Digital marketing and marketing automation: Know what’s different



Wlliam J.Mock


February 24, 2023

Inbound Academy

Digital marketing is a well-known concept. But what is marketing automation. Does digital marketing and marketing automation mean the same? Let’s find out.

You may not realize it immediately, but automation is everywhere. With an automation revolution happening across the marketing world, marketers across industries are not just talking about marketing automation but leveraging it to make their lives much easier.

Marketing automation gives a much-needed fillip to digital marketing efforts; getting the right message out to consumers at the right time when they are best placed to make a purchase decision is an absolute imperative.

There is no doubt that marketing automation is the future. According to an Acumen Research and Consulting study, marketing automation is set to reach a market size of more than USD 12 billion by the end of 2023.

So, let’s look closely at marketing automation and why it is essential to digital marketing.

What is marketing automation and what is it not?

You may be receiving tons of product or service promotion messages every day. Look at your inbox, SMSs, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter feed. You will see emails, messages, and adverts asking you to buy something or the other. These marketing messages are seemingly thrown at you from every direction. Now, take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of marketers.

Think of the effort needed to create and distribute these messages day in and day out without a break.

Marketers must do this without a break, always meeting peak productivity and efficiency levels. To remain competitive, companies notch up marketing spend, which needs to be optimised in the current economic scenario. According to Insider Intelligence, 30% of major advertisers are cutting down on their ad spend in 2023. So, we are looking at a scenario wherein marketers want to improve productivity, achieve cost optimization, and better marketing ROI.

This cannot happen if they stick to a legacy approach to digital marketing driven by manual dependencies.

Enter marketing automation


Marketing automation can be defined as a process that leverages purpose-built software to automate repetitive marketing activities. For example, marketers can automate critical yet time-consuming marketing activities such as email marketing, social media posting, reporting, and more to accelerate their go-to-market campaign, improve the efficacy of the overall marketing process, and deliver a more personalised promotional experience to target consumers.

If we dig a little deeper, we can see that automating consumer-facing marketing activities helps identify potential customers, who can be nurtured with an automated process that makes them ready to make a purchase. Many activities that convince a prospect to try a particular product can be automated, but it doesn’t end there. Automation ensures active customer nurturing, converts customers into repeat buyers, and drives product upsell and cross-sell.

Automation enables a more aggressive and strategic marketing approach that can deliver better results using data. With automation, marketers can easily track customer buying behavior across their business websites and other buying channels to get an insightful picture of their target consumers. This allows them to create more meaningful and outcomes-focused campaigns.

Now that you know what marketing automation is and how it is helping the marketing effort, it is important to understand where your expertise in marketing automation comes in:

  • It will not do your thinking for you. For example, say you are in the business of selling hair care products. You configure an automated campaign, but the messaging across emails is all wrong. Such automated campaigns won’t work. It would help to create a compelling message that delivers the necessary ROI, at each stage of the marketing funnel.
  • It will not help you strategise a campaign. The whole point of using an automation tool is to ensure you have more time to look at the bigger picture and create and implement a campaign based on all the data captured from your marketing activities.
  • It won’t work on its own. You will need to take some time to learn the marketing automation tool you have implemented and set up the required automated marketing activities.
  • It will not deliver value if you have limited skill sets. Therefore, its value is directly proportional to the extent of your skillsets and your understanding of marketing automation.

Goodbye Digital Marketing. Hello Marketing Automation!


HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing Trends finds that there is a growing reliance on marketing automation and automation integrated with AI. You will miss out if you have not boarded the automation train.

Findings from a Marketing Automation Report by ResearchGate illustrate why digital marketers are moving to marketing automation. For example, 45% of companies said that marketing automation improved their efficiency and marketing ROI, while 39% said that marketing automation led to higher lead quality. These figures are enough to prove the worth of automating specific marketing activities.

The problem with manual-centric digital marketing is that it eats into an already limited time that marketers have at their disposal, and it can result in inaccuracies in the form of incorrect messaging, inaccurate targeting during campaigns, improper reporting, etc. This is why it is essential to look beyond and make marketing less time-consuming, more productive, and more efficient.

Marketing automation helps you do all this and at the same time, it helps you cut down on marketing costs, which helps you maximize the potential of the marketing budget.

When you choose marketing automation, it is crucial to understand that it is a brand new way of looking at marketing and implementing marketing strategies. Simply put, marketing automation takes you a step ahead of digital marketing.

Evolution of Marketing Automation

According to Allied Market Research, the generative AI market size will be $126.5 billion by 2031. This AI technology is making waves and inroads across diverse functions, including marketing. We already see the most popular marketing automation companies integrating their CRMs with generative AI. It takes marketing automation a few notches higher and makes it simpler to get the outcomes you need.

All you need to do is use conversational text messages for diverse marketing use cases, including creating product images for online stores, content marketing, SEO, building a more engaging and productive customer services framework, and much more. Things will get even better hereon with the goal of being able to make marketers more efficient and outcomes-focused than ever before.

With the automation of marketing tasks through technologies like generative AI, marketers can spend even more time figuring out marketing campaigns with all the data intelligence at their disposal. More importantly, it won’t take time to create content such as articles and ad copies, set up data-driven campaigns, and make sense of the outcomes. It will be available on a platter.


You are on the wrong track if you are not excited about marketing automation and have no plans to leverage its infinite potential. You must be able to make the most of automation to save time and become more efficient at what you do. And for that you will need to know marketing automation.

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