If your goal is to make your sales and marketing teams more effective, then marketing automation is the tool for you. With the right automation software you can boost the productivity of your inbound marketing campaign and reach new success.
In this beginner's guide, we’ll take the guesswork out of establishing an automation system, allowing your small business to make the most out of its sales efforts and acquire the best-fit marketing automation software.
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is special software that automates repetitive marketing tasks with a goal to engage prospects and customers more effectively. Marketing automation technology helps marketers with email, social media, lead nurturing, lead conversions, onboarding, training, etc.
Importance of Automating your Marketing
Whether you like it, marketing automation is here to stay. This technology will continue to transform the way businesses engage with customers for years to come. Agency leaders continue to find opportunities for automation that were impossible just a few years ago. With so many automation tools available, now is an excellent time to form a new strategy if you haven't already.
Automation programs can make lead scoring easier and more efficient, making them extremely attractive to CMOs. However, how successful any lead generation plan will largely depend on the strategy behind it. This also applies to your brand’s automation strategy - a plan is essential in order for these programs to function best.
Instead of looking at marketing automation solutions as a method for generating leads, we recommend you view these tools as just one method of reaching customers. When you realize that automation is only one piece of your entire marketing strategy, you’ll be able to use it more effectively. With that said, here are six strategies that can help you master an automation program.
B2B vs B2C Automation
When creating a small business marketing automation strategy, you’ll want to consider whether your company caters to other businesses or consumers. Usually, B2B sales have longer conversion cycles than B2C sales, and they often will require more of a long-term commitment from the customer. B2B messaging tends to emphasize white papers, case studies, and other long-form content.
On the other hand, B2C correspondence can use simpler messages that are tailored to the customer’s needs. For example, a short video on how to use your product will likely be more interesting to a B2C customer than a lengthy ebook.
The Key Concepts of Marketing Automation
Although automation incorporates multiple marketing and business practices, there are a few key concepts to keep in mind when developing your strategy.
1. Conversion Funnel
I would say that a conversion funnel is the active steps a person takes toward making a purchase or other type of conversion, ie - webinar sign up. We break the funnel down into three stages (AKA the buyer's journey): Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
2. Feedback Loops
In marketing, a feedback loop is the customer’s reaction to your automated message–even if it’s nothing at all. When you analyze your feedback metrics, you’ll want to see high click-through rates, open rates, and email forwards.
3. User Flow
When users flow to your site from different sources (PPC ads, social media, and email), it’s important to direct users to pages that make it easy for them to take an action.
For example, a user that arrives at your site through a long-tail keyword may be looking for something specific, so tailor the corresponding page to that request.
Simply put, a workflow is a series of triggers used to deliver messages. When creating a workflow, it’s important to ask yourself, “If this happens, what should occur next?”
Getting Started With Marketing Automation Software
Now you’ve explored what marketing automation solutions are available and determined the core concepts of a successful strategy, it’s time to put that knowledge into action.
1. Determine Your Goals
It’s important to pinpoint exactly what you want your automation strategy to accomplish, whether it’s generating more leads or boosting sales during the slow season.
2. Identify Which Customers to Target
There may be times where it makes more sense to focus on a group of customers in one particular stage of the sales journey. If you’re having issues with conversions, for example, you may wish to focus on the middle or lower parts of the sales funnel.
3. Map User Flow
Using a state diagram can help you determine how people are arriving at a page and how many steps they take before taking an action.
4. Rate Your Sales Leads
With automation software, you’ll be able to assign a value to certain actions and interactions. For example, someone who views a price list on your page may receive a higher value than someone who has simply read a blog post.
Marketing Automation Best Practices
Many marketers have misconceptions about automation, believing it to be impersonal and even spam-like at times. Here are some automation best practices that can help you avoid these issues:
- Make your point quickly and clearly
- Write messages in active voice, encouraging recipients to take action
- Keep in mind where people are in the sales funnel
- Avoid seeming “spammy” – don’t use all capital letters or overuse the color red
- Narrow down your contact list, allowing you to reach the correct people
It’s also important to take a hands-on approach when generating emails. In most cases, message automation requires constant attention and refinement to be fully effective.
Is Marketing Automation Right for My Business?
Automation offers a host of benefits, but it won’t be the ideal solution for many businesses. Before exploring your automation options, be sure to consider whether you have a large enough database and the resources necessary to make your efforts a success.
1. Start with Clearly Defined Goals
According to a study by Forrester, just 10 percent of marketers feel comfortable using a comprehensive marketing automation program as part of their overall promotional strategy.
Uncertainty over how to proceed is usually caused by a lack of clear goals, which are essential to a marketing strategy. Whether it’s thought leadership, increasing website traffic, or generating leads, establish your automation plan with an objective in mind.
