Marketing Automation 101: What You Need to Know

Marketing Automation Basics

Modern marketers are quickly learning to love marketing automation. The proof is in the numbers.

The artificial intelligence industry (which fuels marketing automation) is expected to be worth $16.06 billion by 2022.

Many small business owners wonder how artificial intelligence and marketing automation can help their companies. Continue reading to learn how to implement some marketing automation basics along with the benefits you can expect from doing so.

What Is Marketing Automation?

The term “marketing automation” means having specific marketing tasks automatically done by artificial intelligence or bots. The method is becoming increasingly popular in the modern marketing world, and with good cause.

Why Should You Be Using Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation provides many benefits to both a marketing team and a company as a whole. The primary benefit is greater efficiency. By automating more tasks, you get more done in less time.

The use of marketing automation also helps lower costs by reducing wasted staff-hours. Since artificial intelligence (A.I) can be used around-the-clock, it also enhances the customer experience.

But how can you effectively implement a marketing automation strategy for your company? The points below can help show you the proper actions to take when transitioning to automation.

Start by Identifying Repetitive Marketing Tasks

Before implementing marketing automation, it’s vital to understand how your business would most benefit from it.

Repetitive tasks take up a considerable amount of your marketing team’s time, thus stopping them from more important or complex projects. By using automation, you can free up your specialist’s time considerably.

A scant few examples of repetitive marketing tasks that could be automated include:

  • Response emails
  • Online chat (using chatbots)
  • Metrics tracking (including A/B testing)
  • Social media posts
  • Blog posts and other content posting

These are only a few examples. Many marketing tasks can be automated to save your team valuable time.

Take Time Choosing the Best Software for Your Company

There are numerous marketing automation software options available. Many find the sheer amount of choices overwhelming at first. It’s essential to take your time choosing the best software for your company if you want to see optimal results.

When looking for the best automation software for your company, you want to consider the following questions:

  • Is it reliable?
  • Does the company have a reputation for producing high-quality products?
  • Is the software easy to use?
  • Does the software serve the purposes your company most needs it for?
  • Is the software targeted towards your specific industry?

By asking yourself these questions, you can be positive in the marketing automation software you use. If you’re uncertain, consider asking if there is a trial period. Some companies will allow you to test their product for a limited time to see if it’s right for you.

Train Your Team to Use Your Chosen Software

You might think it obvious, but training your marketing team to use the software you’ve chosen is essential. Many people fail to implement proper training. Others prefer only to teach one (sometimes two) people to use the new software.

Your marketing automation strategy will work best if your entire team can use the software. If this isn’t feasible, aim to train at least half of your team. The more people who can use the software, the more effective your team will become.

Don’t Be Tempted to Be Generic

Automation streamlines many of the dullest aspects of marketing, like email. This doesn’t mean, however, you should lose your company’s personality.

Most automation programs allow for customization on every level. You can add a personal touch to your emails, posts, and even your chatbot.

You should be using the ability to personalize at every opportunity. It allows you to continue making meaningful connections with your audience, even when A.I handles those interactions.

Utilize A/B Testing

A/B testing is a test to see which of two or more items works best. In marketing, these tests are often performed to see how different parts of an advertisement work at generating leads. These tests can even be used on different fonts or color schemes to test the appeal of an ad.

This is one of the processes that can be automated. Automating your A/B testing can make it even more efficient. How?

With the process of testing automated, you can track data in real-time with limited effort on your part. You can make quick adjustments once something is shown to work significantly better. In turn, this can enable your marketing campaigns to be even more successful during their runs.

Focus on the Customer Experience to See Results

The customer experience is an essential aspect of everything your company does. From marketing to sales to customer service, everything is about the customer.

You can use customer experience mapping to see how well your automation (and website in general) is working for your users. Implementing customer satisfaction surveys at different stages can also prove useful.

One common issue is that marketing professionals believe something is working, or they really like something. Everyone has had a brainchild they’re especially fond of in one form or another.

But if that idea doesn’t turn out so great with customers, you have to make the smart move and switch things up. That doesn’t necessarily mean the idea was a bad one. It only means it wasn’t a good one for your company’s target audience.

Continue Creating High-Quality Content

It’s possible to automate many of your interactions with customers, and this includes content posting. Using automation to post your content to your website, blog, or social accounts doesn’t help if the content itself is sub-par.

A common issue many companies face when transferring to automation is that their content quality suffers. Why? Complacency.

Now isn’t the time to become complacent with your content marketing. Now your content should exceed expectations because your team has more time to focus on it. You may even find you’re able to ramp up production without sacrificing quality.

