Automation is considered the next major frontier in marketing, but are you extending your business’s automation practices far enough? For too many companies, the concept of automation is restricted to triggered emails and little else. In reality, the field contains so many more possibilities that can increase productivity, build profits, and improve customer experience. If you’re going to make automation work for you, though, you’ll need to put in the front-end effort to set it up. Unfortunately, this seems to be where many companies get stuck.
Marketing Automation Tips
It’s time for your business to move past the initial difficulties of marketing automation, upgrade your CRM, and embrace the analytics aspect of automation. By taking the big picture view of what automation marketing is, you set your business up for success.
Put Data In Its Place
The biggest reason that companies fail at instituting marketing automation at a high level is that they don’t consider the role of CRM, data acquisition, and data-based insights within automation. This is a problem because poor data quality, either due to lacking data or inaccurate data, can significantly damage your marketing efforts.
Marketing teams suffering from poor data hygiene — basically data that contains significant inaccuracies — can’t launch appropriate marketing campaigns, may neglect customer relationships, or even damage the quality of those relationships by making unfounded sales overtures based on false information.
Companies with CRM systems suffer from this problem on a wide scale because they don’t audit their databases regularly or because the systems lack built-in cross-referencing capabilities, but if your business is still assembling client data from multiple sources and representative knowledge, imagine how many more errors you’re facing.
If you want to take advantage of the full breadth of marketing automation options, spend the money to invest in a powerful CRM system. As personalized content continues to dominate the marketing environment, your CRM system will be the center of your outreach efforts.
Break It Apart
Now that you’ve got your CRM system in place, it’s time to see what all that data can do. Taking apart the information feeding into your CRM will allow you to see how your current marketing campaigns are working and hone them for improved performance. The most effective way to do this is by following a user’s full journey from inbounding to sales and beyond.
When you track a customer’s journey through your system, you’ll get a sense for what kind of content triggers clicks, how much time a user spends on average before purchase, and how many representative contacts they have. All of this information together can then allow you to estimate the cost of onboarding, how you might speed up that process, and how you can generate more high impact communications.
As you move through the marketing automation process, you’ll quickly realize that you can’t view this as an either/or scenario. You’re either using an automated process or you aren’t. Rather, marketing automation is a multi-phase process and you should set benchmarks that can guide you and let you know how close to fully automated your business’s system is.
What should you include in those benchmarks? In general, you need to evaluate the quality of your list, your level of targeting, the kind and level of communications you offer, and how heavily you test and optimize communications before you launch them.
There’s a big difference between having a general email list for all clients, having a well organized list noting professional needs, and offering clients the ability to set their contact preferences. Similarly, sending out generic emails is a far cry from offering mobile-optimized video messages and integrating your social media accounts with your emails. Your automation benchmarks, then, are all about the level of detail you’ve accomplished in organizing your customer relationships.
How do you put personality as we think of it into a computer? We’re not talking about AI, although that’s playing a bigger role than ever in the marketing process. No, when we say you need to automate personality, we mean that you need to develop customer personas. These are templates that have a particular perspective on sales, customer needs, and that embrace a tone that’s limited to specific sales groups. Simply put, you can’t talk to all customers in the same way but you can’t write hundreds of individual emails either. These personas are the middle ground.
Remember: This Is For Everyone
For some companies, instituting comprehensive automated marketing is a challenge because while you can see that it will benefit your bottom line, it’s hard to recognize how it will improve day-to-day operations. In fact, through that lens, automation and all the data that comes with it can seem downright petrifying and like a real slowdown.
If you’re going to get over this hump, remember that embracing automation also means smoothing workflow, improving team management, and helping sales managers shift their responsibilities to more productive activities than sheer data wrangling. This is for everyone.
Marketing automation is a big picture response to daily difficulties, ranging from launching leads at the right time to breaking down data into meaningful measurements. When companies make the move to CRM and data-led marketing, however, the difference is enormous.
As you move through the transitional benchmarks towards marketing automation, you’ll feel the weight shifting and your communications becoming more effective. Retrospectively, you’ll find it hard to believe you ever ran campaigns any other way.
Volume Knob Photo via Shutterstock