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8 Marketing automation best practices for successful campaigns

13 min

Marketing automation is not a new concept by any means. Its benefits are also well known. Marketing automation saves you time, is scalable, boosts productivity, and so on. But here is the thing.

Unless you’ve set up your marketing automation campaigns correctly, these benefits won’t mean a thing. It’s very simple, really.

If the automation is not configured correctly, the triggered lead nurturing emails and drip campaigns won’t generate the results you’re hoping for. So you’ll be spending money on an automation system and getting nearly nothing in return. You don’t want that.

In this article, I’ll take you through eight marketing automation best practices that result in successful automation campaigns.

Why marketing automation is important

Marketing automation is an important tool for any business looking to up its marketing game.

First, creating a superb customer experience is a vital objective for your business, and marketing automation helps you achieve this. Automation tools allow you to foster interactions with leads and customers, guiding them through each stage of their buying journey as they learn more about your brand.

For instance, you can set up automated messages for customers who sign up for your newsletter or download a lead magnet. These messages can be deployed in a drip or sequence, starting with a warm welcome. They’ll build up on each other and nurture the lead until such a time when they’re ready to sign up for your product or get on call with your salespeople.

The data below from Business2Community reveals that using marketing automation for lead nurturing can result in a 451% increase in qualified leads.

Harvard Business Review also reports that marketing automation can reduce the sales cycle by 50%.

A marketing automation tool like Getresponse allows you to create prebuilt workflows that help you automate a series of marketing actions based on specific triggers like email sign-ups, link clicks, or visits to specific pages. This supports your marketing efforts by keeping leads or customers actively engaged with timely follow-up messages.

Here is a simple example of an automation workflow available in the GetResponse marketing automation software.

Email automation workflow from the the GetResponse email marketing automation tool

What makes using marketing automation tools even better is that these tools are trained to understand user behavior. This ensures that each lead receives the type of content or message relevant to their buying pattern or stage in the customer journey— an excellent way to improve the buying process.

Additionally, automation tools provide insights and analytics on marketing campaigns you run. For example, they can show the sections of your funnel where leads spend too much time or get lost. These insights help you make well-informed and data-driven decisions to improve your marketing strategy and generate more qualified leads.

8 Marketing automation best practices

With the basics of marketing automation out of the way, let’s now dive into the essential best practices. Here’s how to get the most out of your marketing automation systems:

1. Define clear goals and objectives

Before you get started with automating any marketing workflow, you must set well-defined goals and objectives. This is vital in ensuring your efforts are focused on achieving the desired outcomes.

Make sure to set realistic and measurable goals. Break larger goals down into smaller, achievable, and specific objectives. So instead of saying your goal is to “get more leads before the year ends,” you can be more specific with objectives like:

  • Secure an additional 100 leads monthly through targeted marketing campaigns by the year-end.
  • Boost lead acquisition in core market segments by 15% before the year concludes.
  • Increase lead acquisition by 20% in the next 5 months.

This is the typical SMART goal approach. It’s also easier to tell which aspects of your marketing activities you’ll need to automate and the metrics to track when you have clearly defined goals.

2. Understand your audience

Undestanding your audience is one of the fundamental marketing automation best practices. You must know who your target customers are, what they need, and what drives their behavior. These data points will fuel your marketing automation campaigns, helping you achieve your goals.

So, how do you gather the relevant information about your target audience?

Surveys and polls. Surveys let you ask your audience specific questions and gather valuable insights. You can ask about their preferences, pain points, and expectations, helping you tailor your marketing automation strategies accordingly.

Typical categories of survey questions you may ask include:

  • Demographic questions: What is your age? What is your gender? What is your occupation?
  • Shopping behavior: How often do you use X product? What factors influence your choice of X product? How likely are you to participate in sales or discount promos?
  • Preferences: What type of Y product do you use?

These are just a few questions you can tweak for a well-detailed survey.

Your customer database: Your customer database contains a wealth of information that can help you understand your customers better.

For instance, the database could help you see who your most active customers are and the specific traits they share. It can also show you their typical buying behavior. These insights can help you understand your ideal customer profile and their motivations. Not only will this inform your lead scoring and nurturing campaigns, but it’ll also show you what incentives move the needle with your audience.

