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At this point in time, it is almost impossible to imagine marketing without automation. In fact, three-quarters of all companies use marketing automation and 76% of marketers see a positive ROI within just one year of implementing marketing automation.
With that in mind, we’re going to dive deep into what marketing automation is, its benefits, how to start your marketing automation journey, and the importance of data-driven marketing automation strategies.
Regardless of whether your database comprises tens of thousands or a few hundred users, marketing automation will help you reach every single one of your contacts. Marketing automation software automates repetitive tasks like email marketing, social media posting, and ad campaigns so you can take the busy work off your marketing team’s plate while providing your customers with a more personalized experience.
One of the best things about marketing automation is that you generate more output with less input. Revenue soars, customers are engaged, you’re delivering a better experience, all while doing less of the busy work that gets in the way of the big thinking.
Here are just some of the benefits of marketing automation:
We’ve all been in this situation before: you’ve come across a product that sounds pretty cool, you go on the product’s website, you fill out an inquiry form wanting to know more …. but you don’t hear back from the company.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 23% of companies never follow up with leads. There could be many reasons why; they could be too busy, under-resourced… or they just don’t have a process to follow up leads.
Marketing automation software lets you set up triggers that instantly send a follow-up email to new leads who filled out a form without having to worry whether Glen from marketing will actually remember to send an email manually.
This process could automatically let the lead know that someone will be in touch with them soon, or send a Slack notification to the sales team. The goal is to make the experience as seamless as possible and not leave the inquirer wondering if their message went into the abyss of bad marketing and sales.
Your contact database could be full of low-hanging fruit just waiting to be plucked. Think of the repeat purchasers, influencers eager to give word-of-mouth recommendations, and people who are ready to buy now.
Tracking the activity and behavior of people in your contact base (like form submissions, purchases made, or email opens) and combining it with your customer profile data, lets you easily group your contacts into the powerful segments that will help you grow your business faster.
Lead nurturing is the process of gradually building trust with potential customers until they are ready to buy.
When you provide your customers with helpful and relevant content, you’ll be able to get them further down that funnel so your sales team do not have to intervene until the lead is fully qualified.
Not only do nurtured leads make purchases that are 47% greater than non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group), your sales team will also thank you for not having to deal with calling poor quality leads who waste their time.
The same applies to ecommerce businesses, the more you can use automated marketing to nurture your leads and move them further down the funnel, the more likely you’ll be able to score a customer.
What do Warren Buffett and marketing automation have in common? They both see value in reactivating the same thing repeatedly.
Buffett is famous for seeing a dollar’s value for its worth when compounded annually for the next twenty years. Likewise, marketing automation multiplies to the value of leads by nurturing and “reactivating” them, over and over, until they become customers.
A lead could be in your contact database for years before finally making a purchase. Imagine having to contact a lead manually every 10 days for 2 years — no business has time for that. This is where marketing automation comes in.
Marketing automation is remarkable but let us be clear here: it’s not a cure-all for bad marketing. It’s like what Bill Gates says: “The first rule about any technology used in business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
In other words, bad marketing scales, but so does good marketing. When you pull the trigger and implement marketing automation in your business, the customer journey you’ve created, for better or worse, will be on a loop until you make any adjustments.
This is why crafting a remarkable customer journey — and tweaking it as you gain new insights into its performance — is a must for every small business. The best marketers and business owners break down the set of decisions and hurdles that a lead faces as they evaluate a product or service — and guides them through every step of the way.
With omnichannel marketing automation software, you’ll be able to converse naturally with customers in the right place at the right time.
The channel could be email, SMS, direct mail, Facebook, retargeting ads, and more. The key is context. Is your audience on their smartphone or on their desktop? Are they on the bus or at work?
Tracking actions, events, and behaviors across multiple channels means you won't be constrained by an email-centric marketing strategy, so you can reach more customers in the way they like to be reached.
Picture this: You are an e-commerce wine company selling Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to customers all over the world. Tony from Wisconsin buys a spicy, earthy, leathery Far Niente Chardonnay from Napa Valley in California. What if a day after he purchases, you could automatically send an offer for a Domaine Serene Chardonnay from Oregon to expand his vino love? He already bought a Chardonnay so there’s a strong chance he will buy another.
With marketing automation, you can set up automatic upsell and cross-sell campaigns based on your customer’s previous purchases.
