In the wake of data-driven marketing developments that included (but were by no means limited to) web analytics and email & marketing resource management, came marketing automation.
As you likely know, marketing automation is an amalgamation of these technologies, utilising them to streamline marketing tactics and increase effectiveness, while reducing time spent. An incredibly useful strategy to have in your toolbox, when reaching and responding to customers with the most relevant communication. There has been an exponential growth in application of these tools: Forrester predicted that even as marketing spend kept falling through in 2021, automation investment will not be greatly affected. There are shiny new tools like chatbots to help keep the area fresh and exciting.
Marketing automation creates great results when set up correctly. Yet we often see that the existing systems are not used to the fullest. Perhaps it is a lack of time available to commit to mastering them fully, that prevents marketers - a universal challenge in early stage and more established organisations alike. It is definitely a significant investment in terms of time and overhauling processes or auditing the martech setup. So it comes as no surprise that there is room for adoption and improvement to achieve the maximum benefit on processes and return on investment.
Why does this matter?
63% of all companies who have adopted marketing automation tools have overtaken their competitors. (Moosend)
So, in short, not using marketing automation puts one at a disadvantage. Or as Salesforce uts it: “Automating the many steps between marketing and sales gives your team more time to focus on overall strategy and nurturing the leads that show real promise. That means more prospects, and more customers. Marketing automation can also give you a richer, more detailed picture of potential customer behaviour.”
With the development of technology, machine learning, dynamic creatives and AI, the conversation often turns to how much of our work can be substituted by machines? Automation shares a glimpse of an answer, as it frees up time for the human factor, creativity, insights and empathy to feed into mindful strategies and relevant messaging.
Sales teams can use their experience and insight to identify truly promising leads and have the human conversations necessary to close deals.
But whatever filtering, warming and preparing of leads can be automated will be done faster and more accurately via technology.
By using marketing automation correctly, you can get your website to do the same thing – it can effectively become another member of your sales team. By not using marketing automation to its full potential, you are missing out on converting website visitors into leads and eventually, customers.
So, marketing automation will allow you to get the most out of money you’re already spending on your marketing team, your sales team and your website.
Getting started with marketing automation
Those who are completely new to marketing automation should start thinking about which tool is right for their business.
At Small Giants, our clients work across a number of platforms, including three of the most recognised (and successful) systems on the market: Salesforce (soon to be renamed Salesforce Marketing Cloud Engagement, and now includes Pardot and Slack), HubSpot and Marketo.
Salesforce: one of the most popular tools worldwide for customer relationship management (CRM) and is seen as an essential tool for many enterprises as they grow from smaller business to medium/larger size companies.
HubSpot: This has the lowest entry costs and is very user friendly, making it a popular option amongst early-stage companies.
Marketo: A powerful automation tool with great reporting, this is a popular choice for B2C companies, and with good reason.
Developing your marketing automation
Companies already using marketing automation should look to expand their strategy. In order to do that, here are some ideas to help you up your automation game:
- Think about essential automated campaigns.
Use a welcome campaign to support retention amongst new customers. Use these campaigns as a way of telling people a bit more about what your business has to offer. This will be a precursor to a call from your sales rep.
A lead nurture campaign will help keep new leads engaged until they’re ready to become a customer – these should be as personalised as possible, to target the specific needs of each prospect.
Use re-engagement campaigns to warm up any leads that haven’t engaged with you in a while. This will also help you maintain a clean database. (i.e. If people still aren’t responding, you can take the opportunity to move them to your recycle bin and free up data space for ‘hotter’ prospects.)
- Use behaviour-based marketing automation platforms.
These will allow you to track how the contacts in your database move around your website. Consider setting up trigger campaigns to send emails based on what they’re looking at most.
If you have more than one product, you may want to consider upselling or cross-selling campaigns for your loyal, satisfied customers. After all, if they’re happy with one product, they may be interested in another.
- Think beyond the realm of email.
Most automation tools allow you to build a preference centre. This is a landing page where your customers and prospects can select which types of communication they want to receive from you.
The preference centre can replace or sit alongside the unsubscribe button in the footer of your email. This way, people can choose the topics they want to hear about – and, as a bonus, you’re reducing the likelihood of them unsubscribing from all your emails.
Using UTM tracking will help you keep tabs on your marketing efforts. When someone uses the UTM link to engage with you for the first time, they can be tracked through marketing automation tools such as Pardot.
This is useful as it allows you to track which marketing channels and types of content are performing best for you and bringing in new leads, which means you can optimise your campaigns.
Chatbots are another great way to engage people through your website. Not only that, they allow you to find out information about a prospect quickly, so that you can put them in front of the right person. Most chatbots integrate with common automation tools/CRM for an integrated approach.
What marketing automation can do for you (Source)
- Optimise your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system
- Verify all email addresses
- Get buy-in from your stakeholders, and manage changes
- Analyse, test and update
- Help you learn
What results can you expect from marketing automation?
This is the best bit, because the answers are hugely exciting, and should persuade you that marketing automation is a great idea.
By using behavioural insights to drive marketing strategies, you are making smarter decisions.
Proof that marketing automation works
In the Spring of 2022, SmallGiants created a preference centre for First Trust using Marketo. Prospective clients link to this via an Update Your Preferences link, which is in all First Trust’s marketing emails.
Once subscribers have chosen the topics they’re interested in, they are added to the relevant mailing lists.
If they want to change their preferences in the future, they can simply click the ‘Update Your Preferences’ link in any First Trust email they receive. Their previous choices will be pre-selected, so all they have to do is uncheck the topics they no longer want to hear about.
In the first month of introducing the preference centre, our client saw almost an 80% decrease in unsubscribers.
This case study, from markempa, shows how it used marketing automation to increase SmartBear Software’s leads by 200%.
“SmartBear Software, (a B2B cloud mobile software company) was rapidly growing and decided to implement CRM software and marketing automation software as a single process, to ensure the two technologies would be easily integrated.
When choosing the automation vendor, Keith Lincoln, Vice President of Marketing, SmartBear, said three main criteria were considered:
- Ease of use
- Integration with the new CRM system
Once an automation vendor was chosen, the team decided to bring in an outside consultant to expedite the implementation. Keith said this consultant helped speed up the learning curve through training and was able to get the automation solution up and running within a five-day working week.
With automation in place, the team started slowly, with a few email campaigns. They faced some internal challenges, but then quickly began to implement lead nurturing to handle a high volume of leads in different product groups. Lincoln said the automation solution was even integrated with SmartBear’s webinar platform.
Lead volume grew 200%, 80% of global leads were generated with automated trial downloads, and 85% of SmartBear’s revenue was generated by the trial download leads.”
Where to go from here
Marketing automation has the power to make a significant, tangible difference to the way you operate, as well as that all-important bottom line. The time and resources invested provide ample returns and have the potential to completely transform your marketing as well as how well you know your customers.
If you’re unsure where to begin, or have questions about anything here, get in touch with the experts at Small Giants – we are always happy to share our knowledge and help you change the way you do business, for the better.