Imagine if one marketer was tasked to type, and send emails and SMSes with zero technical support or if the daily push notification was a manual activity – “What a drag,” we’d say. The innovation known as marketing automation has conjured efficacy, productivity, creativity, and so much more in the marketing we know today.
Simply put, marketing automation is the oil that greases how teams operate; from a significant reduction in cost to improving customer experience, from allowing teams to do more to enabling room for experimentation, automation is the future of businesses.
94% of corporate company executives prefer an integrated app over a culmination of many tools in the interest of keeping things simple and on one platform. The burgeoning demand for these systems is so much that the investment in these technologies is projected to exceed $720 billion by 2023.
What is Marketing Automation?
The process of using software and digital tools to automate tedious and repetitive marketing tasks is called Marketing Automation. Sending emails, SMS, social media posts, and more fall under daily operations that have been automated through a tool.
The goal of marketing automation is to increase efficiency, streamline processes, and improve the overall effectiveness of marketing efforts. These tools are now cutting across teams, systems, and marketing funnels, allowing teams to systematically approach lead generation, lead nurturing, customer segmentation, customer retention, and other marketing activities. 80% of marketers saw an increase in the number of leads after using marketing automation software.
Each marketing automation is a function of a trigger (an activity that directs the action that follows) and an action (what the platform does in response). For example, an email confirmation of your booking.
Importance of automation & the common use cases
At its most basic, automation gets the job done. 76% of companies that invest in marketing automation see a return on their investment within the first year of implementation. Regardless of the size of the organization, marketing automation is deployed to eradicate manual tasks, requires no skill, and eats up teams’ bandwidth.
Brands use it for:
- Increased efficiency by cutting down on time-consuming tasks such as sending emails, scheduling social media posts, and nurturing leads so that team’s bandwidth is utilized in the right places.
- Better ROI of marketing campaigns with instant optimization and minimum efforts. Automated platforms take less than three clicks to pause, edit, and upgrade campaigns.
- Reduced errors in operating by eradicating the possibility of typos, incorrect selection, etc. In 90% of instances, human error is a contributing factor.
- Cross-team collaboration is made easy, steady, and frictionless. Providing access to stakeholders, marketing, and sales team can enhance campaigns.
- Most marketing tools offer pinpoint precision in monitoring target audience and budget, empowering teams to make the correct decisions.
At present, there is a variety of software available in the market that offers a wide range of solutions for organizations to select automation tools as per their needs. Some of the most common use cases of marketing automation tools are:
- Performance marketing: Automated reporting of performance campaigns involves constantly monitoring your campaigns, with data available at one click. This reduces the team’s efforts in pulling data or creating dashboards. Such reporting helps identify poor performance and budget issues and allows for rectification.
- CRM: Perhaps, the most common use of automation tools is supporting CRM activities. From sending emails to crafting follow-up notifications, automation tools can trigger communication in a single input and help create relationships with customers.
- Onboarding and retention: Some of the world’s biggest brands use marketing automation for user onboarding and retention for seamless communication. 63% of customers think onboarding is key to deciding to subscribe to a product, and marketing automation can solve all of this at once.
- Lead nurturing: All digital brands, especially e-commerce & SaaS companies, use automation to nurture their leads. Follow-up emails, pop-ups, in-app interstitials – the list is long. These tools can create targeted campaigns that deliver relevant content to leads at various stages of the sales funnel.
Setting goals and objectives
Impervious systems and automation processes are thorough, well-researched, and tried against all challenges. When teams put together KPIs and benchmarks to test the efficacy of automation systems, it allows them to monitor the success and benefits of the process.
Defining goals & objectives
The smartest way to get started with goals is to chart out things that you want to solve with automation. As a marketer, you want to get as specific as possible in setting your objectives and as broad as possible in closing your goals.
Here are some goals that can be addressed at a broader level for marketing teams of all sizes and sectors.
- Increase cross-team collaboration
- Improve productivity
- Nurture leads
- Boost customer engagement
- Build a brand
On the other hand, while locking objectives for your marketing automation tool, get as narrow as possible so it is easier to track.
- Generate 10% more conversion
- Reduce communication turn-around-time by 5%
- Decrease operational costs by 20%
In a nutshell, your goals align you with the process and give you direction, but your objectives help you measure if you are on track. In the case of automation, you really want to measure if it has helped teams become more productive and reduced time and effort on repetitive tasks or not.
