Companies that utilise Marketing Automation tools generate twice as many leads as those just using email software (Autopilot). Yes, Marketing Automation software has been proven to be an effective vehicle by which a business can improve its marketing capabilities. However, many individuals and businesses dive straight in without truly understanding what Marketing Automation really is and how best to utilise it to its and their strengths. So, what is Marketing Automation?
What is Marketing Automation?
Too often, Marketing Automation is confused as either a ‘discipline’, ‘a piece of software’ or a ‘business capability’. None of these aforementioned definitions is incorrect but they distract and take us away from what really matters; the business value that Marketing Automation can bring to a business.
Let’s keep things simple! We think of Marketing Automation as: "The process of using software to automate, measure and improve marketing activities that are predictable and repetitive". It’s also worth highlighting that Marketing Automation is NOT going to fix a poor marketing strategy. It will just amplify it. So it’s important you get to know your ideal customer well and have a solid strategy for marketing to them before you start.
Why is Marketing Automation worth your time?
Marketing automation in today’s competitive environment is a must-have if you are serious about developing an effective marketing capability. The reality is that customers expect brands to be relevant with their marketing mix and they want to feel special. In other words, they want useful, practical and personalised engagement. Delivering this type of engagement on a one to one basis is extremely labour intensive (imagine manually handling thousands of personalised touch points per month, or worse; per day), making this objective unachievable and impractical without the use of Marketing Automation. And why would you want to? It would be so tedious…
Getting Started: Identifying your Persona
To start, you need to identify, clearly, your persona, i.e. your ideal customers. This involves identifying your semi-fictional representation of an individual that is most likely to be a paying customer. Things to consider when drawing up a persona include; age, sex, location, education, job-related information (industry, role, salary) and a story (journey).
Once you have knowledge of your persona you need to start to focus on understanding the buyer’s journey. This understanding will help breakdown the different opportunities where the business can and should intervene with its automation tools. For example, a user’s journey could involve engaging with the business through its blog posts. You then track their activity on your website. The user clicks the blog page and begins to read an article. While scrolling down, a pop-up box appears. It asks the user to subscribe to your newsletter by entering their email id. This gives the business the contact details of the user and the user gains access to regular content pieces.
Segment Segment Segment!
Simply put, market segmentation is the breaking down of a market along with some specified parameters. Segment reporting, when done so correctly, helps marketing teams focus their efforts on specific areas of their target market to build their business faster. There is nothing more painful in the business world than feeling like the marketing team’s budget has been wasted because of the paucity of new customers.
To prevent this and make the most of the marketing resources at hand, businesses’ marketing automation activities are guided by clear and effective data collection, measurement and analysis. This analysis is what assists the business in deciding which segment to target. The images above are an example of the different ways a market can be segmented and the type of data that is needed to create an effective segment that assists my marketing automation tools.
Put yourself in their shoes
Empathy! Mapping out the buyer’s journey is both an objective and subjective activity. And the most important aspect is the latter. Empathy with the buyer’s perspective is paramount. Think, “if I was buying this product, what information would be the most helpful to me?”.
Other questions to consider when mapping out a buyer journey:
Do I want a content piece explaining how the product works or do I prefer a video?
How effective would a free trial be when compared to reading testimonials, how would I feel?
Is it clear where I can find support; would it be a quick response time?
Create a positive User Experience (UX)
Once you have empathy down pat, you are halfway to providing to your users a top-notch customer experience. Mapping the buyer’s journey is an objective and a subjective activity. Creating an experience starts with empathy and ends with data. Data serves as the guiding light for the business. It can show what does and does not work alongside, and more importantly, can sprinkle some light on what may delight your customers and what might lead to negative experiences. For instance, Chatbots for e-commerce has been criticised by customers for being too impersonal and harvesting their questions for profit, whilst in some cases, Chatbots give the customer exactly what they needed to know out of normal working day hours. Incorporating an automated protocol that keeps the customer UX at its core focus is integral to a winning marketing strategy. More so, it is important to form a view of the next steps of the journey and how they can be optimised.
Test, Measure and Improve
Data, data and data! At this stage, you should be conducting A/B testing consistently to check the effectiveness of campaigns for various variables (design, content, times for posting, audience etc.). You also need to be diligent with the measurement of data and utilise it to continuously improve. This is absolutely vital in ensuring the marketing automation tools being used are up to date at all times.
Effective marketing automation is necessary for any business to grow. However, getting to this stage is difficult. It is not a singular process rather a multi-dimensional one where other business capabilities need to stay in line or within arm’s reach. Understanding this can be a difficulty, which is why we have developed a CRM Maturity Model with marketing automation as one of our key pillars. The CRM model is used to help business place themselves at specific maturity levels for different business capabilities without the need for a pricey & complex CRM software or CRM system. This lets them consolidate on what they have currently and look ahead on how they can move forward.
Read our Marketing Automation Cheat Sheet today, an interactive paper designed to help you understand your buyer's journey and what experiences would excite them.