With the proliferation of inbound marketing channels – social media, email, text, etc. – marketing automation is a huge concern. Clients and customers want to be personally connected using their outlet of choice, which is a daunting task for any one marketer. Large organizations invest millions upon millions of dollars in these outlets to create personal communication channels with their audiences, but still have a difficult time keeping up. As our audiences continue to grow, their attention spans diminish, making our efforts increasingly difficult. This trend has been one of the great motivators for organizations of any size to consider and implement marketing automation projects within their future plans.

But what really is marketing automation?

Cooking and Marketing

I was recently dining at one of my many favorite locations in Dayton and had a chance to speak with the chef. She was in the middle of planning for upcoming week of tantalizing specials and menu changes. While looking over the menu, I had a question about the some of the choices she had made and the reasoning behind them. She explained to me the impetus behind her decision-making – and it all rested on the customer.

As a chef, she realized that her patrons expect a certain level of quality from her food. While she is more than capable of accomplishing this, she can’t personally prepare every dish for every customer. So she has to depend on her staff to provide the same quality of food that people would expect from her. While it would be nice to believe that expert chefs are preparing our meals each and every time, this idea is fiscally impossible. Therefore, it is critical for the chef to create a menu that not only makes customers happy, but also can be produced by everyone on the team.

This is certainly not meant to diminish the capabilities of the entire team, however, we as diners expect the same quality whether the chef makes our dish personally or one of the other staff prepares it on a busy day. We don’t consider who prepared our food; we just expect a certain result. Therefore, the chef can’t simply create a wonderful and delicious menu, but also has to choose items that are repeatable and can be easily prepared if the kitchen is in a crunch.

Marketing Automation Provides Quality and Repeatability

The same consideration must be made when creating an ongoing marketing campaign. Your potential clients and customers want to receive quality content and updates in their particular outlet. They do not consider that you have been working on a great social media campaign and that’s why your newsletters have been a little slow.

They expect the same level of great content every single time.

And everything needs to be repeatable. Users who sign up for a blog or social media profile need consistency in the content presented to them. Too much dissatisfying or irrelevant content and they leave. Too few updates and they forget.

That’s what makes marketing automation such a key part of your efforts. We cannot depend on the same levels of content from everyone on the team, and likewise, we can’t wait for inspiration to hit us every time we need to reach out to our audience. Much like our favorite restaurant, we need to create a plan and have tools that help us accomplish each step of the process.

With automation tools in place, we can create marketing that consistently provides our audiences with quality content in a timely manner. These tools can range greatly in how they help; from small details – like moving people who sign up on your site to the appropriate email list – to larger concerns – like ensuring the distribution of content from the blog to other outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler. Marketing automation allows us to plan our processes instead of acting on the fly, so we can consider what our audience would like from us and map out the content prior to sending each item. It can be as complicated as providing critical updates on how people on engage with your content and what you might want to do next – like give them a phone call after they have actively engaged with several of your inbound activities.

Overall, marketing automation allows you to have the ability to streamline your efforts, much like proper menu planning can streamline a kitchen. That way, regardless of where your attention is focused, your potential clients and customers feel like you are talking directly to them.