Thinking about incorporating marketing automation into your strategy?
Before you do, read this guide. In it, I’ll help you determine if marketing automation is right for your business, as well as go over examples of automation software used effectively.
What You’ll Learn:
- What marketing automation is
- The pros and cons of marketing automation
- When to start thinking about using automation
- How to incorporate marketing automation into your strategy
- Examples of effective marketing automation:
Starting and running a business of any kind requires a lot of work. And all that work is only worth it if you can find new leads, nurture them, and turn them into returning customers.
But getting new leads alone can take lots of time and energy – time that you simply don’t have. And then you still have to worry about keeping those leads engaged, interested, and ready to take the next step in your relationship.
So how does one accomplish it all without a marketing and sales team that rivals the size of Google? The answer is marketing automation.
Essentially, this is the process of using software to automatically do some of your marketing and lead generation processes.
By using automation to complete these tasks for you, it frees you up to do other tasks such as organizing events, ordering supplies, or any of the other numerous activities your business requires of you.
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation, at its core, is simply using software to automate some of your manual business activities, primarily in the marketing or sales department. However, it goes far beyond just adding software to your computer system.
Marketing automation is a relatively new concept that has really only taken off within the past ten years. In that timeframe, the industry has exploded, with new platforms and strategies for it appearing every day.
In fact, about 49% of all companies worldwide use some form of marketing automation, according to EmailMonday.
In addition, it has proved to be a must among best-in-class companies, who are 67% more likely to use it than other businesses.
Not to mention, when used correctly, automating a campaign can produce seriously impressive results. Take email marketing, for example. It’s becoming increasingly common to automate email campaigns, and for good reason. According to OptinMonster, automated campaigns get 119% more clicks than regular campaigns, and boost conversions 60%
Automation comes in many forms and can be used for every type of media channel, industry, or use. Things like email marketing, social media posting, digital advertising, landing pages and forms, and even analytics and lead scoring are all examples of marketing automation at work.
The Pros and Cons of Marketing Automation
These sometimes-minute actions of automation allow your business to more seamlessly and efficiently get things done.
However, the key is using the right strategies, along with your software, to maximize your potential and your ROI.
If not well thought out, automation can and will fail you. Here are some pros and cons that you should consider.
Higher Efficiency Between Marketing and Sales Departments
All too often, the marketing and sales departments of any given company find themselves at odds.
The two departments rely on each other to do their jobs correctly; however, sometimes, there is an extreme lack of communication.
This can cause you to lose leads, sales, and revenue. But thanks to automation, there’s software available designed specifically to increase efficiency and communication between departments. What the marketing department sees, the sales team does as well.
The system requires that both have a part and therefore pulls the teams closer together to work towards a common goal.
Constant Feedback Means Constant Improvement
As your automation platform performs its daily tasks, it is continually analyzing every piece of engagement, sale, or information along the way.
It can keep track of what is working, what is not, and who is buying it. This means you can continually adjust your marketing strategies based on that information and improve as you go, without having to manually evaluate each customer touchpoint or interaction.
Do More at Once
The whole point of automation is to save you time and money by doing things that are typically tedious (but necessary) marketing activities, such as sending out thank you emails or reminders about upcoming events.
But unlike you, automation software can interact with multiple clients about separate ideas on various channels – all at the same time. While your software goes to work on these tasks, you can do other more human activities.
As with any valuable business tool, the purchase price or cost for monthly use can be quite large.
But beyond that, it’s real value should always be measured according to your ROI. If you aren’t making enough back by using it, it may not be worth your time or your money.
Lots of Information is Needed
Firstly, Automation only works if you have leads to build off of.
Far too often, marketers buy into automation thinking it will generate new leads for them without having any other strategies in play. As a result, they have this excellent automation system, which often is rather costly, and no leads to use it on.
Thus, many start buying lists of email addresses to use instead of generating their own leads. But this only serves to agitate the problem further, as most of these email addresses have never heard of, let alone feigned interest in their brand or products.
This tactic produces unsolicited emails to people who are literally wasting their time and money, as well as contributing to lower engagement, email deliverability rates, ROI, and a less than admirable reputation.
