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9 must-have features in an ideal marketing automation tool

Marketing Automation Tools

There is nothing more important than creating a customer experience that makes them fall in love with the brand. It might sound easy, but that is the trickiest and most challenging part of all. Customers today are overwhelmed with numerous resources from several prospective brands.

So, how to gather the much-needed customer attention? 

One way to create a successful conversation funnel is to leave the repetitive and complicated tasks to a marketing automation tool and turn your focus to the core activities of your business.

Now, when we say marketing automation tool, you need something that adds efficiency and scalability to your business. It should include features that help generate tons of organic traffic, nurture and track customer behavior and facilitate personalized conversions. It must bridge the gap between business productivity and your sales and marketing teams. A tool that places customers at the top is an ideal fit for any business.

That said, all tools possess certain features, but there are integrations and other added plugins that will make it the best marketing automation tool for your business.

The top features you need in marketing automation tool

Marketing automation has become a core element of marketing operations from small businesses to large enterprises. It can lead to significant improvements in your sales and marketing goals across multiple channels only when used correctly.

To help with the selection process, the following is the marketing automation checklist to include all the necessary features and requirements.

Feature #1: Advanced Lead Management

Every website has anonymous visitors. The idea is to convert them into leads and make them enter the marketing funnel. Now, most brands would think of adding long lead forms; however, the truth is they intimidate your visitors. Instead, you can use short forms and social sign-ups to trigger conversions and save time.

A marketing automation tool must have advanced lead management features like: 

Marketing lead database: In simpler terms, a lead database consists of lead contact information. However, it goes way beyond a CRM system. It includes a rich view of all your marketing interactions between prospects and your business, including email clicks, data updates, website visits, scoring chances in the lead status, and so on.

Segmentation: A successful marketing campaign is when you can micro-segment your database, target the convertible leads, and pursue only those. The filters would include demographic information, behavioral attributes, and CRM information. The high-score leads would be the region where your website has ranked top in the recent or all the active opportunities.

Multi-touch campaigns: Popularly called the drip marketing technique, this lead nurturing campaign sends messages to leads based on their previous history and behaviors. Such workflows not only deepen relationships with your prospects over time but help let you connect with them at the right moment.

Online lead behavior tracking: Using such tools, you can track which prospects open the emails or clicks, the web pages visited, what search keywords they use, which channel you use, do they access you on social networks, and so on. You can also check the products or services they access and where they are in their buying journey.

Lead scoring & grading: You can score leads based on the demographic information, qualify them, specify the prospect behavior, and gather a comprehensive view of lead interest and engagement. You can give your leads scores and connect with them as per the lead stage.

Automate sales alerts and tasks: Create tasks automatically and provide real-time sales alerts over email, SMS, pop-up notifications, and more. It allows you to facilitate connection with your prospects and act in a timely fashion.

CRM integration: Every marketing tool comes with CRM integration. Some systems work on contact information and sync in real-time or add custom boxes to it. You can change it as per your needs.

Lead lifecycle workflows: You can integrate your workflow engine with the CRM system and create a complete lead management workflow. This way, you can automate data field updates, manage lists, and assign lead rules. Also, you can follow up with the sales team directly from the CRM, reassign leads, and convert them into opportunities.

Sales intelligence: Connect with the hottest leads and opportunities at the time when they need you. You can also allow marketers to create campaigns that sales can add prospects to the sales funnel.

Feature #2: Email Marketing

Emails are the virtual communication channel for any brand. It garners potential leads, supports your brand’s customer engagement numbers, and is the best method for customer outreach. Using marketing automation, you can send automated emails in a customized manner, test your email content, create beautiful email templates that match product specifications, preview emails for different devices and platforms, and perform advanced email marketing analytics.

Incorporating email functionality into marketing automation expands your horizon to customize content interactions with possible prospects via logic workflows. It means you can automate emails but still make them personalized for your leads. So, the automation marketing tool you choose must have email capabilities like triggered emails, scheduled messages, prioritizing email groups, tracking email campaigns, studying the success of email campaigns, and personalizing content.

Feature #3: Social Media Marketing

Social media is an integral part of a marketing automation strategy. Although you can practice it independently, it is also rewardable to combine social media marketing and lead nurturing workflows.