2. Be Specific About Your Marketing Tactics
Automation isn’t a tactic; it’s a mechanism that helps you increase the success of your marketing tactics. When thinking about marketing automation solutions for your brand, it’s important to identify what tactics you’ll be using throughout your campaign.
Will you be implementing an email campaign or will you focus on collecting inbound leads? Whatever you decide, these tactics will have an impact on your automation strategy.
3. Create Content
Once you set clear goals and establish the tactics you wish to use, it’s time to create content to support your automation program. Blog posts, white papers, video, email, and all other forms of content should be ready ahead of time to be used with CRM automation tools.
4. Choose the Right Marketing Automation Tools
Now, it’s time to choose the software that helps you reach your goals. When shopping for the right automation software, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Select platforms that feature the tools you need to accomplish your goals and make you a more effective marketer. For example, businesses running email campaigns may benefit from email marketing features. Others may need a CRM with sales automation. While it’s tempting to select a system with dozens of extra features, it’s unnecessary unless you plan to use those tools in the future.
Marketing Tools that Grow with you
It’s simpler–and more cost-effective–to purchase only the tools you need. However, be sure the system you select has plenty of room to grow.
For our agency we use HubSpot Marketing Automation exclusively. Our team finds that it's the most comprehensive set of tools that gives us the biggest competitive advantage.
5. Make a Final Software Decision
After you’ve spent some time exploring the options for automation software, narrow the list down to a few platforms.
Consult with those who will be using the software to get their feedback and don’t forget to demo the platforms to ensure their user-friendliness and feature set. Most automation programs are easy to use, but there are some that can be more complicated.
6. Allow an Adjustment Period
Even if you’ve selected a user-friendly automation interface, it can still take a few months for a team to fully learn the software. Give your team time to experiment with the platform and determine the most effective ways to use it.
Most importantly, be patient – it takes time to master automation programs, and teams may face some challenges throughout the first several months. Commit to your choice for at least a year before switching to another program.
Benefits of Marketing Automation
Starting a business and keeping all aspects running smoothly can be a challenge. From developing a marketing strategy to producing final products, small businesses have a multitude of tasks each day. Unfortunately, these tasks can quickly fall apart because of time management or organization issues.
There's hope, however! Add a pinch of CRM and marketing automation and you have a straight-forward solution to common business challenges.
In this article, we’ll offer solutions to get your business back on track with CRM and marketing automation.
1. Organize Your Workflow
Without CRM automation tools in place, it’s likely that you face a chaotic and messy workflow. Why waste time with old business cards and file folders? Not only is it inefficient—it just doesn't make sense in this day and age.
With a proper CRM system in place, you can sort and file all your customer's interactions for quick viewing. Better organization can lead to higher conversions and ROI.
In fact, a recent study has shown that businesses using CRM and marketing automation solutions often see an increase in their revenue within 6-9 months. CRM is an excellent choice if you are looking to take your marketing and operations to the next level.
2. Save Time on Repetitive Tasks
Email templates can save you a lot of time when sending messages, but they can be a hassle after a while. It’s likely you won’t want to craft the same email hundreds of times.
CRM with email automation is a great tool for managing this common problem. With a great CRM automation system in place, you can create personalized messages to prospects at any stage of the sales journey. Customers and leads essentially “choose” which emails they want to receive through their behavior and reactions.
Using CRM with email automation is convenient and frees up a great deal of mundane work at the office. With no more tedious and repetitive emails to write, your team members can focus on the tasks that matter most.
The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing Dos & Don’ts
3. More Efficient Process
With employees stuck completing mundane tasks, there’s not a lot of time left for creativity or fostering relationships with leads.
That’s where CRM and marketing automation comes in. When you implement marketing automation solutions, you can manage your company’s work processes more efficiently. When you use CRM and marketing automation, you can:
- focus on company development, which is time consuming and hard to automate.
- work on your business, not in it–a CRM serves as a virtual assistant, allowing you to address issues and analyze data remotely.
- develop new business units or generate new sources of revenue. We can program CRM platforms to manage multiple customer journeys and business units. This allows you to scale up your business while efficiently managing customer relationships and data.
Over to you
Taking your business to the next level requires more than just hours at the office. CRM allows business owners to free themselves from the daily grind and develop new revenue streams. With the organization and peace of mind that CRM marketing automation provides, you’ll be able to create a business that’s built for the long haul.
Using marketing automation can be incredibly rewarding for your brand. In fact, when automation is implemented correctly, many businesses begin to see great results within the first six months.
However, it’s still important not to rush into the automation process–especially if you’ve never used these platforms before. Take the time to develop a detailed automation strategy, and master the software you choose. Over time, you’ll see an excellent return on your investment.