A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Automation

A

If you think that marketing automation is a complicated subject, then you are taking it even lighter. While some of you might imagine it as a simple subject, if you dig it deeper, you will find it quite overwhelming. People who work on marketing automation on a daily basis see it sometimes harder to describe.

Jump directly to

Marketing automation is useful in many ways. If you use it appropriately, it helps your sales and marketing team to perform their job with ease and reach the goals faster. Although, there is a lot of misunderstanding regarding the very term of marketing automation. Today we will discuss marketing automation in detail and figure out how it can help you in your business.

What is marketing automation?

Marketers use marketing automation to send personalized messages to customers and leads. In short, marketing automation is the use of software to interact with potential leads and customers. With the use of the software, you can create a different range of messages and send them to your contacts. Now, you can send random messages to anyone. To send a specific message, you have to take various factors in consideration such as the spending habits of the receiver, what positions they hold in the buying process and what kind of interactions they had with your site.

You will be able to build a stronger relationship with a person when you consider the needs and interests that person while delivering a tailored content. You will be able to accomplish all the above things with market automation along with streamlining your operations simultaneously.

The process of market automation covers a wide range of aspects of marketing and business developments such as content development, email marketing, lead generation, and conversion rate optimization.

The advantages of using marketing automation

The biggest advantage of using marketing automation is that it helps your sales and marketing team to be more efficient in their job. Compared to non-personalised emails, personalized emails tend to generate six times more revenue. Even though people respond well to personalize contents, sending customized emails manually to every person seems unpractical. With the usage of marketing automation, you don’t have to perform these mundane and repetitive content development work, which gives your marketing professionals more time to attend challenging and exciting tasks.

Apart from making it easier to deliver personalized emails, marketing automation helps a marketing professional to figure out the current position of the person in the conversion process. The lead scoring feature of marketing automation assists the marketing professionals to identify which lead is more likely to generate a sale.

Improving the conversion rates and revenues is one of the most primary reasons for all the businesses around the world that go for marketing automation. Marketing automation process encourages a customer to stay engaged with a product for a longer duration. As a result, the customer most likely ends up buying that product. If we compare the conversion rate and revenue growth between companies that use market automation and companies that don’t, then you will be happy to know that companies who use market automation have a 53% higher conversion rate and 3.1 % higher annual revenue growth rate.

Market automation often assists a business to speed up ye process of conversion for those products and services that require longer conversion cycles. For example, by implementing marketing automation software, VentureHarbour reduces their conversion time by 72%.

What are applications there for marketing automation?

Email messaging and lead generation/nurturing is the most commonly used feature of a Marketing Automation Software.

Email can still be used as a relevant marketing tool. Even though you can greet everybody on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as “Hi Everybody”, you can’t do that on email. However, email serves a great way to connect with your contacts as it moves slowly compared to social media feeds.

Various ways you can use market automation through email:

  •    Send Welcome messages
  •    Retargeting through photo
  •    Reminding customers who abandoned their cart
  •    Recommend products that a customer might like

and several more.

You can use market automation to accumulate feedback from your customers, no matter if they are converted or not. You can collect feedbacks through surveys or by asking them to send comments. The information that you receive from your audience will help you to improve your revenue in the long run.

You can nurture your leads through marketing automation. According to data, personalized emails helps to garner more revenue than non-personalised emails. According to the report of Marketo, around 50% of your leads seldom has the intention to buy. Besides, of all new leads, 80% of them will never be converted. To convert a lead, you have to present something of value to a lead, when he/she need it the most at that time. With effective lead nurturing you can generate 50% leads who are more ready to convert with a 33% lesser price. Compared to non-nurtured leads, nurture leads have observed to make more substantial purchases.

Marketing automation platform can also be used for managing social media campaigns such as creating landing pages and conducting ongoing A/B testing.

B2B vs. B2C marketing automation

Marketing automation can be proved beneficial to businesses of all sizes. However, the type of messages you use in the campaign depends upon the model type of your business. Both the model B2B and B2C have the same goal, which is improving the conversion rate and escalating the revenue but when it comes to reaching that goal, you have to use a different approach.

B2B sales

Apart from some exceptions, the sales of B2B takes a more extended conversion period as compared to B2C sales. Also, you need a long-term commitment towards your product or services in B2B. As a result, you have to pay more attention to a long form of content such as case studies, e-books, and white papers. It requires the decision-making process of a wide range of people while considering major purchases in B2B. While in B2C you need to win over just one person, in B2B you need to win over a vast range of people. To sell to a vast number of people, as a B2B business, you have to manifest your authority in your respectable Industry. To do that, you may have to offer an in-depth informational content to your audience.

