Marketing automation allows you to get the most out of your marketing efforts without having to expand your staff and while giving your team more agility to handle problems as they come. This guide to marketing automation will explain what marketing automation is, the common ways in which it can help your business, and the value of hiring a marketing automation agency to make sure that you get the very best results possible.
Marketing Automation at a Glance
So what is marketing automation? At its most basic level, the term refers to services and software that help you prioritize and run everyday communications processes without having to allocate a lot of human resources toward them. Marketing automation does not eliminate the need for skilled communications specialists within your business, but it helps to greatly streamline your marketing team and make sure that they gain more business agility than they would have without marketing automation systems in place. This term usually refers to the use of marketing automation software, which performs specific tasks at a set time on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Should You Use Marketing Automation?
"Marketing automation has become, and should be, an integral part of any marketing strategy. It frees up resource and allows for you and your team to focus on more important, strategic work. While there may be some skeptics out there, I strongly suggest that you jump on the bandwagon - because automation is here to stay," says Naeem Dollie, Strategist at CleverClicks, an Australian based digital marketing agency.
You can determine whether marketing automation can improve your business by listing out the basic recurring PR and communications tasks that your business faces on a regular basis. To provide a specific example of when you might want to consider a marketing automation system, let's take a look at a typical company newsletter. Without using marketing automation tools, a company newsletter requires you to maintain an extensive contact list. You must then send the newsletter to that list, take note of email bouncebacks and unsubscribe requests, and compose responses to those who communicate you regarding the email. Using marketing automation tools allows for easier cultivation of emails, the automatic logging of bouncebacks, and an easy unsubscribe option for recipients who want off the list. This frees up more time for your communications team to respond to personalized queries. If this sounds like something that would be beneficial to your business, you should strongly consider installing an automation platform.
Common Uses for Marketing Automation
If you aren't sure how parts of your business might benefit from marketing automation, here are some examples of how different endeavors might be useful to you. Some of these techniques can be utilized by your own marketing team, while others might require you to hire the services of a marketing automation company in order to reap the full benefits.
Reminding Customers about Your Brand
How do you make sure that web traffic becomes conversions in your storefront? What do you do if a potential customer visits your online store but doesn't complete the checkout process? Marketing automation platforms can manage your retargeting ads, ensuring that customers receive reminders about shopping carts that didn't make it all the way through checkout. In other cases, the automation software can provide ads to help nudge your potential customer back to your store with related brand items that they might be interested in. You can control the exact level of automation you need from these efforts, to frequent reminders of abandoned carts to gentle nudges through email and social media.
Providing Important Customer Information
Part of online marketing is making sure that customers are informed about the details of their purchase. Follow-up emails regarding recent purchases, including related items the customer might be interested in, is an important element that marketing automation can provide. You can also automate tracking information, letting customers know exactly where their products are. This is an important function because customers love being able to know exactly where their product is at any given time. Ecommerce marketing automation allows you to automatically send notifications when a product has shipped and when it is expected to be delivered. This keeps your customers informed and builds a strong relationship with them.
Monitor and Adjust Marketing Campaigns
Marketing automation provides not only an effective way to streamline your communications models, but also to gain valuable analytical information about a campaign. More automation often means more data to work with, and data is extremely valuable when you engage in the field of ecommerce. By automating your marketing campaigns, your communications team has more time to read and analyze the results of each endeavor. If a campaign is meeting goals, you can use these marketing automation reports to provide data that backs up what your eyes tell you. When something needs tweaking, you can immediately pause the automation and take a new approach without disrupting other marketing emails and efforts.
Fully Utilize Web-Based Triggers
How do you identify potential new customers? Where will your marketing efforts be more likely to land successfully? Every company puts work into examining web-based triggers and browsing activity that might allow identification of a new audience of customers, but automating the process opens up new doors. Marketing automation allows you to adjust your site's behavior based on the web browsing habits of your guests. This can include changing banner ads to display related items or creating customized web behaviors that push customers to recommended items they are likely to be interested in. The data drawn from these automated efforts can also be used to expand outward and attract new visitors to your website.
