What is marketing automation?

By Michael Macdonald | Marketing Automation

Jul 07

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing Automation is:

  • A collection of tools capable of delivering your content in an automated way across any or all of your chosen channels. Eg: email, social, sms, direct mail, apps, ads.
  • Software that allows you to react automatically to engagement with that content - An email was opened, a link in an SMS message was clicked, a prospect saw an advert in a magazine and texted your keyword to your SMS number. 
  • A way of streamlining your sales and marketing teams, to reduce manual tasks and increase the chance of conversion to a customer.
  • A platform that can take all your incoming leads and segment them based on their interest
  • A tool that enables you to link your CRM to your advertising platforms to give a more personalised and highly targeted collection of messages. 
  • A method of simplifying the customer experience, reducing the number of steps involved in a purchase, scheduling content to be there at the right time, with the right message, and on the right channel.
  • A nifty widget to act on those contacts that are engaging the most: Lead Scoring. How hot your leads are
  • A system that gives you business intelligence; allowing you to gauge the engagement of your prospects and customers. Report on your sales; telling you which channel delivers the best customer lifetime value, and measure the success of your sales and marketing team’s efforts as a whole.
  • An integration with all the other tools you use, like your project management system, your internal communication system, your fulfilment company, or just your printer. 

Marketing automation, fast cars and trees

Infusionsoft used to be known as the Ferrari of the Marketing Automation world. 

A Ferrari is  a very powerful thing in the hands of a driver that knows what each button, lever, dial and knob does. It’s also the fastest way to get from A to tree. 

So many possibilities, and so many “Amazing Sales Machines” have ended up crashing into the proverbial tree on the side of the street. 

We started out as the world’s greatest Infusionsoft implementation team, (I seem to have lost the testimonial, but I’m sure I didn’t imagine it), and in those years we saw a lot of fast cars bent round trees.

It was one of the first ‘all in one’ solutions: A CRM, a shopping cart, an email autoresponder, an affiliate marketing system and more. It still is. 

So,  people bought it, and of course wanted to drive it really fast without knowing where to start with it. 

We quickly became the tow truck and mechanic to the Ferraris of the automation world. 

We would pick them out of the ditch, gather all the scattered parts and rebuild from the wheels up.

See, it’s the wheels, and the bit that holds the wheels together that is the most important part of the system. Even the flashest car is designed to get from A to B, some just have more stuff. 

That expensive stuff is only good if it really improves the life of those using it, or enjoying it. 

It’s not a bomb-proof analogy; of course you also buy a Ferrari to impress people, or to just look at it and love it. 

However, a perfectly built marketing automation system can also  be a thing of beauty, and campaign nerds do occasionally take a screenshot of a beautiful campaign to share with other campaign nerds, ensuing in digital ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ 

Nowadays, we try to reach people before they have bought the big expensive car, and though we’re still Infusionsoft/Keap certified partners, we are not beholden to that one piece of technology. We have been known to pull the odd AMG from a pond, or a Range Rover from a lamp-post. 

The most important thing is to know what you want to build. By all means, peruse the vast landscape of tools out there to see what is possible, but then talk to someone like us who will help you decide if you have planned a monster that you can’t build and control, or have missed vital steps in the customer journey that may mean lost opportunities to engage and sell. 

Some examples of marketing automation tools!

Oh, there are SO many:

                                                   

In no particular order, some examples of marketing automation software:

  • Infusionsoft
  • Kartra
  • Constant Contact
  • Hubspot
  • Mailchimp
  • ActOn!
  • Klaviyo
  • Marketo
  • Convertkit
  • Eloqua
  • Customer.io
  • Pardot
  • Buzzbuilder

If you spent ten minutes each on the websites of the top twenty platforms; without planning your ideal customer journey first, I pretty much guarantee that you would be no wiser than when you started, and may have a headache. 

How to choose marketing automation software

First, plan out your existing customer journey on paper, or in Lucid Chart or Draw.io or something similar. Just get it down. 

How do you attract your leads, engage with them, make the sale and follow up to see how they are doing? And then, sell them something else?

Fill a wall with post-it notes if you have to, that’s what we sometimes do.

Then plan out what your ideal customer journey looks like. Not in terms of the tools, just the message or content that they need to see, what happens if they don’t react to that message, and what your team has to do at each stage of that journey. 

Then, you can start looking at the possible features and benefits of marketing automation:

What Marketing automation can do

Create an omni-channel environment

With effective marketing automation, you can combine all relevant channels with branded and cohesive content to increase the effectiveness and range of your message. 

