Marketers are strapped for time. If you work in marketing, you know this to be true. Between creating content, managing campaigns and coordinating with sales and design teams, there’s little room for creative thinking. The struggle is real.
Luckily, we live in a time when can machines do all the busy work for us. Workflow automation has made it possible for businesses to automate tedious and repetitive tasks, allowing employees to focus their time on efforts on work that matter. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 31% of businesses have fully automated at least one key business function. It’s become clear that workflow automation is here to stay, which is why you should seriously consider adopting marketing automation.
Marketing automation can help you automate repetitive tasks, such as email marketing, social media campaigns, and targeted ads so you can save time and money. Marketing automation can help you free up your budget to invest in other areas of your business by reducing the need for manual labour.
If you’re new to marketing automation or just automation in general, don’t fret. In this blog post, we’ll be guiding you through the main functions of marketing automation, its benefits, the processes you should start automating and some do’s and don’ts to ensure you make the best out of the tools you’re given.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation refers to the use of software platforms and technologies designed for marketing professionals and departments to more effectively market on multiple channels and automate repetitive tasks. These channels include social media, email and web pages.
Think of some of the tasks you find yourself spending so much time on a daily basis. Setting digital ads, lead nurturing and customer service are some of the activities that many find to be mind-numbing and time-consuming. However, these tasks are paramount to ensuring regular engagement with your audiences. This is why most automation software for marketing focuses primarily on inbound activities. It started with email (made popular by MailChimp), allowing businesses to send out hundreds If not thousands of curated content each day to keep their customers interested. With these tools doing most of the work, marketers were given the space to come up with creative forms of valuable engagement such as newsletters, webinars and ebooks.
Eventually, more software platforms started addressing other functions (social content scheduling, lead scoring, keyword research) and innovating solutions to not only automate repetitive manual processes but also track their effectiveness. While the market has become saturated with modern solutions, some platforms stand out in their effectiveness and ease of use. Here’s a list of some of the most popular automation tools that you might want to start with:
What are the benefits of marketing automation?
When you let a machine do the work for you, there is less likelihood of human error, bias and delays. Moreover, you get your time back to focus on other tasks that will allow you to scale your business.
There is a multitude of benefits that we can talk about in relation to marketing automation, including:
- Increased efficiency and accuracy by automating repetitive and manual tasks.
- Scalable processes that grow as the company/department expands.
- Free time for marketers to focus on more strategic activities.
- Better alignment between marketing and sales teams.
- More detailed reporting and analytics that allows the optimization of marketing strategies.
- Higher conversion rates through personalized messages and content.
How does marketing automation work?
Marketing automation platforms are often integrated with CRMs, or Customer Relationship Management systems. This gives them access to customer data, such as contact information and purchase history. With this information, automation platforms can automatically generate and send targeted emails, create personalized landing pages, and run targeted ads.
In simple terms, marketing automation campaigns track the behaviour of your prospects, allowing you to segment your audience and send them the right content in the hopes of converting them to paying customers.
6 marketing processes you should automate.
Now that you have a basic understanding of marketing automation and its function, it’s time for application. Email and social media campaigns are great places to start with automation. Once you’ve gotten the hang of the technology, you can move forward to more complex activities.
1. Email workflow automation.
It’s only fitting to begin with what started it all: email automation. Despite the growing popularity of social media and video in modern marketing, email remains the best form of communication to nurture your leads.
With email automation, you’re able to segment your contacts based on their behaviour and their position in the sales funnel. You can then design and customize the contents of your email based on these segments, allowing for a more effective lead nurturing process. Best of all, you can schedule your emails to go out at optimum days and times to secure a better open rate with your prospects.
If you want to kick it up a notch, you can create email automation workflows that will influence your lead down the funnel. CRM tools allow you to select triggers to activate these sequences so you don’t have to lift a finger. For instance, you can create a sequence of pre-written emails to automatically go out to anyone who signed up for a demo of your service without having to manually engage with them daily. These emails might include more information about your services, case studies and free resources to help your prospect with their decision-making process.
The image below shows an example of an automated email sequence on HubSpot. With just a few taps, you’re able to send hundreds of emails a day to new website visitors, webinar attendants or newsletter subscribers. You can then use your freed-up time to strategize and come up with valuable content that will aid in the growth of your customer base.
