If you’re not taking marketing automation seriously and incorporating it into your overall strategy, the chances are that you’re selling your company short. Last year:
- 51% of companies used some form of marketing automation, with 58% of B2B companies having implementation plans in place.
- 63% of professionals planned to raise their marketing budgets for automation.
- 4 out of 5 marketers saw automation as a critical part of their overall success.
With this said, the term automation invokes a lot of fear and anxiety in the uninitiated, from people not looking forward to learning new platforms to worrying about their job security.
In reality, though, marketing automation is less about supplanting professionals, and more about removing tedium and busywork from their daily operations. Here’s a top-down look on how to understand and utilize marketing automation in your business.
What Is Marketing Automation?
In essence, marketing automation is an umbrella term for using different software platforms to automate aspects of marketing activities. The marketing team puts together an overall strategy, or workflow, for the software, which it then executes to provide automated communications across a variety of different channels.
On paper, it seems easy, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that marketing automation is a replacement for a well-planned strategy. Marketing automation lives or dies off of the nature of the workflows that you create. As a result, you need to know your audience, and what they respond to or your investment in the process won’t pay off.
Along with this, you need a solid CRM with prospects in your database to increase ROI with marketing automation. If you have a small existing list of leads, you’re going to see diminishing returns. At the same time, if you buy a cheap list of potential leads and use marketing automation to spam them, you’re just going to hurt your brand’s reputation. So, before implementing marketing automation, have a plan in place to handle database/lead decay.
Replacing Common Platforms
One of the major benefits of using marketing automation is that it allows you to replace a multitude of software platforms. A change like this also means more capacity for your marketing team to dedicate on additional tactics. Here are a few examples worth looking at:
Lead Forms: These used to be the gold standard when it came to lead collection. They consisted of attaching a lead form to something like an e-book or another type of enticing content. The lead’s information would then go into an accompanying database, which compiled warm leads to mine. In the past, this process would be quite time-consuming, from setting up the form to filtering for people who may have filled things out incorrectly. Skipping these steps with automation means you spend less time combing through the database and more time figuring out how to grow it.
Landing Pages: Marketing automation generally serves as the middle of a marketing funnel, helping convert prospects from the lead lists you create to the moment of conversion. For many businesses, landing pages are that point of conversion. Where marketing automation helps is cutting out a lot of the work of data collection (using heatmaps, checking KPIs) to see how your landing pages are performing. Automatically forward people to your landing pages, and see if your marketing is creating an effective bridge from lead generation to conversion.
Email: Replacing email outright isn’t necessarily what marketing automation is about, but more about ending the back and forth process that comes with an email campaign. For example, if someone doesn’t respond to your marketing email at first, it’s generally good practice to send a followup. However, drafting the email and remembering to send it can be a vexing task. Marketing automation allows you to set this all up in advance. Not only does it mean less tasking work, but it also ensures you’re not sending extra emails to prospects that don’t need them.
As a final note, statistically speaking, custom/dynamic automated marketing performs the best out of all automated marketing. And it’s pretty easy to understand why: it helps differentiate you from conventional sales/marketing copy, while also allowing you to target individual customer needs. Marketing automation is also a major timesaver when it comes to dynamic content. For example, you can:
- Set when your marketing emails/communications will be sent based on past prospect actions.
- Set different fields in your communications to account for names, companies, and other information.
- Add unique imagery/product suggestions based on past behavior.
Marketing Automation And Your Sales Funnel
So let’s say that you’re confident about using marketing automation, and are ready to start implementing it. How exactly do you integrate this workflow into your existing sales funnel? Remember, as we mentioned earlier, marketing automation does a lot of work in the middle of the sales funnel. But, you also need to integrate multiple touch points at the top and bottom of the funnel to see the full impact.
How many touch points do you need? It will vary based on the clients, but here are some of the most common examples.
Phone calls: Whether this is a cold call or a followup to an in-person meeting, these are generally the starting point for a lot of sales funnels, especially for big-ticket purchases or services.
Emails: Often, these are the most effective ways to regularly contact a prospect with followup for answering questions and reinforcing services to help convert a sale. You can also use this as a reminder or to let them know about other opportunities.
Social media: Social media as a touch point may seem a bit odd but think of it as the touch point before the touch point. If you reach out to a prospect cold, they may not be interested in your service at that moment and turn you away. Doing things like providing them content on social media and engaging with them in a personal manner will warm them up to your offerings.
So, how does marketing automation come into play here? You can create a workflow based on a prospect liking a series of posts. Then, automatically, send a followup email right after the database triggers the actions of liking the posts. This approach hits multiple touch points for a fraction of the work, meaning it’s easier to personalize the marketing and connect with more prospects.
Marketing automation has gone from a novelty for many businesses to an essential tool. The ability to simplify a multitude of tasks not only helps streamline the workflow of your marketing team but also saves time. However, there are still two main touch points that you’ll need to overcome to transition into automation:
- Finding a seamless way to transfer from legacy systems.
- Implementing if you don’t have a marketing team or agency partner.
In both cases, working with a veteran marketing agency like Glint Advertising is your ideal solution. We can help provide consultation and resources for you to move your marketing strategy toward automation.