Even if you don’t know what a Rolodex is, you may be marketing with one. Pre-1980, companies used this fun, swirly cylinder with paper cards to capture contact and lead info—this was your customer relationship management “software.” And when you made notations on the cards—like “give them a call in November”—that was your marketing “automation.”
You probably use actual CRM software now to organize and access data on customers, leads and processes across the different departments in your company. But… what about your marketing automation? Are you still Rolodexing it?
What Is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation (MA) is using software to deliver personalized messages to customers and prospects for preset delivery. Instead of remembering to “call in November,” you set up tailored messages for segments of your contact list to deliver in November, December, June… any time they sign up for something or buy something… any time for any useful business reason. You wind it up and let it go. (Sort of.)
Content and delivery parameters are set according to prospects’ place in the conversion process, what actions they’ve taken (or not taken) and what they’ve asked for from you. Maybe they made five visits to your blog post on dental crowns… or they signed up for your white paper on hydrotherapy…. or they bought a pair of running shoes from you. (Existing customers as well as leads live under your MA tent.)
Say someone buys a pair of your On-Fire Running Shoes. They enter your automation for people who bought On-Fire and that day, they get an email saying Thanks for the purchase of On-Fire! Great choice and welcome to our family! Two weeks later they get an email asking, If you love your On-Fire Running Shoes, would you like these Extra-Lite Perspiration Wicking socks to go with them? If they don’t open the email, they go into a different automation for a coupon toward any item two months later OR one month before their birthday (if you captured that info), whichever comes first…. Can you imagine trying to Rolodex this? “Follow up if she buys On-Fire, under these conditions, at these intervals and with these incentives.” Marketing automation solves this problem.
The Benefits of Marketing Automation
In simple terms, marketing automation helps you build stronger relationships and increase your revenue while saving you time.
Because you’re giving customers and leads basically what they ask for, their engagement increases. Businesses that use MA have higher revenue growth and 53% higher conversion rates. MA also improves conversion times. When Thomson Reuters (The Answer Company) began using MA, their conversion times decreased by 72%.
Automated email campaigns can get you much higher open rates. Average email open rates are 15–25%, with average click-through rates around 2.5%. Compare those to open rates of 52% and click-through rates of 16% for a simple “Welcome” automation. And emails with personalized subject lines? Those are 26% likelier to be opened. Impressive.
MA improves your workflow with the triggers you set up for the customer journey or other sequences of events. You decide that Yes, clients who had their roof repaired a year ago might want a white paper on roof replacement. If they open that email and ask for the white paper, they hit another trigger for a free consultation.
Marketing Automation Is More than Email
Marketing automation lets you share content in several ways:
- Custom landing pages for each campaign and/or for different users.
- Social media. From your MA dashboard, you can manage social campaigns on multiple channels just like you would on Hootsuite—but connected to the tracking analytics of your automation software.
- Phone calls. With a visitor identification function, you can see who’s on your website and set up alerts to call leads at appropriate times. (Creating your own synchronicity.)
- SMS/text messaging and postcards. These are rare MA features. But according to Omnisend, campaigns involving SMS are 48% more likely to end in conversion. And postcards are just cool.
- Email. Worldwide, 4 billion people use email, sending and receiving 300 billion emails daily. Depending which stats you consult, ROI per $1 spent on email marketing is between $38 and $44—much higher than other channels. Email is still king.
MA is an integrated approach to multiple marketing processes:
- Developing targeted content that informs and nurtures people according to their needs and their place in the conversion process.
- Lead filtering and scoring, to filter leads for the level of interest they show in your brand and to prioritize leads who are ready to buy.
- Tailoring your marketing to objectives like lead generation, lead nurturing, improving conversion rates, increasing customer loyalty/repeat business…
- Gathering customer feedback, either directly through surveys or indirectly through feedback loops (click-throughs, conversions, people flagging your emails as spam).
- Conducting continuous A/B testing—entirely possible with automation!
- Gathering and analyzing metrics to track your progress toward your objectives… measure your revenue and campaign ROIs… keep tabs on lead engagement and drop-offs… and generally inform your big picture.
Start Where You Are—Three Options
You don’t have to jump off the cliff and commit to full-feature marketing automation software until you’re ready.
Option 1. WordPress offers three possibilities: WordPress plugins that allow email marketing automation… WPForms, software that integrates your signup forms, event forms and the like with several email platforms… And automation software within WPForms that sends confirmation emails, purchase receipts and other email notifications when someone fills out and submits a form to you.
Option 2. Email platforms like MailChimp, which offers preset automation with built-in triggers like welcome emails and abandoned cart emails, as well as “clicked” and “not clicked” campaigns triggered by (you guessed it) subscribers clicking or not clicking through on your emails. You can also create your own custom triggers.
Option 3. Full-on marketing automation software that integrates with your CRM system. This pulls all your sales and marketing pieces together and allows complex automations and tracking. HubSpot is one of the most popular.
Marketing Automation Cautions
Marketing automations can “tree out” quickly, becoming ever larger, more complex and harder to manage. When you set and forget, it can get messy. And automation content should be evergreen; write it to last, or you will spend a lot of time rewriting.
It’s best to keep an organized log of the automations you create. Some software platforms make those easy to see, but others are more opaque. In any case, you’ll need to be organized and focused on project management, or in a couple of years you may be sending out emails for something you don’t offer any more.
Most MA software has tools to help non-designers create good-looking emails, landing pages and social posts for campaigns. But if you build a landing page in your automation software, it lives there. If you decide to switch to another software, you’ll have to rebuild landing pages or figure out how to migrate them. Unless you’re 100% confident you’ll stay put, you may want to build landing pages on your own site.
Still have questions? Doubts? Ready to go? Give us a call and we’ll help you sort through everything automated!
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