B2C sales

Usually, B2C sales move faster than B2B sales, as a reason why you do not need to add extensive detail in your content. For example, the customers at Sephora does not require a long case study about a product. Instead, they will appreciate a 30-seconds video demonstration about how to use a product. As a B2C company, you have to pay more focus on building your brand and give reasons to a customer to return. Therefore, you should attend customers, who abandoned their cart, provide recommendations to specialized products and offers customization to niche customers.

Key concepts

Marketing automation process holds several aspects of marketing and business development, but the whole process also contains few more ideas.

Conversion Funnels

A conversion funnel is all the process involved in making a person to be a customer. Now the whole process of selling a product has changed. Rather than buying a product from the first place they see, nowadays, people prefer to check customer reviews first. Marketing automation helps people to keep engaged and make it possible for a person to convert.

Few primary stages of a conversion funnel:

Awareness:

The first step involved in raising awareness of the product or services and the company among the customers. For a customer, it hard to go for a product/service so soon but the aim is to bring the customer inside the radar of the company.

Interest:

After raising awareness, the next step is to invoke interest inside the customer. Now, just because someone is aware of a product doesn’t mean that person needs that product. The customer will start slowly which involves steps like following your company on social media, reading blogs about your product or service, browsing your official website, signing up for free trials and requesting a quote.

Consideration:

Towards this stage, a customer has almost gathered enough information about your business and also like what you are offering. Although he/she is unsure about making a purchase decision the conversion process is still active.

Action:

This is the moment, which you were waiting for. In this stage, you won the trust of the customer, and he/she decided to try your product/ service.

After you convert a person, there is a high chance that he/she will become a repeat customer if she/he is happy with her/his decision. Although, as you move people through the conversion funnel, you will lose some people at each stage of the conversion funnel. The conversion rate is about 1 to 5% in an average. Churn is the term used for people who drop out from the conversion funnel. The process of churn is inevitable in business, but with the help of marketing automation, you can reduce it. Your focus should  lie in keeping all your audience engaged as much as possible. By understanding the requirements and interests of the people in every step and providing them exciting contents, you can control your churn rate.

To be precise, let’s start with an example. Let us say that a company deals in installing vinyl windows and they decided to advertise their service in local media. Even though the advertisement reached a large part of an audience, does not mean that people will start buying the service/product right away., the audience exposed to the article might not want this service, or they may be living in rental properties. People from these segments cannot be won over, no matter what kind of message you expose them. People who need to replace their window are very particular about their choice. They spend a considerable amount of time researching for the best quality product at the best possible price. To convince these people, a company has to send additional information regarding vinyl windows to those people who reach them for an estimated cost.

Feedback loops and metrics

We all know that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The same concept applies to the marketing automation process too. The process is known as the feedback loop. When you send a message to an audience, he/she will send you back some of his/her reaction to your message. Even though the response from the customer is nothing to do with your message, still, it will be a part of your feedback loop. To have an in-depth idea about the reactions, you may have to pay more attention to your metrics.

The feedback loops and metrics is the mirror image of the effectiveness of your marketing automation strategy.

When exposed to the message, a person does one of these following kind of activity:

  •    Click your website link
  •    Ignores your message
  •    Mark it as a spam
  •    Unsubscribes from your list

The action of the customer gives you a clear message about how the recipient felt about your message.

Your expectations from your metrics will always be to see high open rates, high click through rates, and some forwards. These signs hints that your content is engaging and valuable for the audience and not annoying. You will also get some abuse reports and unsubscribers as well. They are inevitable, and you have to make peace with that. Most people can differentiate between an abuse report and unsubscription. However, just because someone unsubscribes or report abuse, you don’t always mean that he/she is not among your potential converts. If you see an increasing number of unsubscribers or report abusers, then it also could imply that the strategy you are following is aggressive and need to be polished a bit.

User flow

The conversion funnel involves the process taken to convert a person. The user flow, on the other hand, is the series of pages visited by a person before he/she makes an action. As a marketer, you must be using PPC ads, Social Media and email messages to contact audiences. All the traffic coming to your website is a chance for you to direct your audiences to the pages which make them take actions in your favor. An audience may buy the product, sign up for a free trial or even join an email list.

Each person has his/her priority and needs. Each person visiting your website comes from a different source, and you have to land that person on a page which would be appealing to him/her. For example, if a person searched for “ wireless keyboard” and got redirected to your website, then that person is looking for what he/she searched for, and also he/she will most likely convert. However if a person clicks a PPC ad and fills a form on a landing page, then that person may want to know more about your business. So rather than giving him/her the hard sell, you have to win his trust by giving him adequate information.

