What the Heck is Marketing Automation Really All About?

By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist

marketing automationNow and then someone raises their hand and asks for a generous infusion of marketing automation. They’ve heard the popular buzzword, but the definition isn’t exactly clear. Their well-intended (but mistaken) objective is to realize all the rewards of marketing—generating new business—powered by a semi-magical, set-and-forget software.

This description is a bit of an exaggeration. Understandably, the normally hectic environment of a typical medical office inspires wishful thinking. Can computer automation take over the marketing chores? Well—no. Definitely not the way some people envision things.

Will the real marketing automation please stand up…

Marketing automation is not a computer replacement for experienced professionals, hands-on program planning, and project management. In fact, it will not do much without professional marketing brainpower at the controls.

The primary benefits of this kind of software are in handling repetitive marketing tasks and sophisticated calendars. The automation can lighten the workload by handling a stream of chores related to social media, website follow-up, email distribution and the like.

Automation isn’t a fit for every situation. But hospitals, medical groups and larger private practices may benefit from the technology. Here are some things that are important to know about working marketing automation for maximum success:

The right message, right person, right time. There’s no need for a special system to shotgun-dispatch an identical email a zillion times. Instead, a well-crafted marketing automation tool can selectively communicate a particular idea across multiple channels. For example, it can send a subject-specific email message (or series) based on something about the recipient and sent in a timely sequence.

The power of personalization. Formulas within the system allow for “if-then” conditional statements. Thus, if data about a person points in a particular direction, it may indicate a need or interest that the automation can answer. Contrary to the name, many considerations are not automatic.

It’s relationship building. Successful marketing hinges on establishing and maintaining an emotional connection with people. The action step is to inspire a transaction, such as scheduling an appointment. But the (auto-assisted) process nurtures a relationship over time and multiple touch points.

A sophisticated tool needs a sophisticated plan. A computer can facilitate multi-faceted algorithms. Ultimately, success depends on the planning and use of the database, an understanding of the needs of the individual, and providing the right type of call to action. What’s more, managing these variables is an ongoing task, with major and minor changes and adjustments.

Marketing Automation works best in sophisticated applications that follow thoughtful and detailed strategies and tactics. It can remove repetitive tasks, but it is not intended to indiscriminately blast “everything to everybody.”

In fact, it’s best to approach your marketing automation options with professional and experienced help by your side. Let’s talk about what you have in mind. Call 800-656-0907 today—we’d be glad to help.

Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist at Healthcare Success
In her career, Kathy has helped over 4,000 clients all over North America achieve their growth goals. As an award-winning strategic marketing planner, Kathy has been involved in both the high-level strategies required for long-term sustainability, plus the tactical execution used to accomplish the day-to-day successes. Kathy’s clients include practices with annual revenues well over $10 million and with annual marketing budgets up to $900,000. In addition, Kathy is an accomplished speaker, appearing at countless national, local and state healthcare associations. Kathy is a member of the American Marketing Association and The Direct Marketing Association.



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