What is Marketing Automation?
Automating your marketing can prove to be extremely valuable. A survey showed that 80% of marketers who automate parts of marketing generate more leads, and increase their sales by 77%.
Marketing Automation helps both sales and marketing departments to free up more time and thus become more efficient. In addition, it is a great way to increase engagement from customers and followers.
But automated marketing is not about finding a tool that a bit like that where magic fixes everything for you.
It requires a lot of planning and testing, and there are a lot of pitfalls.
What is marketing automation not?
Instead of explaining what automatic marketing is, I think it’s better to start from the other side; what it is not. A very large part of companies believes that marketing automation is some kind of magic pill, which means that customers will automatically show up, and spend money, without any real work on the part of the company.
Automation Marketing is not about buying the right software from all the thousands of companies that provide them – it’s much more comprehensive than that.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is a combination of several different processes, tools and software that, together with manual monitoring and improvement work, help a company generate new leads and then keep and close them until they are ready to become customers.
A marketing automation process may include:
- Automated mail
- Landing Pages/product pages
- Content / Content
- Social media marketing
- Automatic lead generation
- Lead scoring (ie a scoring system that grades how hot or cold a lead is)
- Reports and analysis (ex. Google Analytics)
- Integration with CRM system
- Ads and Adwords
As I mentioned earlier, personal and individualized communication is a clear favorite among customers and potential ones.
Building your marketing around a mailing list is a very good idea, as mail has a lot of advantages over, for example, social media.
But to be able to send out individualized mail – and not one and the same to all 10,000 people on your mailing list – you have to segment the list.
Technically, it works differently depending on which mailing service you use, but in practice, it means that you divide the mailing list into groups and that you tag people according to what they have done before.
The division (segmentation) can be done in many ways:
- Location, ie where they live or are
- Target group
- Area of interest
- Where they are in the customer journey
- Whether or not they are a customer right now
- How often they want to hear from you
You probably understand the benefit of dividing a mailing list by some of those areas. If you have an event, you do not need to send people far away from that location an invite to something they can not come to.
It is also possible to register the so-called. tags to specific people and their email addresses.
Segmentation enables you to send the right content to your various customers. Through lead scoring, you make sure to send the content at the right time too!
Lead scoring is, in short, a scoring system to see when a potential customer is the most ready to convert and make a purchase. So it is a signal that someone goes from cold lead to hot lead. When a lead does certain selected things (opens a newsletter, completes a survey, downloads a PDF, etc.), a certain number of points are added to their record.
When their record reaches a certain value (eg 100 points), either a signal is sent to the sales department that contacts them or an automated e-mail sequence is started to pitch a product. Because only the hottest leads are passed on, the sales process becomes extremely much more efficient than it was if all potential customers were treated as hot triggers.
Simply explained, the process of automation consists of paying attention to all the important triggers during the buying process.
A trigger is something that happens – usually something a potential customer does – that will trigger a specific action event.
Examples of triggers:
- Opens a sent newsletter
- Reaches a lead score of over 100 points
- Visits a specific product page
- Put something in the basket without buying
- Answer “no” to the question if she is satisfied with the last purchase
- Are about to close a specific web page
- Make a purchase
- It has been 3 months since the last purchase
Finding and defining triggers through the customer journey is one of the very first things you do, and is a very important part of creating a strategy.
Since software and computers cannot make their own decisions (yet), we must tell them exactly what they are going to react to.
For every trigger or key event, there must be a concrete action. Together, they lead your leads throughout the customer journey.
Examples of actions for the above triggers:
- Increase customer lead scoring by 10 points
- Send out an email sequence of 3 emails pitching a product
- Show ads for the product on the client’s social media (so-called retargeting)
- Send a reminder email an hour later if it left the shopping cart
- Send an email to customer service who can call or email
- Show a pop-up with a downloadable freebie that allows the customer to sign up for the mailing list
- Send out an email a week later asking if she is satisfied
- Send an email with a really attractive offer
- An action does not have to consist of just one thing or action. It is possible to build series of actions – a workflow – that are carried out over a longer period.
- An example is sending a series of 5 emails over two weeks, to everyone who starts subscribing to your newsletter.
What are the benefits of marketing automation?
Thus, automated marketing does not replace a marketer or a marketing department. In contrast, it makes marketing more efficient and gives a higher result for each invested dollar.
The purpose is that those who work in a company should not have to perform recurring and repetitive tasks in order to be able to view, develop and improve different parts of the company instead!
The benefits of marketing automation can be these:
- Reduce repetitive tasks & free up working time
- Better and more individualized marketing
- Generate more leads
- Take care and “warm up” leads
- Sell in hot leads
- Increase additional sales
- Reduce the number of customers who drop out
- Follow up & provide customer support
Why is marketing automation so important for businesses today?
It is easy to see that interest in marketing automation has increased over the past decade. You can see the same increase if you compare with the phrase “content marketing” on, for example, Google Trends.
Both concepts go hand in hand, and as more and more people start using content marketing and marketing through social media, it requires companies to invest more and more to stand out from everyone else.
Simply failing to do everything in a marketing world that is constantly growing and changing is one of the reasons why marketing automation is now in everyone’s mind.