Social listening tools: Tools like Hootsuite and Mention help you monitor social media conversations that may be relevant to the products or services you offer. This is a good source of topics and trends that interest your audience, as well as challenges your customers might be experiencing.

Competitor analysis: Examining your competitors can show you what the audience is interested in within your niche. This can also help you identify gaps in their strategies that you can fill with your marketing automation efforts.

Having gathered the relevant information about your audience, go ahead and exemplify your findings by creating buyer personas. The buyer persona is a detailed representation of your ideal customer. It goes beyond demographics and includes insights into their pain points, challenges, goals, and preferences. 

Here’s an example.

Example of a customer persona used to create hyper personalized campaigns

Developing buyer personas helps you gain a clearer picture of the people you are trying to reach— this allows for more personalized marketing automation campaigns.

3. Segment your audience

Audience segmentation helps you target specific groups of people with tailored messages and content. Typically, you’ll send specific messages to a group of users based on their shared attributes.

One way to improve audience segmentation is to have a well-curated lead sign-up form that collects relevant customer data. That’s what Trellix does with the form below.

Trellix lead capture form

The truth, however, is that it’s not always possible to collect enough information through the signup form. That’s why you’ll need the additional data collection methods discussed above.

When it comes to segmentation strategies, simplicity is often the best starting point. Begin with basic segments, such as demographics, and gradually refine them as you gather more insights.

Segments can be based on your prospect’s stage in the customer lifecycle, for example. So you may have “new leads,” “active customers,” “loyal repeat buyers,” and “lapsed customers”. You can also use lead sources to segment customers. For example, did the customer come from specific social media posts, an ad, or a referral?

Additionally, you can set up prospective customer segments based on the specific products they’re interested in. Or, based on behavioral data like how frequently they engage with your brand.

GetResponse makes it so easy to create these audience segments. For example, you can create a separate segment of disengaged customers, as shown below. You can then target this audience segment using a relevant automation workflow.

How to do customer segmentation in GetResponse

While segmentation is essential to your marketing automation efforts, it’s vital that you don’t overcomplicate it. Focus on segments that have a clear purpose and align with your marketing goals.

So before you create a new segment, ask yourself, “How does this contribute to my overall marketing objective?” If you don’t have a clear answer to this yet, it’s best to leave it alone.

4. Personalize your marketing messages and content

One of our recent studies discovered that personalized emails are more likely to observe higher conversions than generic ones.

How personalization affects email performance

Personalization allows you to tailor messages and content to the individual needs of each recipient. Even when automating your marketing processes, the goal is to make every customer, prospect, or lead feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

Personalization involves things like:

  • Ensuring that the message is delivered at the right point in a customer’s buying journey
  • Crafting the message in a way that appeals to them
  • Using words or references customers can relate with
  • Using content formats they’re more likely to enjoy

Of course, to effectively create personalized campaigns, you need to leverage data touchpoints (surveys, reviews, complaints, etc.), observe behavioral patterns, and every other detail we’ve mentioned so far.

You may also implement dynamic content within your emails and communications. Dynamic content allows you to automatically adjust the message based on specific criteria.

For instance, you can display different product recommendations for each recipient based on their past interactions.

Here’s an example of a dynamic email sent by Rareform based on the customer’s browsing history.

How Rareform uses dynamic email for their email marketing campaigns

Overall, personalization is a powerful tool in marketing automation that allows you to create a more engaging and relevant experience for each prospect.

5. Build a clear customer journey map

A customer journey map is a roadmap outlining a customer’s entire experience with your brand, from the initial awareness stage to post-purchase interactions.

A well-structured journey map helps you understand your customers’ behaviors and needs at each stage of their interaction with your brand. With this, you can automate marketing content to be delivered at the right time, boosting your inbound conversion process.

The first step to mapping out your customer journey for marketing automation involves identifying the key stages in your buyer’s journey. These are:

  • Awareness: The stage where customers first discover your brand or product.
  • Consideration: When customers actively research and weigh their options.
  • Purchase: The point at which customers make a buying decision.
  • Post-Purchase: After the purchase, focus on retaining and delighting customers.

Each stage represents an opportunity for automation.

Next, map the types of content that resonate with customers at each stage. For instance, early stages may require educational content, while later stages benefit from product-focused content.