There have been many studies and many subsequent opinions on how many touchpoints are needed to create enough trust to make a sale, but the general concensus is that it's at least 6, and some people say up to 24. In marketing it's good to be omnipresent. Your prospective buyers are certainly not just living in their inbox all day. With decent marketing automation software, you could be reaching them on:

  • Email
  • Sms
  • Social
  • Mobile
  • Apps
  • Offline - Leaflets, Magazines, billboards
  • Webinars
  • Events
  • Networking
  • Conferences

Deliver Lead Magnets

  • PDF downloads
  • Checklists
  • Guides
  • Free training
  • Short video series
  • Survey results
  • Cheat sheets
  • Quiz
  • Top 5 strategies for achieving something
  • First chapter of your bestselling book 
  • Affiliate offer
  • Swipe files and templates
  • Free trial of your membership or app
  • Case studies
  • Free consultation (Book an MTS Session)

Behaviour tracking

  • Email opens
  • Email clicks
  • Lead magnet downloads
  • Visits to web pages
  • Web page button clicks
  • Cart abandonment
  • Clicks on SMS messages
  • Webform submissions
  • Webinar attendance
  • Event attendance
  • Video views, and time viewed

React to that tracked behaviour - Automate your response to their interactions with your content

  • Lead Scoring: How many times do they perform the behaviours above?
  • Segmentation: Which particular downloads did they go for, which emails did they click on? Where are your leads located?
  • AB testing: What time of day do they open most, more or less images? Which email subject got the most opens? Video, or PDF?
  • Predicting next behaviour: What have previous campaigns succeeded in, and failed at?
  • Dynamic content - Show your prospects only content that they are interested in, and leave out the type of content they have ignored before. 
  • Notify the sales team that they have interacted and have visited your product page

Develop a relationship with your prospects

  • Add value with content upgrades and latest developments
  • Help your prospects get to know you with team introductions
  • Videos on your story, and why it relates to your prospects
  • Build trust with testimonial delivery: Videos, screenshots, Trustpilot ratings
  • Create a personalised journey so you are talking directly to them 
  • Request feedback to make your audience feel more involved
  • Create a member area to build community
  • Educate your audience on a subject so that they make more informed decisions and move customers along their awareness journey

Removing Manual tasks

  • Send a thank you email when a purchase is made
  • Give your purchasers essential information on their new purchase, and how to get the best from it
  • Follow up on free trial completion
  • Request a testimonial or customer feedback
  • Automated email from customer service when a query is made on your site
  • Lead scoring - Qualify your prospects based on criteria that you set, and survey them for their interest and status
  • Request a new credit card when a payment fails
  • Chatbots on your page to answer FAQ’s
  • Sales pipeline automation: Assign a prospect to a team member, and given them essential information, send an email or an SMS automatically if a call is missed, or contact is not made
  • Remind your customers of an upcoming appointment or Zoom call
  • Produce reports and dashboards on your key performance indicators, including customer lifetime value
  • Ask for referrals
  • Social media posts - Many platforms now automate this, our favourite is Smarterqueue
  • Quote follow ups: A quote is sent but not agreed, follow up to see if they have read it. 

Marketing automation reporting

  • Campaign conversions:Landing pages, social clicks, downloads
  • Cost per lead, cost per click, cost per transaction
  • Sales reports: Orders per month, average order value, Customer Lifetime Value, cart abandonment figures, ROI
  • Engagement - email opens, clicks, most engaged contacts, unsubscribes
  • New monthly contacts
  • Social reporting - impressions, likes
  • Website reporting - pageviews, goal tracking, time on page, bounce rate
  • Most successful channels: CPC, email, Organic

Simple automation examples you could implement today

  • Send follow up emails on the back of a lead magnet download
  • Send abandoned cart emails and re target on social or Google Ads
  • Notify your sales team when people are most likely to buy
  • React to engagement with your website, know when people visit your sales pages
  • Send a further information email when you scan in a business card
  • Send a monthly newsletter
  • Upsell and cross-sell on a purchased product

These features can help you improve your customer journey, but not all of them will be necessary for your business. Some features are included automatically in the software, and some you will need a plugin, or a Zapier integration to achieve. Your shortlist should be able to give you what you need at this point in time, but you should also plan for growth, and whether your platform will become very expensive when all features are enabled, or you may have to move to another platform when you see that growth

Factors that will affect the price of the software:

  • The amount of features, remembering that you don't need them all to start with!
  • The amount of contacts that you have in your database; your 'List'
  • The amount of emails that you will be sending on a monthly basis
  • How many users there will be that will login to the software, including a sales team if you have one. 

Have these stats to hand before you do your pricing comparisons!

Final words - So: What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation can help you increase the quantity and quality of your leads, follow up with new leads, keep existing leads engaged and react to their behaviour, increase your productivity and help you follow up and react in ways that would not be possible manually.

All businesses, big or small, B2B, B2C, B2G or Not for Profit can be automating something

It’s now well established in the business world, and no business should be without a solid marketing automation strategy

Our marketing automation questions to you

What is your marketing process?

What are you missing from your marketing strategy?

How much could you be automating?

Where do you start?

Book in a world class Marketing Therapy Session and make sure your business has the tools and strategy to automate, grow and thrive. 

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