Marketing automation (MA) is a method of streamlining and maximising marketing efforts, using technology. A single platform is used to manage email and social media marketing, as well as digital advertisements and more. Examples of marketing automation are ‘welcome’ emails, following up after the prospect has viewed a certain web page, lead-nurturing and many others. Using marketing automation software effectively should lead to marketers saving time, money, and increasing engagement across digital channels.
Nowadays, some kind of marketing automation tool is normally used within a company’s marketing department. However, some marketing teams are still yet to implement it – and are missing a massive trick. If this is you, here’s what you need to do before considering a marketing automation strategy:
1. Update your current marketing strategy
Crafting a new strategy is the first part of planning for marketing automation success. You need a roadmap of where you want your potential prospects to go before you can start drawing them in.
Imagine selling tickets on a bus tour where you don’t have the stops mapped out yet. You may be able to persuade people on board, but they’re going to lose interest if you have to pull up every mile to figure out where to take them next. Once you know where you want to take your customers, you need to make sure you can persuade them to get on the bus in the first place. This is where content comes in, and will be an essential aspect of enticing your audience to get on your bus.
Begin to make a list of the reasons why you want to invest in marketing automation. This is more than just why you think you need MA. There are endless statistics showing the benefits of marketing automation software, such as how it can help you work more efficiently by saving resource, increasing lead conversions and engaging your audience.
The questions here are likely:
‘What do I need marketing automation to do?’
‘What specific processes do I want to improve?’
‘How could I improve my current marketing activities if I had increased functionality and time?’
Answering these questions results in:
- You will have a list of tasks you need marketing automation to accomplish. This will help you select a specific programme.
- You will have a map of how you want to guide prospects through your sales cycle.
- You will save time in the long run by rethinking processes from the beginning.
2. High-quality content
You need to make sure you’re not using marketing automation alone, and you’re using a content plan to continually grow the top of your funnel alongside it.
Marketing automation is about reaching the right people at the right time to create solid and more invested leads. There’s no use in reaching these people if you have nothing to give them. Content is essential to achieving this goal. If you can’t draw people to the top of your sales funnel, then why would they engage with your company further into their buying process?
What content does your audience want to see?
In addition to putting people in the top of your funnel, content and marketing automation work together to draw people through the sales cycle. You can move prospects along by providing them with relevant information for their stage in the buying process.
For example, aim to create several pieces of content for each stage of the buying process: early, middle and late. How prospects interact with content helps you assess where they are in the sales cycle. This assessment, in turn, shows how sales-ready they are. If they only engage with early level content, they are most likely not ready for you to reach out just yet.
Having a large amount of high-quality content increases engagement, this should also, in time, improve your SEO as your content will be ranked higher in search engine result pages (SERPs) as they are deemed more relevant and credible by search engines.
If you have lots of suitable content, great! You are all set to launch into a multi-channel campaign with marketing automation by your side. If you are lacking in content there is nothing to stop you from choosing a marketing automation product right now, however you must consider the uphill battle you may face without good content backing you up.
Create content that helps you achieve your goals
The content you create should help you realise your marketing goals in line with the strategy you created. If one of your goals was to move people past the awareness stage in your sales cycle, make sure you have content that is aimed toward that end. If you are losing people halfway down your funnel, think about the content you could create to keep them interested.
To provide another transport themed analogy, marketing automation without content is like a car without gas. Sure, it looks pretty and is capable of a lot, but it won’t get you where you need to go. By producing lots of high-quality content of interest to your potential customers, you will have something to send them using your shiny new software.
If you’re on the marketing side, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues in the sales department questions about the particulars of your company’s sales cycle. They might know exactly where you lose leads and you will never know that you need to counter that loss unless you know about it. Involving sales in your marketing automation implementation is the best way of making sure the process, and your future campaigns run smoothly.
3. Coordinate your sales and marketing functions
Marketers will be using the software to push content to its intended audiences, but features such as lead scoring and nurturing benefit sales as well. It’s likely sales’ interests are closely tied to the workings of the software, so marketing and sales need to be on the same page – always!
Work together from the beginning
This alignment starts from the very beginning. When creating your marketing strategy, it is important to understand where sales would enter the picture. Understanding this handoff is crucial to understanding the customer’s journey. Sales can provide insights into your existing customers’ journeys through the sales cycle, which will help you predict what future prospects’ behaviour might look like, in order to set up marketing automation accordingly.
Don’t think of sales and marketing as opposite ends of the sales funnel. Marketing automation allows the two departments to work on the same team with similar goals.
4. An end goal
Or at least realistic benchmarks. This will help you create reporting functions and know what metrics to track and know what results you really want to achieve with marketing automation implementation.
Make your objectives SMART
Many people want marketing automation to ‘increase revenue’ or ‘increase lead generation’. But without pre-defined figures, these goals are impossible to measure. By how much? By when? Make sure that your objectives are SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and timed) in order to get the most out of your system.
Almost all marketing automation programmes will claim they can deliver these improvements. It is up to you to decide what specific results you hope to achieve, before you can accurately assess how a marketing automation programme will deliver results.
Think about how you’ll measure results
The benefits of defining concrete goals are not limited to your business strategy. By recording specific objectives with timeframes, you will be able to set your marketing programme up to follow.
For example, imagine one of your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for success with marketing automation is an increased open rate of X% for emails within 9 months of implementation. Knowing this, you can set your system up to optimise and monitor your open rate. This can include A/B testing subject lines, organising nurture campaigns to send content certain prospects may find more interesting, and setting up custom reports and alerts so your team is automatically sent analytics on your progress in this area.
5. A plan for training and continuing education
Marketing automation can be a comprehensive piece of software. The amount of planning and work that goes into setting up campaigns in these programs means that education and training are important. Employees in sales and marketing will need training on how it operates, and you should make sure your wider organisation (including your technical support team) are trained adequately too.
Budget time to learn the ropes
The education does not end when you roll out the product. Once trained, users should continue learning as much as possible about marketing automation. This can include industry news as well as particular product information. Education is not a one-time-only event, it is an ongoing process.
Take advantage of all the resources offered to you
Check with the software company you are thinking of buying from. Do they have any resources to help you? Marketing automation providers like Microsoft 365 publish webinars, blog posts and best practices regularly to help keep your skills sharp.
Make things easier for your co-workers
Be sure to update your processes as trends and programme features change. Put all your resources in one place for your staff to use. You may also want to consider regular meetings on best practices as you become more comfortable with the software.
You should now be equipped with everything you need before implementing marketing automation. Once you have actioned the above, contact us – we’d be delighted to chat with you about how QGate can help you begin transforming your business with marketing automation.
1. 12 Marketing Automation examples and flows for B2B and B2C (marketingplatform.com) Marketing Automation (Marketing Automation Examples, marketingplatform, 2021.)
2. 69 Compelling Marketing Automation Statistics in 2023: Market Share & Data Analysis (financesonline.com) (Finances Online, 2023)