Implement Cross-Platform Automation Strategies

Using cross-platform marketing techniques is an easy way to get more “bang for your buck,” so to speak. By re-posting content or tweaking it to fit other platforms, you can increase results with minimal effort.

Automation can be a massive help for this, too. For example, you can:

  • Schedule your blog posts in advance, so they’re set to air on a specific date.
  • Have those blog posts automatically shared to your social media platforms.
  • Slightly modify content to use in your email newsletter, which can be set to distribute to your subscriber’s list automatically.
  • Have blog posts automatically sent out to your subscribers.

Implementing cross-platform automation strategies is smart. It helps you make the most of your time and your automation software.

Use Chat Bot Capabilities

The use of chat or “conversational” bots should be incorporated into your overall marketing automation strategy. These useful artificial intelligence bots can significantly increase your customer’s overall experience.

A chatbot can be set up to speak with customers at different intervals of their experience with your website. You might have them set up when someone first enters the site, or when they’re adding items to their cart.

Chatbots can learn how to answer the most frequently asked questions your customers have. This means customers won’t have to wait to hear a response on these. The bots can refer the customer to a human agent if they’re unable to assist the customer.

By freeing up customer service agents on repetitive questions, more time can be spent solving more complex issues. Using chatbots can also help the marketing team assess what problems customers have. Content can then be created to address these concerns.

Integrate Ad Creation Tools

Many marketing automation programs will allow you to integrate ad creation tools from outside sources. Most commonly, this includes Google and varying social media sites.

If your chosen program allows these tools to be integrated into the program, do it. It’s much more efficient to have all (or most) of your marketing tools in a single platform. Even the time saved going from one site to the next to set things up can end up being a lot in the long-term.

Remember to Add Your Email Contacts

When you’re setting up your marketing automation program, be sure to add all your email contacts. This may sound obvious, but the step can sometimes be overlooked among what seem to be “more important things.”

Without your email contacts logged into the system, however, you’re reaping very few potential benefits. Marketing automation is focused heavily on contact with your customers. That contact can only occur if the software has a customer’s information.

A Note About Email Automation

Email marketing was one of the first places automation was prominently used. It’s still one of the sectors where most companies are using automation in some form. There’s a good reason for this.

Email automation can be used at multiple stages of the buyer’s journey. These include:

  • After a customer signs up for your subscriber’s list
  • When a customer downloads a freebie
  • When someone places an order
  • After you ship an order
  • As a quick response after a customer email to let them know you’ll be in touch soon
  • As a response to people on social media, directing them to your website (if desired)
  • When a potential customer abandons their shopping cart
  • To offer a sale or discount to someone who has purchased from you previously
  • To alert subscribers and loyal customers of significant events or deals

Sending out all of these emails manually would require a lot of time. How much time would depend on how extensive your subscriber’s list was, but imagine manually emailing over a thousand people for each sale. That’d be insane.

Reevaluate Your Strategy Constantly

The most important part of your marketing automation strategy is to reevaluate it continually. As new metrics show what works or doesn’t, you should be adjusting your approach.

By continually seeing what isn’t working, you can reinvest time and effort into things that are. The real-time data offered by many marketing automation platforms is one of the most significant benefits you can take advantage of.

The importance of reevaluation doesn’t only apply to marketing automation, however. Using the metrics you collect to reassess all your marketing efforts is essential to your company’s ongoing success.

Marketing Automation During Times of Crisis

In these turbulent times, it’s essential to look at the role marketing automation has in times of crisis. Having an automation plan already in place is ideal, but it can be implemented in uncertain times to ease stress.

Marketing automation can be your company’s best friend during a crisis. This doesn’t only mean during a global pandemic. It can also help during natural disasters or if the annual flu places a couple of valuable team members out of work.

Why is this so effective during a crisis?

You can easily manage automation remotely. It requires fewer human resources, which means you’ll have to make fewer cuts to the production plan in an emergency.

It is cost-efficient so that it won’t stress a limited budget.

Marketing automation can be set up in advance if you have the time, such as in a natural disaster. This means certain aspects of marketing will continue, even if your team is unavailable or the power goes out.

Do You Have More Questions About Marketing Automation Basics?

Marketing automation can make your work significantly more manageable and efficient. The actionable information above can help you create a fool-proof strategy revolving around automation.

Do you have more questions about the basics of marketing automation or your marketing automation strategy?

Contact us today. One of our associates would be happy to answer any questions you still have.

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