Testing and Optimization
The greatest value of marketing automation is in creating regular tests and examinations of site optimization that would normally take time out a person's day in order to fully measure. While human testing of an ecommerce site is a useful tool, it can only cover a specific range of possibilities. Furthermore, the more familiarity a person has with your site, the more biased the test results become. An automation platform allows you to repeatedly run different tests of varying intensity to identify where your site weaknesses rely. This can improve loading speed, responsiveness, and even security. Depending on the marketing automation software that you use, you can even examine where a new visitor's eyes go when they first visit your site, allowing you to place important information on those parts of your page.
Making the Move to Marketing Automation
Once you have decided to take the dive and automate parts of your marketing processes, it's time to think about the sort of platform you need in order to ensure success in your marketing endeavors. A guide to marketing automation can give you a breakdown of the different software programs available, but it can't tell you what you need specifically, since the guide doesn't know the exact needs of your business. When choosing your software, begin by making a list of the different marketing efforts you have that might benefit from automation. This likely includes your ecommerce platform, retargeting ads, and social media. It may also include newsletters, email distribution, and blog automation. Create a list of priorities, then look at the software available that fits within your budget. By making sure that you know what needs the most attention from your automation efforts, you should be able to narrow your software selection down to a few final candidates.
Utilizing Your Personnel
In the case of online marketing, automation does not necessarily mean a reduction in staff. The best way to approach a move to automation is to make sure that the employees on your existing communications staff become marketing automation specialists. This may require some additional training on their part, but it is an effective way to make sure that your staff remains productive and useful even as some of their more repetitive tasks get passed on to the automated system. The newly created marketing automation specialists should now focus their efforts on interpreting analytical data, adjusting automated processes, and refining marketing tactics that currently are not working as effectively as they should. Their content creation expertise also needs to remain strong. Content delivery can be automated, but it still needs human specialists to create it.
A Focus on Data Analysis
The use of automation tools offers more than just an easy way to get repetitive work done. It can also provide you with valuable analytical information that other systems do not allow for. Using the newsletter example above, most marketing automation platforms allow you to monitor certain end user behaviors and provide useful data that you can use to improve your communications. For example, some newsletter software allows you to determine how many people read the email all the way to the end. If you find that your customers are scrolling right down to the bottom or skipping sections of your newsletter entirely, you can adjust the location of key articles or interest or cut down the length of the newsletter to make sure you have the audience's full attention at all times. This level of data analysis becomes a major function of your marketing team, as automation requires the interpreting and adjusting of data.
Finding Help for Automation
Despite the details of marketing automation explained above, you may feel that your business needs outside help when utilizing these systems and making sure that they are as effective as possible. A company that uses a small marketing department or which does not have a lot of employees with technical experience might find itself on the outside looking in. The fear of this happening can be enough to turn some businesses away from automation, but doing so can set a company back significantly. Fortunately, you don't have to give up if you find your company struggling to get acclimated to the needs of automation. In many areas, including the Toronto region, you can turn to a marketing automation company for help. This company will be able to set you up in such a way that you can handle your business as effectively as a much larger corporation. The remainder of this article discusses the benefits provided by a skilled marketing automation agency.
Setting Automation Goals
Before you hire any marketing automation specialists, make sure that you have a strong business plan with a clear set of goals that you can use as a guide. This allows you to define the way in which you measure success of any automation endeavors, which allows the agency working with you to come up with a marketing automation definition that is compatible with your goals. Ideally, the agency will provide not only the services required, but will serve as teachers that can help you grow marketing automation specialists on your own staff. That way, your own team can take what they learn and apply it to future work even after the agreement with your automation agency has come to an end.
What You Can Expect from an Automation Agency
Once you begin working with an automation agency, you can expect that company to take a long, hard look at your current state of marketing affairs and provide you with ways to improve your business model. This may involve a social media audit or an examination of your existing ecommerce software to make sure that you are getting the most out of your various online investments. The specialists that work with you will also make sure that your automation is targeted toward your region specifically. As different parts of the world have different browsing habits and product needs, making sure that your automation algorithms take location into account is a terrific way to get the very most out of your endeavors.
In addition to the marketing automation examples provided above, you should now have a better idea of what an automation company can do to help improve your business model. The more you know about the process and what you can expect, the better off you will be in the long run. And as long as you keep the different tips above in mind when dealing with an external agency, you will be able to reap the full benefits of this collaboration. Automation doesn't have to be a difficult process. In most cases, you will find that once you introduce it to your business model, your whole marketing team works much more quickly and efficiently.