Time to set the record straight on marketing automation


It’s time to set the record straight on marketing automation, particularly around email.

For years, curious marketers have had doubts around the logistics of integrating automated communications into their existing campaigns, concerned about the costs associated with major service providers and the technical requirements for keeping effective campaigns going.

The missed opportunity is considerable.

A new report by Mailjet recently revealed that 52% of small and medium sized businesses across the UK only communicate with their customer base less than once a week, despite having 12,000 active contacts on average in their systems.

Scratch a little beneath the surface and an explanation becomes clear, 48% of small and medium sized businesses are not using any form of marketing automation at all.

But it’s increasingly possible to tap into marketing automation without being an expert coder. In addition, the competitive advantages are still there for the taking as most businesses haven’t yet used this tech to its full potential.

With 76% of marketers at small and medium sized businesses stating that marketing automation would make a difference to their direct marketing engagement, let’s put to bed some of the myths marketers might still hear when considering adoption and add a little clarity to a subject area still clouded by past experience and outdated perceptions.

A remote option for marketers

To start dispelling myth from reality, let’s go back to basics. Many people are under the impression that marketing automation is a lazy way of managing a consumer engagement strategy and email campaigns.

In truth, you should be constantly reshaping your strategy and analysing interactions to discover what’s working, and what isn’t in order to be successful.

UK marketers are still using email automation overwhelmingly for some of the most menial processes

It comes down to the fact that marketing automation is by no way a means to an end. While it’s an easy stigma to assume that once you’ve auto-scheduled your content for the future you can just sit back and relax, effective automation isn’t over once you’ve clicked send.

Automating your email communications is just one small piece in a much larger marketing puzzle that needs to be arranged perfectly in order to deliver the right messages to customers at the right points in their individual journeys.

This means paying close attention to your data, and taking the time to sound personal. Starting your emails with, 'Dear Sir/Madam' or 'Customer #54332' is an immediate red flag to today’s savvy consumer who will not bother wading through the reams of robotised discounts and ads

Too many costs and technical barriers

For a long time, automation has been seen as far too expensive for smaller brands to afford. The results of our recent survey of senior marketers revealed 44% of these respondents felt that not having a big enough budget was the biggest thing holding them back from investing in the technology.

This simply isn’t the case anymore. You don’t need a global corporation’s budget to be able to tap into this toolset. 

There are many ways smaller businesses can use marketing automation. For instance, many providers offer pay-as-you-use packages. And if you need that extra bump or insight, it can be easily factored into a budget without breaking the bank.

As for technical barriers, there is no denying that automation is an extremely technical thing. You need to be aware of what you’re saying at all times, across all channels, and how your scheduled content could affect your company if it’s left unmonitored or unchecked.

Balancing these variables at the same time requires some of the most sophisticated systems and digitally skilled people to look after these systems.

But technology is nothing without advancement, and where previously people may have been right to think you have to be an expert coder to even have the simplest automation solutions in place, we’re beginning to see that this isn’t the case anymore.

Some automation systems have really intuitive editing programmes where you can design insightful and attractive emails that are completely personalised, through dragging and dropping components into templates. 100% coding free

Email automation is limited

More widely, UK marketers are still using email automation overwhelmingly for some of the most menial processes. The ‘welcome’ programme, for example, consisting of emails distributed to new subscribers is practiced by an impressive 86% of senior marketers, but only 42% are using the same technology to help re-engage inactive users.

This hints at a wider issue whereby automation isn’t being utilised fully even at the highest levels. Along this same vein, only 21% of small businesses can manage a simple automation campaign, such as wishing their customers a happy birthday – this leaves a huge opportunity for savvy businesses to take up automation solutions and start outmanoeuvring the competition.

We’ve reached a tipping point in the use of automation services. It’s high time the benefits and accessibility of automation becomes common knowledge for businesses of every size.

As the practiced, larger players look to move up a gear and see what is really possible with this technology, it’s essential that smaller businesses are not left too far behind. 

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