B2B Marketing Automation: When to automate process

November 30th, 2010 by Tom Elrod

Although Marketing Automation is a hot topic these days, many marketers wonder what specific aspects of marketing should be automated.  This is a good question to ask because in general, there is no substitute for direct person-to-person interaction when it comes to building a business relationship.  However, there are many communications performed on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis where you would use a template for the correspondence, even if it is just a mental template.  These correspondences are usually good candidates for automation.

An example of automation almost everyone uses is an auto-responder when someone submits a Lead Capture Form.  This is important to do, so that the person filling out the form gets immediate confirmation that the information has been received and to set expectations on when they can expect to hear a reply.  An auto-response email also provides a good opportunity to include extra information about your product or service that can help them along until they get a direct response based on their inquiry.  For example, if someone submits a registration form to contact marketing about a press event, the auto-responder email could contain a link to your press kit.

Another good example of when automation can be useful is when communication to a prospect or customer is based on a calendar event, especially when this event can potentially occurs at a different time for each person.  One illustration for this would be if you have a time based trial or subscription.  It is easy to forget to do the proper follow up at the right time for these if done manually.  It can also become overwhelming if there are a lot of these time-based follow ups that have to be done manually.  However, with Marketing Automation systems, a lead nurturing program can be designed so that the system automatically does the follow up reminder when the trial or subscription is about to expire.

Another benefit of using automated communications within a Marketing Automation product is that it allows marketing to manage the message and to ensure consistent branding when communicating to prospects and customers.

Even though Marketing Automation products typically offer a lot more than automating communication to prospects and customers, it is still one of the primary functions.

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