A common misconception regarding marketing automation is that its main purpose is scaling the capacity of the marketing team. That could indeed be one perk, but consider marketing automation a tool to, above all, leverage the customer experience. Now, if done smart, a tool working day and night to feed your customers’ needs is a strong champion for your brand and business.
In this article, we share 5 advice on best practice when moving from manual to automated.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is a tool to help you bring customers and prospects on personal journeys through your sales-funnel. The features are often provided by e-mail marketing platforms but could also include communication through texts, social media and web. In other words, marketing automation can be a precise series of 2-3 e-mails with directed content to a small audience, or it could be a complex network of activities through internal and external channels. Don’t let that overwhelm you – less could be more and perfectly enough to bring you amazing results.
Automated workflows connect the dots in the customer journey
Marketing automation is basically a logic of triggers and actions. This is a way to split up your audiences and send them off on different paths, as well as improve efficient workflows in-house. Some examples:
Triggers – Something happens, or a condition is true.
- Someone signs up for newsletter subscription
- A customer downloads a product catalogue
- A lead is marked as qualified by marketing
- Support department closes a service case
- A subscriber opened but did not click the welcome e-mail
Actions – What activity is triggered by the current event.
- New subscriber receives a welcome e-mail
- Sales are notified through an e-mail about the hot lead
- Customer receives an e-mail asking how their support-experience was
The examples could go on forever, but hopefully these give you an idea. As you may notice, automation is not solely a customer interaction-tool. Rather, connecting the dots between departments is what will bring you, and your customers, extended value.
The 5 fundaments when automating marketing workflows
Marketing automation strategies should derive from the customer
As always with hyped technology, looking at the root cause of the initiative should be your starting point. All too often, we let the functions and possibilities dictate our strategy rather than proceeding from a customer perspective. When going after automated marketing, we recommend starting by inventing your touchpoints with the customer as they appear today. Now don’t focus on external communication only. By identifying the internal flows taking place pre and post customer interaction as well, you are laying the ground for effective automation strategies.
Qualify your content
Now, marketing automation is great, but if your loop isn’t packed with a precise selection of quality content, it won’t get you anywhere – automated or not. Segmenting your audience into sub-segments based on their previous activities and interactions with your brand is a must for creating your marketing automation workflow. Naturally, it is hard to know exactly what material a client group would passionately devour, but hopefully you know enough to form a hypothesis. Then, as always in the world of digital marketing, testing is the only way to know how sharp your theories are.
Less is more
The idea of automation may in its nature feel like an easy way out – the more of your workflows you could automate, the more time you would save, right? Wrong. As stated in the beginning of this article, automating with the intention mainly to reduce time spent on recurring tasks is, at best, a short-term strategy. Instead, try to select a few of your customer touchpoints that could benefit from some triggers- and actions-logic, to enhance the customer experience. Starting small will give you the opportunity evaluate and build on the flow from there.
Don’t let your automated campaigns seem automated
Personalization is still one of the most important things to separate your marketing activities from the generic stream of information. This can’t be stressed enough, especially as more and more of our customer interactions is now automated. The customer still needs to feel they are communicating with humans and not a robot. Otherwise, your campaigns will surely end up in their trashcan without a blink, and your brand affected negatively. Each interaction in an automated workflow must therefore be directed with thorough consideration.
Integrate your automated workflows with your customer data
This speaks for itself, but to successfully segment your audience and keep track of where they are in the loop, you’d need to integrate your automation tool with your customer data. If you try to go with two, or more, different sets of data using separate tools to handle for example sales process and e-mail marketing, you’ll lose control sooner than you could imagine. Luckily, many CRM-suppliers offers some sort of marketing automation tool as well, or at least integrations to external parties who does. Do the work and investigate what your alternatives are before investing time on building an automated flow.
Marketing automation is powerful if done right
Marketing automation is a powerful tool to grow business, boost engagement and increase revenue. But it is not a quick fix. Start on small scale and focus on the customer experience, and don’t look solely on external communication when investigating where you could gain from automation. Then, as always, trial and error are your ways forward. Luckily, the technical part of automating marketing is easier than ever. Intuitive environments and visual steps could have anyone become a marketing automation programmer in no-time.
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