What Is a Marketing Automation Strategy?
A marketing automation strategy is essentially your guide for using automation tools effectively.
And, for sure, it's not just about choosing a tool; it involves crafting strategies that save time and boost efficiency.
By creating a smooth and engaging journey map for your customers and integrating these strategies into your marketing process, you're on the path to success.
Which Marketing Tasks Can Be Automated?
In Ascend2's 2023 report specially prepared for marketers, which marketing tasks are automated by marketers were asked, and the answers are as follows:
- 'Email Marketing' and 'Social Media Management' remain the most utilized areas in both years, though all categories have grown.
- 'Paid Ads' show a notable percentage increase, suggesting that marketers recognize the value of automating their advertising efforts.
Why Marketing Automation is Crucial for Your Business
But why is it crucial that much? According to a 2022 global survey by Statista, marketers highlighted five key benefits of marketing automation:
- Enhanced customer experience: For example, automating an email to a customer who frequently purchases skincare products from your website, where you provide specific skincare recommendations and tips, improves the experience.
- Enable staff to make better use of time: For example, instead of manually sending out birthday emails to each customer, an automated system does this.
- Higher data quality and decision-making: Automation tools often come with analytics features, providing insights into customer behavior and campaign performance.
- Enhanced lead generation and nurturing: Marketing automation can help identify potential customers and nurture them through the sales funnel. If you have difficulty in creating a funnel, you will find detailed descriptions of each funnel builder in the content of "Top 14 Funnel Builder Software to Grow Your Business".
- More cost-effective use of budget: Automation helps optimize marketing spend by targeting resources more effectively. For example, by using automation to segment your audience, you can create targeted ads shown only to people likely interested in your product.
10 Steps to Create Marketing Automation Strategies for Your Business
Step 1: Define Your Marketing Objectives
This should always be the first step. Knowing what you want to achieve helps guide all subsequent decisions.
Here is what you need to do:
- Identify Your Business Needs: Start by asking, “What does my business need the most right now?” This could be anything from increasing sales, getting more people to visit your website, gaining more followers on social media, or signing up for your newsletter.
- Set Specific and Realistic Goals: Instead of saying, “I want more website visitors,” say, “I want to increase website traffic by 30% in the next three months.” Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable.
- Use the SMART Criteria: SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For instance, a SMART goal could be: “Increase email newsletter sign-ups by 15% within the next 4 months.”
Just keep in mind that these goals are not fixed; they should evolve as your business grows and changes.
Step 2: Select Marketing Automation Tools
Now, we come to the most important part; this step is the cornerstone of the whole process.
According to Statista, HubSpot ranked first among marketing automation solutions worldwide, with a market share of approximately 32.3 percent as of early 2024.
Along with Hubspot, I will highlight the top features of 7 tools. Hopefully, you'll discover the one that feels just right for you:
Step 3: Conduct Audience Research and Segmentation
Now, let's get to know your audience! In this step, we'll explore how to gather insights into what your audience likes.
1. Data Integration and Collection: Integrate your marketing automation tool of choice with your website, social media, CRM, and other resources to collect comprehensive audience data. If you don't think the data you've collected is enough, this is for you: "14 Best Data Enrichment Tools of 2024"
Example: HubSpot allows integration with various platforms and gathers data on visitor behavior, lead capture, and customer interactions.
2. Behavioral Tracking: Track user interactions on your website or with your emails, like pages visited, content downloaded, and emails opened or clicked.
Example: Marketo tracks website visits and email interactions, helping you understand user interests and engagement levels.
3. Advanced Analytics: Marketing automation tools provide detailed analytics that help you understand various audience segments based on behavior, demographics, and engagement.
Example: Popupsmart offers an analytics page that allows you to see the answers to questions like where your visitors are coming from and which pages your users visit on.
4. Dynamic Segmentation: As new data comes in, these tools can dynamically update audience segments. This ensures your segments always reflect your audience's current behavior and preferences.
Example: Mailchimp has features that automatically update segments based on subscriber activity and preferences.
