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What is marketing automation?

Discover the essentials of digital marketing automation and its benefits, plus actionable steps to streamline your marketing efforts and improve ROI.
Marketing professional learning about digital marketing automation.

Digital marketing automation has revolutionized the way marketers engage with their target audiences. According to Salesforce, an overwhelming 91% of companies have noticed an increase in demand for automation in the past two years. By leveraging marketing automation technology, you can streamline your workflow, personalize customer experiences, and drive growth.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain what digital marketing automation is, how it works, and the benefits it can offer to your marketing efforts. Whether you are just starting or looking to improve your current marketing strategies, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and practical tips to make the most of marketing automation.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is the practice of using software to automate repetitive marketing tasks. This powerful tool can help you streamline your marketing workflows, collect valuable insights, and deliver personalized content that effectively speaks to your target audience. Not only does marketing automation optimize your marketing efforts, but it also improves overall efficiency and generates better results.

How does marketing automation work?

Marketing automation works by using data and insights from customer interactions to inform marketing efforts. However, keeping track of all of these interactions manually is not practical. 

That’s where the marketing automation platforms come in. It allows you to collect and use this data across different channels to gain a better understanding of customer needs and preferences. By doing so, you can deliver the most relevant content to your customers at the right time, making for a more personalized and enjoyable customer experience.

The benefits of marketing automation

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, marketing automation has emerged as a game-changer for marketers. By leveraging advanced technology and data-driven strategies, marketing automation offers many benefits that can significantly impact your marketing strategy. Here are some key advantages of implementing marketing automation:

1. Time and resource savings

Marketing automation is a helpful tool that can save time and resources by automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as email marketing and social media management. These programs can efficiently analyze data, make decisions, and take action on a scale that is impossible for humans to manage, without the risk of human error.

By using marketing automation, you can reduce your day-to-day workload, giving you more time to focus on the strategic and creative aspects of your marketing campaigns. This increased efficiency ultimately leads to a higher return on investment (ROI) in your marketing efforts.

2. Improved customer targeting and smarter segmentation

Marketing automation tools offer a powerful way to improve your customer targeting and segmentation. One of the key benefits of using these tools is the ability to create highly granular segments based on a wide range of parameters, including demographics, behavior, and preferences.

For example, by using eRFM modeling, you can segment your customers based on their recency (how recently they made a purchase), frequency (how often they make purchases), and monetary value (how much they spend). This approach can help you identify your most valuable customers and tailor your marketing messages to their specific needs and interests.

With marketing automation, you can utilize machine learning algorithms such as predictive analytics to analyze customer behavior and patterns. By having access to a single customer view and all relevant customer data, you can use this information to strategize your future marketing efforts.

3. Personalized and relevant content

Personalization is a crucial aspect of building a strong relationship with your audience. Automating your marketing strategy can help you create a more personalized experience for your customers. By using dynamic and website personalization, you can deliver targeted content that resonates with your customers.

By using marketing automation, you can deliver personalized content to the right person at the right time, which can help you stand out from the competition, foster customer loyalty, and improve retention rates.

4. Data-driven decision making

Data-driven decision-making is a crucial aspect of marketing. With the help of marketing automation, you can easily access real-time data and analytics that provide valuable insights into your marketing strategy and campaigns. These insights enable you to identify trends and patterns, allowing you to make informed decisions that optimize your marketing efforts.

Leveraging the power of data, you can tailor your approach to target specific demographics or customer segments. Additionally, marketing automation enables you to monitor the performance of your marketing initiatives and make adjustments as needed to achieve better results. This approach eliminates guesswork and allows you to base your decisions on concrete evidence rather than intuition alone.

5. Streamlined customer journey

Marketing automation can help you respond to your customer’s actions and behaviors in a timely and personalized manner, thereby guiding them toward a successful conversion. This increased responsiveness can make the customer journey more streamlined and effective.

You can also send triggered messages tailored to the specific actions of your customers, such as abandoned cart reminders or post-purchase follow-ups. This personalized approach can increase the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

Ultimately, a streamlined customer journey can lead to higher satisfaction, lower churn, and increased revenue. By providing a seamless experience from the first interaction to the final purchase, you can establish trust and loyalty among your customers, driving long-term success for your business.

