Marketing automation has created quite a buzz.
Below I’ve laid out a few simple strategies to get you started and produce a big return.
It’s a big deal for a good reason.
Among its many benefits, it can help gain and nurture contacts and push them through the sales funnel while saving you time and increasing productivity.
Sounds pretty good, right?
Right. But the real question is how to leverage it for your company.
It’s not enough to simply subscribe to the software and hope it works. To really reap the rewards, you have to approach it as just one aspect of your marketing plan.
And of course, any successfully executed marketing plan starts with well-thought-out strategy.
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation refers to any software used to automate marketing actions.
It’s software designed to aid you in executing a variety of marketing tasks, from sending follow-up emails to posting updates on social media sites.
And it’s becoming invaluable to busy marketers everywhere.
According to Marketo:
- 91% of the most successful users say marketing automation is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing programs
- 25% of survey respondents rated marketing automation “very successful” at achieving important objectives.
- 54% of the most successful companies use marketing automation extensively.
- Marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.
- On average, 49% of companies are currently using marketing automation, with more than half of B2B companies (55%) adopting the technology.
Why Do Companies Use Marketing Automation?
Because it simply makes life easier.
How? By saving time.
While there’s absolutely still the need for a savvy marketer to strategize and implement the software, automation is designed to take over otherwise repetitive and time-consuming tasks, like the 15 tweets a day you should be posting.
At its core, marketing automation is a way to nurture leads and guide them through the sales funnel.
You define the process, and the automation software keeps you on task, completing each client touch point in the process.
By doing so, it also helps develop and grow your customer relationships.
Marketing automation software helps companies with:
- email marketing
- landing pages
- social media marketing
- ROI measurement
- And more
How to Use Marketing Automation
How you use the software depends on your goals.
Whatever your goals are, before you begin with the software, you need to outline your strategy.
How, specifically, will you use this automation software to achieve your goals? What steps need to be completed to ensure the desired result?
Marketing Automation Strategies
Use Marketing Automation Improve Team Communication
Communication is key to successful marketing – and it starts long before a customer enters the picture.
It starts internally.
There is any number of people involved in delivering a successful strategy, from writers, designers, social media managers, and more.
And for the strategy to work seamlessly, all team members need to be up-to-date and on the same page.
As anyone who’s worked in a team environment before knows, that’s easier said than done.
But there are tools designed specifically to ensure easy internal communication.
Take Tailored Mail. Its entire purpose is to improve communication through easy internal email interaction
Or Zapier. It’s designed to link web apps to easily share data. For example, if you use an app like Evernote, you can have all meeting notes or client details in your files “zapped” directly to a shared Google Drive folder.
This kind of easy interaction will set your team up for success and help avoid any communication mishaps along the way.
Automate Social Media Updates with Tools Like MeetEdgar and Hootsuite
One of the major drawbacks of social media? It can be a major time suck.
For optimal results, each site requires its own amount of posts:
Facebook: 1 post/day
Twitter: 15 tweets/day
Pinterest: 11 pins/day
LinkedIn: 1 post/day
Google+: 2 posts/day
Instagram: 1-2 posts/day
Not only that, but you have to get the timing right on each site. It’s a tall order, and can easily eat up a day.
Your job: create the posts you want your audience to see, and upload them all to the program you’re using, along with the time you want them to run.
Then let the software take over. Both will publish your posts at the designated time, allowing you to concentrate on other tasks like lead nurturing, customer retention or ongoing social media strategy.
While there are many software besides the two mentioned above, I’ve had a lot of success lately using MeetEdgar.
I like it because every post you enter is stored in your library and recycled by category. So, if you don’t have a new post curated for a particular time slot, MeetEdgar will pull an old post and send it out again.
Send a Sequence of Emails That Checks in with Prospects After They Fill Out a Lead Form
Getting leads to submit their contact information is major, but your strategy can’t stop there.
Instead, it’s time to implement the lead nurturing phase.
A good way to do that is through follow-up emails.
It will look something like this:
- A prospect submits their information in exchange for a free download
- You send a thank you email immediately
- A few days later, you send another email with an offer related to the subject of the download
- If they take you up on it, a notification will be sent to your sales team to follow up
It’s a streamlined process designed specifically to convert leads into customers, and it works because you can personalize the emails and send information relevant to specific leads previous actions.
And it can all be done using marketing automation.
Use Marketing Automation to Segment Your Lists
Not all of your customers will be interested in the same thing.
And one of the quickest ways to lose one is to flood their inbox with unrelated and unwanted emails.
For example, you might not want to send an event invitation to a subscriber who lives six states away.
So to avoid those situations, we segment.
Segmenting is separating your customer base into strategic, separate groups. It helps you collect more information on your customers, and increases their retention by catering to their specific needs.
Commonly, customers are segmented by:
- Demographic information
- Geographical information
- Past buying behavior
- Engagement level
Manually, combing through each customer would be a lot of work. But with marketing automation, segmentation is made easy.