5. Tagging and Grouping: Easily tag and group your contacts based on specific actions, interests, or demographic details. This helps in creating highly targeted segments.
Example: ActiveCampaign allows users to tag contacts based on actions like website visits, email opens, or product interest, as shown in the image below, making segmentation more straightforward.
Step 4: Map the Customer Journey
Mapping the customer journey shows the path your customers take from the moment they learn about your business to the point where they make a purchase and beyond.
This step is crucial in a marketing automation strategy because it helps you understand and anticipate your customers' needs at each stage.
1. Define the stages of the customer journey:
- List the stages: Common stages include Awareness, Consideration, Decision, and Loyalty.
- Use the tool to identify behaviors: Look at the data you've collected to see customers' actions at each stage (e.g., signing up for a newsletter in the Awareness stage).
2. Map out touchpoints and channels:
- Identify touchpoints: Use your tool to find out where customers interact with your brand (e.g., social media, email, website).
- Analyze channel effectiveness: See which channels are most effective at different stages. For instance, social media might be great for awareness but less for decision-making.
Remember, mapping the customer journey is not a one-time task but a continuous process that evolves with your audience and market trends.
Step 5: Implement Lead Scoring
This could come slightly later in the process, as it often requires some integration with your chosen tools and an understanding of the customer journey.
Lead scoring is like grading your potential customers (leads). It’s a way to rank leads based on how likely they are to buy your product or service. High-score leads are more interested and closer to a purchase.
1. Set criteria for scoring: Identify what actions or qualities make a good lead, like visiting your pricing page or being in a specific industry. Assign points to these actions or qualities. More important actions get higher points.
2. Use your marketing automation tool: Set up these scoring rules in your chosen tool. The tool will automatically score leads based on your criteria.
Here is a lead-scoring example from Active Campaign:
3. Prioritize leads: Use scores to decide which leads to focus on. Higher scores get more attention.
4. Keep tweaking your system: Regularly check if high-score leads are turning into customers. Adjust your scoring rules as you learn more about what makes a good lead.
Step 6: Develop and Schedule Content
Once you have a clear map of the customer journey and the tools in place, you can start developing and scheduling content.
Utilize your marketing automation tool to schedule and analyze the performance of your content, ensuring it aligns with your overall marketing goals.
1. Align Content with Customer Journey Stages:
- Awareness stage: Focus on general informative content like blog posts, infographics, or educational videos to introduce your brand.
- Consideration stage: Create more detailed content like case studies, webinars, or e-books that showcase your expertise and solutions.
- Decision stage: Develop persuasive content such as product demos, testimonials, and comparison sheets that encourage leads to purchase.
- Post-purchase stage: Offer supportive content like user guides, FAQs, and loyalty program information to nurture customer relationships.
2. Create a Content Calendar:
- Plan and organize: Lay out a timeline for each piece of content creation and publication.
- Sync with marketing automation tool: Utilize the scheduling features in your marketing automation tool to automate the publication of your content across various platforms.
Step 7: Set Up Automated Email Campaigns for Lead Nurturing
This step naturally follows content development, utilizing the material you’ve created in your automated campaigns.
How to set up automated email campaigns for lead nurturing:
1. Define the purpose of each drip campaign:
- Welcome series: Introduce new subscribers to your brand.
- Educational series: Provide valuable information about your products/services.
- Promotional series: Share special offers or product updates.
- Re-engagement series: Reactivate leads who have gone cold.
2. Segment your email lists: Use the lead scoring and segmentation data to create targeted email lists—for example, separate lists for new leads, engaged prospects, and existing customers.
3. Craft personalized email content: Tailor the content of each email to the specific needs and interests of each segment. Use the content you’ve developed, ensuring it aligns with the customer journey stage.
4. Automate email triggers: Set up triggers in your marketing automation tool to send emails based on specific actions or behaviors. For instance, send a welcome email when someone signs up for your newsletter or a follow-up email after a product demo.
