What is a marketing automation platform
Brands recognize the importance of creating well-crafted user journeys to convert more viewers into customers and retain or grow the value of existing ones. A marketing automation platform is the perfect companion to a data-based strategy that works for the long term.
You may have run email marketing campaigns in the past, or have built a simple registration funnel for a product launch already, but were never fully committed to creating a complete user journey that leverages marketing automation to achieve more conversions and engage your audience more. The question: "What is a marketing automation platform?" is a difficult one as all platforms have different features and work in a different way.
A marketing automation platform is a tool that allows marketers to create touch points like emails, web pages, text messages and more, that are connected by triggers and events that perform actions. Think of it as a map where the user is identified on the first step and is then moved along way points by directions provided by the marketer.
The upside of investing on a marketing automation platform is that users are identified and tracked along the way, making more personal and relevant communication possible, increasing the effectiveness of the marketing effort.
Why it's difficult to pick the right marketing automation platform
We got off stating that the question on what is a marketing automation platform is a difficult one to answer, let's get to the difficult part of picking one and making it work for you. A marketing automation platform is only as good as the data that it collects, which in turn drives automations.
Let's make an example. Brand X has a website that presents a product and a registration page that allows to receive a newsletter on product updates, and a page that allows to purchase the product. A general analytics tool would inform marketers on how many views each page has, and where the views come from (referrers). It can also track specific actions like clicking on the newsletter registration button and report a conversion event to the analytics tool.
Brand X is not aware of what has driven the conversion and what the entire journey the user made. Experienced marketers know that human decisions are difficult to analyze as they tend to follow complex paths which involve returning to the Brand X's properties (web site, social media, newsletters, Google ads, etc.) several times before making a decision. Sometimes repetition helps and putting Brand X in front of the same user multiple times in a different context and with a different message or medium helps.
Brand X wants to get to know their audience better though. They want to know who their potential customers are before they make a purchase decision. This is to inform their strategies, marketing communication and brand building effort.
A marketing automation platform can help Brand X build the wealth of information that's needed to gather and analyze the information through tracking each step, or each touch point, while identifying who the user is.
The importance of tracking users instead of views
Marketing automation platforms like ReachOut identify the browser session across multiple and different visits to finally put a name on it once the user decides to register or provide some information (conversion). This action associates the anonymous ID that identifies the browser with the recipient ID that's created on submitting a form. ReachOut helps marketers to build touch points that are fully personalized on each recipient and that are triggered by any past action.
A marketing automation platform that isn't able to collect all the tracking information from each landing page, email newsletter or other marketing outreach will limit the capabilities of making the communication relevant, personal and timely.
A marketing automation platforms is an opportunity of growing the knowledge that brands have of their potential and existing customers. Brands needing more conversions will need to pick a platform and invest in creating user journeys, carefully crafting touch points, like welcome emails, followup emails, on-boarding processes and more. The ultimate goal is to take the user through the steps to the final conversion purchase action that makes him a customer.
Most marketers also craft campaigns that increase the overall lifetime value of an acquired customer with retention campaigns, up-selling campaigns and more. A marketing automation platform enables marketers to reach these goals.