There are a number of misconceptions surrounding marketing automation. For instance, many marketers think that using automation technology involves a lengthy implementation process along every step of their workflow. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
According to this definition of marketing automation from Neil Patel, “Marketing automation is the process of using software and technology to optimize, automate and measure repetitive online marketing tasks.”
The reality is that it’s now possible for marketers to automate repetitive day-to-day tasks. But this doesn’t have to mean automating everything to the point of losing the human touch. Automation is simply a good way for marketers to free up more time to spend on more important tasks, such as the creative aspects of a campaign or managing client relationships.
There are many aspects of a marketing campaign that can be automated, but automation can still only go so far. For now, marketers shouldn’t worry too much about automation taking over their jobs any time soon, especially because a majority of marketing teams have yet to automate the most basic marketing tasks.
For the marketing teams that are interested in exploring automation, here’s a brief overview of the opportunities and how to get started.
Automating workflows internally and with clients
The pressure on marketing teams to produce content, engage audiences and monitor their results has never been greater. However, legacy team communication and collaboration tools, such as email and spreadsheets, have failed to keep up with today’s demands. As a result, 2017 State of Marketing Work Report revealed that marketers spend just 38 percent of their time on their primary job duties. The rest of their time (a whopping 62 percent) is devoted to email, meetings, administrative tasks and interruptions.
Using automation technology is one way that marketers can free up some of the time spent on more mundane tasks. Teams should look for software or tools that allow them to customize their workflows or projects and automate where needed. Then, it should be easy for them to replicate their automated processes for future projects. Other team members or clients can also be brought in as needed automatically and without the need to send reminders.
In sum, automation technology can help marketing teams streamline their workflows from the brainstorming and draft stage of a campaign to the review and final publishing stage with as little manual effort and emailing back-and-forth as possible.
Automating data and document management
Marketers often need to pull past projects, reports or data for a variety of reasons. Harboring inaccurate or out-of-date information in a complicated system can hinder productivity for the entire team.
With automated data-management platforms, teams can have every piece of content they are creating added to one place automatically and make it visible to anyone with the appropriate permissions. With real-time updates and 24/7 access, marketers can easily find materials they’ve created in the past to review, repurpose or send to clients.
In order to ensure that teams get the most benefit out of automating their data management, establishing a document-retention policy is a practical first step. How long should team members be required to hold onto their files? How long after materials are sent to clients should they remain in your system? These are all points to consider before the data-management process can be automated.
After establishing timelines, automation can also be used to alert project owners at specific times throughout the year to review, update or remove any files.
Automating the outcomes of team meetings or brainstorming sessions
Typically, during a team meeting, one team member is assigned the task of taking notes and relaying all information that was discussed with all parties involved. However, as this step is usually done manually, ideas and discussion points can easily slip through the cracks.
Automated collaboration tools can help everyone involved view and contribute materials during a session in real-time and keep a permanent record of them. These tools can also automatically save information that was worked on during a brainstorming session and send collaborators a link to access that information right after a session. Teams can then automatically set due dates or divide up and tag project responsibilities within the automation platforms, eliminating further follow-ups or emailing.
Automating all internal workings of a marketing team isn’t possible yet, but there are plenty of automation tactics that can be implemented quickly and painlessly. There’s plenty of proof that automation helps marketing teams work faster, as well as be more organized and efficient.
With the right preparation and consideration of the above points, marketers should have no problem automating some of their most time-consuming tasks and seeing positive results.
Albizu Garcia is co-founder and CEO of Gain, which automates the collaboration process around creative and social content for major agencies and brands. Follow him on Twitter: @albizu.