What is a marketing automation tool?

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A marketing automation tool is the software you can use to streamline your marketing by replacing manual tasks with automated workflows. Marketing automation tools are included in many online marketing services, such as website analysis tools and email marketing services like Omnisend

In this guide, we’ll look at the benefits of marketing automation software and how to find the right software for your business.


Omnisend's email marketing automation suite includes SMS, segmentation, automated emails and more to improve engagement and sales. Visit Omnisend.com for a free trial.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is the process of using software to automate repetitive tasks. Email marketing, customer tracking, ad campaigns, and more can be heavily automated, freeing up your marketing team’s time for other duties. 

Your marketing efforts can be much more efficient because software can perform these repetitive tasks hundreds of thousands of times without issue. You get a higher return on investment in your marketing, and you can scale up marketing much more quickly when you employ intelligent automation software.

Marketing automation allows you to personalize your marketing and deliver messages at just the right time, catering to customers’ preferences and behaviors. You can nurture better leads by sending emails on specific days and personalizing the service you offer to each customer.

You can use marketing automation tools to track the performance of all your marketing campaigns and the relative performance of each of your marketing channels. With excellent reporting on your marketing, you can better decide how to market products and services in the future.

What are marketing automation tools?

There are many different marketing automation tools, often with very different purposes. For example, lead generation automation software aims to increase the number and quality of leads your sales team gets. 

Social media automation tools can create engaging social media posts, automatically post them on a set schedule, and highlight customer social media interactions.

Reporting and analytics tools track customer behaviors to give insights into how customers engage with your brand. Increasingly, artificial intelligence is used to create automated reports highlighting the parts of the customer journey that are working and the parts that require more work.

What are email marketing tools?

Email marketing is such a crucial part of digital marketing that companies often use a marketing automation tool specifically focusing on emails. You can use email marketing tools to design a professional email marketing campaign, deliver emails on a set schedule, and send emails based on specific user behavior.

For example, you can set up an email to trigger after 30 minutes when a customer puts items into their shopping basket but decides not to go through with the purchase. These abandoned cart emails can gently remind the customer of the product’s benefits or even offer a discount. 

With email marketing automation, your emails can be highly personalized without any extra effort from your marketing teams. The information gained from your customers’ past engagement enables the creation of personalized emails to be built automatically and include details you know will appeal to each individual.

How do you use marketing automation tools?

Designing a marketing automation strategy starts by defining your goals with real numbers to justify the investment. Collaborate with all teams to get their buy-in, input, and understanding.

Build a visualization of your current processes and find steps you could automate. Consider how your customer databases may need to change to facilitate better personalization.

Create a content library that will support your marketing automation. This content should be engaging, interesting, and relevant, reinforcing your brand. It should be available to be leveraged across multiple marketing channels.

Decide on the critical goals for each step of the process and choose metrics for measuring how well each step is performing. The performance of these key performance indicators (KPIs) will allow you to track what’s working and what isn’t.

Plan for a slow rollout. Step by step, put each part of your new marketing automation into action.

Which marketing automation tool should I choose?

There’s no shortage of marketing automation services available. Choosing the one you can use for the long haul deserves significant research.

Begin by defining the business goals you wish to achieve by using a marketing automation tool. Do you want to collect more customer data and track customer behavior? Better personalize the experience for existing customers? Remarket products and services? 

Unless you’re just starting, you’ll want to find a marketing automation platform that can integrate with your current software. Besides checking each marketing automation tool’s website, you can use sites like BuiltWith to get an idea of the software tools your competitors are using.

The other primary consideration is the budget. Check each marketing tool for its associated cost. Pay attention to how pricing scales as the number of customers you serve increases. Research whether you’ll need to pay for other add-ons down the line.

Other things to consider include how much customer support is offered, whether there is support for many third-party software integrations, and whether you can turn to a community of users for help when needed.


Marketing online includes many repetitive tasks. When you use automation tools that can perform these steps for you, you free up your time to perform more important duties that can’t be automated. Using marketing automation tools reduces costs and improves return on investment.

Marketing automation tools can help you improve your marketing and business by offering excellent metrics on your marketing performance. Personalizing marketing as much as possible is essential, and marketing automation tools help here too.

For more information, check out our guide to B2B marketing automation. Performing marketing automation in tandem with excellent customer relationship management (CRM) tools is another great solution, so have a look at our favorite CRM software. For a comprehensive guide to marketing your business, see our marketing 101 guide for small business owners.

Richard Sutherland

Richard brings over 20 years of website development, SEO, and marketing to the table. A graduate in Computer Science, Richard has lectured in Java programming and has built software for companies including Samsung and ASDA. Now, he writes for TechRadar, Tom's Guide, PC Gamer, and Creative Bloq.