Marketing automation - make your marketing work by itself

  • marketing automationWe've all been on the receiving end of marketing automation.

    Take the last product you bought online - technology would have been used to manage and send out emails at appropriate times:

    • Your purchase would have (hopefully) triggered a thank you email
    • You would then have got a notice of the delivery date, possibly followed by a request to review the product
    • Later, you might have found yourself on the receiving end of an email that recommends further products
    • If you abandoned the purchase part way through, you might have got an email a few hours later telling you how to pick up and complete your purchase.

    All of these are automated marketing activities.  Created once and then left to run, an automated marketing engine manages the whole process.

    Why this matters to small businesses too

    Your business may not have the resources or product type to exploit data in this way, but the principles remain the same: it is perfectly possible to programme an email marketing system to send out a follow-up email based on the reader's response to the first one or get your website to send out messages according to actions taken on it.

    Automation techniques can also be used for list management - moving recipients onto different lists as they show increasing signs of engagement by opening the emails or clicking on the links.

    This is an important tactic, particularly in B2B, where the buying cycle can be protracted and marketing is a matter of nurturing prospects to the point of purchase.

    When it gets really clever

    For a company to engage in a truly successful content marketing strategy, it must be able to create and track connections between all of the tools used to engage with prospects - from social media to email marketing.

    A CRM system is the glue that binds together interactions made online, over email or through mobile devices.  The big systems like Salesforce.com do it all, but you could equally find something much simpler (and cheaper), like Pipedrive, to serve your needs just as well.

    Don't just watch

    The information that you gather through your marketing automation needs to be actionable - and acted upon. Decision-makers need to be armed with the data to know what levers to pull to improve sales performance - whether that decision is to make a sales call, increase marketing spend or make another contact entirely.  The solution will vary from company to company, but what doesn't change is the need for a process.

    Don't overdo it

    As ever, restraint is required with automation.  Overuse of email with messaging that is neither timely nor relevant can harm your business's reputation.   Persistent offenders will, at the very least, be unsubscribed and could be reported as spam.  You need to keep your prospect's needs at the heart of the automation sequence and use increasing levels of personalisation.   This means knowing when to jump off the automation bus and use a personal email or phone call to progress the sale.

    Used well , fairly straightforward automation techniques can be used to help you shift from pumping out email campaigns in the hope of a direct response, to automating the next step in the nurturing process.

    A more focused approach - using audience segmentation and relevant communication - will pay dividends, not just by reinforcing a positive brand image, but by driving more sales.

    To find out how marketing automation can be introduced into your email marketing programme, contact us.

     

    Prompted by an original article by John Fleming, marketing VP at Emarsys.

     

     

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