Over the past few years, marketing automation has become a standard technology for online businesses, and it’s only getting more popular. Industry revenue is growing by more than 30% every year:

Adoption is growing, but the state of marketing automation is also evolving. New trends, technologies, and use cases are changing the role and benefits of marketing automation for businesses.

Read on to learn about some of the important marketing automation trends.

1. Automated Strategy Optimization

In the beginning, marketing automation was all about freeing marketers from tedious, repetitive tasks and helping them deliver their marketing messages at the right time. Now thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, it’s possible to also optimize your marketing message with the help of automation.

For example, AI technology can discover and catalog your website content and categorize it by relevance. Then it automatically delivers personalized content experiences suited to individual users.

Marketing automation can track users’ behaviors on your site and on other channels, and it can then use this data to understand their interests and intent. AI can then automatically suggest what kind of content and marketing message will be most relevant to these leads.

So instead of just saving you time on certain tasks, marketing automation can also help you improve your audience targeting and overall strategy.

2. Better Predictive Lead Scoring

Lead scoring isn’t a new marketing automation feature, but it’s bound to improve a lot. Most marketers either create their own scoring criteria or let their marketing automation tool calculate it for them based on interest, website behavior, email interaction, and other factors.

Now marketing automation software can use machine learning to improve algorithms and refine the lead scoring process. This makes it possible to derive deeper insights from the raw data and make a better assessment of individual buying intent based on the behaviors of each lead.

As lead scoring becomes more accurate, marketers will take advantage of it to drive more marketing decisions. Smart marketers will use lead scoring to decide which accounts to prioritize for their sales and marketing messages. Lead score will also inform what kind of marketing content is needed for different points in the sales funnel, so you can engage leads with the right message at critical points.

3. Better Cross-Channel Marketing

When marketing automation was in its infancy, new technologies popped up for every marketing channel. You had your email automation tool, social media marketing tool, blog management technologies, etc.

But now that it has grown in popularity, there are many all-in-one marketing automation solutions to choose from. While most marketers today still use disparate tools to manage their automated tasks, that won’t be the case much longer. That’s because consolidating your marketing efforts has serious benefits for your business goals.

When you handle email, social media and mobile marketing all in one place, it’s easier to build a cross-channel marketing strategy. Delivering a consistent marketing message across channels and devices helps to optimize your sales funnel, improve customer loyalty, and more. In fact, businesses with strong omnichannel marketing strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.

So if you’re still using five or more technologies to reach your audience on different marketing channels, now’s the time to consolidate. Look into using a marketing automation platform that can handle all these tasks – or one that integrates well with other technologies that do.

4. More Hands-On Marketing

For most digital marketers, automation is about streamlining certain processes and getting more time to work on other (more strategic) things.

But while saving time is important, many make the mistake of seeing marketing automation as an opportunity to “set it and forget it.” They automate their social posts and, as a result,  spend less time engaging on social platforms. Or they set up their email sequence but never stop to analyze its performance.

The most effective marketers realize that marketing automation is an opportunity to focus more of their energy on direct engagement and strategy optimization. Automation can help you better understand your audience, create a more effective marketing message, and deliver it at the right time to the right leads.

Marketers who make full use of the features that lead to these benefits are set up to overcome competitors who simply want to save time on tedious tasks.

5. Chatbots as a Marketing Standard

Another added benefit of AI in marketing automation is chatbots. A chatbot is essentially an automated conversation through messaging.

AI can automatically suggest relevant content based on consumer intent data and where a lead is in the sales funnel. It’s possible to also use this information to automate sales information, customer service and other suggestions with chatbots.

Businesses can use chatbots to recommend products and services, deliver marketing content, help users convert into customers, and more. Most chatbots are used on Facebook Messenger or another messaging service, but you can also set them up as a widget on your website.

Chatbots are a new, interactive marketing channel that will continue to grow in relevance as AI makes automated responses more accurate and helpful to consumers. Instead of seeing chatbots as a novelty, more businesses will seriously consider incorporating them into their marketing strategies.

Keep Up With the Marketing Automation Trends

Marketing automation platforms are constantly offering new tools and integrations that make reaching out to your target audience more efficient and effective. Marketers who take advantage of these changes before they hit mainstream will have a strong competitive edge over the rest of their industry. So always be on the lookout for new opportunities to optimize your marketing strategy with automation.