What is Marketing Automation?
While not a new concept, marketing automation tools can be confusing for some. Originally developed for email campaigns, nowadays these complex platforms can help marketers and small business owners automate many marketing actions.
According to Forbes, “The use of a marketing automation platform is to streamline sales and marketing organizations by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions.”
What you can do With a Marketing Automation Tool
Marketing automation is used to increase qualified leads and sales productivity
while reducing marketing expenses. A few examples of this are:
- Programming automated emails – When someone signs up to your email newsletter, a marketing automation platform can send out a sequence of automated emails you programmed ahead of time. There’s no need to manually send out each welcome email, a marketing automation platform can be configured to send out certain emails when triggered by specific actions.
For example, the first email will go out when someone signs up for your email newsletter. You can pre-schedule a complete email sequence to go out every X amount of days or weeks. You can program it so that if the person clicks on a certain link, this can trigger a follow-up email and so forth. These types of action-based email sequences can be extremely helpful in moving a prospect down the funnel to convert him or her into a lead.
- Schedule Social Media – another popular use for marketing automations platform is the ability to bulk schedule social media posts. Gone are the days that marketers sit by their computers posting individual updates manually. Although there’s still something to be said for timely social media posts, nowadays most marketers create and schedule their posts ahead of time. This saves a lot of time when you’re running a campaign or promotion. You can set it and the posts will publish automatically. Just remember to follow up on comments!
Free Marketing Automation Tools
The marketing automation landscape can be complex and overwhelming. Luckily, for small to medium-sized businesses there are free marketing automation tools to help you simplify and streamline simple marketing efforts.
For Email – MailChimp
MailChimp is a great email tool, even the free version (it’s free for up to 2,000 contacts). The features include email-marketing automation, personalized emails, automated welcome emails, behavioral targeting, engagement monitoring, and more.
It will help you create and maintain email lists, create forms you can place on your website, track your email results and includes a variety of email templates to facilitate email creation.
For Social Media – Sprout Social
Sprout Social is an easy-to-manage social media scheduling tool. It helps you manage your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts in one simple dashboard, helping you post to all your profiles in a few clicks. You can also see key metrics to analyze the effectiveness of your posts.
As a free option, also consider Buffer.
These are just a few of our favorite marketing automation platforms, but there are a ton of free and paid tools that can help you with all your automation needs. Check out this article for more on different marketing automation tools.