The marketing automation industry has snowballed over the past few years, and yet it’s only just getting started.
According to Marketing Automation Insider, in the past five years alone, we’ve seen over $5.5B worth of acquisitions made, and an aggregate vendor revenues increase from $225M to $1.65B!
At the current rate of adoption and innovation, you may be wondering where marketing automation is headed, which trends are emerging, and how it will all benefit your business. Well, my friend, you’ve come to the right place! Here, we’ll explore three major shifts in the marketing automation industry and how they’ll impact your businesses on both a macro and micro-level. Let’s get started…
1. Predictive analytics is making guessing a game of the past
One of the major trends emerging in the marketing automation industry is the use of predictive analytics and machine learning to power sales and marketing decisions.
Predictive analytics uses clever statistical models to identify what your customers will likely do next and then automatically uses those insights to trigger certain actions.
In 2012, Amazon filed a patent for a predictive analytics system that would allow them to begin shipping products before a customer even ordered them. (Crazy thought, right?!) But by predicting the probability of someone buying a product based on their behavior on the website and previous history, Amazon could reduce its shipping times and move product faster.
There are countless uses for this type of technology, but in the context of marketing automation, it provides the opportunity to eliminate guess work.
How long should you wait between sending two emails in a lead nurturing sequence? Which content (blogs, ebooks, etc) should you send to a certain type of lead? How should you score a lead from a particular marketing channel?
While experience tends to provide good answers to these questions, predictive analytics can provide dynamic answers that, like a good bottle of wine, become better over time, ultimately surpassing that of an experienced marketer’s hunch.
As a result of this, marketing and sales will become less of a guessing game. The most important consequence of this is that companies using predictive analytics will have the competitive advantage.
Predictive analytics adoption is still in its infancy, providing the innovative early birds with a great opportunity to get a head start. The question is, will it be you or your competitors that gain this competitive advantage?
2. Intelligent multi-channel marketing is becoming the norm
Tests have shown that when you target a customer both in their inbox with an email and on Facebook with a matching ad, the customer is 22% more likely to purchase, as opposed to if you had only sent the email.
In multi-channel marketing, the whole is usually greater than the sum of its parts. This is especially true when you add a layer of personalization into the mix, which is of course possible with marketing automation.
Let’s look at time for an example. Let’s imagine that you’re the marketing director of a company that sells kitchen appliances online.
A prospect named Molly visits your website and adds a fridge to her shopping cart (obviously a very large shopping cart.) Molly enters her details to check out but never completes the transaction.
In this situation your multi-channel strategy could look something like this:
- After 30 minutes, an automated email is triggered encouraging Molly to complete her order (in case she got distracted by a phone call…or Game of Thrones).
- Using retargeting through a sync with your marketing automation platform and Facebook, Molly sees an ad saying “Molly, are you refurbishing your kitchen?” and linking to a separate landing page. If this landing page is engaged with, Molly would be entered into a whole new sequence with upsells and offers incentivizing her to buy more items.
- If after one day Molly still hasn’t bought the fridge, a text message could be sent asking if there’s anything your support team could answer or help her with.
- If after several days later there’s still no purchase, a separate email and Facebook ad campaign could be triggered targeting Molly with different fridges and freezers relating to her original search criteria.
This type of multi-channel nurturing is immensely effective for a number of reasons:
- It’s underused. Despite being very effective, few companies are running such hyper-personalized campaigns. This will likely change over the next few years, as more and more companies realize its effectiveness.
- With more channels, you can capture more data from your customers, leading to more relevant targeting. The more relevant your targeting, the more likely a conversion will be.
- It makes it virtually impossible to lose a customer due to distraction, as you’re able to communicate with the buyer across devices and platforms and at different times.
We’re likely to see a lot more multi-channel marketing over the next year or two. As marketing automation tools improve their offerings and features, and as more case studies emerge, more and more businesses will begin to use this powerful tactic.
Could this sort of multi-channel marketing help your business convert more leads into customers?
3. Marketing automation is becoming widely adopted
There are two colliding waves in the marketing automation industry that are converging to form a tsunami-like surge of businesses interested in marketing automation. These waves are 1) the increased awareness of the value of marketing automation and 2) the increasing impact and capabilities of marketing automation software.
Since 2012, the amount of case studies, articles, webinars, and events covering marketing automation has exploded, resulting in a heightened awareness of the impact of adopting a marketing automation solution.
Simultaneously, marketing automation software is becoming more and more powerful. With new features and functionality, such as real-time personalization and adtech-geared tools, as well as an increasing pool of experts readily sharing best practices, the scope of what marketing automation software can achieve is continuing to expand. Word—and excitement—is spreading like wildfire.
These two converging waves have an obvious result: more and more businesses (your competitors included) are implementing a marketing automation solution. As such, it pays to get ahead of the game and start building your marketing automation campaigns early. That way, by the time your competitors are building out their first campaigns, your business could have hundreds of active, fine-tuned campaigns already working on leads. Get to it!
As far as we can tell from the data, marketing automation is becoming smarter, more tailored, and more accessible. 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.
For business owners, the lesson here is simple and Darwinian: evolve now (aka get automating), or risk losing your market share to your competitors.