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What It Takes to Succeed With Marketing Automation

What It Takes to Succeed With Marketing Automation Blog Feature

April 15th, 2014 min read

what_it_takes_to_succeed_with_marketing_automation_2_Lately it feels like humans are becoming obsolete in a lot of workspaces. Self checkouts at the grocery store, computer operated assembly lines, even robotic vacuum cleaners are becoming a norm. Scary, isn't it?

While the man vs. machine tug-of-war inevitably continues to push and pull its way into many industries, you can rest assure that marketing automation is a lover not a fighter. 

Sure, the introduction of automation has undoubtably transformed the way that marketers carry out their day-to-day tasks, but a human element is still critical to the success of any campaign. So rather than shy away from the unfamiliar, it's time that we embrace it. 

As marketers, we've reached a point where we either adopt some form of marketing automation, or start to fall behind, which is why we're here to lay down the groundwork. To ensure that you get the most out of a marketing automation investment, we've detailed 8 dos and don'ts to help you get a handle on your efforts. 

8 Dos & Don'ts of Marketing Automation:

Don't - Neglect the Planning Process

Implementing marketing automation doesn't mean automating everything you have in place and hoping for the best.

The key is to integrate automation tools into the aspects of your strategy that make sense. The areas in which you want to enhance the level of communication, distribution, and effectivity. 

Break each element down in order to understand exactly how automation can be used, how it will function, and what goals it will help you achieve. 

Having a plan for automation integration will help to eliminate the chance that automation will consume your strategy and will take you to places that don't align with the wants and needs of your ideal customers. 

Don't - Leave Sales Out

It is critical that sales is involved in the software selection process, the training, and the implementation of any marketing automation simply because if you confine your marketing automation efforts to just your marketing team, you're not getting all the juice.

In fact, research reveals that marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead. (Nucleus Research)

Integrating your CRM with your marketing automation software will not only make it easy for salespeople to gain more lead intelligence, but it will also provide marketers with insight regarding which of their campaigns generated the most customers in order to more effectively prove ROI and inform future efforts.

At the end of the day, marketing and sales are both working to consistently obtain high quality leads and grow the overall business, which is why they should be using an automation software to combine their efforts. 

Don't - Focus on Just Email 

With marketing automation tools in tow, it can be easy to grab email marketing by the horns and run with it. However, it's important to remember that there is more to automation than just email.  

Don't get me wrong, workflows can easily be considered a busy marketer's best friend. In fact, Market2Lead found that leads that go through automated workflows have a 23% shorter sales cycle. With time savers like workflows in their tool belts, businesses are finding that it's much easier to worker smarter, not harder.

However, your marketing automation efforts should expand beyond the realm of email marketing. Automation can also play a roll in social media, landing page creation, smart form building, lead scoring, monitoring engagement and much more.

Don't - Autopilot

As I mentioned earlier, any successful marketing campaign must contain a trace of human nature. If you start auto-piloting, you're not only stifling the potential of your efforts, but you're giving yourself a bad name.

Marketing automation requires careful monitoring and occasional modification, so don't just assume that you're going to get away with setting and forgetting it. 

Sure, scheduling social media posts for a few days in advance will free up your two hands and allow you to prioritize other aspects, however it is important that you keep up with engagement. While it's certainly possible to automate highly engaging tweets, the concept of real-time interaction is not to be forgotten.

Do - Know Your Personas

Before you get rolling with any form of marketing automation, it is essential to your success that you are well-versed in your personas. After all, perhaps one of the most favorable aspects of marketing automation is that it provides marketers with the ability to place the right message in front of the right person at the right time. 

If you're not absolutely certain who you are speaking to, it's likely that your efforts won't resonate with anyone, at anytime, anywhere.

Through the development of detailed buyer personas, marketers can then begin to map out their automation strategy to target these individuals specifically and provide them with the type of content they will be most likely to benefit from and engage with. 

Essentially, before you start using automation to try to generate more leads, make sure that you know what types of leads you're looking to attract.

Do - Focus on Targeting

With well-defined personas on your side, marketers can then use automation to created more focused campaigns through targeting and careful segmentation

What's a segment?

A segment is a group of people who share certain commonalities. This could be as general as one of your personas, or as specific as only a group of people who have downloaded offers X, Y, and Z. 

What segmenting and targeting does best is ensure relevance, which in turn leads to more engagement and ultimately more conversions. Based off who you personas are and what they do, you can then present them with the type of information that they want and they need to move down the funnel. 

Do - Follow Up

Imagine if you could be alerted the moment a lead started poking around on your website? Well, there's no need to imagine it because with marketing automation, real-time notifications are a reality. 

This type of information helps marketers and salespeople better understand consumer behavior by pinpointing their areas of your website in which they choose to explore, links they've clicked, pages they've revisited, emails they've open, and so on. Rather than bottle this information up and put it on the shelf for later on, why not follow up with these people while they're on your website.

Let's say that you receive an alert that says a lead just opened on of your email, it's obvious that you're fresh on their mind which means that now is a better time than ever to spark up a conversation. 

Aware that often times timing is everything when it comes to communicating with leads, mastering the art of prompt follow up is key.

Do - Track and Test

We can't stress the importance of tracking, testing, and optimizing the performance of your marketing automation efforts enough. If you don't know how things are panning out, it's next to impossible to make educated decisions about your efforts moving forward. 

Response metrics like open rates, click-through rates, traffic, conversions, and unsubscribes will help you to better understand how your audience is responding to your campaign. While metrics like the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and the average cost per customer will help you to determine the effectivity of your automation in terms of lead nurturing and sales funnel management.

Not only should you be regularly checking in on these numbers, but you should also be taking advantage of opportunities to test and improve content. Things like subject lines, timing, and frequency all play a roll in the success or failure of your efforts, which is why it is imperitive that these elements are being tests and adjusted accordingly to improve results.

Photo Credit: nikkytok / Shutterstock

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