Regulation is always a hot topic, no matter the sector. It’s ever changing and version control can be a big issue, especially for those in marketing roles. Now with an increase and improvement in automation technologies it seems professionals might have found a solution to their problems.
On the surface of it, the greatest benefit of an automation tool is the improvement in efficiency and productivity that it can offer teams. But its benefits can go far beyond that, helping organisations improve brand consistency and meet regulatory guidelines, delivering teams the data they need to refine their strategy, and encouraging a more holistic relationship between departments.
Many people don’t realise its benefits because they don’t fully understand what automation software is, or they don’t know how many programmes fall under the automation umbrella. More than that, the media is full of horror stories stating how automation technologies such as artificial intelligence are going to steal our jobs and replace the need for humans on the workforce.
We should be able to deal with such concerns by concentrating more on the benefits of automation technologies and embrace them in our favour. In the marketing world, automation technologies are simply software platforms designed to help teams effectively produce, replicate and distribute their content across multiple channels. And, because of this, they prevent a lot of the human error that causes companies to fall foul of regulatory bodies such as the FCA.
What does automation really mean for marketers? These are not ‘I, Robot’-esque technologies aiming to take over from us, nor are they like the automated solutions you might find on a factory floor (which actually could start to replace humans). Rather, automation in our terms is about managing admin processes and maintaining consistency. It frees up time for marketers to spend on strategic tasks and enables them to be more time efficient. What’s more, they will do this
Some examples of automation tools specific to marketers include automated email systems which send out emails at scale to your mailing list, software which enables you to plan and manage customer journeys and social media schedulers. They would also include any client relationship tools which go further than your average CRM system, and automated workflow tools that automate steps in your process. This aids in planning, agency briefing and compliance approvals for seamless project management and regulatory compliance.
The goal for any for-profit company is to generate greater revenues. To achieve this, they need to drive traffic to their website, convert that traffic into leads and convert those leads into customers. Combined, or individually, the automation tools described help in this endeavour.
If automation is the answer, when and how does a company know what platform to use? Given how many uses automation tools have, the natural first step is to work out exactly what challenges need to be solved. Where are bottlenecks most commonly felt? For example, if a lot of your web traffic is mobile you may need to implement a workflow system that enables you to check the mobile-compatibility of new webpages as you create them. Perhaps you regularly post content online, in which case a scheduling tool might be a priority.
Ultimately, there are lots of different ‘tech’ options that enable your marketing automation, and a ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ list will be crucial to deciding if automation is the answer to your marketing challenges. There are also several misconceptions about the cost and affordability of marketing automation tools. Most of the large platforms tend to be costly; however, there are many platforms which are scalable, and therefore suitable for small businesses, too. There are even some designed specifically for niche business sectors such as finance or law. Take ConstantContact, for example, a tool which provides a platform specifically for not-for-profit organisations. DotApprove, a project management and approval software, is another commonly used by those in highly regulated markets and the financial sector in particular.
Automation tools are here to stay. But, that isn’t a bad thing. Companies of all sizes and sectors should be paying attention to their changing marketplaces and considering the value of such investments. Rather than devaluing marketers, automation tools give back the time professionals need to raise their value.
By Nick Roi, managing director of Perivan Technology
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