Repetitive marketing tasks such as social media posts, lead nurturing, newsletters and more can fill whole days. As your organization grows, you want to minimize the time spent on these routine tasks. Yet if you neglect them, it will harm your organization. By automating these recurring tasks, you can focus more efficiently on nurturing leads and serving customers. In this blog, we explain how marketing automation can help accelerate your business growth.
In this blog:
- What is marketing automation?
- The difference between email marketing and marketing automation
- Getting started with marketing automation
- Examples of marketing automation
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is the use of tools to automate routine marketing activities. This saves you time and makes the communication with your target audience more focused and consistent.
Marketing automation delivers:
- The right message
- To the right person
- At the right moment
- Through the right channel
So marketing automation saves you time and ensures that leads and customers receive the information they need when they need it.
We believe in ‘Stop selling, start helping!’ By providing help throughout the experience journey, you can generate, nurture and automatically qualify new leads. In other words, marketing automation can streamline the whole funnel. And the gains extend beyond your marketing team: your sales and service teams also benefit. In this first blog, we focus on marketing automation. In future blogs, we will explain how marketing automation can also empower your sales and service teams.
ActiveCampaign and HubSpot are our favorite marketing automation tools. We use these tools to help our customers automate their marketing activities. Both tools also offer other unique features.
The difference between Email Marketing and Marketing Automation
Because marketing automation focuses mainly on automatically sending emails, it is often confused with email marketing. However, marketing automation and email marketing serve different purposes and meet different needs. So, it is important to know when to use which.
Email marketing focuses on sending emails. This can be done manually and automatically. All you need is an email address. You can add other data to each contact to give your email marketing a more personal touch, but the email address is the basis. Besides newsletters, you can also send automated emails to follow up on or nurture a lead. For example, when someone subscribes to your newsletter or fills in a request form, you can automatically send them a welcome email or the information they have requested followed by more exciting relevant content. This is a relatively simple example of automated email marketing.
Marketing automation takes this to the next level. It allows you to automate a whole range of marketing tasks, from scheduling social media posts to sending internal notifications. And it is not confined to email – almost any aspect of the marketing process can be automated. Nor is it linear. Contacts with different or additional data flow through different workflow branches.
Getting Started with Marketing Automation
It is possible to automate the entire marketing process but we recommend that you start small and prioritize processes that will increase your efficiency.
1. Document all Processes
Start by documenting all of your current marketing activities. Include processes of all sizes. Consider the funnel as a whole. What do you and your marketing team do at each step to turn website visitors into leads and leads into customers?
Document all of the processes that contribute to the experience journey as well as internal and back-office processes. These might include notifying a particular salesperson in a particular region, gathering detailed knowledge about interesting new leads and creating tasks to follow up on leads.
2. Create an Overview
Once you have documented all of the processes, create an overview. Which processes are connected? Which processes are internal and which are external? Arrange the processes in the order in which they occur in the funnel.
Next, use the MoSCoW method to prioritize key tasks. Divide the processes into ‘Must have’, ‘Should have’, ‘Could have’, and ‘Won’t have’. Which processes are most productive and save most time? Which processes ensure that you help leads move through the funnel faster? Which processes enhance the experience journey?
3. Build Workflows
Once you have an overview, you are ready to create workflows. You can do this with marketing automation tools such as ActiveCampaign and HubSpot.
Examples of Marketing Automation
Now you’re ready to get started! Below, we list some examples of marketing tasks that can be automated to increase your efficiency.
Schedule Social Media Posts and Newsletters
Create social media posts and newsletters beforehand and schedule them to send or publish at a set time.
Automated Emails when a Shopping Cart is Abandoned
When visitors leave your website with products in their shopping cart, you can automatically send them a reminder to complete the checkout process. If this fails to have the desired effect, you can automatically send them a coupon as an incentive.
When someone subscribes to your newsletter, you can send an automated email showing them the latest updates. That way, they immediately know what to expect from your newsletter. When someone fills in a request form, you can automatically send an email with the download they requested.
Once you have generated leads, you want to ensure that they progress through your funnel. You can convince them to make a purchase by continuing to meet their information needs. If someone shows an interest in a particular product, service, event or subject, you can automatically send them more information about it. There are many ways to do this: fact sheets, blogs, e-books, webinars, landing pages... After nurturing them for some time, you can convince them to book a demo, request a sample, or even make a purchase. By this point you have demonstrated your expertise and shown that your product or service is superior to its competitors.
You can automatically label those who show an interest in a particular subject. This enriches your data and segments your leads, so you can create highly personalized content that is more relevant to their needs and interests.
It is important to update labels that no longer apply. For example: once someone has requested a sample or made a purchase, you don’t want them to keep receiving marketing emails. If a potential customer is talking to your sales team, the marketing emails have done their job.
Reminders for Meetings or Webinars
A meeting scheduler shows a lead when they can book a call or face-to-face meeting. After arranging a call or meeting, your visitor will immediately receive an automated email that allows them to add the appointment to their calendar. You can also send reminders before the meeting to ensure that your lead shows up.
You can send reminders before webinars, meetings during exhibitions, demos, masterclasses and other appointments. In fact, whenever you have a meeting scheduled with a lead or customer, you can send them a reminder to ensure that they show up.
Some leads are not always ready to make a purchase. Lead nurturing helps you convince them. You can also automatically qualify leads to determine when they are ‘sales ready’. You do this by scoring your leads whenever they visit product pages on your website, open emails and clicks links, engage with your social media posts, contact your organization, or request a demo, proposal, or sample. You decide what is needed for a lead to be ‘sales ready’. Lead scoring allows you to automate the majority of this process so your marketing team can focus on more important tasks.
Each organization can tailor a set of automated tasks to make their marketing process more efficient. Your sales and service teams can benefit in the same way. In future blogs, we will explain how these teams can use automation to save time and increase efficiency.