Creating a roadmap
As a best practice, automation roadmaps are sketched at two levels; progress to business results and progress to enhance future automation maturity. While the latter is mostly for leadership to envision, the former requires a step-by-step approach. Your roadmap should include timelines, milestones, and resources required to achieve your objectives, such as:
- Categorize your business priorities
- Identify where you currently are in the process
- Prioritize your list through a matrix
- Plot the tasks against timelines
- Track KPIs and efficacy
Identify Target Audience
Needless to say, the audience is at the core of any system or process. When you set out on a journey to create automation of any kind, you must navigate along with the core user of the product.
- Creating buyer personas: Start by creating a profile for your ideal users and dissect even the most basic details about them to shape up your automation process and system. Your processes are only as good as the people who use them.
- Understanding customer behavior: We’re now going to touch upon the merit of the journey your customers take while using automation – awareness, consideration, decision, and purchase. The best way to address this is to go through a series of questions your customers may have and then address all of them. Here are some of the questions you need to ask:
Example: Typeform understood its customers’ needs and pinpointed the most common use cases. These use cases now flow into their templates, which makes it easier for users to get started.
- What challenges plague my buyer’s needs?
- What are my customers seeking?
- How can I address the questions the customer may have at each stage?
Choose A Marketing Automation Platform
Selecting the right marketing automation tool means analyzing your demands against what services are being offered. We’ve briefly talked about identifying the use case, scope, and need for automation in tandem with recognizing the critical users of the tool. As you inch closer to making a decision, the following processes can come in handy:
- Evaluating marketing automation platforms: SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Objectives must have specific metrics, and measurable KPIs, be realistically achievable, relevant to long-term goals, and have a set deadline to ensure success.
- Comparing features and pricing: Once you’re past the threshold of evaluating a tool basis what it can do for you and how seamless it will be for the ecosystem, it’s time to consider factors such as cost, company size, and scalability, feature set, CRM integration, API access, customer support, customer feedback, and training.
- Integrating with an existing technology stack: Onboarding an automation tool can be a nightmare if the tech stack is not agile. Tasks as small as CRM integration and API access can eat up the team’s time, block ongoing processes, and come in the way of your marketing activities.
Hidden fees and per-contact or per-email charges can make seemingly attractive deals less appealing. Look for essential features like email marketing, contact management, social media automation, and analytics. Good customer support, customer feedback, and training are also important considerations.
We recommend you also double-check the tool’s ability to integrate into the system, replace the previous method smoothly, and have data storage capabilities before you move ahead.
Creating content for automation in 2023
The key to building content for marketing automation is keeping it succinct, to the point, and actionable. You don’t want your customers getting lost, misdirected, or confused with instructions – the job is to roll them to the next stage as soon as possible.
- Mapping content: Start by building your content by customer journey and pen down all the steps they are about to encounter. To maximize the effectiveness of marketing automation, it’s essential to create content that aligns with the customer journey, is personalized to the audience, and includes lead magnets to capture potential customers.
- Offer personalized content: The next step in content creation for your automation tools is making it personalized. This involved a deep understanding of what questions or natural progression your customer will have in the journey, what are their pain points, and what paths. This can include prompts about how to use the platform or educational videos to encourage usage.
- Building lead magnets: Call it the final nail in the coffin, but creating lead magnets is an underrated tool because it aids an intent-based search. When users are genuinely looking for support and help, proven tactics and material like ebooks, case studies, impact stories, and webinars grab their attention and entice potential customers to enter the marketing automation funnel.
For example, Ahrefs uses a variety of videos during onboarding to allow and help customers to use the platform. Starting from how to use Ahrefs to specific questions about features and tools – the brand has it all covered.
Here’s an example from WebEngage for creating a series of ebooks for its target users to discover the potency of their automation services. The section touches upon a variety of features and services for a very broad funnel.
Implement Workflows to streamline automation efforts
Broadly, there are two kinds of marketing automation – internal and external. The former is where you create processes for teams to operate in a more robust manner, like campaign reporting or data management. For example, Google creates a data studio for marketing teams to keep all their tracking in one place. The latter is much more of a building for an external task, for instance, an email drip campaign.
