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What is Marketing Automation and Why Does It Matter for Growth of Academic Institutions?
Automation is the key to success in this age of digital technology. Marketing automation, in particular, can transform the ways education sector functions. It can equip marketing teams in Universities and Colleges with new tools to improve performance and acquire new customers. Automation in marketing allows you to achieve business goals for your institution by optimizing campaign effectiveness while keeping the operational cost under control.
Automation takes care of your day-to-day repetitive tasks thereby giving your marketing team a better space to innovate and improve.
With ever increasing competition in education, Marketing has become an important driver of growth for academic institutions. Integrating automation tools into your workflow is therefore need of the day.
Universities in India are currently facing the challenge to execute a proper marketing strategy that is driven by technology. By taking advantage of technology they have the best way to succeed. Marketing automation, which is an offshoot of technological revolution, is developed to improve your financial health as well. Through automation, Universities can track even the smallest cash outflow and map its usefulness. By using automation tools, you can maximize return on investment to propel business growth. Every analysis is data driven, leaving little scope for subjectivity.
All the best Universities across the globe either rely on marketing automation or plan to implement a new automation platform soon. Their marketing teams recognize it as a great tool to justify return on advertising and promotion. It makes the whole marketing process efficient. It allows you to keep track on financial impact by improving cost per acquisition.
Marketing automation is a must-have for marketing teams operating in Colleges. Marketers who use marketing automation software tend to outperform marketers that don’t. But, even though people may have heard about it somewhere or read about it, many marketers are still unaware about its full potential.
What exactly is marketing automation and why do Universities need it? Why should you be interested to explore its utility? Let’s see further.
Marketing automation is basically a technology driven platform that allows businesses to streamline, automate, and measure their marketing activities and workflows for better outcomes and improved financial performance. The system improves efficiency of your marketing efforts and turns them into a growth model for your business.
A typical workflow in marketing automation may include following tasks:
- Email marketing
- Landing page creation
- Cross-channel marketing campaigns
- Lead generation
- Lead nurturing and scoring
- Cross-sell and up-sell
- Measuring ROI
- Website personalization
These activities are usually carried across Universities but without the right monitoring tools. A lot of work is done manually, giving less time to teams for strategic actions to innovate and provide useful inputs to drive the business forward.
When Do You Need Marketing Automation?
With advent of digital media technologies, marketing activities have grown tremendously. Earlier there existed only traditional mediums of marketing for reaching out to the potential customers. Also, there were no tools to measure campaign RoI.
But today we have innumerable channels of promotion both online and offline. Monitoring the progress and effectiveness of multiple initiatives at multiple levels becomes very difficult in such a scenario. That’s when automation platform is required to handle the campaigns and justify advertising return on investment (RoI).
Today, with the digitalization of admission process, Universities are experiencing a paradigm shift in student enrolment process. The entire admission marketing process is being transformed to a new level. Automation platforms provide marketing solutions that are easy to customize, extend, and deploy. These tools help institutions to increase their outreach capabilities, enhance recruitment efforts, expand customer service offerings, and improve end results.
Here’s a quick overview to give you a glimpse of what marketing automation can do for your College.
- It can track, engage and nurture leads using drip marketing technique.
- It can help you prioritize them based on their potential to convert.
- Segment leads based on level of engagement and interest
- Measure the revenue contribution of every single marketing campaign.
- Delegate tasks to team members and assign roles.
- Do all of these and much more without hampering other priorities.
A general myth about marketing automation is that it can replace your marketing team. This is not true. On the contrary, Marketing automation platforms augment your team’s efforts by giving them strategic inputs to improve performance. The technology allows you to scale your marketing activities in a more productive way.
Marketing automation engulfs all promotional channels, from social media to direct mail. The platform has immense benefits for your finance department as well. It helps to keep track of financial outflow of campaigns on a daily basis to ensure proper utilization of your marketing budgets.
In the current education marketing environment, the ability to acquire students without spending too much is becoming absolutely essential since most of the Universities have conservative marketing budgets. By using marketing automation, admission marketers can show higher results with low investment.
