Is marketing automation the future? Yes, and here’s why
There’s a lot of buzz around marketing automation software in relation to marketing, but what does this technology really mean long term, and is automation the future of digital marketing? In a word, yes!
As marketing automation tools grow more advanced, it’s becoming clear that data, machine learning and predictive analytics are some of the most valuable assets available to marketers. Failure to get onboard with automation software now could lead to severe difficulties catching up further down the track.
With all of these tools set to become even more important over the next few years and beyond, it’s vital to consider the future of marketing automation, and how advances in technology will affect the overall world of content marketing and digital marketing.
So, what are some of the major trends shaping marketing automation software’s growing popularity and power? Perhaps more importantly, what do these mean for marketing automation in future marketing campaigns?
It’s vital to consider the future of marketing automation, and how advances in technology will affect the overall world of content marketing and digital marketing.
1. Conversational marketing
As automation becomes more advanced, we’re very likely to see more and more organisations making use of intelligent chatbots as a core element of their websites. This approach is most helpful at the top of the marketing funnel, when customers who are interested in a product or service and looking for more information arrive with questions.
While there will obviously be limitations to how much information even the smartest chatbot can provide, the ability for a customer to quickly get a range of simple answers to their questions represents a huge step forward for lead nurturing, helping to guide website users through to the next stage of the funnel.
This approach is often referred to as conversational marketing, and its benefits aren’t limited to guiding audience members through the sales process. Chatbots can also speed up the entire journey a customer takes by reducing the time between initial action (in this case, sending a message to the bot) and receiving a follow-up response, which might previously have taken a few days via email. Advances in machine learning mean that chatbots will also be able to recognise the activity a certain user takes on a website – such as looking at certain types of products – and recommend similar pages according to that history.
Of course, websites aren’t the only place where we’ll see artificial intelligence assist consumers. Over the next few years, expect to see a rise in chatbots on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and perhaps even over email, where they’ll be able to engage consumers on a personal level that’s previously been impossible for even the best content marketing campaigns.
Part of the reason chatbots are such a key part of the future of automation is their increasing ability to provide personalised communication and content. This isn’t limited to conversational marketing however, and personalisation should be a key aspect of how marketers approach automation in their digital marketing.
This all relates back to providing the very best customer experience, and there’s no doubt this approach can bear fruit. A great example of how personalisation can work via automation is on eCommerce websites. With the right automation tools, it’s possible for these sites to gather information on a user’s browsing behaviour and suggest products accordingly.
The stats reinforce the value of this approach, with a recent study by invesp finding that 59 per cent of online shoppers believe it’s easier to find interesting products on eCommerce websites that offer a personalised shopping experience. More importantly for your bottom line, nearly half of online shoppers are more likely to buy something from a site that offers bespoke recommendations.
For marketers, the takeaway is clear. The more personalisation that they can deliver throughout their content marketing campaigns – be it via chatbots, emails targeted towards certain customer segments, or a better website browsing experience – the more effective lead nurturing becomes.
3. Predictive analytics
To get the very best out of marketing automation software, data is absolutely critical. Without this important information, businesses wouldn’t be able to analyse what their customers are doing and deliver content accordingly.
However, advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence have meant that marketing automation tools can now go a step further. The focus of data-driven content marketing strategy is growing to include not just what customers are doing today, but what they’ll do tomorrow.
This is known as predictive analytics, or predictive modelling, and utilises artificial intelligence and huge amounts of data to determine what actions on the part of a customer are most likely to lead to an eventual conversion.
Not only does this information improve lead nurturing by making it easier to determine the best content to send to a particular consumer via email marketing campaigns, predictive analytics can also be used with unstructured data.
This is information that doesn’t fit in with your typical data collection processes and framework, typically taking the form of text. A great example of this type of information is the emails you receive from customers, which better predictive modelling technology can utilise for a variety of reasons ranging from measuring customer sentiment to creating high-value content that answers a frequently asked question.
Predictive analytics uses data to to determine what actions on the part of a customer are most likely to lead to an eventual conversion.
4. Automated content
Can you imagine a future where artificial intelligence writes some of the content that a business puts out into the world? Before any marketers reading this begin to panic, the key word here is ‘some,’ and there’s a lot of value to be had from automating content creation.
In fact, the technology has already been used for a while in areas such as sports reporting, where artificial intelligence can pull data captured during a game and turn it into simple, easy-to-read sentences far more quickly than even the fastest human fingers.
This speed and the ability to immediately respond to information with basic content could be hugely beneficial to organisations – particularly via social media. For example, if multiple consumers report an issue with a particular product or service, a quick, automated tweet explaining that an issue has been identified and is being addressed is a great way to improve the customer experience by ensuring nobody is left frustrated at a lack of information.
The days of a computer writing long, complex whitepapers are still a while away though, so marketers needn’t be worried and should start considering where and how automated content could be a benefit to them.
5. Decreasing costs
A final trend that’s worth looking at in regards to the future of automation is cost. Not only is the proliferation of marketing automation tools resulting in a far greater range of options at all sorts of price points, the technology also frees up extra time by eliminating both menial and time-consuming tasks.
For digital marketers, this is nothing but good news. Instead of having to spend hour after hour analysing data and trying to work out what it all means, it’s now possible to let automation handle the heavy lifting, creating more time for strategic and creative work that can’t be automated… yet!
It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in digital marketing, and both content marketers and the businesses they work with should be open to the enormous functionality and power that artificial intelligence and automated content can deliver.