Instead of shooting off a generic (and random) “batch-and-blast” email, you can send a personalized offer tailored to your customers so they’re more likely to take action.
Do you know how your customers really feel about your company or product? Would they recommend you to their friends? Or would they badmouth your products all over the Internet?
Having a pulse on your customers’ opinions and perceptions is key to developing and raising a baseline for long-term improvement. The benefit of surveying your customers is that you can build the feedback into your marketing communications, act on it, and create a more fine-tuned customer experience to turn detractors into promoters.
Nothing turns a customer off your brand more than a one-size-fits-all marketing message. And if you want to engage your customers, you should avoid generic marketing messages and focus on personalizing your content.
Personalization allows you to appeal to your customers’ sense of individuality, which increases the likelihood of engagement. Personalization also helps you better meet your customer’s expectations, turning you into the “mind reader” that your customers expect you to be.
The stats speak for themselves: 88% of American marketers saw measurable improvements in their results due to personalization and 78% of internet users in the US stated they were more likely to purchase from a brand if it published personalized content (Source).
The only way to offer a personalized experience at scale is to use marketing automation.
For marketers around the world, data has been a double-edged sword. Data is readily available but marketers struggle to keep up with the endless possibilities of analysis. In fact, 87% of marketers say data is their company’s most under-utilized asset.
When it comes to consumer analysis, channel optimization and media spend, marketers have more power than ever before. But with great power comes great accountability. Executive staff are increasingly hungry for the demonstrable metrics that data-driven marketing provides — particularly when it comes to return on investment (ROI).
This hunger for data-driven marketing comes as no surprise. Businesses who use data-driven strategies drive five to eight times as much ROI as businesses who don’t.
The good news is data-driven marketing automation strategies are within reach. Here's how you can prepare.
Before tackling endless swathes of information, successful marketers will define a direction for their data-driven marketing strategy. There's simply too much digital ground to cover without a set of key objectives, and tackling one problem at a time will help you focus your efforts and set up a process for data-driven success.
The focus of a data-driven strategy could be nurturing newsletter subscribers to become customers, tracking user behavior to prevent churn, or measuring user engagement across multiple channels.
Establishing strategic direction enables marketing teams to make purposeful use of the data they have. Whether it's on a small or large scale, the result is always better data-driven marketing.
When customers experience lifestyle changes like getting married or changing jobs, their details change. These changes affect the overall data accuracy, and research by Neustar shows that 60 percent of customer data degenerates after two years.
It pays to keep data 'fresh' for successful targeting, credible insights and improved decision-making.
Choosing the right team is essential for data-driven marketing. A successful data-driven marketing strategy requires people who are willing to expand their thinking across departments and disciplines.
This means finding people who are willing to explore data, even if they’re not ‘data people.’ It also means finding data scientists who are willing to learn about the sales process, and salespeople who are open to learning about marketing. It’s all about promoting cross-departmental collaboration.
Data doesn't just enable companies to identify who their customers are and what they're interested in. It can also provide valuable insight into when customers are receptive to marketing messages.
You need to be able to strike while the iron is hot, especially when it comes to platforms like Facebook and Google. With a CDP, the leads you generate will go straight to your database so that you can segment them into the right audience, put them in a customer journey, and start sending relevant marketing messages immediately.
One of the biggest upsides of a data-driven marketing strategy is accurate performance measurement that communicates results. A 2021 survey showed that most marketing professionals (84%) are under pressure to prove ROI in order to justify their marketing spend or budget increases for campaigns and initiatives. But 61% of marketing leaders do not use ROI when making strategic decisions because they aren’t confident in their own data.
In order to accurately attribute revenue to campaigns, marketers need to get a unified view of the customer journey, bringing transactional, behavioral, customer, and campaign data together in one place. With this, it is then possible to start calculating ROI that takes things like customer lifetime value and monthly recurring revenue into account.
Data-driven marketing strategies help place more effective messaging in front of customers. With the right direction and organizational setup, companies can take full advantage of customer information and behaviors. In a world of data, preparation and planning go a long way.
Automation makes your email marketing better. The ability to reach more customers, faster, with more accurate messaging, is undoubtedly a good thing.
But we all make mistakes (here at Ortto, we prefer to call them lessons). Here are some of the most common mistakes you'll make as a marketer using email automation software, and how to overcome them.