To implement workflows in marketing automation, start by mapping out the steps of your marketing process and identifying the triggers that initiate each step. Next, create triggers that automatically execute actions based on specific customer behaviors or actions, such as sending a follow-up email or adding points to a lead score when a lead opens an email or fills out a form.
Set up lead scoring to prioritize and target high-value leads based on their engagement with your brand. Defining workflows, creating triggers, and setting up lead scoring are all essential actions for streamlining your marketing process and maximizing the effectiveness of your marketing automation tool. Here’s a step-wise flow:
- Pick a tool: Narrow down on the tool that is well suited for you from a cost and functionality standpoint.
- Import Data: Companies lose a lot of data points while transitioning from one tool to the other. Thus, focus on safeguarding your imports from the start.
- CRM structure mapping: Begin by tagging your events and triggers for efficient CRM activities and tracking data in a centralized system.
- Tracking setup: Tally the inflow and outflow of data and cross-check the number of entries so you can run your automation with acute precision.
- DKIM setup: Slightly skewed to only your email activities, but DomainKeys Identified Mail setup is pertinent to avoid phishing and scamming activities.
- Stakeholder approval: Once all the things are in motion, align stakeholders and take their consent.
Monitor and Measure Results
- Tracking metrics is a cardinal aspect of monitoring and measuring results in your marketing automation. Start by identifying KPIs that are critical to your goal and track them. For example, if you onboarded an automation tool to increase the delivery rate of your emails, ensure you map it campaign after campaign.
- Analyze data from the lens of extrapolation in the essence of improving your campaigns and taking quick actions to streamline your marketing efforts. By analyzing data, you can gain a deeper understanding of your audience, their behavior, and their preferences. This can help you optimize your marketing campaigns and make data-driven decisions.
- Adjust your strategies, is the last step in the process based on the insights and data you have gathered. For example, if you find that a certain email campaign is not generating enough leads, you can adjust the messaging, the timing, or the target audience to improve its performance.
Some standard metrics to track include website traffic, email open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and lead generation. Daily monitoring allows you to improve campaigns for a better ROI.
By adjusting your strategies based on data, you can continuously improve your marketing automation efforts and achieve better results over time.
Broadly, you can divide your metrics into four parts. The bifurcation is to allow you to identify your metrics basis what value they bring for the business.
- Value metrics cut to the chase and tell you the inflow of money. These metrics are usually for the top management.
- The efficiency metrics tell you about the effect of automation on your processes and how close they’re to meeting the KPIs. These metrics are usually for senior management.
- Response metrics are for the middle management, the owner of the campaigns to learn how their marketing push is performing on the ground.
- Last, but not least, activity metrics are usually customer-centric and tell you about their activities, so you can improvise on your campaign accordingly, and make the most of your marketing automation.
Optimize for Success
To succeed in marketing automation in 2023, it’s necessary for marketing teams to be on their toes when it comes to testing, analyzing, and optimizing their campaigns. More than 51% of companies are using marketing automation already, while over 58% of companies are planning to adopt it.
The key is to monitor your campaigns regularly and make amends for their performance. In his book Hacking Growth, Sean Ellis talks deeply about the importance of crafting your daily standups in such a way that the growth teams discuss their north star metrics. While this suggestion was at a company level, we encouraged growth teams to optimize it at a campaign level.
Improved campaigns and timely implementation changes lead to increased engagement and conversions. Incorporating feedback from customers and team members can also provide valuable insights for optimization. In addition, scaling campaigns can help reach a larger audience and increase the effectiveness of your marketing automation tool. By focusing on optimization and consistently making improvements, you can ensure that your marketing automation is driving the desired results for your business.
Now that you have an understanding of marketing automation, its time to get started with all campaigns you want to automate for your business for higher returns. Marketing automation in 2023 is all about improving ROI on campaign-targeted communication, streamlining marketing efforts, increasing productivity, by attaining an even higher customer engagement, repeat sales, and revenue. Sounds like something you’d like to unlock for your business?
Book a demo with WebEngage’s team to understand marketing automation for your business. & unlock maximum ROI of your marketing investments. Our customers vouch for faster time-to-value and effortless integration with essential sales, reporting, and business applications. 800+ global brands and their marketing teams trust WebEngage for their day-to-automation.