MailChimp is one of the best email automation softwares in the market and offers multiple segmentation options.
Subscribers can choose groups as they sign up for your newsletter which you can later segment by those groups, or you can use hidden groups and segment by internal data.
You can then segment by date if you want to send a welcome email to new subscribers, or by most engaged if you want to send any special offers to your most loyal subscribers.
Set Up An Email Autoresponder Sequence With Additional Recommendations
One of the biggest advantages of marketing automation is the ability to send drip emails.
Because realistically, most sales aren’t made on the first contact. Again, this is where lead nurturing comes in.
A drip campaign sends a series of emails to the leads you’ve collected, much like I mentioned in strategy #3.
This time, you use your follow-up emails to push other guides, ebooks, downloads, etc. based on what each lead has already shown interest in.
Doing this will cement your status and industry leader and build up trust between you and your prospects.
In fact, using a drip campaign has been shown to increase click-through-rate (CTR) by 3x more than an average email blast.
Study and Emulate Top Performers
This is pulled straight from marketing 101. Because top marketers know that successful strategy is based on what’s been proven to work.
So if it’s working for the top performers in your niche, why wouldn’t it work for you?
To study their automation habits (and you can bet if they’re big enough to be a top performer, they’re using some sort of automation), sign up for their newsletter.
How often do they send follow-up emails? What kind of content do they send, and is it relevant to you? Do they offer deals, promotions, company news, industry updates, etc.?
Also look at their social media. How often do they update, and what kind of content do they post? If you could narrow their content down to a few categories, what would they be?
This will give you a good idea of what works for your target audience, and how to set up your own marketing automation.
Use Marketing Automation to Send Emails to Clients About New Products, Services
We all know it’s cheaper and easier to keep current customers than gain new ones, right?
Good. Because the cost of getting a new one is 5-25% higher, to be exact.
That’s why it’s equally important to plan a post-purchase strategy, and automation can help.
First, send an email to make sure your customer is happy with his or her purchase.
Then, periodically send emails based on past buying behavior with any new products or services they may be interested in.
Pay special attention to those customers with a high engagement rate; these could be your brand advocates. Encourage them to refer you to friends by including referral bonuses, special offers and coupons.
Use Marketing Automation to Send “Abandoned Cart” Reminders
There’s nothing worse than the last minute ditch on a purchase, and according to a SalesCycle report, roughly 74% of carts were abandoned in 2016.
But sometimes, those purchases can be saved with a well-timed reminder. In fact, studies have shown that 44% of cart abandonment emails are opened, with a 28% CTR.
To make the most of them, timing is essential.
The first should be sent as soon as possible (with very little pressure). Simply remind them that there’s an item waiting in their cart, and address any possible issues they may have had in the check-out process.
According to Marketo, your second email is the one with urgency. Wait at least a day, and tell them their cart will soon expire. The third is optional, but if you do send one, it should incentivize with a possible discount or coupon code.
Remember, all emails you send should include bold CTAs, images of the item and a catchy subject line.
Remarket Ad Sequences Over a Period of Time
You know those ads that seem to follow you all over the internet, always from sites that you’ve recently visited?
In a nutshell, remarketing (or retargeting) is a way to track visitors that come to your site so you can target ads to them later.
They’re so effective because you’re targeting people who already know your brand, and have enough interest already to at least visit your website.
Now, here’s where marketing automation comes in handy. Remarketing ads can easily become annoying, and end up doing you more harm than good.
That’s why timing is so crucial. Much like the abandoned cart emails, you don’t want to overwhelm your lead with too many ads.
Instead, set up a series of ads to display over time, based on the page each prospect visited.
For example, say they visited your product pricing page. Use a targeted product ad first, then back off for a day or two.
Your next few ads could include an incentive such as a special discount or promotion, properly spaced out over a period of time.
By changing up your ad content and frequency, your customers will be more receptive to them.
As a reference, Wishpond recommends the following frequency:
- For B2B: Run your ad at a low frequency over a long period of time
- Fro B2C: Run your ad at a high frequency over a short period of time
Create a Content Library for Successful Marketing Automation
The core of any automation strategy is content.
It’s all about delivering the right content at the right time. That means you need to develop a strong content library and connect with each stage of the lead generation and nurturing process.
For the automation process to work as intended, all that content needs to be created and stored before your customers see any messages.
That way, your automation will be triggered to deliver the right content once a prospect takes action, such as visiting your website, downloading an ebook, or signing up for your newsletter.
The trick is creating a piece of content that correlates to each action.
If they opted-in to your newsletter, a simple thank you should come first. If they downloaded your ebook, have messages ready to promote related content.
So take the time, before you begin plugging in workflows and scheduling emails, to really think about the kind of content that will connect with each of your audience segments.
Start Your Marketing Automation Strategy Today
Marketing automation is designed to make your life easier.
Yes, it takes a little legwork, especially just starting out.
But ultimately, it’s a way to save valuable time and deliver big results.
Any one of the strategies above – used by themselves or mixed and matched – will get you started.