6. Creating unforgettable customer experiences

Marketing automation plays a pivotal role in crafting unforgettable customer experiences that leave a lasting impact. By leveraging automation tools, you can create meaningful and engaging interactions at every touchpoint of the customer journey. From the initial point of contact to post-purchase follow-ups, automation allows you to deliver personalized messages and offers that resonate with your customers.

Imagine a scenario where a potential customer visits your website and expresses interest in a particular product. With marketing automation, you can automatically send them targeted emails that showcase similar products or offer exclusive discounts. This not only enhances their shopping experience but also increases the likelihood of conversion.

How to get started with marketing automation

Now that you have understood what marketing automation is and its benefits, it’s time to learn how to get started with marketing automation. Here are seven essential steps to help you get started with a successful marketing automation plan:

1. Utilize a marketing automation platform

To begin your marketing automation journey, the first and most important step is to select an appropriate marketing automation platform. With Dotdigital, you can effectively manage and improve customer interactions across channels, consolidate marketing data in a single view, and create targeted, personalized campaigns that engage your audience.

A dependable marketing automation platform simplifies your marketing efforts, saves valuable time, and provides insights into customer behavior and preferences. This information is important in creating relevant campaigns that effectively reach the right people, ultimately leading to better results and enhancing the overall customer experience.

2. Set clear objectives

Before implementing marketing automation, it’s important to have clear and measurable objectives that align with your overall marketing goals. Whether you aim to improve customer engagement, generate more leads, or boost sales, clearly defining your goals will guide your marketing automation strategy and help you monitor its effectiveness.

3. Segment your audience

Segmentation is the key to delivering targeted and personalized marketing messages. Utilize data collected from various customer touchpoints to create meaningful segments based on demographics, behavior, preferences, and more. This will enable you to craft tailored content, enhancing the effectiveness of your marketing automation initiatives.

4. Map out customer journeys

When it comes to marketing, it’s important to understand the journey that your customers take. By mapping out the various stages of their experience, such as when they become aware of your product or service when they start considering it, and when they finally make a purchase, you can create an effective marketing strategy that guides them through each step.

Marketing automation is a great way to make this happen. By using a marketing automation platform to automatically send out personalized messages to potential customers at the right time, you can help guide them through the sales funnel and increase conversions. You can even create targeted campaigns for customers who are showing high intent to purchase.

For example, if a customer puts items in their online shopping cart but then abandons it, you can use an abandoned cart automation. This will send them an email with a special discount code to encourage them to complete their purchase.

5. Create relevant and engaging content

With your audience segmented and customer journeys mapped out, it’s time to develop powerful content designed to resonate with users. Effective content will captivate your audience, meet their needs and preferences, and drive them to take action. Test different messaging and visuals to optimize content for each segment and campaign.

6. Test and optimize your automation

After launching your marketing automation campaigns, it’s essential to continually test and optimize them to maximize their impact. Conduct A/B testing to analyze the performance of your automation and make data-driven adjustments to improve its effectiveness. Remember that ongoing testing and optimization are vital to the success of your automation campaigns.

7. Monitor results and iterate

Continuously monitor the progress of your marketing automation initiatives alongside your primary objectives. Assess key performance indicators (KPIs), such as click-through rates, open rates, conversion rates, and return on investment (ROI). By identifying patterns and areas for improvement, you can make informed adjustments to refine your marketing automation strategy over time.

Types of marketing automation programs

If you’re looking to integrate automation into your marketing strategies, you can start by implementing different automation programs. Marketing automation programs allow you to catch and nurture customers at any point in your customer journey. Here are some programs you can implement today.

1. Customer engagement programs


Create a strong and lasting first impression with an automated welcome email series that triggers when a new subscriber joins your email marketing list. This sets the stage for a positive relationship between your brand and your audience.


Encourage repeat customers and strengthen brand loyalty by implementing a rewards-based loyalty program. Incentivize your customers to keep choosing your brand through various offers, discounts, or personalized perks.

