It used to be you could only make contact with
customers at specific, elusive times: through ads you hoped they might come
across, emails that were indistinguishable from spam, and during the actual
purchase. But the traditional customer journey has been disrupted. Your
customer is always online and reconsidering their purchase at every step. So
your marketing strategy needs to work anytime, anywhere.
Marketing automation refers to tools that let you automate marketing actions across channels. These tools also automate the analytics that drives your marketing decisions. Forrester predicts that the adoption of marketing automation will double by 2023. But the biggest reason businesses report for not pulling the trigger yet is that they feel a lack of confidence or know-how.
Lets look at how marketing automation can help you with
Posts and communications
1. Automate Your
The most obvious use of automation is the
repetitive tasks that come with growing a business. Think about how your
currently handle your posts and communications – right now you have to hit send
or publish on each one individually. Free up time by automating:
Posts: schedule your posting calendar and banish that nagging feeling you’re forgetting something.
Polls: drive engagement with polls on Instagram and Twitter.
Giveaways: gather leads and foster brand loyalty with an automated sweepstakes.
Emails: schedule direct marketing to reach your prospects anytime. Additionally, shorten the response time for your small business by automating replies to customer inquiries.
Texts: don’t stop at email campaigns. Push text messages to your customers so you’ll be top of mind.
You can also automate the behind the scenes
A/B testing: A lot of resources go into gathering and analyzing the metrics that power your business. Automate A/B tests by changing what landing page or marketing material visitors see. And no longer do you have to pore over data that can be abstracted by AI.
User data: Marketing automation can be deployed to scan your data for insights. You don’t individually analyze anything else about your business, so why should demographics (or firmographics) be any different?
What to use
social media posts and can send the same status to all your accounts. Manage
your social media calendar. It’s often compared to Buffer, but the latter seems to still be in its nascent stage.
MailChimp has expanded past email to offer social and landing page
management. Among their automation offerings they emails triggered by actions
such as: new subscriptions, big days like birthdays and anniversaries, shopping
cart abandonment, and making a first purchase.
2. Up Your Segmenting Game
People can tell when marketing communications
are posing as personal but were sent the same to everyone on your list. So how
do you foster trust in your company without great cost to you in terms of time and efficiency?
Send them something that truly speaks to their needs and desires. Use marketing
automation segmentation to target or fine-tune
your ads for each customer.
Marketing automation is a bit like a
choose-your-own-adventure game in that it personalizes the experience through
if-then statements. In this case, you choose who sees
which ad based on their product
interests, past purchases, and level of buying intent. Additionally, you can
create unique in-app messages for each customer. Make sure you and your
customers find each other – and that it converts to real sales – by targeting
the most promising segments. When it comes to email campaigns, think narrow and
high-quality over general and broad.
What to use
Instapage offers what they call “1:1 ad-to-page personalized experiences.”
This is a fancy way of saying when your customer discovers you from an ad, the
site they see will match it. So the site and the ad will match in terms of
messaging, focus, and even
colors. When you automate your
landing page, your customers will see a different page when they land on your
website. One metric is your customer’s intent – whether they’re in the mindset to buy.
3. Get Ahead With Predictive Lead Scoring
You’ve just had an awesome trade show and come
home with more leads than you know what do with. But like anything with your
business you need to be specific about how you pursue them because time is
lead scoring uses AI to judge which
leads will be the highest yield. This increases your likelihood of actually
converting to a sale. According to The Annuitas Group, marketing automation increases
qualified leads by 451%.
Traditional lead scoring has generally meant
scouring onboarding data, playing with point systems and even manually
judging the quality of leads.
You’re often looking at CRM data and different attributes like traffic,
revenue, and volume. And it’s often felt like a total
shot in the dark.
Predictive lead scoring takes it to the next
level by looking at Moreover, with predictive lead scoring you can deploy
real-time trigger campaigns and personalized communication. The critical
difference is in the words “real-time”: reaching customers at critical decision
points to drive them to purchase.
What to use
Marketo is an Adobe company. They offer a suite of services, including
predictive lead scoring. First, you’ll profile your ideal customer, score them
using AI, then show them the correct marketing tailored to their profile.
Pardot is a B2B marketing
automation product by Salesforce. They offer AI insights for account-based marketing to lock into the most
optimistic prospects in your Rolodex.
4. Use AI and Machine Learning for Better Campaigns
For a future-proof business, AI and machine
learning need to be part of marketing strategy. But we’ve been talking about
automation this whole time, you might wonder. Artificial intelligence, however,
is more than automation. And AI and
machine learning can influence automated
campaigns, not just in execution but in content.
Writing for Marketo, startup advisor, Carey
Casey predicts that one-size-fits-all content soon won’t cut it. Rather than
social posts meant for everyone or exhaustive subject matter guides, it will be
about highly targeted “microcontent.” One strategy he advises for personalizing
the content you send each lead is to develop discrete marketing materials that
work in different
What to use
Hubspotprovides products for
inbound marketing. When you use a marketing automation tool, you set up a
script for how the action will get triggered, called a workflow. Their marketing automation tool makes it easy to visualize your
workflows. It’s far and away considered the best in marketing automation. It
uses AI to develop hyper-personalized content at scale.
5. Putting It All Together To Trigger Cross-Sales
Whatever your product, you’re trying to drive
action – whether that’s signing up for your webinar, downloading your eBook, or
purchasing a performance parka. We’ve talked about initiating a post or
message, but this is about deciding who sees it. With AI you can automate
cross-sales. Your goal is ultimately to turn prospects into loyal customers.
One way you do this is by cross-selling to get repeat sales from your existing
customer base. It’s time to use segmentation, machine learning, and artificial
intelligence to trigger campaigns and marketing actions.
We mentioned that you can automate emails with
these tools. But don’t leave it up to judgment: you might send it at an off
time and miss your window of opportunity. With marketing automation, you can trigger
communications based on the actions of
your customers. Triggers could include site visits, form completions or social
shares. It could even be when someone checks in for an IRL event like a trade show. And with AI you can
personalize the content of the emails even more.
What to use
Constant Contactis an email marketing
software. They offer automatic welcome emails to underscore your onboarding
process and subject line testing. Notably, they also can trigger an email
series based on where your customers
Unbounce is a landing page builder and lead conversion platform. They
offer something called Dynamic Text Replacement – DTR – which “swaps out select
keywords to match what your prospects are searching.” Now, this is very cool
but not as cool as it sounds: it’s another way to say they do 1:1
ad-to-page personalization, like the
aforementioned Instapage. It’s still a great way, however, to automatically
increase the relevancy of your page.
The Bottom Line on Marketing Automation
What marketing automation is not: “set it and forget it.”
It’s not a bulk email list. It’s a way to work smarter, not harder. It’s a way to put your data to work for you so you can amplify your workflow and focus on higher priorities. Your company is growing, and you want to be just as effective at your biggest as when you were just starting out. The point is to nurture your leads and put the best technology to work so you can stop chasing tasks that don’t add to your bottom line.