2whereUsing statistical models to identify what a customer is likely to do next, in short is what marketing automation is all about, allowing you to modify automatically your campaigns cleverly around actions needed. In other words, by making campaigns both smarter and more effective, marketing and sales are becoming less of a guessing game.

From ‘one-size fits all’ to sector-specific
No wonder that we have seen a number of sector-specific marketing automation tools emerge over the past few years. These tools offer a competitive advantage over the ‘one-size fits all’ solution, as they are built around the specific pain points of a certain type of business. A tool designed for restaurants, for example, may come with built-in table booking software, and pre-built campaigns designed to drive repeat bookings, social check-ins at the restaurant, and seasonal/holiday campaigns. In practice, this means enormous time saving, as what has previously taken six months to put together with a generic tool, could be achieved with a sector-specific tool in just a few hours. Hence, expect marketing automation to become more sector-centric.

According to Capterra, there are 215 marketing automation solutions currently on the market, whereby B2B companies are twice as likely to use marketing automation as B2C companies; and the larger the marketing team, the more likely they are to use marketing automation software. Pardot, the B2B marketing automation platform by Salesforce claims on the other hand that 79% of top-performing companies have been using marketing automation for two or more years.

Frictionless marketing automation implementation
Let’s face the truth, implementing marketing automation software is hard and getting to the point where you have enough campaigns up and running to provide a positive ROI can take anywhere from a few months to over a year. On top of this, you typically need to hire a specialized marketing automation consultant or agency, go through intense onboarding training, and dedicate significant development resources to integrate the software into your business’ existing programs. However, you may rest assured that simplification of marketing automation software will occur over the next few years. In fact, implementing marketing automation is expected to become almost frictionless with software that is easier to access due to one-click integrations and simpler user interfaces or libraries of pre-built campaigns.

The declining cost of marketing automation
Further, as more and more vendors enter the marketplace, the cost of marketing automation software will definitely continue to decrease to a point where the barrier to entry is accessible to the large majority of small businesses. So, try to stay ahead of the game and start building your marketing automation campaigns early. That way, by the time your competitors are building their first sequence, your business will have already hundreds of fine-tuned campaigns working and you can focus on your leads. Marketo, the company that makes marketing automation software, for instance, published that the most valuable features of marketing automation for users are lead nurturing (57%), analytics and reporting (52%), and list segmentation (39%); and Hubspot revealed that relevant emails, sent with marketing automation software, drive 18 times more revenue than just email blasts.

All these micro-trends give some clues on the macro-level direction the marketing automation industry is heading to, besides revealing that marketing automation is becoming smarter, more tailored, and more accessible – both by cost and simplicity. The combination of these trends explains why the industry has grown so rapidly over the past five years, and why it does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. So, if you are feeling uninspired in your marketing campaigns, consider marketing automation software. As the trends and stats prove, it is an incredibly crucial tool that every marketer should consider to have in the toolbox.

By Daniela La Marca