Marketing automation is the use of software to automate the process of communicating with customers. There are plenty of benefits for solo and small businesses, but setting it up can be overwhelming. A good automated system saves time and energy - you can be asleep but still bringing in leads to your business. Research by VentureBeat found that companies who use marketing automation report an 80% increase in leads, and a further 77% conversion rate.
So how do marketing automation strategies work? Once the hassle of the creation stages are over, the process works by sending out pre-written emails at scheduled times. These go to either potential clients who recently subscribed to your website, or those who have chosen to receive new information about your business. Clients who make enquires via your site also receive the emails. They contain up-to-date information created to attract your target groups, and convince them to purchase your goods/services at a future date, or simply contact you.
When a business owner uses great marketing automation software, they often find the long-term benefits really pay off. Although the beginning is tough and time-consuming for the small-time entrepreneur, the rewards can be great. So how do you set up the best automation software on the market? Read on to find out.
Outline your workflow
A workflow is a systematic plan of action. To achieve the best results in marketing automation, you have to create a workflow detailing all the actions you intend to take, and a step by step guide on what actions lead to the next. Write down the workflow clearly on a piece of paper before beginning the process, to give you a clue of what email automation is like and what steps are involved in creating it.
Organize your contacts into segments
After outlining your workflow, the next thing is to centralize all your contacts in one place. You will need to dig deep and find all available email addresses until you are satisfied your list is conclusive. Some of the ideas of places you can fish for contacts include, business cards from seminars you attended in the past, napkins you have scribbled on lying around your workspace, spreadsheets stored on your computer and some paper address sign-ups from that event you attended recently.
When you are done collecting contacts, import them into the software and divide each group using criteria of your choosing. Consider an example of a wine seller who has an e-commerce website. The segments could have such groups as the red wine enthusiast, VIP clients, sommeliers, wine bloggers, and partners. Because each of the segments has unique needs, marketing to each of them becomes targeted.
Use your forms to get leads
Forms can be found in places like opt-in boxes for an email newsletter, landing pages that offer a free whitepaper and contact pages. This step makes it easier to enter the organized contact database you have built above. You use forms to capture information about people, and build your own email lists. A number of marketing automation platforms make it compulsory for you to use their landing page builders, frustrating your desire of attracting more leads to your website. Autopilot is unique and does not have these stringent rules, because it can detect all forms from any URL on your page, thereby giving you a chance to map out and bring in leads.
Create your content
Once your segments and forms are ready, you need to create good content worthy of people’s time and energy. This plays a very important role because it is the information you send out to your contacts. Content can be simple or complicated; it all depends on the information you want to pass on to your clients. It can be a sweet welcoming message, or many words detailing all the aspects of your business or even a complicated email course with dozens of steps. If you need help coming up with good content, you can enlist help here.
Select your marketing automation platform
After following all the steps above, you want to proceed with selecting a good platform perfect for your marketing automation efforts. There are a number of inexpensive tools on the internet you can look into when sending emails. These can be general providers such as Aweber, MailChimp and Autopilot, or the detailed and complicated automation platforms like Adobe Campaign, Pardot, Marketo, Hubspot and Callidus Cloud.
Create a conversion journey
A conversion journey refers to the instance a client joins a buying sequence, such as using shopping when purchasing goods online or taking up the month-long trial offer on certain software. The interactions of such a journey converts, activates and enables a lead to become a true customer.
To nail this you should be able to define success from your own perspective. The definition differs greatly amongst business owners which is why it is a personal decision to make. To help with this, define success by answering the following questions: Is success determined by the number of leads signing up for a demo? Is it when customers attain certain milestones using a product they purchased from you? Is it the number of times your leads view a page on your site? The answer to these questions will help you understand the greatest success milestone leading to a purchase. Once you have nailed this, work backwards and figure out the steps it takes in the conversion journey to achieve the success.
Implement your market automation strategy
After all the hard work comes the fun part of taking the new wheels for a drive. You might want to use data here to make it even more effective. You have heard the famous claim that numbers don’t lie, right? Make use of that statement to avoid shooting out of the target range. Data tells you how you are doing by pointing you to what works, and what doesn’t. Through data, you will know where to put more work and resources, and where to make changes. Here are some of the tweaks you can employ in your marketing strategy:
The total number of contacts in your database (set some goals to see growth here)
Number of customers in each of your segments
Which email subjects are opened frequently, together with click-through rates
The content that seems to attract the most traffic between your blog and your website (use Google analytics to check this)
Social media data (use Buffer to determine the least and most popular social media posts, determined by the number of likes, comments, shares, and clicks each one receives)
Rate of unsubscribed content from the email list (this helps you re-evaluate the send frequency and quality of content)
Rate of conversion of the conversion journey
These metrics are clear indications of how customers interact with you via the touch points in their journey, and where improvements are required.
Although only 4% of business owners have embraced the magic of marketing automation, its reward is the reason more and more people are embracing the idea. It is a great strategy for any small business owner, as well as any individual looking to spend less time and energy on their marketing techniques.
Are there some steps that have not been highlighted here but are crucial in creating a marketing automation system? Let us know in the comments section below.