Businesses often need to automate various aspects of their day-to-day running. Automation can help a business run in a more effective and streamlined manner and thus save energy and costs. Generally, automation takes the form of using technological means to enable various processes to work automatically, with very little or no input from people.
A marketing automation strategy is a way of organizing marketing processes so once they are set up, they run themselves. Essentially, it allows many marketing functions to run automatically. This frees up time and resources that can then be utilized elsewhere.
Although automating processes can be incredibly helpful, it needs to be set up correctly. In order to get the best possible results, it is important to devise a strategy. A well-prepared strategy can outline the main goals of the campaign, what steps will be taken to achieve those goals, and how to deal with any obstacles.
Planning an automation strategy can sometimes be a little challenging, however, there are a few key points to consider that will make the process more streamlined.
Determine your goals
The first step of devising a marketing automation strategy is to set goals. Having some clearly defined goals will help to align your marketing strategy and ensure that you are getting as much out of each process as possible. The issue with not setting clear goals is that you won’t know what you are hoping to achieve, and therefore the entire process will be pointless.
So what goals might you have for your strategy for automating marketing? There are a number that are generally going to be worth pursuing, such as getting more signups on your website, gaining more contacts through obtaining the email addresses of customers, or getting more purchases and higher conversion rates. It is important to keep in mind that goals should be specific; so try to consider how many email addresses you would like to get per week, or how much you hope to increase your conversion rate by.
When considering your goals, you should also think about how long you would like it to take until you reach them. A great way of doing this is by setting a time frame on your campaign and analyzing the success after that time.
In order to help with motivation, it is also recommended that you set mini-goals, which could be steps towards the main goal. This helps you keep on track and stay focused. Furthermore, the goals you set should not only be considered at the start of the campaign but throughout. Make sure you set time aside to assess how the campaign is going at regular intervals.
Know what to automate and what not to automate
Marketing automation can be a very important tool, however, this does not mean it can or should replace all other marketing methods. There is a time to use automation and a time not to use it. You need to make sure you are careful about this.
Although marketing automation is very helpful in many cases, before you decide on what to automate you need to think about what is worth and what should be left to more traditional methods. This decision in itself can be a challenging one to get right, so you might want to spend a decent amount of time on it to ensure you are doing it justice.
Ultimately, your marketing automation is only going to be effective if it is used in the proper manner, and part of that is knowing when and how to actually use it. So what is marketing automation really good for?
Marketing automation is good for:
- Delivering messages to website visitors, providing and following leads and customers at various important points in their journey.
- Following up with customers (such as abandoned cart emails or automated happy birthday emails).
- Generally, anything which is predictable and repeatable is worth automating.
Automation is not so good for:
- Writing copy. If you try to automate this, the resulting words will not be readable, and you will cause more harm to your campaign than good.
- Direct contact with customers. You should aim to control the chat function on your website, for instance, rather than trying to automate it. People can tell when a machine is talking to them, and they don’t like it.
- Remember there is value in the human touch. Don’t try to automate every little thing.
Keep it cohesive
Branding guidelines are incredibly important for businesses, and you should keep this in mind for all aspects of marketing; including marketing automation. When you automate anything, try to keep the style and voice similar across the board, with similar fonts and colors and so on. This way, your brand remains memorable.
There are three groups of conversions and you can automate each of them in turn. They are:
- Pre- conversion. Here, you need to make people aware of your products and services by automating what you send to potential leads.
- Mid- conversion. This is when your customers are actively engaged in decision-making, and you are trying to capitalize on it.
- Post-conversion. Checking in on their experience, offering them further guidance, or encouraging repeat purchases all come under this part.
Choose the right software
The software you use for automating your marketing strategy is hugely important, as it impacts the strategy itself. You should therefore aim to choose software that is designed for the type of process you are automating. In simple terms, base your software choices on what you specifically want to automate and your goals.
You will find off-the-shelf commercial software for most marketing automation use cases. Custom software development is a significant undertaking. Only seriously consider it if you are convinced no commercial product meets your needs and a proprietary software solution will really move the needle.
Some options that are worth looking into include, Mailchimp, Hootsuite, Hubspot, Salesforce, and Zoho. There are many more out there too, including a lot of newer programs. However, newer is not always better – be sure to choose software that is fit for purpose. That means thoroughly researching the software you are looking at before you actually use it. And remember, you can always change if you need to later on, although it is generally best to avoid having to do this.
Constantly test and improve
As with most things in business, you are going to get the best results in the long term if you are making a point of constantly testing what you are doing, and using the results to improve upon your campaign. You may start to notice aspects that need work, and it is vital that you focus on doing that throughout the campaign.
One way of doing this is by tracking the success of the campaign, by considering what is currently going well, and what needs improvement. The areas that need work will become the things you change in order to make the campaign more effective.
Throughout the whole testing process, routinely ask yourself whether you are getting closer to reaching those overall goals we talked about earlier on. If you are not, then you should certainly look into what might need improving. Making changes can consist of small, ongoing alterations or larger one-off changes.
Marketing automation is incredibly useful for streamlining a marketing strategy. However, it is important to remember that it should not be used as a replacement for all processes. Defining your goals, choosing the correct software, and being mindful of analyzing your strategy are the best ways to ensure it is as effective as possible.