Secondly, you need to have lots of information about your potential and current consumers. If you don’t have enough or your data is incorrect, then the system sending out automated messages has a high likelihood of sending out the wrong or generic information, which can be irritating to clients.
Maintenance is Required
Far too many people think of automation as a system they can set up and forget about, trusting it will work correctly 100% of the time.
When to Start Thinking About Using Automation
You may think a process that will save you time and money is a no-brainer and should immediately be started. And in some instances, that’s true.
Marketing automation, however, is not one of those, and there are definitely some things you should already be an expert on before automation comes into play.
Before even considering automation, you need to make sure you have a steady and consistent flow of inbound leads. As I mentioned above, automation without a strategy to obtain new and organic leads gets you nowhere but worse off than you were before.
Secondly, you must remember that while automation will help scale your efforts, it doesn’t do the actual marketing for you.
You need to have a marketing and sales team in place that knows how to nurture your leads and move them along the sales stages and buying process. Marketing automation can only then build off of that.
Another thing to consider is tracking and analytics. Automation can do this for you for the most part, but you need to have a thorough understanding of the analytics that matter most to your business before you “set it and forget it.”
How to Incorporate Marketing Automation into Your Strategy
As with many marketing and/or business strategies, you have to start somewhere, and usually that is using what you already have and slowly building on that. For marketing automation, it is no different.
The entire process needs to be uniquely yours. Automation is not a one-size-fits-all tool. And merely buying software for your business will not make it succeed. So you need to know exactly what your goals for automation are.
Do you need help with identifying the hottest leads, building email marketing campaigns, and tracking your prospects? Or are you more focus on renewals, targeting buyers at every step, and identifying areas of new growth?
Then you might want to take a look at how other businesses in your industry are using automation. Find out what works, and what doesn’t.
Make sure to include both your marketing and sales team throughout the entire process. Figure out their needs, how they would use this technology, and what could be done to make them more efficient.
Also take a look at your sales goals, your current and expected ROI, and the metrics used by your C-suite to gage those.
Then you can look for an automation platform that will meet all of your needs and help you grow as only you can.
Examples of Marketing Automation in Action
As I have specified a few times, marketing automation comes in a variety of forms from email marketing and social media to analytics and lead scoring. Here are some examples of successful automation at work.
One of the most common forms of marketing automation is email marketing. However, even in this sub-category there are a lot of variances.
You can use automation to send welcome emails to those who have just subscribed to your website or newsletter, adding in a discount on their next purchase or a free t-shirt.
Thank you emails are also popular, and can be used similarly.
Say a client comes into your store or online and makes a purchase. If you get their email address, you can then send them a thank you email, and possibly offer an incentive like being part of a VIP club that gives discounts for future purchases or a guide on how to use their new product.
Abandoned Cart and Upcoming Event Reminders
Automated emails can be sent to remind consumers of items still in their cart, or products they have watched but are in low stock currently.
Reminders can also be sent out about various upcoming activities, like the performance of a well-known band at your restaurant or a special sale on all of your electronics.
Change in a Contact’s Status
You can also have emails sent when something about a contact’s status changes.
Let’s say they changed their email address, home address, or participation level within your company. An email can be sent to verify the change is correct and ensure that the process is running smoothly.
Consumers love getting emails that make them feel special and appreciated. Birthday or anniversary emails are a great way to do this. Plus, it also nurtures a relationship with your customers that could otherwise get lost.
You can also use emails to continually engage the consumer with your products or information. For example, a visitor on your site just downloaded a brochure on “Visiting Greece.”
This could trigger your automation platform to then send them a short, weekly informational series giving them more in-depth information about related topics such as “Things to See in Athens” and “Best Grecian Cuisine.”
Marketing Automation: Social Media
Much like email marketing, social media can be a way to contact your prospective and current clients automatically.
Automate Messaging Across Platforms
Automation tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Crowdfire, and more can be used to send out the same or multiple messages or ads across all of your social media channels simultaneously.
They can also be programmed to send out birthday messages, thank you notes for making a purchase, or suggested info to check out after they like your page.
Provide Interaction and Customer Service
The right software could also “like” posts from your fans, invite contacts or friends to like or share pages and events en masse, or even comment on posts that mention your brand.
