Ever experienced a day where you worked non-stop, then got to the end still having 15 emails to send, a blog to write, and 3 meetings to schedule (or something to that effect)? You know how exhausting that is, and how days like that are not sustainable.
Workloads like this remind me of the old-school video game, Snake. Bear with me on this one. Think of the snake as your task list. When you start out, you feel in control, the snake is short and there are no obstacles, so your goal is easily achieved. Take it up a few levels though. Your snake is 5x its original size, you are having to press the buttons faster and faster, your brain is in overdrive to keep up with the twists and turns until finally you slip, you run into your tail, and the defeat sinks in. That, my friends, is how manually executing every single marketing task can feel, and it is not okay.
So how do we make it a little easier to not run into our tails? Answer: marketing automation.
What is marketing automation?
If you’re a marketer, I will say that it is not a way to automate your entire job, which is a good thing, but it does allow you to streamline processes and become more effective in a way that is still customizable and personal. As marketers, we strive to continually optimize the way we maximize revenue for our clients, and this is where marketing automation can really step in to help with the conversion and closure of new business.
On average 51% of companies are currently using Marketing automation. With more than half of B2B companies (58%) planning to adopt the technology. – Emailmonday “The Ultimate Marketing Automation stats”. (2017)
Using Marketing Automation
Here you are, about to create your first automated email marketing campaign. Admittedly, starting from a blank canvas can be a little overwhelming, but it’s also one of the most exciting parts of the process. Think of the alternative; is it any more fun to manually send out every set of demand gen and nurture emails with a long Excel list of leads? I didn’t think so. So, let’s dive in:
Start with a goal: Identify your end goal before you start building a strategy. This is where an end-to-end mindset comes in handy, because you will need to think through from your first touch point to your last and align these touches to accomplish the goals you set in place.
Wireframe your process: Use a tool like Visio or PowerPoint to map what the elements of your automated email workflow will look like will allow you organize your thoughts to then share with your team. I have noticed that talking out a workflow really helps eliminate any holes in the process and can produce some great ideas.
Build simply: The direct route is the best route, which is something to keep in mind when you start bringing your automated workflow to life. Using your wireframe as a reference, start building your campaign and don’t feel the need to overcomplicate any more than the situation calls for. Here is an example of a simple nurture campaign:
- Send an email to a targeted set of contacts to download your new whitepaper. By targeted, ensure that your audience’s interests and needs align with the content.
- Set up a thank you email that is triggered once a contact fills out the form to acquire the whitepaper. This email can contain a brief message, the download itself, and a secondary contact CTA.
- Set up a wait time of 3-5 days before sending an additional piece of content that complements the whitepaper they already downloaded.
- Based on action or lead scoring, once a contact downloads the next piece of content, an alert can be triggered to notify you and your sales team that a lead is ready to be contacted.
Think like a customer: While building out your workflows, remember to put yourself in the shoes of your prospect by visualizing the customer journey. Does your workflow tell a story? Is your content relevant to their business needs or pain points? Will it make the prospect feel like the they are being communicated with in a personal way, rather than receiving the same message that was sent to thousands of other contacts? Having a personalized mindset when creating and sending out content will allow you to build an experience that will win customer trust and successfully nurture your prospect through their buyer’s journey. Speaking of customers, using marketing automation to maintain existing relationships is a life-saver as well, but that is for another post.
Mapping the customer experience (53%) and use of personalized/dynamic content (51%) are deemed the most effective tactics for optimizing marketing automation. – Ascend2 “Optimizing Marketing Automation survey” (June 2018)
Marketing automation is all about those little, relevant touch points along way that lead to a conversion, not to send out hard-sell, broad messages that try to speak to everyone and end up resonating with no one. If you are at a point where you feel a little overwhelmed, the advice that I would give to you is to explore the world of marketing automation. Dedicate some time to research so you can find the platform that provides the level of flexibility that you need to help achieve your marketing goals. Also remember, many marketing automation platforms have support options and online documentation, so you don’t have to feel alone when you are trying to set up your instance.
One last thought I’ll leave you with comes from a Dove® chocolate wrapper that my colleague gave me, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”