Marketing Automation Basics

So you’ve decided to invest in marketing automation. Good decision. Marketing automation, in particular email marketing automation, remains one of the highest ROI weapons in your marketing arsenal.

Done right you can see high conversion rates. One welcome program I developed enjoyed a 48% conversion rate.

So what is marketing automation? And what are the basics you need to know to get started?

Marketing automation can be whatever you want it to be. You can shape it around your business needs and most importantly, the data you have. Essentially it is one or more marketing touch points automatically triggered by a behaviour or data flag.

You can use it for anything from nurturing a lead through the funnel, to on-boarding a new client, to winning back new customers.

Choosing a marketing automation platform

You should consider your platform very carefully before committing to a contract. Court 3-5 platforms and get a feel for their functionalities.

The bigger players can offer you all the add-ons and integrations you could wish for. Obviously though this comes at a price. The most enticing features (like geo-targeting or social integrations) aren’t included in the base package. You should expect to pay a heck of a lot more for them.

Additionally, in my experience, once you’re a customer, support can be somewhat impersonal. They won’t be able to hold your hand.

If you’re inexperienced or have more complex set-up requirements then a smaller, more attentive provider may be better suited.

Ultimately you’ll be using this platform every day for at least a year. If it doesn’t function the way you need it to then you’re not going to have fun.

Understand your business needs

Marketing automation can be flexible in meeting your business needs. The only limit is your creativity (and your data).

If you’ve started your contract with a platform, or are building your business case, the first thing you should do is understand what you’re going to use it for. Make a priority hit list.

For example, do you have a problem with low sales or engagement from new customers? Improve this with a nurturing on-boarding program. Although to be honest, a decent on-boarding marketing automation should be top of your list.

Do you have trouble converting a large number of leads? An automated multi-touchpoint, cross-channel marketing automation could help more leads down the funnel and across the finish line.

Cross-channel marketing automations

The primary channel for marketing automations is email. Email has a high ROI, and most automation platforms have been developed from email service providers (ESPs).

However, to go next level with your marketing automation you should think cross-channel.

For example, you’re building an abandoned basket automation. You might start with an email reminding them to complete their purchase. If this doesn’t convert, follow it up by triggering Facebook ads, then a display campaign.

How about a B2B example. You want to convert leads collected at an industry event. Use your marketing automation to send a follow-up email or two. If they don’t bite, use the tool to add a flag to their data record requesting your sales team give them a call.

Fair warning though – your capability to automate all these cross-channel campaigns may be limited by your particular marketing automation platform and/or your CRM system. But if you can push for the right integrations and APIs then you will see results.

Get to know your data

When it comes to what kind of marketing automations you can build, you’re only limited by your creativity and your data.

For example, an abandoned basket automation is a great opportunity to push conversions. However if you don’t have a live API feed of your sales data this won’t be possible.

Get to know the data fields you do have. This will guide your top priority marketing automations.

Then consider what data you could collect. For example, could collecting a job title help you target more qualified leads? Remember that if you or any customer is based in the EU you will need to be GDPR compliant.

Test, optimise and improve

Once you have your marketing automations up and running, it’s nice to think you can sit back and watch the sales roll in. For some organisations this may be fine; time constraints may mean you need to move onto the next project.

To get more out of your marketing automation you need to be constantly testing and optimising. Test incentives, the copy, the design, the channels, timings, everything.

Most platforms will allow you to A/B test within your program so you can see clearly which iteration is converting. Once you’re confident with the results, deactivate the underperforming stream, and start testing something new. As with all areas of marketing you should always be testing, learning, and improving.

I hope I’ve given you enough inspiration to get started on your marketing automation. If you have any more questions, or you’re looking for email copywriting services, please feel free to get in touch with me.

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