Automation is upending numerous sectors and helping people get more done in less time. Marketing automation is all about using software to automate marketing activities. It can enhance your marketing efforts, too. If you can automate or streamline something, you should. Never delegate something that can be done on its own.
Many marketers automate repetitive tasks such as social media posting, email marketing and even ad campaigns, not just for the sake of speed and efficiency, but so they can provide a more personalized experience for their customers. The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier.
Software and apps can now do the heavy lifting for many valuable marketing functions. If you spend a little time setting up a system, it will continue to work for you while you’re taking care other tasks of your business. Check out these easy ways to get started with marketing automation this year. But before that let’s see the definition of marketing automation.
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What is Marketing Automation?
Here is the definition of marketing automation according to Wikipedia:
Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.
Marketing automation is technology that manages marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns, across multiple channels, automatically. Marketing automation allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows, so they can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.
Marketing automation helps marketers increase production because it does exactly what its name says: it automates marketing processes. This helps streamline lead generation, nurturing, cross-sell and up-sell, scoring, customer retention, marketing ROI measurement, and more without any wasted time.
With marketing automation, businesses can benefit and target customers with automated messages across email, web and social. Messages are sent automatically, according to sets of instructions called workflows. Workflows may be defined by templates, custom-built from scratch, or modified mid-campaign to achieve better results.
Marketing automation lets you implement a digital marketing strategy without having to manually press the “send” button on each and every email, message, campaign, or post you create. Good automation tools help you identify your audience, design the right content, and automatically trigger actions based on schedules and customer behavior.
An automated marketing strategy can save time and resources, driving revenue and ROI while you focus on growing your business.
1. Schedule Your Social Media Posts
Publishing content on social media channels is an excellent way to connect with followers, advertise your products and get people interested in your brand. You may also find that your audience likes certain kinds of social media content more than others.
One study that analyzed 777 million social media posts found that videos posted to Facebook get at least 59% more engagement than other types of content on the platform. Even so, use your understanding of your audience to assess which kinds of posts they’d appreciate most.
No matter which post types you decide to make for social media, use marketing automation tools that can help you schedule them. Buffer and Hootsuite are a couple of examples to try. Most options have analytics that can help you determine when posts are likely to get the most engagement.
Whether most of your followers are online in the mornings, evenings or somewhere in between, take timing into account while deciding when to publish. Doing so ensures the content is seen more often rather than missed.
2. Try a Batch-Based Method of Email Distribution
Marketers send emails for a variety of reasons, including to mention seasonal trends, advertise product launches or tell customers about limited-time offers. Marketing automation platforms have a variety of features that enable users to send out their emails in bulk. You can do that according to a person’s time zone or their geographic location, for example.
However, sending emails in large batches does not mean having to do away with personalization. As marketing expert Kimberly Afonso explained, “Personalization helps your brand stand out and leads to higher open rates and sales. And it can be easily done using most email marketing and automation software.”
She continued, “You can personalize based on name, location, past purchases, join or purchase date, custom offer and other criteria.” Taking this approach could lead to higher open rates, primarily if people perceive that the content they receive via email is highly relevant to what they want or need.
Increase your success with automated email distribution by creating catchy subject lines and body content that pulls people in and makes them want to keep reading. Don’t forget that short paragraphs and easy-to-read fonts make emails more palatable for mobile users, too.
3. Deploy Chatbots to Assist With Lead Nurturing
Potential or current customers could engage with your business at any time of the day or night. It’s costly and time-intensive to staff human workers to field their questions all the time. The next best thing is to let chatbots talk with leads.
Research indicates that 70% of white-collar workers will engage with chatbots daily by 2022. Even if most of your communications with customers are of the business-to-business (B2B) variety, taking care of some of your lead nurturing duties with the help of chatbots could be a smart move.
Also, building the chatbot may not take as long as you expect. Drift, for instance, develops chatbots for businesses. Part of its process is to use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze past conversations, making the overall training time shorter. Spend time researching the kinds of questions you receive most so that it’s easier to teach the chatbot information it’ll use.
4. Choose a Platform That Organizes and Scores Leads
After your company initially gives leads the information they want with a tool such as a chatbot, it’s crucial to keep them well-organized for later use. Automation can help with that, too. Tools exist that automatically categorize leads as they come in once you set up parameters to instruct the platform how to function. You can get marketing automation tools that assign scores to each lead, too. These numerical values indicate the likelihood of a person to make a purchase.
According to 2017 marketing automation statistics from B2B marketers, the two most common reasons for using these tools were to generate higher-quality leads and increase revenue. If you know more about which leads give you the best chances of fostering long-term relationships, it’s easier to prioritize your efforts.
As you look for a lead management platform, aim to find options that tell you which pieces of content entice certain visitors the most. For example, if you can see that a person downloaded a whitepaper on your site, it may indicate they are further along in the purchasing process than if they’d just skimmed a short blog post.
5. Save Time With Phone Automation
Contacting customers via phone can ordinarily lead to a lot of wasted time. Busy signals, fax tones and people taking several rings to answer can add to the overall minutes or hours spent communicating with people. As a result, phone automation tools can be useful time savers. PhoneBurner, for example, can help users make up to 80 calls every hour.
You can also load the system with voicemails or emails you create in advance. Then, PhoneBurner distributes them to customers based on the outcome of a call. If you use a phone automation system, give yourself plenty of time to learn about the features. If you understand how to add tags and notes to a customer’s entry in the phone dialing system, you become more productive during follow-ups.
6. Send Automated Messages to Users’ Mobile Wallets
The option to use a digital wallet means people don’t need to worry about possibly losing their physical payment methods. Instead, they can use readily available gadgets, such as smartphones, to pay at checkout. How does this technology fit into marketing automation? Statistics indicate that half the world’s population will use digital wallets by 2024, and some companies are preparing for the rising adoption rate.