Marketing automation allows Universities and Colleges to deliver the ROI of their campaigns. The ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of campaigns is helping marketing departments move from cost centres to revenue generators. When marketing teams are able to show value proposition of their campaigns to Management, they gain access to more financial support. With enhanced support, marketers are better able to innovate new strategies and actions, and drive campaign RoI.
Automation is the main driver of modern day marketing departments. It allows you to scale your marketing efforts, reach prospective students more efficiently, manage and nurture leads effectively, and finally demonstrate value proposition to the management in terms of return on investment.
Before automating the marketing function of your University, it’s important to have clarity on the intended objectives to achieve from the process and its key benefits.
Basically, marketing automation is about optimisation of resources – time, budget and staff’s efforts etc. The whole exercise is not just restricted to streamlining of repetitive tasks using technology but to improve overall productivity.
How can academic institutions benefit from marketing automation?
In this section, we would touch upon some of the fascinating benefits of marketing automation that empowers education marketers to be extra effective in generating more returns through less investment.
Let’s see what are some of the important benefits that marketing automation offers to educational institutes.
1. Improves staff productivity
By using marketing automation, Institutes can make their staff more productive. Officials in marketing department are better equipped to manage leads by setting up campaigns that are automatically triggered based on user engagement.
2. Better ROI
When your interaction process with potential takers is customized and automated to suit their needs, rate of conversion increases. With automated lead management system, it’s likely that your marketing efforts will produce a better ROI.
3. Effective delegation of task and better accountability of marketing teams
Marketing automation leads to effective delegation and distribution of work among team members. If leads are being captured into the system but no engagement is happening or queries are not being answered then the marketing team will receive notifications for the same. Not only this, if you wish to analyse performance of individual members at any point then you can pull-out performance report of your team. This feedback can then be shared with individual members to work on weak areas.
This impartial feedback system improves accountability of staff and departments to ensure that they are performing effectively.
Irrespective of the size of the team, Marketing automation enables your team to outperform by working systematically. This makes their work more accountable and improves overall effectiveness.
4. Eliminates duplication of work to unleash creativity
You can free your staff for more creative input by replacing the repetitive manual work with automated processes and campaigns. In this way they can you get extra time to focus on more creative tasks.
Besides tangible benefits there’s intangible benefit too. Once your staff is freed from mundane and superfluous activities, they can not only bring creativity in their work but also the much needed pleasure of doing it. This helps in creating a pleasant and cordial atmosphere at workplace.
5. Process refinement
One of the most essential benefits of implementing marketing automation is that it streamlines the entire process of running multiple campaigns on multiple channels. Managing leads offline is a big headache for modern day marketers. Without a proper online module lead engagement and nurturing is less effective and cumbersome. It increases the burden of manual work on the staff and hampers productivity.
But with automation you can eliminate all these hassles and bring all your offline work at one place. Coordination among team members becomes easy because now campaigns can be tracked anytime, anywhere by anyone. It enables you to track lead source, lead conversion, contribution of each source in lead generation and final conversion etc. so that you can make refinements in those areas.
6. Target potential customers across multiple channels
One of the powerful benefits that marketing automation offers edu-marketers is the ability to reach customers in a personalised way across different online and offline channels.
When you create a marketing module to engage prospects, you can communicate with your potential customers at various stages of their journey.
Marketing automation tools have good number of options to set multi-channel targeting. The most commonly used modules are email and text sms.
7. Utilize A/B testing
A/B testing allows you to test two versions of a campaign. The one that gives better conversion rate, wins. Before sending emails to your mailing list, marketing automation tools make it easy to run ongoing A/B tests.
A/B test running on every campaign and at every stage of your marketing process over time can bring incremental improvements across your marketing activity and generate a significant improvement in your funnel’s efficiency.
8. Tap inactive but interested applicants
Through automated lead management you can arrest leakage of applicants at various stages of the applicant’s journey. Through automation you can send bespoke communication to all the prospects who have shown interest in your academic brand but show no further sign of engagement and form completion.