Let's take a look at Mailerlite's trigger example to prevent cart abandonment:
5. Schedule email sequences: Plan the sequence and timing of emails. Decide how many days should pass between each email in a series to avoid overwhelming your leads.
6. Test and optimize: Perform A/B testing on subject lines and email content, and send times to see what works best. Use analytics from your marketing automation tool to track open rates, click-through rates, and conversions and adjust your campaigns accordingly.
Step 8: Launch Multi-Channel Campaigns
Now that your email campaigns are up and running, it's time to amplify your marketing efforts across multiple channels.
This step is about making sure your message reaches your audience wherever they are in a coordinated and consistent way.
How to execute multi-channel campaigns:
1. Choose the right spots: Opt for social media, search engines, or in-person locations where your audience hangs out.
2. Consistent messaging: Ensure your message remains the same across platforms like Instagram, emails, or any other advertising space.
3. Tailor your content: Adjust your content to match each platform's style. Understand each platform to meet audience expectations.
4. Timing is important: Share content when it's most likely to be seen on each platform and avoid overwhelming your audience.
5. Monitor and adjust: Track your campaign's success using tools. Be ready to tweak based on performance.
Step 9: Analyze and Optimize
After setting up your marketing automation strategy across various channels, the next crucial step is to analyze and optimize.
This involves regularly checking how your campaigns are performing and making improvements based on the insights you gain.
1. Look at the results: You need to keep an eye on how your marketing is scoring with your audience. Are they clicking? Are they buying? Use the tools to see what's happening.
2. Make improvements: If something isn't working as well as you hoped, change it up. Try different words in your ads, post at different times, or switch up the pictures you're using.
Step 10: Retarget and Re-Engage
Implementing retargeting strategies can come after you've run initial campaigns and gathered data on customer interactions.
1. Catch their attention again: You realise that some people have looked at your products or services but have not yet purchased them.
It's like they've walked into your shop, looked around, but walked out without buying anything. Now, you want to gently remind them about what they saw.
2. Bring them back: Use the info you have from your previous marketing to show them ads or email them about the things they liked or added to their cart.
It's like saying, "Hey, remember that thing you liked? It's still here" You can benefit from the "Top 12 Customer Win-Back Strategies to Reach Success" blog post to return your customers.
And here is a journey through the world of marketing automation strategies in 10 simple steps.
You will now be able to transform the way you handle marketing in your business and create smarter, more efficient campaigns.
Just keep in mind that the world of marketing is constantly evolving. So while these steps give you a solid foundation, the key to success is to stay adaptable.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Difference Between CRM and Marketing Automation Tools?
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools are like a digital address book that helps sales teams track customer interactions.
On the other hand, marketing automation tools automating marketing tasks such as sending emails and managing social media posts.
In short, CRM manages customer info, and marketing automation streamlines marketing tasks, each playing a unique role in business.
2. Is Google Analytics a Marketing Automation Tool?
No, Google Analytics is not a marketing automation tool.
Google Analytics is a website analytics tool that helps you understand who visits your website and what they do there. It tells you things like how many people visit your site, which pages they look at, and how they found your website.
Marketing automation tools, on the other hand, are like automatic helpers for your marketing tasks. They can send emails for you, post on social media, and more, all by themselves, once you set them up.
3. What are the Best Practices for Setting Up Marketing Automation for Small Businesses?
Setting up marketing automation can be a big step forward for your small business. Here's how you can get started with some easy and practical steps:
- Pick a simple marketing automation tool that fits your budget.
- Clearly state what you want to achieve, like getting more email sign-ups or selling more of a certain product.
- Know who they are and what they like, so you can talk to them in a way they'll like.
- Automate simple emails first, like welcome or thank-you emails to new subscribers after a purchase.
- Use your customer's name and talk about things they're interested in.
- Try out different emails and see which ones get the best response.
- Regularly check how your automated emails are doing and make changes if needed.
In short, start simple, know your customers, and keep tweaking your approach based on what's working.