What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation

Marketing automation is software that automates your marketing activities. It streamlines your digital marketing and helps you work more efficiently. Automating repetitive tasks makes jobs easier and provides personalized experiences to your customers.

Using a single platform, you can manage every aspect of your email marketing campaigns. An intelligent omnichannel marketing automation platform can create one-to-one cross-channel customer experiences.

How does marketing automation work?

Data is essential for marketing automation. Every time a customer, subscriber, or website visitor interacts with your brand online, you’re gathering important data.

An omnichannel automation platform will give you a holistic view of your database. As a result, you’ll be able to build in-depth customer profiles that exceed simple names and email addresses.

You’ll be able to break down customer data and identify trends in your audience. Insights such as customer location, how often they interact with you, and the average order value is just a couple of trends you can discover.

If you use cookies to track customers’ on-site behavior, you’ll also be able to track this data on your platform.

Marketing automation campaigns send specific content based on this data. Customer actions such as abandoned browses can trigger campaigns and recapture lost customers. Campaigns such as birthday programs run in the background, automatically enrolling customers based on their D.O.B data.

marketing automation workflows

Why is marketing automation important?

1. Time-saving

Marketers are time-poor. That’s a fact. There is always a pressing deadline and pressure to hit targets as quickly as possible. Marketing automation software helps to free up your time.

Automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks give you more time to think creatively, develop new campaigns, and focus on achieving your strategic goals. For B2C brands, this may take the form of automating your mid-season sale campaign. B2B sales teams can get relief from following up on leads with an automated lead nurture campaign.

2. Revenue generation

Looking at your customer journey, you can identify key stages where customers drop out of the funnel. Using your marketing automation software, you can create win-back campaigns to convert customers.

Triggered automation programs such as abandoned browse or abandoned carts are revenue generators. They target customers at the point where they’re about to lapse, driving them back to your website, without you having to lift a finger.

You can also develop a stronger, loyal customer base by implementing a loyalty program. When you reward customers for choosing your brand, they’re more likely to return and spend more with you.

3. Focus on customer engagement

You can create unique and personal customer experiences using marketing automation.

Drip campaigns can maintain engagement with warm leads. Using marketing preferences, you can send prospects down paths tailored to their needs or interests. This keeps email subscribers engaged, without hassling them, leading to a better experience.

Similarly, aftersales campaigns are great to check in with recently converted customers. By delivering product instructions or care advice, you ensure that customers maximize their experience with your product while improving their experience with you.

When you deliver personalized content at the right time you build a stronger customer base that trusts you and your products. And when you deliver relevant content, you show that you care. Customers are more likely to return to a brand they have positive experiences with than try and find a new one.

4. Expand your marketing channels

With an omnichannel marketing automation platform, you can do so much more than just automate your email marketing. Marketing automation makes trialing and expanding your marketing channels easy.

Using customer data, re-engagement campaigns can cross channels and devices. When customers lapse, a re-engagement program will enroll subscribers into retargeting campaigns. Retargeting campaigns will surface your ads on various websites and social media channels.

To ensure your events get near-perfect attendance, use SMS alerts leading up to the day. SMS can deliver vital information, such as ticket details or the closest subway station.

Omnichannel marketing automation

Types of marketing automation programs

Customer engagement

  • Welcome program Make a good first impression with an automated welcome email series when someone subscribes to your email marketing.
  • Loyalty program Give customers a reason to come back to you by rewarding them for their loyalty.
  • Marketing preference collection program Ensure you’re sending the right content to the right reader by collecting their marketing preferences.
  • Birthday program Surprise and delight customers with exclusive discounts on or around their birthday.
  • Anniversary program Show customers you care with an anniversary program marking landmarks in your relationship.


  • Abandoned cart program Don’t let a potential sale slip through your fingers with this triggered campaign that sends whenever a shopper leaves your site with items in their shopping cart.
  • Post-purchase program Ask for reviews, get feedback, and send after-sale advice to capitalize on customer engagement.
  • Upsell program Use past-purchase data to send shoppers a follow-up campaign highlighting some key product recommendations to drive more sales.

Sales enablement

  • Follow-up program However you trigger a follow-up campaign (e.g. post-event, after a content download, or new subscription) automating this stage of the customer journey to help busy sales teams reach out to new prospects.
  • Lead nurture program Take prospects on a personalized and relevant multi-stage journey to get them ready to convert.
  • Abandoned browse program Use visits to high-intent pages such as pricing pages or demo requests to trigger abandoned browse campaigns before prospects lapse.


  • Win-back program Discover who in your database hasn’t interacted with shopped with your recently and deliver personalized content to win them back.
  • Lapsed lead program When a prospect stops engaging with your marketing efforts, lapsed lead programs can drive them back to you.
  • Renewal reminder Ensure customers renew subscriptions or memberships with you with a timely reminder.
  • Marketing preference updates program When customers stop interacting with your emails, asking them to update their preferences is a great program to get them engaged again.
  • Retargeting program For when email just doesn’t cut it, re-target customers on the internet and across social channels with personalized display ads.


  • SMS coupon codes program Drive spontaneous sales with a limited-time coupon code delivered straight to the customers’ phones.
  • SMS order confirmation program Keep shoppers up-to-date with their order details with some timely SMS.
  • SMS event reminder program With a 98% read rate within 5 minutes, there’s no chance attendees will forget the event you’re planning.
Time-saving marketing automations


Jenna Paton, Content Marketing Manager
Jenna expertly writes thought-leadership content about cross-channel marketing and customer engagement and manages the creation and execution of Dotdigital's content marketing strategy.

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Getting started with marketing automation

Whether you’re looking to get started with marketing automation or want to take it back to basics and refine your existing programs, our fundamentals of automation worksheet will help get you where you need to be.

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