Marketing Automation has become a bit of a catch-cry in marketing circles over the last few years. While the name itself tends to imply a future where our offices are staffed by those creepy, one-armed robots that build cars; in truth it's a lot simpler and less exciting. Marketing Automation is the use of automated systems to move leads through your pipeline without having to communicate with them manually. It's the process of implementing a system that can manage and respond to your users while you sit back and focus on the important stuff, like sweeping all those dang mines. Any digital marketing campaign is going to benefit greatly from some in-depth automation, so let's talk about what you need to automate your own system.
What is an example of Marketing Automation?
The most obvious and widely used example of a marketing automation is automatically responding when a lead fills out a form. Basically any software that allows you to create a form, allows you to email the answers the form receives, as well as a generic response for the user. Some software refers to this as a 'sequence', others as a 'workflow'. Whatever you want to call it, it works the same way - a 'Trigger' sets things in motion (for example a form submission), which then results in an 'Action' taking place (send email). The fancier your marketing software, the more interesting you can get with your automations; something like a form submission can trigger data updates, internal emails to sales teams, text messages to your CEO, sales pipeline movement, webhooks and more. Give it a few years and you'll probably be able to get it to make you a coffee and clean the car as well.
How do you do Marketing Automation right?
While every marketer has their own opinions on what the best and most effective automations for your business are, there are some basics that every person having a crack at this should aim for.
1. Don't annoy people. People don't like receiving emails from the same person or company every day. When you automate your emails, it can be very easy to miss the fact that one contact is on multiple automations and therefore quietly drowning in unrequested emails. Just as likely is a beginner spacing out multiple emails with too short of a delay, with a new one being sent every day. In both instances, this is an excellent way to drive a lead to unsubscribe and remove themselves from the pipeline.
2. Do make sure your responses make sense for everyone. Not all your users are the same - they'll often have different problems, they'll have reached your business in different ways - they may even have different goals. If you're going to send an email to an automated list, double, triple and even quadruple check that it's going to make sense to everyone who sees it.
3. Remember that it's only worth automating something you could copy + paste. A good rule of thumb for working out if something could just be automated is "Could I complete this task by copying and pasting this to multiple people?" If so, then you've got yourself a perfect candidate for some automation. If each person would actually require minor tweaks and differences, then perhaps an automation in conjunction with smart-content might be of interest.
4. Try not to forget it's turned on. Speaking from experience, it's easier than you'd think to forget about the automations you set up. As with almost any effective process, it's at it's best when you don't even know it's happening. The downside? You forget that it's happening. It can be embarrassing to learn that contact are getting enrolled into old automations with vague triggers, not to mention how confusing it is for them, so be diligent about what's live and what isn't, and maybe give yourself a refresher every few months on what exactly your system is sending to people.
Remember that people don't like being ignored
It's important to remember that automations aren't a perfect remedy. A bad automation makes it obvious that it wasn't sent or specially written by a real person, and some people don't much appreciate being relegated to the auto-response pile. It's easy to think a brand doesn't actually care about your interests if they stick you in an automatic email sequence that they don't have to manage. This is why it is important to ensure your automations look and sound real... if they don't then people are going to see right through them.
Used effectively, marketing automations have the potential to save you time and money, whilst improving conversions. They're absolutely worth taking a look at if you haven't already jumped on board, so get to it!