Ever feel like your to-do list is piling up, and you never have any time to accomplish everything? With consumer demand changing the way we work, not to mention the increasing competition, a little help can go a long way - and that’s where marketing automation comes into play.
You may have heard of marketing automation - after all, the industry is growing rapidly, and with the benefits that it brings to the table, it’s clear why.
From simplifying routine marketing tasks to gathering important user information to managing and nurturing leads, marketing automation possibilities are endless - and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be capitalizing on that power.
So, to clear your path to automation, we’ve created this comprehensive guide.
But, before we dive into our guide, let’s take a moment to define what Marketing Automation is:
Marketing automation is the process of using technology to automate, streamline, deliver, and measure meaningful marketing activities.
There are a multitude of repetitive tasks that can be automated. Some of the most common are:
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Ad campaigns
- Landing pages
So, why should you invest in marketing automation?
Simple! First, consider the following: according to Aberdeen, companies using marketing automation see a revenue growth rate that is 3.1% higher than non-users.
Second, don't forget about your never-ending to-do list that we mentioned above. With marketing automation, you can effectively streamline time-consuming, manual processes, as well as eliminate repetitive tasks, thereby freeing you up to collect data, personalize interactions with customers, fine-tune targeting, nurture leads, and much more!
When is the right time to invest in marketing automation?
Well, generally speaking, if you’re generating quality content, have a steady flow of organic leads, and have validated your business value proposition, chances are you’re ready for marketing automation.
Ask yourself the following questions before taking the plunge:
- Have you established 2-3 profitable acquisition channels?
- Is your business generating consistent monthly revenue?
- Do you have a good understanding of your users, their pain points, interactions, and behavior?
- Do you have a content strategy mapped out for each stage in the funnel?
- Do you have a successful lead nurturing strategy?
If you answered yes to these questions, marketing automation can help scale your efforts. Keep in mind, marketing automation doesn't do the work for you, rather scales your successful efforts and streamlines repetitive tasks.
The Marketing Automation Process
Define Your Goals
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to mention. Before you do anything, you must determine exactly what it is that you want the marketing automation software to help you achieve. With this determined, you’ll be able to strategize and plan your activities accordingly.
So, take a moment to think. What goal are you trying to achieve? Generate more leads? Boost sales? Nurture leads? Each goal will have a different strategy, so it’s important to nail this down from the get-go.
Who Are You Targeting?
With your goal in mind, it’s time to identify your target audience. Every objective has different needs. And so, rather than targeting all your customers at all times, you may be more successful picking a specific point of the conversion funnel to target - depending on the goal, of course.
Example 1: if you wish to generate active engagement from users before they’ve bought your product. Marketing automation can help you provide value to your users and address their needs by delivering the right message at the right time. Keep in mind: the aim is to provide users with as many reasons as possible to visit and remain on your site.
Example 2: if your goal is retention, you can use marketing automation to gather behavioral data and then use that information to deliver highly personalized content. In this case, it would make no sense to target the lower parts of the conversion funnel.
Example 3: if you wish to encourage your existing customers to recommend your product/service to their network, you can introduce a rewards program using marketing automation to segment your customers and automate emails and landing pages that contain rewards.
Map User Flows
This is a representation of every page a person visits before taking an action. Having a comprehensive user flow up your sleeve will help you improve the customer experience at every point of interaction. How?
Well, remember, you want to drive visitors to act, right? So, depending on how your visitors arrive on your website, and what stage in the conversion funnel they are in, you want to ensure they are directed to a page that will appeal to them, whether that’s a product page, the blog for more information, signup page, joining an email list, or anything else.
Mapping out this flow will show you how people are arriving at pages on your website, which pages they visit before they take the desired action, and how many pages they visit. With this information, you’ll be able to ensure that visitors don’t have to take more steps than necessary, and you can avoid coming across as pushy and turning people off.
Ready, Steady, Automate!