Here are some other reasons why many companies choose to explore and implement automatic marketing:
Customers want personal and relevant information
- As the amount of marketing that we come into contact with every day is increasing, we want to a greater extent to have information tailored to us – each person. Our time is becoming more and more valuable as more and more people are fighting for our attention.
- Creating mass content for the sake of creation is extremely ineffective. Not only do you have to create the right content – you have to make sure it reaches the right people at the right time.
- By (automatically) keeping track of what your leads or customers are doing in the buying process (opening many emails, reading a blog post, adding things to the shopping cart) you can ensure that every person gets the right content at the right time.
- Customers want to be able to trust the companies they do business with. As a customer, it becomes more and more important to be able to stand behind a company’s concept and actions – to be able to trust that there is not a lot of stuff behind the scenes. For example, it is more important than ever that the impact on animals and the environment is as small as possible, and that working conditions for humans are as good as possible.
- Consciously or subconsciously, we need to build trust in the company before making a purchase.
- However, it takes time, and hoping that your followers on social media will see enough of your posts is doomed to fail.
- By using automated processes to capture leads, you get the opportunity to hold them and talk to them to show that you can be trusted.
Thanks to the fact that all companies have the opportunity to sell to the whole world. The target group is obviously larger. Since every lead to be turned into a customer must be processed and taken care of, some sort of thinning is required – otherwise it will simply be impossible to catch up.
With the help of targeted and well-planned content, it is possible to sort out the leads that are really interesting. This means that those who come in contact with you already are more interesting to you from a sales point of view.
When is it worth investing in marketing automation?
At the beginning of a company’s life, it is possible to manage most contacts personally. Sellers have time to talk face to face (or at least mail to mail) and both support people and marketers can work very hands-on.
But as a company increases its sales, and thus also the number of people they come into contact with, the workload increases.
As you probably understand by now, there are not many drawbacks to automating parts of their marketing and sales process – as long as it’s done right. It’s almost never too early to look at different opportunities for it.
How to create a successful Marketing Automation strategy
- The key to success with your venture is to connect your automated marketing very clearly to the customer journey. As with all (successful) marketing, you have to start from what best serves the customer – not what you want yourself.
- Define your goals. Although all successful marketing is based on the customer, you must first specify what it is you want to get out of your investment. There is no point in working with digital marketing, it is required that you constantly feedback and see if what you do is closer to where you want to be.
- Then, of course, you need to know who you want to reach!
- Define your customers’ journey
- The path from total ignorance to satisfied (or dissatisfied) customers consists of a number of issues. Those questions must be answered before anyone converts, and in order for you to be able to do so, you must, of course, be aware of the questions that exist.
- Visualizing the customer journey is very useful. Start by writing down the questions a customer has just before clicking “buy”. Then work your way back by asking yourself “what question are they asking BEFORE this”?
- Of course, you have to have concrete information available, and not just from the guesswork. Be sure to talk to real customers, support staff and salespeople.
- Determine specific content for the entire customer journey
- When you know the questions and needs that exist through the customer journey, it is relatively easy to see what kind of content best answers the questions or concerns.
- Examples of content may be a series of mail, a landing page or a comparison table.
- Important to keep in mind is that every piece of content has a purpose to help the customer get to the next stage in the customer journey!
To deliver the right content at the right time, you need to know where in the customer journey each specific individual is located. You know what information she needs, but to know the right opportunity to deliver you need to locate a trigger.
As I mentioned above, triggers can take many different shapes. Having someone sign up for your newsletter is a clear trigger, but downloading a PDF or watching a webinar are also the clear triggers.
Now you know what kind of content the customer needs at different stages of the customer journey, and you also have clear signals – triggers – that show when they should get it.
For each trigger, you now decide what will happen.
When someone subscribes to your newsletter (trigger), they should receive the first email in your welcome sequence. If someone downloads a particular PDF, they should be offered a place on your automatic webinar. And when someone is watching the webinar, they should get an offer with a really good discount on your product.
Segment and rate your leads
As mentioned, segmentation is a very valuable tool when it comes to automated marketing. Parallel to the work with triggers and actions, it is important to find smart ways to segment and grade (lead scoring) leads and customers.
Choose the right tool
Now, you have reached the point where most people think the journey begins – finding the right tool that can automate the different parts.
There are a number of companies that offer “total solutions” that can handle many of the parts of your marketing process. In addition to these, there are thousands of apps and services that handle certain specifics in the process.
If you have done the basic work above, it will be quite easy to find a number of services to compare and find the one that suits you best.
Now it’s time to actually build the system. It is perfectly OK to start the journey by automating ONE part. Once it’s up and running, you move on to the next one.
While building your automated system, it is important to keep in mind so-called A / B tests. For example, every other person who subscribes to your newsletter receives Welcome Sequence 1 and every other receives Welcome Sequence 2.
After a few weeks, you will see which sequence takes most people to the next step in the customer journey.
Building the system is step 1. Since you never really know in advance what works, you need to continuously analyze the new information coming in – which pages are most popular on your website, whether landing page A or B is the most effective or if you have some specific web pages where many people leave your site.
Based on the data from the analysis section, you then decide which improvements you think will get you to your goal faster. Look at the results you received, create new A / B tests and learn more about your customers!