Nobody likes spammers — least of all, Google’s spam filters. When automation makes things so quick and easy, the temptation to blast your contact list with emails is hard to resist. The metrics might even start to look pretty good — but unfortunately, it just won’t last.
Irrelevant, continuous emails can lead to high volumes of unsubscribes, a negative brand image, or landing in the spam folder of all the inboxes you’ve managed to capture over the years.
Just because you can send emails frequently, doesn't mean you should. Email automation is perfect for sending relevant, personalized emails at the right time and place.
Yes, it happens. Email automation and AI can save you time on manual processes and help guide your content to drive opens and click-throughs, that doesn’t mean you should become the tin man. Have a heart and speak human-to-human.
Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened and personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates, so skipping personalization can cost your business revenue. Use audience segmentation and marketing automation to speak to your audience directly, and with your unique personality.
"My open rate is high, so I must be doing something right!" Yes, but don't get swept up in vanity metrics. Open rates are all good and well, but what about your conversions? Click-throughs? Unsubscribes? And how are they performing in relation to each other?
It's better to see a 10% open rate with 5% conversions than a 50% open rate with no conversions. A 10% open rate means the subject line probably needs some work, but conversions are what drives business value where it counts.
Don't get complacent — look at your metrics frequently and ask how you can add more value to keep everything moving in the right direction.
If you’re not testing, you’re not learning.
Making the most of email automation software means using A/B testing wherever possible to find out which messages are resonating with your audience.
You should be testing different subject lines, CTAs, landing page or product description page messaging, and even device compatibility. With each test, your marketing grows stronger.
If you've implemented a tracking code, created beautiful lead magnets, and captured your customer's data, you're sitting on a treasure trove of information, and not making the most of it is a huge mistake.
Take the time to review your customer data, segment it, and use it to its full potential. It's the key to effective, personalized marketing strategies that have brought brands like Netflix and Spotify to the top of the data-driven food chain.
You may have convinced yourself that email automation is highly-expensive. This is only true if you're using "all-in-one" automation software. These all-in-one platforms have insanely high subscription costs under the guise that they "do everything."
Yes, these automation products "do everything" but they don't really do any of it particularly well. The phrase "jack-of-all-trades, master of none" comes to mind here.
Unbundled marketing automation software doesn't pretend to "do everything." Instead, it integrates best-of-breed applications into a single platform — and you only pay for what you use.
Acquisition is important, but retention is absolutely crucial to any business with growth goals. Your existing customers are an important asset — much more valuable than new leads. In fact, it costs 7x more to acquire a new customer than to retain one and increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by 25-95%.
Prevent losing your existing customers by setting up automated journeys that nurture, retain, and connect with them. For example, you could set up a playbook that sends customers a survey email 90 days after their first purchase, and offers them a 10% discount incentive. You’ll gain valuable feedback to improve your product and customer experience, and could score another sale from a customer who may then be more likely to become a loyalist.
At any level, buying an audience is a mistake. You're essentially forking out for a list of people that are highly unqualified and likely to churn. It's a strategy that costs a lot of money and provides little-to-zero long-term growth.
Instead of buying lists, opt for an inbound marketing strategy supported by a strong content rollout. Organic customers are more likely to buy from you, and more receptive to lifecycle lead nurturing. It's slower, but highly effective, and much more sustainable, not to mention rewarding!
To be fair — batch and blast does have a couple of applications. When you're a brand new business, you don't have many other decent options. But once you have your target audience mapped out, you're much better off segmenting your audience into lists based on data like demographics, website or product actions, and past purchases.
Some good use cases for segmenting your email lists, include:
Create a segment of customers that have clicked on certain content a set number of times, so you can reach out to them with related content
Create a list of people who have abandoned carts in your checkout, so you can ask them if they're still interested in buying
Reach out to website visitors that have visited your pricing page multiple times, since there's a high chance they're interested in buying
Sales teams should never operate in a vacuum. In fact, they're a critical part of the marketing funnel and the more teams are able to collaborate, the better the outcome will be for everyone.
When you're creating automated email journeys, get your sales team involved to map out follow-up procedures, turnaround times, suggested messaging frequency, and more.
Automation doesn't end at emails. You can automate every part of the customer journey, from the moment a customer lands on your website, up until they convert, and as they continue down the path of being a loyal customer.