For example, Popwallet just raised $4 million in seed funding for a first-of-its-kind solution that lets marketers automate content sent to users’ mobile wallets. Marketers create Popcards — which are like digital coupons — or other methods of encouraging consumer engagement. You can also send digital gift cards, access passes or branded educational material, such as recipes.
Plus, there’s an analytics component to Popwallet. Marketing professionals can see which messages get the most traction with the target audience, then set things to give those kinds of offers automatically at specified intervals. If you take this approach, consider what types of incentives could encourage people to purchase even if they hadn’t originally intended to shop on a given day.
7. Give Automatic Surveys at Key Points in the Journey
Customer feedback tells you what you’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement. It can also tell you which marketing methods people would like best. For example, you could ask customers whether they’d feel more encouraged to make purchases if you offered free shipping or a complimentary gift with their orders. Then, base your future actions on their responses.
You have numerous survey creation and distribution tools to explore, but many require manually sending out the forms to customers. Ontraport is a multifunctional marketing automation platform that allows sending texts and emails to your audience, for example. It can also send out automatic surveys after a customer does something, such as make a purchase or sign up for a webinar. Then, the tool stores the survey data in a single place, making it easy to find and analyze later.
Building a survey that people want to answer isn’t easy, but there are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood of getting responses. First, explain to the recipient why they’re getting the survey. You could say something as straightforward as that you want to know what they liked best about their purchase experiences.
Next, explain what you’ll do with the survey responses. You may say that you want feedback to ensure your company adequately meets customer needs. Finally, set expectations by letting the person know what the survey entails. Mention a “two-question survey” or that you “just need a minute” of their time, but only you can stick to those promises.
8. Engage in Automated Media Monitoring
Media monitoring involves staying tuned to what people say about your brand. You’ve probably heard horror stories of a manager arriving at a chaotic office because people started complaining on social media or other channels. An automated tool could prevent that scenario, as it gives real-time notifications of potential trouble.
Many of these marketing automation tools depend on AI and can tackle sentiment analysis instead of only looking for the words or phrases people say. You can also apply automated media monitoring after launching a campaign. Set your tool to check for discussions of the campaign by name, as well as your brand at large.
Access to real-time insights about what people say and on which channels should make you better equipped for understanding how to improve your marketing strategies. You can also steer clear of disasters whereby your company spends too much time and money on campaigns destined for failure from the start.
Paying attention to media mentions makes you more responsive before things go wrong, but it can also help you stay abreast of what competitors are doing and respond accordingly. Kirsten Hamstra, senior global social media manager at SAS, a software analytics company, said of social media mentions, “It’s not just listening to what people are saying about you. It’s listening about where you want to go, what the future holds.”
9. Become Familiar With Tactile Marketing Automation
If you thought today’s email automation marketing tools meant you no longer need to use direct mail pieces to engage with customers, it’s time to update your viewpoint. An emerging practice called tactile marketing automation (TMA) blends digital correspondence with direct mail pieces. People are particularly interested in using it within the B2B sector.
One example came from Arxan Technologies, a cybersecurity firm. It sent physical postcards containing thermographic ink to prospects. Next, the recipients received a flashlight that the company instructed them to aim at the mail they’d received earlier. Doing so warned them that “you miss 100% of the threats you don’t see.” This effort resulted in a potential return on investment of 300%, 80% of which came from new business.
If you use this method, consider getting the leads from your lead-related marketing automation tools and focusing on the ones most likely to buy. That’s a straightforward, effective way to use your digital resources and maximize the outcomes.
10. Apply Automation to Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for ensuring that your site ranks as high as possible for phrases people enter when looking for information online. However, excelling at SEO is challenging, mainly due to changes in search engine algorithms. Some marketing automation platforms feature SEO components, however. They don’t replace the need to stay informed about the latest knowledge, yet they can handle many of the aspects that you may otherwise tackle manually.
You can buy options that automatically crawl your site and perform audits. That way, you’ll know what to fix before a problem causes a substantial drop in site rankings. Other options make keyword research more efficient by automatically suggesting long-tail phrases based on people’s search queries.
As with some of the other types of tools mentioned here, the ones for search engine optimization may require some time to figure out all the features and how to make them work for you. With that in mind, don’t expect to get your best results within the first day or even the first month of using a tool. Plus, look for companies that offer excellent support in case you run into problems or questions when setting up your interface.
11. Create Email Triggers With Drip Campaigns
An email drip campaign sends your recipients periodic emails that typically correspond with actions taken. For example, a person might receive a welcome email after purchasing something from a coffee company for the first time, then get another one near the approximate time when they’ll run out of the beverage, encouraging them to reorder.
Another trigger could occur if an individual puts an item into a virtual shopping cart but leaves the site without purchasing it. Companies also send product recommendation emails based on what shoppers buy. Since these messages are personalized based on actions, people tend to view them as highly applicable.
Determine what kinds of emails generally have the highest open rates, then use those to build your triggers. As we mentioned earlier, you can automate email marketing by sending out content to targeted groups. Drip campaigns are even more personalized, and your goal is to use them to bring more value to an individual reader.
Marketing Automation Tools and Strategies to Help You Succeed
With a continuous cycle of testing, refinement, and feedback, marketing automation ensures that workflows are always changing and growing for maximum impact and effectiveness.
Marketing automation tools let you take a giant leap forward in terms of efficiency, productivity and revenue generation while your team simultaneously gets to concentrate on strategy, creativity and content.
Whether you’re just getting started with marketing automation or want to sharpen your existing processes, let this list be a resource. No matter which options you implement, remember not to expect results right away. Tracking your progress and adjusting as needed are excellent ways forward.