2. Social media posting automation.
The key to successful social media marketing is consistency. Pushing out your social messaging regularly at the same time across multiple channels is certainly time-consuming and draining. These days, everyone from large organizations to influencers automate their social posting.
The time and effort you spend on social media activities should be fully dedicated to writing effective copy that converts. The rest can be done by social media automation platforms that are flooding the market.
Other than post scheduling, many automation platforms offer reporting features to track and analyze the performance of your posts. With these insights, you learn what type of content your audience is most likely to engage with and the language that drives more clicks so you can refine your content strategy over time.
3. Paid ad automation.
Another time-consuming marketing activity that can be automated is pay-per-click (PPC) management. There are many ways you can automate your paid ad campaigns that vary in complexity. There is straightforward built-in automation that allows you to control certain details of your campaigns such as running time and bidding management. Other PPC automation requires third-party tools that offer backend optimization to your campaign.
The most widely utilized PPC automation is big management. PPC bid management involves raising and lowering your keyword bids strategically to maximize your campaign’s budget. You can automatically set bids for your ads based on their probability of converting into clicks or any other activity that helps you accomplish your goals. Even better, automated bidding tools learn as they go, leveraging data from your campaigns’ performances to improve on future bids.
Moreover, you can use advanced automation tools to write effective ad copies. Tools like Googledynamic search ads (DSAs) automatically target and create ads based on the content of your site.
4. Automating customer service.
You’ve probably experienced this type of automation whenever you visit a product or service website. A little chat box pops up on the lower right corner of your screen asking if you need any help. This is a form of customer service automation, allowing artificial intelligence caters to your prospect’s inquiries based on data from your knowledge base. It also helps intercept and log your customer's complaints with an advanced and easy-to-use ticketing system.
The best thing about customer service automation is its 24/7 availability. CS automation technology such as chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) can handle incoming service requests during your company's off-hours rather than hiring employees to work late-night shifts or requiring them to perform tedious tasks like entering contact data.
5. Content automation.
You head that right. You can actually automate the creation of your copy that is not only engaging but also SEO-effective.
Using content automation, you can identify repetitive content-related tasks and let the smart tools perform them for you. Such tasks include discovering the right keyword for search engine optimization, analyzing target audiences and actual content writing.
The latest trend in marketing automation is the use of AI software to draft and outline content based on the topic you wish to write. AI tools such as Jasper and Ai Writer use specific keywords and topic descriptions to generate short-form (social posts) or full-length (blog posts) copies in just a few minutes. These platforms scour the internet for top-ranked articles related to your topic and suggest better keyword selection and headlines to create a unique and optimized first draft.
6. Automating communications with sales teams.
There's a longstanding 'rivalry' between marketing and sales teams, even though both teams share a common goal. This is the result of a lack of transparency and accountability in the process of lead handoffs, which could be easily fixed with clear communications. The fact remains that both teams need each other to hit their organizational targets.
Constant communication between both departments is essential to push leads further down the sales pipeline. Once a prospect becomes a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), they're usually handed off to the sales team to establish contact. With tens and even hundreds of leads coming in per day, there are bound to be mistakes and miscommunication occurring in the process.
Many CRM tools give you the ability to notify sales of these MQLs and even automatically assign them to specific sales reps.
Marketing automation do’s and don’ts.
While marketing automation is meant to make your life easier, never forget that you, not the software, are accountable for the success of your campaigns. Below is a list of best practices that will help you make the best out of automation.
- Take advantage of any features offered by automation tools to send highly personalized messages to your leads. This includes mentioning your customer’s name, profession or location in your emails and paid ads.
- Segment your audience based on their age, location, interests and pain points to send tailored messages speaking to their needs.
- Make sure to track and monitor the results of your campaigns to ensure your automated processes are working for you not against you.
- Always improve your workflows and automated process to increase your conversion rate and the number of qualified leads.
- Not everything needs to be automated. Over-automation can result in the lack of human touch that is the foundation of relationship sales.
- Don’t forget to establish clear objectives and strategies before implementing any automation to achieve desired results.
By applying these 6 process automations, you can create a marketing automation strategy that will help you reach your goals. Automating your marketing processes will help you save time and money, and allow you to focus on more important tasks.
Ready to scale your marketing processes? Book a call with us today to help you get started.