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Automating Your Inbound Marketing Efforts

Reading time: 6 minutes
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If you're researching inbound marketing automation, chances are you've caught wind that outbound marketing tactics are increasingly off-putting to consumers. In the 2020s, cold calls and emails are going the way of the door-to-door salesman. These methods feel intrusive and spammy to most consumers, both of which are labels that can relegate your brand's reputation to the junk mail folder faster than getting a door slammed in your face.

At the same time, implementing a good marketing strategy can take a lot of work. Automating some of your workflow can keep your conversion rates high without inflating costs for your company. Enter: inbound marketing automation software.

In this article, we're covering the full spectrum of marketing automation, including how it works, why it's important, and top marketing automation tools; but first, here's a quick primer of inbound marketing methodology. (If you're already familiar, skip down to the next section.)

What is Inbound Marketing?

The inbound methodology is a digital marketing strategy that reflects the migration of consumers to the internet. Potential customers are looking for personalized content with value, and inbound marketing positions your company as a generous, attentive expert. When you produce relevant content, you not only attract new leads, but also set the stage for a loyal customer relationship.

The inbound process begins with knowing your target audience and creating tailored content marketing assets. These can include blog posts,

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social media, or webinars (to name a few), and then distributing the right content to the right people. This can be done through your email list, paid ads, CTAs on your landing pages, or the search engine optimization (SEO) of your content.

Growing your brand awareness with free content improves your chances of attracting qualified leads, rather than casting a wide net and hoping for the best.

How Inbound Marketing Automation Works

Automation can be applied to the repetitive marketing tasks that your marketing and sales teams would otherwise perform manually. Once your marketing efforts are automated, you can sit back and let the program nurture leads with personalized content.

Here's an example of an automated workflow (assuming you have an email list):

  1. Email an invitation to your company's latest free webinar on a topic you know is of interest to this particular audience.
  2. Send a confirmation email to everyone who registers, along with any accompanying materials.
  3. After the webinar, follow up with participants by extending an email offer for a free eBook on a related topic.
  4. The sales team is alerted to the second engagement, which classifies the individual as a qualified lead, and can start him or her on a sales engagement track.

With automated workflows, the sales team is no longer spending time on cold leads. Instead, they're able to focus on interested prospects, while the automated workflow continues lead nurturing behind the scenes.

So what, specifically, do companies automate? Email marketing, social media posts, and blog subscription posts are common tasks to automate. Even paid advertising, chat bots, and marketing analytics can be automated. If you can schedule it, you can probably automate it.

Why Inbound Marketing Needs Automation

An inbound marketing strategy can generate a lot of traffic, but it can't tell you who is ready to convert into a customer. For that, you need lead scoring, which marketing automation software can produce if given enough data. Lead scoring tells you which leads fit your target audience and show promising interactions with your content or campaigns.

But even when you have a list of hot inbound leads, you probably don't have the bandwidth to individually track and direct each lead as they move through your sales funnel. Marketing automation software can take the engagement data it has collected and cater marketing tactics to each contact's demographic and behavior patterns.

You can also automatically track campaign-related metrics. That way, you know which are working and where to invest your time and resources. These analytic reports are particularly helpful when your marketers and sales team need to update C-suite managers about the impact of marketing dollars spent.

Benefits of Marketing Automation

Hopefully, you've picked up on a few of the benefits of using a marketing automation platform. If you need further convincing, here are our top reasons for automating your marketing efforts:

  • Saves Time: Instead of posting to your different media channels one at a time, you can schedule your posts across multiple channels at once. You can also set up email nurture campaigns that launch once a lead reaches a predetermined threshold.
  • Improved Personalization: As your marketing automation software collects metrics on your leads, you develop a clearer picture of who they are as individuals. With a more thorough buyer profile, you can tailor your content marketing, so potential customers experience a more personalized experience.
  • Better Customer Relationships: You earn credibility and trust
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    with customers when you demonstrate that you know their pain point and want to help provide a solution.
  • Evergreen Campaigns: You can set marketing campaigns in motion and let them work while you nurture warm leads further along the sales cycle.

Easy Reporting: Marketing automation software can easily generate detailed reports and interpret the data into useful insights.

Is Your Company Ready for Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation can be a huge asset to your marketing efforts, but without the right elements in place, you won't see much improvement. Ask yourself these questions before investing in a marketing software platform:

  1. Do you have a website that clearly communicates the solution you offer and is easy to navigate? Your website is your digital business card, and it needs to be on point.
  2. Do you understand how your target audience makes their buying decisions? Determining a customer persona is crucial to creating an effective buyer's journey.
  3. Have you created enough of the right content for your target audience? If not, you'll minimize your reach and potentially run out of resources for your content marketing.
  4. Do you have online marketing campaigns that are refined and ready to publish? Be sure to A/B test your campaigns to work out any kinks.
  5. Have you had enough lead generation to test your marketing automation platform? It's important to trial run your automated workflows so customers have a smooth, positive experience from the start.
  6. Are your marketing and sales teams aligned in a closed-loop communication cycle? Keeping these two teams mutually informed can improve the effectiveness of both your marketing campaigns and your sales efforts.
  7. Do you have enough new leads for automation to actually increase ROI? If not, you may want to hold off on investing in a marketing automation platform.
  8. Do you need help setting up your marketing automation platform? Don't hesitate to get the help you need. Your hard-earned revenue is worth it!

Inbound Marketing Automation Tools

According to a 2020 Hubspot report, 68% of businesses use automation in their marketing efforts. There are lots of platforms to choose from, but here are a few of the top automation tools on the market:

  • Hubspot is an all-in-one CRM with an intuitive design and certified partners who can walk you through the automation process.
  • Salesforce Pardot boasts customizable features and a well-informed support team ready to help.
  • Marketo provides marketing automation for account-based marketing, SEO, and content creation.
  • Constant Contact is an email marketing software with customizable email templates (among other online marketing features).
  • Mailchimp is an email marketing automation platform that's affordable for most small businesses.

About Nate McBride

Nathan brings years of enthusiastic experience in strategic content strategy, brand consulting, and digital design to O8. His intuitive ability to understand and leverage how digital media and data influence decision-making has been critical in driving conversion and engagement growth across diverse industries and marketing channels. Nathan is also a creative problem solver, passionate storyteller, technical innovator, and proponent of O8's DIO (Digital Integrity Optimization) methodology. Outside of O8, Nathan enjoys cycling, yoga, skateboarding, reading, and writing, if he's not taking...
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