Marketing preference collection

Maximize customer satisfaction and engagement by collecting marketing preferences, ensuring that your audience receives content tailored specifically to their interests and needs. This also helps you reduce unsubscribes and enhances the relevance of your campaigns.


Delight your customers by sending personalized birthday wishes and exclusive discounts or special offers they can enjoy on their special day. This gesture not only reinforces your brand’s goodwill but also helps forge a deeper connection with your audience.


Demonstrate your commitment to customer relationships by celebrating significant milestones or anniversaries through specially tailored programs. Whether it’s the first anniversary of a customer’s first purchase or a long-standing partnership, acknowledging these landmarks strengthens the bond and highlights your brand’s attention to its customers’ milestones.

2. Ecommerce programs

Abandoned cart

Reduce cart abandonment rates and drive sales by implementing a triggered campaign that sends a reminder or offers an incentive when a shopper leaves your site with items still in their shopping cart. This nudges potential customers to complete their purchase and enhances revenue.


Boost customer engagement and satisfaction by sending automated follow-up emails after a purchase is made. Request reviews, gather feedback, or provide useful tips and advice related to the purchased product. This not only improves the customer experience but also helps build trust and loyalty.


Leverage past purchase data to create targeted follow-up campaigns that showcase relevant product recommendations for your customers. By presenting complementary or upgraded products, you can drive additional sales and increase the average order value, while also meeting your customers’ needs.

3. Sales enablement programs


Automate the process of reaching out to new prospects through follow-up campaigns triggered by various actions, such as post-event, content downloads, or new subscriptions. This helps busy sales teams maintain consistent communication and cultivate relationships with potential customers.

Lead nurturing

Enhance the chances of conversion by guiding prospects through a personalized, multi-stage journey that addresses their needs and builds trust. Marketing automation streamlines this process by optimizing content delivery based on user interactions and preferences.

Abandoned browse

Identify prospects who show high intent by visiting pages like pricing or demo requests and send triggered campaigns to reengage them before they lose interest. This proactive approach can help keep potential customers within your sales funnel.

4. Re-engagement programs


Reconnect with customers who haven’t engaged or shopped with you recently by delivering personalized content designed to win them back. Tailored incentives and offers can help reignite their interest and rekindle their relationship with your brand.

Lapsed lead

When a prospect disengages from your marketing efforts, implement targeted lapsed lead programs to drive them back to your business. These campaigns provide fresh content or incentives that can recapture their attention and stimulate renewed interest.

Renewal reminder

Automate timely reminders for customers to renew their subscriptions or memberships, ensuring consistent revenue and maintaining ongoing relationships with them.

Marketing preference update

When customers become disengaged with your emails, encourage them to update their marketing preferences as a way to reestablish their interest and deliver content that better meets their needs.


Expand beyond email and engage customers across the internet and various social channels through personalized display ads. Retargeting campaigns can recapture the attention of users who have interacted with your brand but haven’t converted.

5. SMS programs

SMS coupon codes

Boost spontaneous sales by sending limited-time coupon codes directly to customers’ phones, tapping into their sense of urgency, and encouraging immediate purchases.

SMS order confirmation

Keep shoppers informed about their order details and enhance their overall experience with timely order confirmation messages sent via SMS.

SMS event reminder

Ensure event attendance by taking advantage of the 98% read rate within 5 minutes of sending SMS messages, providing reminders and crucial information to attendees to keep the event top-of-mind.

Is Dotdigital a marketing automation platform?

Yes. Dotdigital is a marketing automation platform that can enhance and extend your marketing strategy and campaign activations. It has advanced features and an easy-to-use interface that allows you to create, automate, manage, and analyze your cross-channel marketing campaigns with ease. 

The platform synchronizes with ecommerce and CRM platforms so marketers can segment, personalize, and target customers with highly relevant and engaging content. With Dotdigital, you can create dynamic email templates, automate your campaigns, and track campaign performance in real-time. This makes it an ideal choice if you’re searching for an all-in-one marketing automation solution.


Marketing automation is a powerful tool that enhances your marketing efforts, saves time and resources, and improves customer experiences. By incorporating marketing automation into your marketing strategy, you can better understand your customers, deliver relevant and personalized content, and streamline the customer journey.

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