Why is marketing automation so important?
Marketing automation is something I have been an advocate of for a long time and people often ask me why it is so important. Marketing automation is the future of marketing and it is already happening because everyone wants to create efficiencies within their marketing efforts. When you think about marketing automation, it allows you to do more with fewer resources. The trend in marketing and business, in general, is to create efficiency and you can improve your overall customer experience with automation. One statement I saw online that I liked was it streamlines your digital marketing efforts, which ultimately reduces human error and helps to achieve better results. Instead of performing these manual repetitive processes, you're able to focus more on strategic tasks, such as planning, design, goal development, conducting research, establishing your brand, and consistency.
What is marketing automation?
I like the definition that Salesforce gives: Marketing automation is a technology that manages marketing processes, and multifunctional campaigns across multiple channels automatically. Let's dive into that a little bit. I want to break up some of these words and get clear on what exactly is the depth of this definition for you. So technology nowadays, this is typically a web-based solution that used to be more of a canned packaged solution from a CRM automation standpoint, but it's web-based and it could come in many shapes, sizes, price ranges, and offerings from its doing a little bit, to do the whole gamut of things. Marketing processes consist of many things and have unique definitions based on the goals and the objectives of an organization, but at its core, marketing processes are a mix of managing your contacts and your leads, your content marketing, measuring, and analysis. The next statement in that definition was multifunctional campaigns and a variety of these activities can take place at once. So for example, at this very moment, the marketing automation system that we have going on, we have our guided profits campaign, our manufacturing white paper campaign, webinar attendees campaign, the campaigns for this specific podcast as well as another podcast that we have in house, we have our monthly newsletter, and many more. So we have eight different campaigns happening simultaneously that are being tracked independently, and automatic functions are happening. The last component is the multiple channels. So marketing automation allows you to manage emails, social media, video calls, and ultimately, you can keep track of any traditional direct mail activities as well.
The basics of marketing automation
I want to cover a few high-level basics of marketing automation that will help you master any sort of automation within your CRM tool.
Quality information is key
First and foremost, it all comes down to the quality of the information that you have going into the system, which will give you quality information out. You want to make sure that your leads and your contacts and all that information is really clean. So the basics of any system along these lines are collecting data and making sure that you're inputting quality data related to the name, the email, the company, phone number, mailing address, and whatnot. One of the things that the systems can do which is really powerful is going beyond just the type of activity that they're doing and providing you actionable insights so you can actually target your leads with more personalized information. For example, if you see a certain individual is engaging heavily with a certain type of content that you're sharing, then you can have targeted content that is going to continue to engage them as opposed to keeping them on a general list and sharing general information to them.
Creating lists and segmenting your contacts
Another component that's important, and I see a lot of businesses not necessarily implementing this practice is creating different lists and segmenting your contacts. There are two different types of lists: manual lists and dynamic lists and what you want to do is make sure that you're grouping your contacts based on your interest or demographics, maybe how long we've been engaged with you. At the end of the day, this is an opportunity for you to continue to push the right types of information to the right audience. Manual lists are pretty straightforward as if I want to create a list with just my contacts from Wisconsin, I can add them to their own list while excluding contacts who are not from Wisconsin. A good practice that I recommend is creating manual lists of contacts who are your clients and then one with contacts who are not your clients so you can easily start messaging your established people versus those that have not. Dynamic lists, on the other hand, are one of the great features of marketing automation. You can automate that segmenting of your list based on several things such as how they're engaging with you on the website if they've been involved in a live chat with you on your site or automated chat, how they're engaging with the email that you're sending out if they filled out forms. There are many different ways that you can create automatic rules and start segmenting your contacts based on how they're acting at the end of the day.
Keep your lists clean
For the longest time, I think people were focused on creating as large of a list as possible. Although I am an advocate of creating a big list, what's more important than the size of your list is the quality. If you don't clean your list regularly, just like anything else in life, you notice, there's going to be some toxic things that start happening. You want to make sure that you're scrubbing your list and that will help you to reduce your marketing costs because some platforms charge you based on the size of your list. It will also help you reduce the spam complaints that you have because you know that these individuals that you're sending to want to hear from you and it's actually going to help you increase your open and click-through rates.
How to scrub your lists
First off, you want to check for either a hard bounce or a soft bounce. So basically, you sent an email and it came back saying this email doesn't exist. So there's a difference between the hard guns and the soft bounces are the hard bounces saying an email does not exist at all and it was a true invalid email address. The soft bounces are saying that maybe their inbox was full, or they put an out of office on there, or there was just a server glitch. So that means that this email was working previously, but it no longer is. I would start by first looking at your hard bounces, and just confirming that they're spelled correctly, and if they're legitimately no longer working, then just remove them from the list altogether. Another way to clean up your list is to send a re-engagement email. What you're doing with that is reaching out and asking if the contact is interested in continuing to hear from you and if they are please acknowledge by clicking or replying to something along those lines. But if no one's acknowledging at that point, then just remove them from the list or segment them into a different low response type of list as well. You want to review your most active lists first when you're cleaning up those lists and check for any duplicates. Also remove any role-related emails such as emails that begin with info, account, or support. Really focus on getting to a specific person that you're sending to and make sure to double-check for any typos. Another thing that you could consider is using a third-party service for mail cleaning. There are a number of them that are available and if you just go to Google and type in email scrubbing service, you're going to find a lot of options that are available to you. But again, the quality of your email is going to be extremely important to the long-term results that you have at the end of the day.
The future of marketing automation: Artificial intelligence
There is a lot of conversation around how AI is going to integrate with marketing automation tying into not only your CRM or automation tool but also going a little bit deeper into some of that conversation like a chatbot, for example. AI is going to tie in and you're going to learn about how to respond and how to anticipate how customers are going to react to the message by utilizing predictive analytics which at the end of the day will help improve customer satisfaction.
The future of marketing automation
Marketing automation will always continue to evolve and is here to stay for the long haul. There are powerful technologies like machine learning big data-enabled predictive analytics, and it's going to help marketers become more efficient in their job. At the end of the day, however, I really want to emphasize that human relationships are still at the heart of all marketing activities and no automation will ever bridge the gap between you and your clients. Marketing automation is here to help us create efficiencies to help us through that process!