Marketing automation is absolutely one of the best ways to simplify your small business marketing and take on more complex campaigns.The premise is based on specific content being triggered by audience actions. This can help free up time and qualify leads before you spend any real time selling 1:1. It is also an effective way to segment your audience and nurture them along a sales funnel.

Email marketing is one of the easiest to implement but can be challenging to do well. A lot of software offers this functionality such as Infusionsoft, Marketo, Hubspot, Pardot, Eloqua, MailChimp and others. Automation can help give you insight on how well your emails are doing (are they being opened? Clicked?) It can connect prospects across campaigns and track prospect interest.

Marketing automation helps sales develop the weaker leads by nurturing them before the sale. It’s important to involve Sales in the planning of your marketing automation so that your nurturing is more effective. It’s important to remember that the most effective marketing automation works with your CRM.

What can you automate? (a few suggestions)

  • Download follow-up email: Did someone download your whitepaper? Automate the download email and an email to go out to them a week later and ask them what they thought.
  • Webinar registrations/attendance/absence: Follow up with no-shows and attendees automatically
  • Self-select product/service interests: You can track and ‘tag’ clicks in emails to help identify interests. In turn this helps you send them content that is more relevant to their interests.
  • Nurture campaigns: Time a series of emails to offer content every few days over the course of several weeks or months. These are most effective after a download.

Where do you start your automation?

Start with a plan. Plan it out from the big picture and tracking to email content and call-to-actions. And most importantly, have a plan for what to do with your leads. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you go.

  1. Focus on quality content. We are so overwhelmed with content that most don’t pay attention any more. Make sure what you’re sharing has clear value to your prospects.
  2. Track and measure your open rates and clicks. What is the point of building a mailing list if your emails never get opened? Learn what content interests your list by tracking these simple metrics.
  3. Include CTAs. Always include a direct ask. Telling them to sign up for something, watch a video, download a PDF, etc. Inciting action is a clear sign of engagement and should never be ignored!
  4. Create a label system. You will want to know who is in an automation at any given time, then you’ll want to know who went through the automation. You can set this up using tags and this will prevent people repeating sequences if they choose to re-download content from your website.

Start with the simple actions and grow as you get more familiar with the software and what it can do. It can be overwhelming to go from nothing to a CRM and marketing automation so it’s okay to take small steps and implement slowly. Many organisations also hire an implementation partner to help them get set-up and learn a few of the basics so you can hit the ground running. This should be sorted out before the purchase is made if possible as they can request things in the purchase that you may not be aware of.

Popular marketing automations

There is an endless supply of automation templates available depending upon which software you’re looking to use. Some of the most common automation templates (depending upon your business) to set up at the beginning are:

  • Free trial
  • Upgrade/Upsell
  • Engagement score
  • Connect to Calendly (appointment booking)
  • Feedback/Review after purchase
  • Abandoned cart
  • First time purchase

The list is endless. There are crazy amounts of templates to help you understand what marketing automation can do for you. And it’s not always about communicating with the target audience. Sometimes it’s learning how they interact with your content. Once you set it up you can sit back and watch what you can learn.

Recently, I was doing some work for a client on deploying their Marketo email campaigns and when it came time to view the campaign reports, there was really no post mortem discussion. A post mortem discussion can help keep campaigns on track and prevent errors from being repeated. Not only are post-mortem discussions useful in making incremental improvements in your marketing, but they provide an opportunity to verify goals. In this instance, it could have given the client some thought on how to improve their emails or adjust content. But when you are new to marketing automation it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start.

So, start your marketing automation with the basics and learn it a bit at a time – or enlist some help. 🙂