This will help to increase conversion and will bring positive impact to revenue growth.
Over time, the impact that this type of marketing approach can have on your customer acquisition journey can be quite impressive.
9. Scale up your marketing activity to a new level
The ability to scale up targeted marketing campaigns is another biggest opportunity available to marketers through automation. Never before they had the advantage of nurturing thousands of leads gathered from different channels through different messaging in a fully-automated way.
10. Save ample time by managing your digital media campaigns through automation tools
Most marketing automation tools allow you to manage all of your social media campaigns from within one dashboard, and post to multiple accounts in one go. This has been made easy by tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite. It’s a powerful way to manage multiple social accounts with one platform.
11. Pre-schedule posts and campaigns
Marketing automation tools make it very convenient to schedule multiple posts in advance so that you do not have to daily waste time in scheduling your social media posts.
This functionality is an added benefit to marketers as it allows them to easily schedule different posts to different segments of your audience, based on data from the CRM system.
The system also enables you to schedule one message to your whole database with slight variations. In this way you can engage different segments of your audience on the basis of their needs and interests.
12. Reduces the time of campaign creation
Most marketing automation tools have bespoke features to build email templates, social campaigns and ad designs. This drastically reduces your time to create and run multiple campaigns on multiple platforms. You only have to create one campaign and just replicate it on other platforms.
This way you can execute marketing campaigns more efficiently while saving time for the designing team.
13. Repurpose existing content to nurture leads
Through marketing automation tools you can use and re-use your existing content time and again to nurture leads. This is a more sensible way to repurpose your existing content and increase its shelf life which otherwise would have expired too early. The approach also ensures that you get maximum value from your content.
14. Reports and Analysis
Data mining becomes very easy through marketing automation. Through periodic analysis of the big data in your automation platform, you can easily identify what is working for you and what campaigns are not yielding the desired results. It will also give you deeper insights into the prospective customer’s behaviour. Depending on the user engagement, you can even segregate them in action buckets and prioritize your campaigns accordingly.
The deep level of information that marketing automation software provides enables you to create greater understanding of your efforts and its effectiveness in driving ROI.
15. Marketing automation ultimately benefits sales through lead scoring
The greatest value that marketing automation offers is to the sales team. By combining CRM and marketing data your sales team can be more efficient.
When you setup your marketing automation software, the system automatically assign scores to incoming leads based on the lead’s actions and engagement level. This means that your University’s sales team can now focus on tapping pre-qualified leads more efficiently based on their scores. They can prioritise lead action with lead scoring.
It is a valuable input to ensure that your focus and attention should be more on converting such leads in quick time.
Keep your CRM data up to date. By connecting your CRM system with your marketing automation tool, you can smartly gather more useful information about the prospective customer to increase conversion.
16. Know exactly when to engage
Along with lead scoring and prioritisation, you’ll also be able to set wait period for your drip campaigns. By tracking their communication log the system can set up notifications and updates for your leads. It reduces lead conversion time
17. Reduce lead conversion time
When you will use marketing automation, you will realize that your conversion rate has improved drastically. At the same time you become better equipped with data to justify marketing inventories purchased.
18. Automatically follow-up with leads
With automation, you can ensure that every hot lead is followed up straight away. No manual intervention is required at any stage.
Whether it’s late evening or early morning or during course of the day, your automation system continues to work for you even when you are not around.
Due to a combination of faster follow-ups and regular nurturing, your sales team can focus on producing more conversions.
With the amount of data captured by automation tools, you’ll have plenty of information on your leads, from what their challenges are, to what pages on your website they clicked on and when.
Marketing automation software is like a blessing in disguise. However before its implementation you should sit with the technology provider and have a threadbare discussion on what your expectations and requirements are from this tool. Only then can it be customized to suit your marketing needs and provide the best value for your time, money and effort.
Hopefully this post has given you a better understanding now of how your University can use marketing automation software and produce better ROI.