What is Marketing Automation?

Rukham Khan
Rukham Khan

Last updated on

March 10, 2023

 Looking back at the 2010s, ‘marketing automation’ stands out as one of the defining movements in marketing. The rise in popularity of the term speaks volumes to how marketing has evolved through the decade.

Marketing Automation has risen in popularity because of 3 important reasons.

  1. Data collection and analytics have massively improved
  2. The shift to digital naturally allows marketers to automate a lot of tasks
  3. Companies using marketing automation have enjoyed an increase in revenue
graph showing increase in revenue in correlation to rise in analytics
Source: Statista

Even with this open-arms adoption, there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding marketing automation. The term gets thrown around pretty casually, diluting its meaning in the process.

So then, what exactly is marketing automation? And what are its most common uses?

What is Marketing Automation?

speaker phone overlayed with a gear

Marketing automation is the set of tools, software, and technology that exist with the goal of automating marketing processes.

Marketing automation allows businesses to run repetitive marketing tasks like emails, texts, social media and ad placements on autopilot. This enables you to define rules and processes to target consumers, based on their activity and how they interact with a website or an online store.

It allows you to take control over certain aspects of your marketing strategy without having to manually manage every aspect of your campaigns.

The purpose of marketing automation is to nurture prospects and attract customers through highly personalized marketing messages across different channels.

Pro Tip: Have a look at this amazing article on marketing automation!

How is Marketing Automation Used?

Marketing automation works best for those processes that already exist within your businesses but ones you feel you can easily delegate and automate.

Marketing Automation tools use data points to understand customers through:

  • User events (touch point interactions)
  • User profiles (can be based on demographics, geography, and interests)
  • Customer segments (can be based on customer behavior)
  • Funnel stage

To create:

  • Scheduled notifications
  • Triggered notifications
  • Dormant user activation notifications
  • In-app messaging
  • Landing pages
  • Social media targeting
  • Automated Emails
  • Targeted Ads

That are meant to engage customers according to their interaction history with your company.

Essentially, there are 4 basic elements of the marketing automation workflow.


  • Triggers: an activity on part of the customer that starts the automation workflow
  • Delays: The timing between a trigger and the next action on part of your business
  • Conditions: these are the rules that guide the workflow (if A is true, do this. If B is true, do that)
  • Actions: what is done when a customer triggers the workflow, considering if the conditions are true or false.


In today’s world, a customer interacts with your business through emails, websites, social media, text, apps and advertisements. Collecting all this data gives you a rich, 360-degree view of a customer.

Marketing automation tools collect all this information and use it to segment and target audiences according to their profile. This allows you to create deeply personal brand experiences for your audience. Each experience can be tailored to the unique characteristics of a subset of this audience, based on data that is collected from their interactions.

You can set up your marketing automation tools in a way that whenever a customer performs certain actions, they automatically receive marketing messages that are tailored to those actions, making them more likely to engage with your brand, and move to the next step in your sales funnel.

The most common application of marketing automation is in the domain of email marketing and e-commerce.

Marketing Automation Applied

two pictures of a desktop and email icon

The world of email and eCommerce marketing automation are deeply linked and depend on each other to drive maximum results. Some examples which involve both domains include:

  • Sending your customers automated emails when they forget to check out their cart
  • Sending automated order fulfillment and tracking emails
  • Sending autoresponder emails for frequently asked questions
  • Sending discount coupon emails to frequent customers
desktop icon overlayed with ecommerce symbols

Automation workflows can be used to invite visitors to your site who browsed without buying anything or signing up with your mailing list.

You can automate this process by using cookie data to show ads on social media channels to only those people who visited but didn’t buy anything from you.

The promise of marketing automation is the unprecedented reach and customization it offers. With these tools, you can use countless behavior cues and triggers to design hyper-personalized messages, across multiple channels, to make the absolute most of your marketing efforts.

Do you think marketing automation is the future of marketing? Let us know in the comments below.


Author Bio

Rukham Khan

Rukham is the Content Lead at Mailmunch. He believes trust should be the basis for all marketing communications.


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