Workflows

Guide to Marketing Automation

The automation part of the term “Marketing Automation” is in the Workflows. The series of triggers you create you deliver your messages is known as Workflows. While creating a workflow, you have to ask this simple question to yourself, “If this is going to happen like this, what is going to happen after this?”

A workflow comprises several triggers, such as:

  •    When was the last time, the person has taken an action
  •    When was the last time, you had interaction with the person
  •    What was the previous action the person has taken on your website

 

Some retailers use the following types of workflows:

  •    Sending discount codes to those customers who haven’t purchased in a while
  •    After a specific time of purchase, a customer is asked to review a product
  •    Remind those people who added a product to their cart but didn’t make the purchase

 

Steps involved in creating a Marketing Automation Strategy:

1. Define your goals

It might sound obvious and mundane, but defining your goal is the first thing you have to do. Before planning anything further, you have to decide in advance about the things you want to achieve through marketing automation.

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Are you trying to generate more leads?
  • Do you want to escalate your business through returned customers?
  • Are you trying to boost your sales during an off-season?

Each goal from above requires a different strategy. Therefore, to acquire satisfactory result, you need to understand the primary objective of your plan.

2. Identify whom to target

During the conversion process, it’s crucial that you know the requirement of your audience at every point. Therefore, according to your main goal, you have to pay more attention and time to those people who lie at a particular aspect of the process. For example, if you don’t have any problem regarding lead generation, but you do face issues during conversion, then you have to spend your focus on the middle and lower part of the conversion funnel.

3. Map user flows

The primary objective of marketing automation is to encourage people to take some action. When you map your user flow, you should visualize all the steps people have to go through to take action.

When it comes to taking action, all people act differently. The main aim is to focus on the way through which a person arrives at your website. Sometimes people need more information before they decide to take action. You should try that; people should not take unnecessary extended steps to take action. Also, make sure that people are not hit with hard sell too soon that required. Best way is to draw a diagram of your user flow. After that analyze the way people are arriving on your page and how many steps they are taking to take action.

4. Segment and rate your leads

Not all leads contain the same quality. The database of your contacts will be most likely to comprise of mix quality people, such as:

  •    People who are researching for the best option
  •    People who are going to buy
  •    People who are never going to buy

So if you are planning to create a broad message, targeting all your customers, then you must stop it. Rating your leads is necessary. With proper rating, it will be more comfortable for you decide which leads require further nurturing and which leads are ready to hand over to the sales team.

The quality of interaction a person has with your website and content is a great way to figure out if he/she is ready to convert or not. A person who goes to the pricing zone of you’re your product is most likely to buy than a person who just read your blog post on your website. A person who visited your site only once in a week is less likely to convert than a person who attended your website multiple times in last week. Through marketing automation software, you can calculate the score of a lead. The software assigns specific values to specific actions and interactions of the customer, which makes it easier to assign a score to the lead.

Marketing Automation let to deliver specific messages to a particular section of people by segmenting contacts from your database. For example, if you run a B2B business and deals with products targeting one specific size of Business, then with marketing automation you can focus those people who hold a specific position at a job.  If you run a B2C company, then you can segment those people who spend a certain amount of money on a particular company. You can also send product recommendation to people according to their locations.

Building and maintaining a contact database

It takes a considerable amount of time to build a high-quality database of contacts, and there are no alternative options to it. It is ideal to use market automation only when you have a fair amount of lead database to work. However, you must keep adding new names to your database continuously.

To build a superior quality database, you must focus on creating informative content. To establish trust among users and build authority in your field, you must focus on developing quality blog content that includes a high level of information for viewers. To attract people, who need in-depth information about the product and company, you must provide them ebooks and whitepapers. You must keep content like ebooks and whitepapers gated, and to access these contents, a person must provide his/her contact information.

If you a business who deals with services, then offering free trials to users is the best way to retrieve their contact information. People who are interested in your service will sign up for free trials.

Don’t Purchase list

If you want your business to run on a continuous basis, then never opt for a purchased list. While buying a list of contacts can boost up your database, but it will work against you in future.

To be clear, it’s impossible to buy a high-quality list of contacts. The list you get through purchase always comes with invalid and abandoned email addresses. Even if you manage to reach some people through the purchased list, there is a high chance that the person will ignore your message or won’t be interested in your message.

Things you may face if you start sending messages to questionable quality contacts:

  •    You may encounter massive bounce rates
  •    You may meet many unsubscriptions
  •    Low open rates are high
  •    End up with numerous abuse rates

If you face the above problems, then you may end up as a spammer and won’t be able to reach any qualified leads even if you have them in future.