So, look for a marketing automation tool that keeps your social accounts active, ensures a prompt customer queries reply, track performance on social media campaigns, keep tabs on several social media channels at the same time, schedule posts, gather feedback and track mentions via social listening, and build targeted social media advertisements. You can also broaden your marketing campaign’s scope and draw data and leads from it. 

Feature #4: Campaign Management

At the core, marketing is incomplete without campaigns. When you’re concerned with sending your customers the correct information, at the right channel, at the right time, campaigns can help you achieve your goals. It is why a marketing automation tool should come with campaign management that allows planning, execution, track, and analysis of all the current, past, and future campaigns. It means every step of a campaign launch takes place within the same interface and isn’t categorized between systems. Marketers should be allowed to create multiple campaigns for different products or services through an all-in-one marketing automation tool.

Campaign management should support your sales and marketing goals. They must also nurture leads along the sales cycle. That way, you can send personalized and direct emails to a large number of people without giving out an automated or robotic feeling. It should support both inbound marketing and outbound campaigns as well. All in all, it should lead to practical and highly converting campaigns that facilitate collaboration and communication.

Feature #5: Visitor Tracking

Long before marketing automation came into the picture, it allowed you to track the visitors by IP, identify their activities on your site. The modern visitor monitoring element of web analytics does the same tasks but gives more exciting results.

It monitors visitor behavior, including which pages they click, how they access the website, what keywords they type in on Google, and how much time they spend on your website. Several other marketing tools deliver real-time alerts to sales representatives when a lead or prospect visits the website. It can also segment your visitor database based on their tracking activities, demographic status, and the industrial genre; the most searched pages, the web pages visitors read the most, and others.

You can set up user browser fingerprint technology, including chatbots, and track anonymous visitors. You can then plan retargeting campaigns to convert sales to leads based on user source and behavior. You can request basic information like name and email address.

Feature #6: Reporting and Analytics

The best part of having a marketing automation tool is its reporting and analytics profile. It is crucial for any business. The process of collecting and analyzing data is what leads to actionable insights and visualizations. Business Intelligence helps managers be more informed and make more data-driven decisions that boost sales and ROI funnels.

However, several tools in the market lack the robust and detailed reporting nature that modern organizations and needs require. So, verify all the reporting and analytics abilities like comprehensive data collection, customized reporting, facilitating data-driven decisions, monitoring campaigns, measuring performances, and tweaking campaigns to suit business needs and boost ROIs.

Feature #7: Multichannel & Omnichannel experience

There was a time when you didn’t have accessible leads, but they aren’t anymore. There are leads available on several platforms. You can target them anywhere. So, adjust your marketing automation tool to include a multichannel approach and create an omnichannel experience.

Multichannel means you can connect with your customers on several platforms like emails, landing pages, social media, web, mobile, push notifications, and more. Omnichannel marketing keeps your customers at the center and ensures a consistent, engaging, and similar experience across all platforms, devices, channels, and mediums.

 

Marketing Automation

Feature #8: Security and Support

When you work with a marketing automation tool, you need to consider its impact on data security. Customer information and corporate data are susceptible and must be protected from virus and malicious attacks. Generally, there are two options- on-premise or in the cloud. So, first assess your current security measures before deploying the marketing automation tool. Cloud solutions are more secure and scalable; however, almost all modern and popular solutions are cloud-based. 

In terms of support, you must be sure of the tool you want to adopt. They must provide onboarding support, free introductory sessions, pricing tiers and need continuous assistance 24/7. Even a short downtime can incur heavy business losses. So, look for a secure and supportive marketing automation tool.

Feature #9: CRM Integration

Truth be told, a marketing automation tool without CRM is like going hiking without shoes. Marketing campaigns not just capture customer information; they study the entire customer lifecycle.

Besides collecting personal data, demographic information, and other details, they also include multiple digital touchpoints across various marketing platforms. It helps you identify if and when a lead moves towards the end of the funnel. CRM does everything for you- store information, study behavioral traits, review conversational history, and more. You can integrate tools and CRM bidirectionally to smoothen your lead database and link your CRM to the automation tool’s in-built CRM. 

Conclusion

When you’re investing in a marketing automation tool, you must do so after studying its features and the ones you need to support your business. Depending on your criteria and requirements, you can opt for the right marketing tool. Just look for all the solutions you need for your marketing, sales, and services automation. And you’re good to go.

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