I can’t help but look forward constantly to the future of MarTech and what the world will look like. At times I have an incredibly clear vision of what needs to happen and what our ever-expanding abilities with technology will allow us to do. At times I am faulted for ignoring the past and not living in the present quite enough. With abashed hesitation I must accept the slight truth in the statement. I have a deep desire to see Mautic lead the way into the exciting new opportunities which lay just beyond the MarTech landscape today. I believe our open source community and product is capable of reaching points other software platforms simply cannot attain.

But it would be ignorant of me and reckless if I never stopped to remember the goals, consider the past, or explore the present situation of marketing automation as I prepare for the future. I hope you’ll join me through the following short paragraphs as I take a moment to reflect on these three areas (and then of course dive back into a quick chat about what’s coming next!).

Marketing automation’s goal

In any retrospective subject of thought it’s helpful to start by gaining perspective. This perspective typically comes in the from of reviewing the motivation and goals behind a particular course of action or in the case of a product, the problem it attempts to solve. Marketing automation is a solution to a problem (or rather, it is supposed to be). The problem which marketing automation intends to solve is the overabundance and proliferation of personal relationships maintained across a constantly growing set of social media and digital communication channels. 

The goal for marketing automation software was simple. Make the marketer’s life easier by automating the communication and day-to-day relationship nurturing which had quickly become an unwieldy,, impossible mountain of tasks. Marketing automation sought to alleviate this stress without losing the personal touch of a handcrafted email delivered at just the right moment. 

There’s a couple key ideas in that last sentence. Marketing automation was meant to automate sending a multitude of messages to a growing number of potential customers. But this wasn’t the only focus, the idea existed that these messages should still be personal and feel unique to each potential customer.

Now, that goal has shifted a bit as the technology and society has changed, but we’ll return to that notion a bit later.

Marketing automation’s past

The first marketing automation tools were weak and unimpressive, but that’s not to say they didn’t solve a part of the problem. And there’s nothing wrong with this approach. As is often the case software evolves over time. Companies intent on ‘scratching their own itch’ built tools to be used internally and then discovered others might also benefit from these same tools. So they began to sell them. They created a product to meet a perceived need. And they did so hoping to realize the goals we shared in the beginning.

Practically speaking this mean we saw marketing automation tools which handled processing a lot of contacts and sending them email messages. The “fancy” tools went a step further and allowed these messages to be customized with mail-merge type of functionality. The final piece of this marketing automation past occurred when these tools allowed those messages to be delayed and sent at dates in the future. Now we’ve got the concept of automation. Of course today we would scoff at this idea of marketing automation but at the time this was revolutionary.

Marketing automation’s present

As time passed the companies built to help the lives of marketers slowly grew the concepts and ideas of marketing automation into a superior vision. Today, marketing automation could be better defined as follows:

Marketing automation automates the sending a multitude of messages across a wide number of unique channels to a growing database of potential customers all while making each message personalized and relevant based on the comprehensive digital online profile of each individual.

Marketing automation has come a long way! It’s exciting to look around and see what marketers are able to do now as a result of the current marketing automation tools. Well, maybe I should set the context on that phrase a bit more precisely. Marketers are able to do some incredible things now. Tools, like Mautic, give the ability to send relevant messages based on an individual’s digital footprint very specifically and effectively. Unfortunately, the vast majority of marketers have not yet taken full advantage of these features.

Practically speaking this means much of marketing automation has not evolved beyond mass email sending. Many still use these marketing automation tools just as they did in the past and have not grown at the same rate as the software. This tends to suggest the marketers need either more training and education, or the tools should adapt to be easier to use and understand. Either way, the marketing automation implementations of today are not living up to the potential of the software tools available.

Marketing automation’s future

This realization of the current usages of marketing automation tend to overshadow and intimidate our ability to look ahead at the future of the product and the technology. Recognizing the hurdles we still have to overcome to use today’s software effectively limits our ability to chase the future from a technology standpoint. We need to double-down on understanding, learning, and improving our use of marketing automation as marketers. Only once we are using today’s technology to its fullest are we free to explore what comes next.

But (you knew there was going to be something else, right?) this does not mean we should limit our thinking about the future. We cannot ignore the future and the advancements in technology occurring all around us. Mautic is devoted to seeing and creating the future of MarTech. We are the future of MarTech. My point is merely that we have an obligation to our community and marketers everywhere to do this in the right way. As I share my thoughts about where marketing automation is going and what we are creating in order to lead the way we must continue to educate and help marketers do marketing automation better.

I am extremely excited to share something later this week which demonstrates this belief in continuing the advancement of marketing automation today. Mautic is continuing to bring people together around the world and improve the lives of marketers everywhere. Stay tuned if you want to learn more!