If you’re new to automation, setting up a workflow for your processes and staff is key to success. Think of it as a safety net that ensures your automation yields the best results.
This may seem like a daunting task, as there are so many marketing automation platforms on the market these days. But, you can overcome any challenge with extensive research. From the cream of the crop to smaller automation platforms specifically tailored to your industry, do your research. Look for the features that suit your needs the most, not to mention budget.
And most importantly, when in doubt, test out the platform. Most platforms offer a short free trial. So, try out as many platforms as necessary until you find the right one for you.
Like any other new process you introduce in your company, you can’t expect it to run like a well-oiled machine unless you take the time to train your staff. Take the time to demonstrate how the platform of your choosing works, as well as the benefits, and be open to clarify any doubts or concerns your team may have.
Select the tasks to be automated
Once you and your team are on the same page, you’re ready to automate. Map out all your marketing tasks to find the ones most time-consuming and repetitive. Some examples include: email marketing, lead scoring, lead nurturing, tracking and analytics. Now, it's time to set up your campaigns - this is where your targeting comes into play, so be sure you're making use of your analytics.
There’s no point doing anything in marketing if you’re not going to take the time to evaluate the success of your efforts - your marketing automation campaigns included.
Evaluate your campaigns to determine what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs improvement. A/B test multiple options to find the most effective. For example, if you’re working on an email automation campaign, A/B test multiple copy options until you find the one that drives the highest open rate.
Do this for all the processes that you decide to automate until you’re happy that your campaigns are running at their most optimal and the goals you set are accomplished.
Avoid spamming: using all CAPS, including too many links, adding too many symbols. These are only some examples of things that can trigger spam filters and disrupt your marketing automation efforts - and let us not forget words that can trigger spam. Ensure that your subject lines and messages don't mislead readers, and always add an opt-out option for recipients that no longer want to receive your emails.
Fine-tune your mailing list: having a long mailing list may seem like a good idea, but it’ll do nothing for your efforts if it’s filled with unqualified leads. So, don’t make the mistake of buying mailing lists. Rather, take the time to refine your list and include only qualified leads. It’ll increase your chances of conversion.
Segment and rate your leads: always remember that no two leads are the same when it comes to quality. Your mailing list will be filled with a mix of people either ready to buy, those searching for more information, and people that, most likely, won't convert. So, don’t waste your time creating general messages, which we guarantee you will not appeal to all. Instead, segment and rate your leads to separate those that need more nurturing from those ready to be turned over to sales.
What are the Benefits?
There are a vast number of benefits that marketing automation can provide your business. Here are a few:
One of the greatest benefits that marketing automation brings to the table is the increased efficiency between marketing and sales teams. In fact, “marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.”
More Personalized Content
People like personalized content, so much so that sending personalized emails generates six times more revenue than non-personalized. Go figure! But manually sending personalized messages to your users is not only impractical but also extremely time-consuming. The good news? For marketing automation platforms, this task is a piece of cake. Therefore, letting you spend time on other more challenging tasks.
But, wait a minute, you may be wondering how you can even send out personalized emails in the first place. Well, marketing automation platforms collect and analyze data on customers, sales history, campaign success, and much more. With this data in hand, you’ll be able to A/B test and make more informed decisions when it comes to any future strategies.
As for personalized content, you can use this data to understand what pain points you must deliver on in your campaigns for maximum effectiveness - that is, for increased email open rates and conversions.
Customer Experience & Revenue Growth
Marketing automation helps you track and understand user behavior at every stage of the sales funnel thereby, opening the doors to you providing the right content - at the right time. With this process in action, you’ll be able to attract, encourage, and retain users, thereby increasing the chances that they’ll stick around and convert.
Are you still on the fence about taking the marketing automation plunge? As certified HubSpot partners, our experts can help you streamline all your repetitive tasks, accomplish all that we laid out above, increase ROI, and much more. Contact us today to discover how we can help you!