The biggest mistake of all? Ignoring marketing automation altogether. Your customers are spread out across multiple channels, devices, and apps at all times. Keeping up with them is hard, and becoming harder with each new platform that takes off.
Without automation to take care of all the datasets, audience segments, touchpoints, and tedious manual tasks, you risk falling behind. With automation, you'll have more time and capability to drive conversions and maximize your business' ROI.
So you’re sold. Now it’s time to sell marketing automation to the people who hold the purchasing power.
Without support from your executive team, achieving faster workflows, efficient processes and highly-personalized customer experiences may seem like an uphill battle. Here’s a quick guide on how to win the hearts of your company executives and make marketing automation a reality in your day-to-day workflow.
Create and document an argument outlining the benefits of marketing automation. Using information from the relevant internal teams, ask yourself these questions:
Why implement marketing automation?
Outline how marketing automation will help with business processes, marketing goals and revenue targets.
How will marketing automation help us achieve our goals?
Create specific use-cases for how marketing automation will improve key deliverables in your marketing department. Think lead generation, nurturing, higher lead quality, multi-channel marketing, etc.
What are our current business challenges?
Highlight current pain points or challenges within the business that marketing automation can solve. It could be as simple as not having enough hands on deck to something like complicated and specific like, ‘We need to find out which campaigns and messages attracted our most valuable customers’
What campaigns are we currently running?
Focus on results from current or recent campaigns. Have they been effective? Have they reached company objectives? Have you been able to accurately measure ROI? Whatever the answer may be, it's likely that marketing automation can improve results, or help you actually get them!
How will it work?
Answer the major questions ahead of time. Address how marketing automation will be onboarded into the company and look for industry stats that will make your argument stronger. Things like improved ROI and lead scoring processes are great places to start.
Once you've built a strong case for marketing automation, you're ready to upscale your efforts and target the C-suite. You'll need to have at least one executive on your side to gain traction for change.
Executives are the best people to allocate resources and influence decision-making across an organization. If there’s one thing that's important in your quest to implement marketing automation, this is it. Each executive will have a different view of the company, including personal perspectives and concerns.
Here’s a list of executives, you may need to win over:
As a marketer, the CMO is most likely going to be your first stop. There's a good chance you've met them already, and they're likely to be familiar with marketing automation. But don't get lazy — you still need to prove your case.
The CMO cares about:
Making marketing departments more effective;
Utilizing tools that increase ROI efficiency;
Key marketing deliverables such as subscriptions, sales or conversions; and
Optimal customer experiences
The CEO is the key decision-maker in any organization. While they yield a lot of influence, CEO's are also the most accountable. They answer to stakeholders like the board of directors, investors and other executives.
When presenting to the CEO, consider:
They'll likely have the most concerns in regards to any new tools, technologies or decisions;
CEOs generally have a long-term focus, so prioritize big-picture benefits over small details;
Financial growth is a massive factor; and
Innovation and risk is normal for a CEO but only to ensure company success
The CFO is primarily concerned with the bottom line. If you've done your homework regarding ROI, analytics and budgets, the CFO is the one executive who will be sure to listen. Make sure your calculations add up — this person crunches numbers for a living. Big ones.
The CFO cares about:
Measuring the effectiveness of programs (including marketing);
Increasing revenue through reduction of waste and optimization of expenses;
Aligning business with financial strategy; and
Governing long-term investment and spending decisions
The CTO is the lead technology strategist who implements innovative tools to achieve business outcomes. This executive is a great person to have on your side since they're always looking to adopt technologies that meet current and future needs.
The CTO is concerned with:
Improving customer and brand experience (usually hand-in-hand with the CMO);
Improving internal workflows with regards to tech products and platforms;
Digital transformation and implementation; and
Optimizing spending on digital platforms
If you're going to suggest a marketing automation platform to the C-suite at your company, be prepared. You'll have to demonstrate why marketing automation is a sound investment that meets their concerns, as well as the company's best interests. A marketing automation platform like Ortto is great because you can start on a free plan, and scale up to a free 2-week trial of our paid platform. This will give your c-suite enough time to see the value of the product, experience their ‘aha’ moment, and make the commitment.
Marketing automation’s popularity has exploded and, as more and more businesses operate primarily online, it is becoming the norm. At this stage in the game, automating your marketing is essential if you want to beat the competition and grow your business.
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