, reinforcing brand recognition and trust.

Again, the above list is far from exhaustive but highlights the main benefits.

Speaking of benefits, there are specific channels and platforms that can leverage marketing automation.

Which platforms and channels benefit the most from marketing automation?

Marketing automation can be integrated into nearly every digital channel and platform you can think of. Here are those that most commonly leverage marketing automation:

Email Marketing

Email (marketing) is not dead. It’s still one of the most powerful channels — made even more effective through marketing automation. According to HubSpot, “the most effective strategies for email marketing campaigns are subscriber segmentation (78%), message personalization (72%), and email automation campaigns (71%).”

How do email marketing and marketing automation play together?

  • Automated Campaigns: Create automated email workflow series for prospects and customers. Think: welcome sequences, lead nurturing tracks, promotional campaigns, and more.
  • Triggered Messages: Send targeted, one-time emails when a specific event occurs — such as downloading an asset, visiting a website, submitting a form, etc.
  • Personalization: Leverage dynamic content, segmentation, and personalized subject lines to create more relevant emails.

Social Media Marketing

Easily automate repetitive social media marketing tasks. Spend less time on manual tasks and more time crafting compelling content and engagement strategies. Bonus: Automation also means more consistent posting and coordination across various social accounts.

How do social media marketing and marketing automation play together?

    • Automate posting: Schedule social media posts and campaigns across multiple accounts and platforms.
    • Aggregate mentions: Monitor brand (and competitor) mentions and conversations in one stream.
    • Track engagement: Track key engagement metrics — likes, comments, shares, clicks, etc.
    • Create pre-built workflows: Automate multi-step processes for following up on conversations.
    • Set up analytics dashboards: Gain insights into performance by platform, post, and campaign type.

CRM and sales integration

A key benefit of marketing automation is the ability to integrate with your company’s CRM and sales tools — creating a seamless flow of information (and a single source of truth).

How do CRM and sales integration tools and marketing automation play together?

    • Shared databases: Marketing and sales teams can access the same centralized database of contacts, leads, and accounts (again, a single source of truth)!
    • Alerts and notifications: Sales reps can receive real-time alerts (or even automate those alerts to a tool like Slack) when their prospect takes an action — downloads key content, visits a specific landing page, and so on.
    • Marketing and sales alignment: Integration allows both teams to align around shared goals, insights, and metrics to “bridge the gap.”

Analytics and Reporting

Marketing analytics and reporting are vital in successful marketing automation implementation. With the right analytics, B2B companies can gain insights into the performance of various campaigns and initiatives to optimize and improve results.

How do analytics and reporting and marketing automation play together?

    • Customizable dashboards to monitor KPIs in real-time
    • Data visualizations to quickly and easily identify trends and patterns
    • Lead and account scoring to gauge engagement
    • Attribution modeling to analyze conversion paths
    • A/B testing capabilities to determine which (subject line, landing page, send time, etc.) works best
    • Integrations with business intelligence tools

What are some essential best practices when using marketing automation?

Taking advantage of marketing automation’s many benefits is easy. However, doing it effectively and efficiently requires a strategic approach to maximize its potential while maintaining a personal touch with your audience. Too much automation can quickly feel too robotic and, well, automated.

Here are a few best practices to consider:

Set clear goals: Define what you want to achieve—increase leads, boost sales, enhance customer engagement, improve efficiency, save time and money, or (most likely) all of the above. Clear goals help measure success and optimize strategies.

Know (and understand) your audience: Segment your audience based on behavior, demographics, and/or engagement levels. This will help ensure messaging is targeted, relevant, and timely. Personalization is critical to improving engagement and conversion rates.

Create quality content: Automating poor content just amplifies that lousy content. Automation is not a substitute for engaging, informative, and valuable content. ALL campaigns should deliver content that resonates with your audience and adds value to their experience.

Take advantage of lead scoring: Implement a lead scoring system to prioritize leads based on their engagement level and conversion likelihood. Dial in your efforts on leads that are more likely to become customers.

Integrate across channels: Ensure your marketing automation platform integrates with other tools and channels. A unified approach will give your audience a cohesive, “on-brand” experience across different touchpoints.

Monitor and optimize: Marketing automation is not a “set and forget” type operation. Regularly review the performance of your automation campaigns. Analyze metrics — open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI — to understand what’s working and, sometimes more importantly, what’s not.

Maintain database hygiene: Bad data in = bad data out. Scrub your database regularly to remove inactive or unengaged contacts and ensure data accuracy.

Ensure compliance with all the guidelines and laws: Guidelines shift, and laws change. Stay compliant with data protection and privacy regulations like GDPR or CCPA. Know what is happening with 3rd-party cookies (they will soon be gone). Obtain necessary permissions before sending communications. Most importantly, respect user preferences and opt-outs.

Leverage A|B testing: Test. Test. Test. Test different campaign elements — email subject lines, CTAs, overall content, etc. — to understand what resonates best with your audience. Optimize accordingly.

Don’t forget: It’s all about the (customer) journey: Design automation workflows that align with the customer journey — the right message to the right person at the right time. Understand the touchpoints where automation can enhance the experience, not hinder it.

Remember: Marketing automation is a tool. You must have a (best practices) strategy to accompany it to maximize its effectiveness and create more personalized, efficient, and impactful sales and marketing campaigns.

I’m ready. What’s next?