Marketing automation technology has come a long way over the years. But your automation is only as powerful as the thought process behind it.
Automation in marketing refers to any email, SMS text message or other marketing messages (or tasks) that automatically happens in response to a user’s actions that were made or not made. For example, when a lead joins your email newsletter subscription list, a welcome email is automatically sent to that new subscriber.
And marketing automation is the No. 1 most effective digital marketing technique (after content marketing).
Without planning, your business can miss key opportunities with your target audience.
The following are five ways to approach automation in your marketing strategy.
Leverage your marketing automation platform
Not only do you want to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your marketing automation platform features, but you also want to make sure that you’re using the right platform for you.
DailyStory offers the ability to easily design and build sales and marketing automations (such as drip campaigns, happy birthday offers, or more complex automations that integrate with Slack and other tools), all in an easy-to-use drag-and-drop designer.
Think of your marketing automation platform as a data sponge. The more data it has, the more automations it can accurately run on your behalf. Therefore, data collection is huge. This can happen within your platform of choice in a number of ways, including native integration, manual imports of data and custom API integrations.
The key is to get as much data as you can from your main systems into your marketing automation platform.
Thoughtfully approach your automation campaigns
There are so many ways and options for automation within your digital marketing. It can feel overwhelming to not only think of your first automation but to also ensure that you’re automating everything that can help you serve your customers and grow your business.
First, keep it simple. Think about the life cycle of your leads. Then, as you’re considering that journey, look for opportunities where you can use data and context together to increase your conversion rate of those leads.
Then, it’s time to dive a little deeper by focusing on campaign-specific automation flows, pre-sales automation flows, sales automation flows and opportunistic-campaign automation flows.
This automation flow contains one to three emails that relate specifically to the point of your intended conversion. For example, you’re offering a free eBook that leads can download by entering their email address. Your emails in this campaign would then reference the topic of your eBook and show how your business can help them in this regard. Once the lead completes this series (but hasn’t yet signaled that they want to purchase from you), he or she moves into the pre-sales automation flow.
This automation flow can be a little more generic and spread out over a longer period of time. It’s because you are nurturing leads who have finished their respective campaign-specific flows without signaling that they want to make a purchase.
The goal is to continue to engage with them (and keep your business top of mind) without overwhelming them (and causing them to opt-out). Therefore, this flow could include about a dozen emails and/or text messages over several months.
Consider ways to educate and engage with these leads so that their interest in your products and/or services can grow, and they become interested in possibly purchasing from you (and enter your sales automation flow).
Once a lead is potentially interested in purchasing, he or she can move into this automation flow. This is a key time to be as strategic as possible to encourage a sale.
Whether this is a targeted discount offer, a personalized message or something else, you want to be appealing.
This type of campaign flow is triggered when specific data points become available and can be used with clear context to improve the effectiveness of future communications.
For example, with that same eBook mentioned before, your lead downloads it. Then, that lead signs up for a free service you’re offering where more information about the lead is shared with you. You can then leverage that data to trigger a hyper-focused email series. This series can show exactly how your paid service can directly benefit that lead. The more personalized you can get, the more effective you can be.
Opportunistic flows are about using context to be that much more persuasive.
Treat every email in your automation like a newsletter
Once you start creating automation flows, there’s a risk of falling into a trap of creating emails just for the sake of it. But don’t fall into this trap.
You should treat every email with the same care and attention that you would an email newsletter that would send out to your entire database.
Your automated emails should have well-written copy, a clear call-to-action and a clean design for both web and mobile consumption. It always helps to run every email by another member of your team for feedback so that you know everything is up to your brand standard and optimized for your goals.
See the anatomy of an effective marketing email, with 10 parts you should consider.
Double (and triple) check your automated flows
Because you are setting up automated marketing campaigns, it’s imperative to check and test everything possible. That way, you know everything looks and acts the way you want.
For your automated email, check the:
- Subject line
- Email has a clear purpose
- Buttons and/or links directing to the correct web page(s)
- Links have UTMs for tracking purposes
- Graphics and whether they load properly
- Email itself loads correctly on both Android and iOS mobile devices
For your automation flow, check whether the:
- Correct segment is being targeted
- Logic behind each step and trigger in the flow is correct
- Leads eventually leave the flow and what prompts that
- Relevant contact fields get updated based on the outcomes in your flows
It never hurts to double and triple-check everything tied to your automated marketing. Otherwise, you risk the wrong message going to the wrong lead at the wrong time. This can lead to confusion and (even worse) an opt-out.
Test and monitor continuously
Once you have your automated marketing flows in place, it’s easy to move on to other tasks. Truly, one benefit of automation is that you don’t have to do anything within a campaign manually. This saves a lot of time, but don’t set it and forget it.
It’s important to regularly optimize with A/B testing and then monitor the results so that you can improve any aspect of your flows as warranted.
Most marketing automation platforms, including DailyStory, support A/B testing, which is the process of showing two variants of any particular element to different segments of your audience at the same time and comparing which variant is more successful. A/B testing is also known as split testing and can be used in many different ways. This includes websites, emails and so on.