Marketing automation is one of those buzzwords big agencies throw around a lot, but little guys struggle to turn into a reality. Fortunately, that time is ending. New providers and simplified tools and databases have democratized email automation.
Here’s what marketing automation actually is and three tips for evaluating if a communication can benefit from it.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation pretty much is what it says on the tin: it’s marketing that deploys automatically, usually in response to specific behavior. Simply put, it’s just ‘if this then that’ logic applied to marketing. At a more advanced level, it’s more like workflows: an event kicks off a series of communications and processes, each one building on the last one.
The easiest example of this is email. Let’s say someone visits a website and downloads a white paper in exchange for their email. A marketing automation program sees this as the “event” and automatically adds that contact to a drip campaign. The potential customer would then automatically receive pre-defined emails relevant to them. So if they downloaded a white paper about ERP software and said they were in the auto industry, they would receive an email with news about ERP software and the auto industry, or relevant brand-generated content like blog posts and eBooks.
That’s marketing automation in a nutshell. So how do you actually deploy it effectively? Here are three questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about automating a marketing activity.
1) Is this process fairly stagnant?
Marketing automation saves an enormous amount of time and effort… once it’s set up. But getting all those ducks in a row can be challenging and take a fair bit of time. That’s why we recommend that processes for early marketing automation be fairly stagnant: it should be a ‘do this once, have it for months,’ not something you change every day/week.
2) Does this process get kicked off regularly?
There’s no point in building out a marketing automation drip if the drip only gets kicked off twice a year. There needs to be a critical mass for a process to be worth the time to build so it has to be triggered reasonably regularly to be successful.
3) Does this process have a specific goal you’re trying to achieve?
Even the best automation will fail if there are not clear, specific goals and success metrics in place. You need to know what success looks like so you can accurately evaluate the program.
Marketing automation is something that is extremely accessible now, in a way that it wasn’t even five years ago. Despite increased access, many companies still struggle to both understand what it is and how it might apply to them.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.
Marketing automation can reduce marketing workflows while providing tailored, customized experience customers expect. As long as processes are stationary, regular and have clear success metrics, marketing automation can help organizations take their outreach to the next level.