Automating Your Marketing Efforts
By Amanda Hosey and Ellen de Vries
Marketing automation software allows users to automate time-consuming marketing tasks and send personalized messages across channels to users based on where they are in the customer journey—from new leads to returning customers and everyone in between. Unlike batch-and-blast email marketing, automated marketing programs allow you to integrate email, text messages, retargeting ads, and more, giving you the opportunity to reach users at the right time with the right message in the right medium.
A study by the Annuitas Group found that using marketing automation to nurture prospective customers resulted in a 451% increase in qualified leads. It is an impressive tool for lead generation, perspective and returning customer follow-ups, and measuring a marketing campaign’s return on investment.
What is marketing automation?
If you’ve ever put an item in a website’s shopping cart and then left the site without purchasing and then received an email saying, “You’ve left something in your cart,” then you’ve been targeted by an automated marketing program. Marketing automation allows users to create triggers like this (for things like signing up for your newsletter, returning to your site, etc.), which send automatic messages to customers when an action occurs.
Automated marketing might sound like something for large companies, but it can provide needed relief for small businesses that don’t have staff dedicated solely to marketing or who don’t or can’t outsource marketing. If your company creates its own marketing campaigns, then automated marketing could be a smart addition to your toolbelt. It aims to be easy to use and keeps all of your digital marketing efforts together, while making it easy to track leads and gauge campaign success. A study by Nucleus Research showed that using automated marketing reduces marketing overhead by more than 12%. The software customizes messaging to the customer and can do so across social media, email, texts, etc.—through any data you have on a customer.
CRMs and marketing automation
There’s certainly some overlap between customer relations management (CRM) software and marketing automation tools, but typically they work best when paired. Marketing automation software can “score” the worthiness of potential customers, filtering potential customers by interest level, i.e., how likely they are to actually use your services. The software can then send out automated messages and/or pass the leads—including behavioral data on their actions—through your CRM to the appropriate staff to follow up by phone. According to DemandGen, nurturing leads results in an average 20% increase in conversions.
Integration between CRM and marketing automation software also allows for better understanding of campaign successfulness since you can see the entire path a customer took to purchase your services, and you can see which campaigns resulted in high-revenue jobs.
Using automated marketing well
As with all things, planning is key to using automated marketing programs well. It’s important to begin
setting up your system with goals in mind—what types of customers are most important for you to reach; when will you start new campaigns; what are the ultimate gains you hope to achieve; etc.
Planning your content is also important. You still have to write the messages and make customers want to do business with you. Create a consistent voice for messages across your program. Look for ways to make it interesting and engaging, and try to make it feel personal.
Create a map that shows what messages will go out when triggers occur, who will receive the information that comes in, and what they will do with it.
You’ll be saving time by using automation, so use it wisely. Analyze the data that comes in to find out which campaigns and messages are working well. Improve upon or eliminate the ones that are not. Always look for ways to improve your system.
Ellen de Vries’ Marketing Automation Journey
As a very small team on a limited budget, my own company was reliant on marketing automation to “punch above our weight” against well-resourced competitors.
Before that, my business partner and I spent countless hours every day on repetitive tasks, which left us little time to focus on the big picture. We would send batch-and-blast newsletters that didn’t feel personal and felt like we were talking at customers rather than with them. Once we found automated marketing software (Autopilot, which I now work for while still managing my company on the side) that fit our tight budget, we were able to do the work of a much larger team without the expense and without wasting time on repetitive, laborious tasks.
Rather than sending out manual follow-ups to customers, we could create personalized emails that made recipients feel we had taken the time to contact them personally. When these contacts replied, it created a ticket in our preferred customer service helpdesk software, allowing us to personally respond as needed. This helped us build rapport with our customers with much less effort and better understand them, which allowed us to serve them better and grow our business.
Choosing the best software for you
Budget is always a huge factor in selecting any software, and the costs vary enormously across marketing automation. Some of the big names have all the bells and whistles, but for many businesses, especially small businesses, you end up paying for superfluous features.
This is another reason it is important to consider your goals for marketing automation ahead of time—to know which features are your must-haves, rather than going for the “everything and the kitchen sink” approach and paying for it, often upfront. Some marketing automation programs allow for connecting apps you already use to advertise, like Google and Facebook Ads, so users can build their own “best of breed” stack for a lot less than an all-inclusive tool.
Another factor is ease of use. When you’re coming into marketing automation without any real knowledge of it and need to learn quickly, simplicity is crucial. Look for simplified capabilities like drag-and-drop features and a visual customer journey.
Since the point of automated marketing is to be able to perform large-scale marketing efforts without having to pay someone to do it for you, it’s important to find a marketing automation tool with a good reputation for support. Launching your first campaign can be daunting, so it’s reassuring to be able to chat with someone with real knowledge of the product.
Choosing to add new management and marketing tools to your company is always a big decision, but advancements in technology offer a steady supply of ways to improve revenue and simplify business building. Marketing automation software offers companies a path to better marketing efficiency while keeping the work in house for those who are ready to reach potential customers on a more personal level.
Find the complete list of article references at www.cleanfax.com/automated-marketing.
Ellen de Vries is senior marketing manager for Autopilot, a marketing automation system for small to large businesses based in Sydney, Australia, and San Francisco. She is also the co-founder of Oscar Razor. Visit autopilothq.com for more information.
Amanda Hosey is the managing editor of Cleanfax. She has worked as an editor and writer for more than six years, including four years with Cleanfax. Reach her at [email protected].