How to do Marketing Automation Messaging efficiently?

marketing automation efficiency

Say it directly:

In this busy world, no one has patience to go through long marketing notes. So, there is no point of stretching it long. Come to the point directly and talk about what people need to know about your product or service. Short and simple yet eye-catching. Address to their problems and offer solution through your product and service.

Use engaging tone:

The whole purpose of using marketing automation strategies is to keep the audience engaged to something related to your service. It could be anything like a blog, a video, or about downloading a whitepaper. In such scenarios, use active tone and infuse action-driven sentences to put maximum effect on the readers.

Judge the position of your audience in the conversion funnel:

Not every marketing write-up attracts people. There are certain appealing contents those drive people down towards the conversion funnel and you need to understand their position at that time. Those who have just taken interest in understanding the company would feel off if get a sell offer. So, save those strategies for them those are already on the verge of getting converted from visitor to client.

Don’t cross the line towards spam zone:

There are certain actions those make the whole marketing thing appears under the spam zone. It can be anything like overusing links in the message body, capitalizing the entire text, using red colours in too much amount, etc. These acts leave a negative impression on the recipient and the entire approach may turn negative towards you. So, make the smart moves while remaining inside the safe zone. After all, once you earn the tag of a ‘spammy’, it’s hard to wear off.

In this regard, it is important to know what CAN-SPAM act is. If you are hearing this for the first time, it’s better to get some knowledge supplement on the same. Your subject line should be directing to correct destination. In case, you are using email marketing, do not forget to mention physical mailing address too in your message. Recipient should get an option for unsubscribe and all such requests should be honoured without any questions asked.

Optimize your list:

It a wrong notion that bigger contact lists can yield more fruitful results which is not absolutely true. Your list should have the name of potential candidates rather than those who do not pay attention to your messages. The leads must be shortlisted as per their response time towards your approach. For instance, if your message goes unnoticed for more than a month, it’s better to discard the name of that recipient from your list. Instead, you should focus on them who are further interested to know about your service.

Some common misconceptions:

There are many misconceptions related to automation marketing such as;

It does not feel humane:

Most marketers do not approach in a logical manner and which is why marketing automation feels like artificial. As the name says, the process is automation. One need not to repeat the same thing of sending messages to all one by one but that simply does not make the message feel impersonal. The content plays all the roll over here. It needs to have a solid human touch to make the whole thing appear compelling. Marketing automation makes the whole thing easier after that. It circulates the message to all.

It is nothing more than spam:

It is well known to people what a spam message looks like and how it fools the recipients. Spam messages carry a purpose of redirecting the visitors to a different link other than stated but when it comes to marketing automation, the purpose is completely different.  It delivers relevant messages to the audience who truly understand its purpose.

Marketing automation process involves non-promotional content too. Unlike spam, the promotional content in marketing automation offers something of value and assist in fostering a positive relationship between customers. It also does not always involve hard-core sell materials.

Just sit back and relax

email marketing

The word “automation” often directs towards a wrong impression. Whenever you hear the word “automated,” you instantly imagine a process, which runs on its own, and does not require any human interactions. While in reality, marketing automation is nowhere related to a hands-off operation. To make the process successful, you have to pay constant attention and refinement. Some marketer uses A/B testing feature to perform ongoing tests. It helps in knowing the response of people towards specific contents, subject lines, CTAs and design variations.

It’s equivalent to email marketing

Email might play a tremendous role in marketing automation, but email marketing is not a new name for marketing automation.

The messages you convey in email marketing and marketing automation are entirely different from each other. When you think of email marketing, you must be thinking of sending a broad email to a comprehensive list of contacts. While, in marketing automation, this is the first thing you want to avoid. The messages you send to users through marketing automation are fine-tuned according to the needs and interests of each user. In basic email marketing program you focus on list segmentation, but in marketing automation program, you must concentrate on hyper-segmentation.

The functionality and insights also differ on a large scale between basic email marketing and marketing automation. In regular email marketing platform you will get basic information about the level of interaction of people with your message, but in marketing automation programs you will gain more in-depth insights about your messages.

Even though marketing automation is beneficial for your business, it is still not an ideal solution. Following basic email marketing may be an only suitable choice for some companies. According to many studies, most businesses express than using marketing automation software didn’t offer them the benefits which they were expecting, while many marketers often fail to utilize the software to its full potential. It has also been observed that some business starts using the software before they gathered the required amount of database. So, it is crucial for a company to give an adequate amount of time and resources to learn the marketing automation software before using it to its full potential.

About the author

By Expert

Browse by Category

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Type e-mail address in the box below to receive latest news.

FOLLOW US