People have been buzzing about marketing automation for a while now. But do you know what the term really means? If you’re interested in streamlining marketing activities and increasing conversions, this technology may be a good fit for your business. But before you invest in a platform, here are some critical points you need to know.
What Is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is a process that uses software to automate the distribution of marketing and advertising messages. This software can free up your marketing department by automatically sending communications such as emails, social media posts and other digitally managed messages to your customers or prospects.
While this technology is not new, consumers are completing more tasks than ever with the assistance of the internet and internet-enabled devices. This, in turn, provides more information to the marketing automation software machine, further increasing its effectiveness. Which is why “marketing automation” is such a popular phrase these days.
How Does Marketing Automation Work?
The strongest marketing automation campaigns are built on triggers created in the system. These triggers tend to be prospect / customer interactions with the brand – or even lack of interactions with the brand. These interactions could be at a tradeshow booth or event, a form submission on the website, clicking on an ad online, opening an email from the brand or even searching for a certain keyword or phrase on Google or with a smart speaker (i.e., Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod).
Marketing automation doesn’t just make things easier; it also ensures you send the right message to the right person at the right time, with the goal of positively affecting the conversion rate. And other technologies can also be added on top of marketing automation platforms to make them even more effective, such as lead scoring software.
What Assets Does My Business Need to Institute Marketing Automation?
To effectively automate marketing messages, your organization will need a bevy of information and assets to feed the machine. Here’s a quick look at some of the items your team will need in place to take advantage of an investment in marketing automation software.
It is important for your team to be familiar with the consumer funnel. This foundation will allow them to map the best vehicles in your marketing mix for reaching leads and customers at each level of the funnel.
For example, email and social media are a great way to stay in touch with customers at the loyalty portion of the funnel, and search advertising is a great way to get your brand in front of prospects in the consideration phase of the funnel.
Customer Journey Mapping
Establishing a few prospect / customer journey maps before drafting a dozen email communications will help your campaign be more effective and potentially reduce the amount of time you need to put into creating content. However, you’ll want to identify all of the different points at which a customer may interact with your brand during the purchase decision and define the best methods of communication and most appropriate message for each touchpoint.
For example, Customer A met your team at an event and filled out a request for more information. The journey for Customer A may look something like this:
Content, Lots of Content
Once you have identified a series of touchpoints your brand has with customers and prospects, it’s important to have communications that take them from where they are in the decision-making process to the next step. And since the decision-making process is no longer always linear, you may need a series of options for each touchpoint.
For example, perhaps you’d like to send an email to a customer after a chat with links to a blog post, white paper and informational video. Then, if none of those links are clicked within three days, you may want to send a follow-up email with an excerpt to an article that might be helpful. If they click on that excerpt but still haven’t purchased within another three days, you may want to send them a link to a podcast they can download and add them to a retargeting campaign with messages specific to the product and stage of the process you know they are in.
So this segment of Customer A’s journey just indicated a need for:
- Three emails
- Two blog posts / articles
- One podcast
- One retargeting campaign
- One video
- One white paper
To trigger each of these actions, you’ll need all the content ready and in your arsenal before you even meet Customer A. Then, to keep them in your consumer funnel, you’ll need to be always working on adding more value to your content offerings.
For more on this strategy, read Content Marketing: The New Way to Increase Customer Engagement, by our own Michelle Soyars.
Established Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
This is starting to sound like quite an investment. And it can be. But if you prepare your team by establishing important key performance indicators (KPIs) before you begin this endeavor, then you will be able to measure success, shift strategies and optimize your efforts as you go.
KPIs for an automated marketing initiative may include measurements such as:
- Increased number of leads
- Improved close rates
- Increased website traffic
- Better website dwell times
- Lower bounce rates
- More form submissions
- Better open email rates
- Better click-through rates
- Increased reach for remarketing campaigns
The list goes on and on. And while the real money makers are at the top of the list, the other items can have a strong effect and be good indicators for new leads and close rates.
Once you’ve established your KPIs, you’ll need to measure them. Reporting can even help you find useful trends. For example, if the bounce rate from your shopping cart is high, that indicates that there is either an issue communicating the value of the product / service or there may be a hurdle in the checkout process that is making it difficult for users to complete the transaction. This sort of information is easy to test and even to solve, but if you don’t pull the report and analyze it, you may never know about the issue and could lose out on hundreds or thousands of potential sales.
Vela’s digital team prefers to look at the numbers on a weekly basis to keep our fingers on the pulse of things and create a comprehensive report either every month or every quarter depending on the program. This passage of time allows us to identify trends and opportunities.
How Do I Get Started?
Automating your marketing messages is a big undertaking, from the planning, content creation, execution and program analysis. If your marketing department is already running at maximum capacity – or if you don’t have an in-house marketing department – it will be important to work with a team of experts to get this program up on the rails and keep it running.
Investing in marketing automation software could both save your marketing department money and help your sales team increase conversions. If you have questions about whether this sort of software may be right for your business, which software system best meets your needs, or where to start – the team at Vela Agency can help you navigate these waters and establish the right assets for your goals. Give us a call or send us an email at Info@VelaAgency.com.