What is Marketing Automation exactly?

Marketing automation means quite a few things, and generally is the broad term for setting up certain rules, conditions, and triggers that can make events (such as sending pre-made emails, or text messages) happen automatically. Pretty much a set, and go salesperson that goes to work for you 24/7.

We have all experienced a form of Automation if we’ve ever called into a call center and went through a phone tree. It’s INTENT is to take care of your needs before they connect you to an operator by using prompts, and then providing relevant information based on what you input. These are set up once, and then turned on for all incoming calls to filter out as many easy answers before they get to their paid call center staff. Annoying for callers? Yes of course, but it’s an effective money saving technique if applied elegantly.


Now, a call center phone tree isn’t necessarily marketing, so let’s take a primitive example of marketing automation is birthday emails.

Automated Birthday Emails

Let’s say you have a list of 500 customer’s emails at your ice cream shop, and you would like to send out an email to each of them on their birthday to come in and get a free extra scoop. Before we get ahead of themselves, you need to make sure you COLLECT their birthday in the first place, and that they’re consenting to marketing emails. With that out of the way, using many industry standard email platforms such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact, & Sharpspring, you can set up a rule that essentially says:

Free ice cream scoops for everyone
Engaging your customers with birthday emails is as easy as pi... ice cream..
SEND [Happy Birthday Deal Email]
THEN Join robot rebellion. 

If the above completely legitimate code didn’t make much sense, to put it more plainly most automation software checks every day if certain conditions are met. In this case it checks if your customer list contains any contacts with a birth-date month & day, that matches today’s month & day. If there’s a match (or more than one), it will send those folks an email. Everyone else, sadly will have to wait until their own special day.

Neat huh? Let's kick it up a notch.

Thus far, our automations have only used data we’ve explicitly collected (such as a birth-date) to trigger something happening (the birthday email). Any holistic marketing approach will include using a website, email marketing, text message marketing, and more to create a (dare I say) symbiotic approach. With your customers using all these platforms, we can collect data passively from website usage, and turn a customers website behavior and actions into triggers. The most common of website related triggers concern e-commerce shops, and what happens when you do a bit of window shopping but never check out.

Shopping cart abandoned emails on e-commerce store
Your shopping cart takes on a mind of its own!

Abandoned Cart Automations

Your cart wants you back! We’ve all received that email after loading our shopping cart, and thinking better of spending $500 on shower curtains at Bed Bath & Beyond. Since we’re a user on their site, and performed a few actions (adding said shower curtains in our cart), then performed yet another action (not checking out), smart business owners use these two events as triggers to send a friendly reminder that we almost pulled the trigger on shower curtain bliss.

Not to get too heavy, but there's more.

Most small businesses won’t need automation that takes months to set up, test, and execute. But here’s a quick example of how deep in the rabbit hole you can go. 

We worked with a client who had an email list of over 8000 friendly folks, who had opted in to receive an occasional monthly special via email. We were tasked with building a series of emails based on about 6 core financial services they offered, with each service having 4 follow up emails going into further detail on each service. So in total we had 24 beautiful emails sitting there waiting for something to do.

Here's how it worked from there

The above may not really make much sense, and that’s OK. Let’s look at it from Michelle’s perspective who was a customer that was put into this automation to clear things up.

Marketing automation can be complicated, but the essence is keeping up interaction, engagement, and promotion with your customer lists without having to lift a finger. In the above example, once those emails are set up once, any new prospect gets sent that same set of emails, and has the potential of becoming a lead. Turnkey marketing at its finest.

Marketing automation strategy on whiteboard
Don't worry, Marketing Automation is much more approachable than this image makes it seem.

Use cases for Marketing Automation

How much will Marketing Automation Software Cost me?

If you’ve already got customers coming through your door, or visiting your website, you already have opportunities to capture their mobile number. The key concept is to make signing up both rewarding, as well as dead simple.

While we’re always happy to consult with you to find solutions to fit your unique needs, here are a few links to get started:

Just Act Natural

Just like Text Message Marketing, you’ll need to be aware of your customers time, and plan your automation accordingly. You could configure an automation that sends a pesky email daily after they opt-in with their email, but that would be a surefire way to the unsubscribe button. Automations should be set up naturally, at the pace of how you would tell your human sales staff to follow up with a lead.

Woman checking promotional email marketing folder in gmail at home
Program your automations to not be a jerk.

Managing your marketing automation

Here’s where we come in. We don’t own, or create our own software for doing all this cool stuff (yet), but we do however know our way around almost every one of them. We’re experienced in setting up, and configuring all automations from a basic birthday email, to multi-platform months long drip campaigns. Drop us a line anytime, and we’ll start the conversation (conversations are always free).