The concept of marketing automation can seem confusing, but it needn’t be. It’s often the final stumbling block for most companies when setting up their online marketing efforts. So what exactly is it? What can it offer?
What is Marketing Automation?
The definition of marketing automation is to use technology to automate certain marketing processes. Say for example you want to market to a specific subset of your contacts by email. Previously, you may have had to go through them manually to see who fits the criteria and separate them “by hand.” You’d then have to put the data into a format for bulk emailing, and send the email manually. You’d have to do this every time new applicable contacts came on board.
However, with marketing automation you can set your criteria in a particular piece of specially designed software, which will automatically send your marketing materials to all who apply, both at present and in the future.
Additionally, marketing and sales people can often find themselves sending the same emails to different contacts and performing basic social media functions regularly, so automating these functions saves time and lets them get on with what they do best.
Examples of Automation
The most common method for sending out automatic marketing materials is by email. There are other functions that can be automated (like social media, SMS messaging and postal marketing) but for a newbie, the best place to start is with email automation.
Here are a few examples of simple email marketing automation:
- If your product or service can be bought online and requires some level of support or training, their online purchase can kick into motion a series of emails with tips and tricks, delivered at appropriate intervals (such as one per day).
- If you’re an online retailer, you may find it useful to set up a reminder to customers who have abandoned carts. If someone is logged into the site, puts items into their cart and then leaves, an automatic process can remind them by email a few days later.
- Additionally, retailers could send out reminder emails regarding items added to a wish list, recently viewed products, or similar items or offers that the customer might be interested in.
- In a B2B environment, it may be beneficial to set up a trigger for when email or phone contact hasn’t been made with a contact after a number of days, weeks or months with a view to get them interacting again. Emails and calls can be logged in a CRM, or customer relationship management system, which can communicate with the email marketing tool to send out campaigns automatically after a set time has passed.
- If your company allows people to subscribe to your blog by email or sign up to your newsletter, this can act as a trigger to send a series of marketing materials in addition to the resource that the user signed up for.
Triggers & Workflows
You’ll notice that all of these examples are kicked off by an action (or inaction) by the customer, and in marketing automation terms this is referred to as a “trigger.” Think carefully about the sorts of things your customers and prospects do regularly to interact with your company and show their interest. Can any of these feed into an automated system and become triggers?
Once a trigger is – well, triggered – you’ll need to plan what will happen next. The planned logic of what happens next is known as a “workflow,” best envisaged as a flow chart. What is the starting point and end point of the process you want the user to take? What qualifying criteria will need to be used? How can you build trust whilst encouraging the required action? Establish the process that your average customers take and consider how automation can improve their experience (not to mention your bottom line).
Also, don’t be afraid of making your workflow as simple or as complex as you like. Just because a trigger can set off a single event, doesn’t mean it has to end there. Recipients’ actions within the workflow can set off further optional triggers, setting other workflows into action simultaneously. Don’t forget that recipient inaction can also be a trigger too! Triggers and workflow elements can also be tied to events such as specific calendar dates, a set duration of time since last contact, or indeed related to service renewal dates and seasonal buying patterns.
Automated emails needn’t always be outbound either; once a customer adheres to particular criteria, why not send off an email to your sales team to remind them to give the customer a call?
FIVE CRM offer an integrated contact management, lead tracking and email marketing tool that makes automation a breeze, but more about us shortly.
Automated systems also help you to provide a timely and consistent marketing response to a wide variety of actions, positioning you as an agile and responsive company. Automating certain marketing functions, email or otherwise, is chiefly touted as a time and resource saver, but work does need to be put in when you’re getting started. Planning the logic, fine tuning the processes and creating the content for marketing templates may take time and effort, but a responsive and well-planned workflow can really pay dividends in the long run.
So, are you ready to get automated? AutomationPro CRM boasts a number of features that make it ideal for those taking their first steps into the field of automated marketing. Our CRM solution seamlessly integrates your client details, lead management and email marketing into one easy to use tool; so you can identify triggers, create workflows, and harness the benefits that marketing automation can provide. To learn how AutomationPro CRM can help you, then contact us or begin your free 14-day trial.