Domino’s Pizza does this in the Facebook example below, letting disgruntled customers know that their complaints are heard and giving them the opportunity to contact the brand directly about the issue.
Track Engagement and Notify Users When a Post Goes Live
Marketing automation software can also integrate with your CRM or RSS to track activity and campaigns, no matter where the engagement is coming from.
And when you post a new blog on your site, the software can send out a tweet or message on your social media platforms to let interested clients know.
However, just as with email marketing, not everything on your social media platforms should be fully automated. After all, these are people you’re interacting with, not robots.
Therefore, you need to sound and appear like a human who cares for them. Giving your audience generic messages or ones that don’t necessarily apply to them makes you look spammy and will give your brand a bad reputation.
Some social media platforms such as Facebook already have some automation built-in. Facebook allows to you to track customer behavior and engagement with your brand so that you can select and critique your audience to get the attention of just the right demographic.
Landing Pages and Forms
Automation tools can also let you easily create new landing pages and forms for your website.
This is typically done by copying an effective landing page you already have and creating a duplicate of it with new demographics, keywords, and/or products.
Track and Monitor Visitor’s Engagement
In this way, you can connect specific campaigns, phrases, or search keywords to your landing pages to increase conversion. The right automation platform can make sure to connect your CRM, analytics tools, and email marketing together to seamlessly track and monitor visitors and their engagement. Check out Unbounce or Instapage.
Messenger Windows and Popups
Another great example of automation on your landing page is a messenger window or small pop-up that allows visitors to contact you directly, such as the one below.
Answer Customer Inquiries
While it can be used for promos, as in the case above, the software can also be programmed to offer answers to common questions or problems they may have with your products or website through a tech bot.
Of course, there are always times when customers would rather speak with a real person so make sure, like the example above, that you give them a phone number or link to schedule a call with them.
You can also offer the ability to live chat with a technician or support specialist, like the example below.
Automatic Form Fills
As you automate different forms for online visitors to fill out, you will notice that less than half of those people actually complete the form. To avoid this, get their name and email address right upfront. That way you can send them automated reminders later to finish the form.
To increase the likelihood of them completing any form or registration, allow it be automated to fill in certain fields for them. Studies show that the shorter the form and less work a client has to put into it, the more likely they are to complete it.
Marketing Automation: Analytics
One of the best features of automation is its ability to track and monitor your leads, engagement, and conversions. Some marketing automation tools are designed explicitly for this while others incorporate it as well as several other automated processes.
Measure Ad Campaign Effectiveness
Tools like IFTT and Zapier, for example, can track leads from your Facebook ads. When a person subscribes or clicks on your ad, all of their contact info is automatically collected and stored.
By keeping track of this info and what ad it was given for, you can tell which ads were the most effective and which target audience they applied to the most. You can then use this to improve upon advertisements or keywords that maybe didn’t work so well.
Some automation platforms also allow you to input weekly, monthly, and even annual goals your company would like to achieve so you can gauge how close you are to meeting them.
Run A/B Tests
As you pay attention to this info, you can begin to run A/B tests on your different channels using automation software, which will evaluate how certain aspects of your campaign can be improved to get the maximum amount of engagement.
Take this simple example from OnSwitch, for example, which is testing out the effectiveness of emojis. Just remember to only run one A/B test at a time.
Monitor Competitor Performance
Another thing these marketing automation tools can do is compare your brand and its engagement to that of your competitors.
Instead of scanning each competitor’s websites and the news regularly, these systems can keep track of what they’re doing for you. This allows you to see what keywords they are using that work, as well as which ones don’t.
Manage Employee Efficiency
And don’t forget about your employees, either.
Some automation tools can even keep track of what projects specific employees are working on, letting you know just how productive each is and how you can increase their efficiency.
Wrapping Up Marketing Automation
Now that you know the basics of marketing automation and what it can be used for, its time decide it is right for you.
Make sure you fully consider how your business will use it and if it is worth it. Used correctly, marketing automation can be a fabulous tool, saving you tons of time and money. But if you don’t have well thought out strategies to accompany it, you might as well be throwing your money away.