Moving on, you’ll need to determine triggers that move prospective customers from one stage to another. For instance, signing up for a newsletter might trigger a move from Awareness to Consideration.

The setup below triggers a new email when a newsletter link is clicked, moving the customer to the next stage.

Automation workflow from the GetResponse marketing automation solution

With all these details covered, you can set up automated email sequences tailored to each stage. These sequences should provide value, answer questions, and encourage progression.

Your automated process shouldn’t be set in stone, though. Customer journeys can evolve. So, regularly review and update configured automation based on changing customer behavior.

6. Integrate your marketing automation tools with CRM

CRM software gives you a centralized data hub for existing customers and leads generated. You can easily leverage this customer data when automating processes that would otherwise need to be done manually.

Details like purchase history and previous complaints or inquiries can help you set up more specific and detailed configurations for your automated workflows.

Also, you can use CRM data to optimize your lead-scoring process. This ensures that automated marketing campaigns can be targeted towards qualified leads who are more likely to convert.

The good thing is that the best marketing automation systems integrate with major CRM tools seamlessly. For example, our marketing automation platform integrates with customer relationship management software like Salesforce, Hubspot, and Zendesk, to mention a few.

7. Optimize your marketing campaigns with A/B testing

A/B testing, or split testing, is one of the most effective ways to optimize your marketing campaigns. A/B testing lets you test different variations of your campaigns to see which one performs best.

Here’s an example of how A/B testing works:

Let’s say you’re running an e-commerce campaign and want to optimize the email content for better click-through rates. You decide to A/B test two versions of the email:

  • Version A has a straightforward CTA: “Shop Now for 20% Off!”
  • Version B uses a more personalized approach: “Hi [First Name], Exclusive 20% Discount Inside!”

After sending both versions to a random split of your email list, you discover that Version B significantly outperforms Version A in terms of click-through rates. This indicates that the personalized approach resonates better with your audience.

In a real-life scenario, A/B testing helped TruckersReport improve their conversions by 79.3%.

So, here are some key elements you may want to split test:

Messaging and subject lines: Test different messaging approaches to see which resonates most with your audience— this can involve variations in headlines, copy, tone, or messaging length.

Using A/B testing to create engaging content

You should also A/B test subject lines to improve email open rates. A compelling subject line can significantly boost user engagement.

Images and visuals: Experiment with different images or visuals to determine which ones capture attention and drive engagement.

Call to action: Test various CTAs to discover which ones prompt the desired action, whether it’s clicking on a link, signing up, or making a purchase.

To get more precise results, consider running the tests for long durations. A general rule is to test for seven days. If you don’t see enough data after that, you can run the test a little longer until you have enough data to make an informed decision.

8. Monitor and analyze your marketing campaigns

Monitoring and analyzing data is essential for a successful marketing automation strategy. Analyzing data allows you to identify trends, opportunities, and areas for improvement in a marketing campaign. You’ll also gain valuable data on how different marketing channels perform.

Marketing analysis can reveal loopholes or bottlenecks in your automation processes. For example, you discover that leads are getting stuck at a particular stage in the funnel, maybe due to an unclear CTA or an irrelevant content delivery. To fix this, you revise your call to action to make it clearer or review the content you share with the affected audience segment.

How many leads came in from your campaign? How many conversions did it attract? How many return purchases were recorded? How do the current numbers compare to before we automated our marketing tasks? These are some questions to ask when analyzing your automated campaign.

Analyzing key metrics like email open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates can help optimize your automated email campaigns.

Thankfully, tools like GetResponse come with powerful visuals that allow you to review your marketing data at a glance.

Dashboard of the GetResponse marketing automation platform

There are many key performance indicators to track, so deciding what to focus on may get overwhelming. It’s best to pay attention to metrics that directly apply to your set goals. That ensures your efforts are channeled in the right direction.


Marketing automation is a blessing to every marketer and business owner out there. And with the latest advancements in AI and machine learning, marketing automation is only going to get better.

That said, your automated campaigns will still need to tick the right boxes if you are to achieve your goals. From this article, you’ve learned eight of those boxes.

Set clear goals and objectives, segment your audience, understand your audience, personalize your content, and create a customer journey map.

It’s also a smart move to integrate your marketing automation tool with your CRM, optimize your automation with A/B testing, and continuously analyze your marketing campaigns.

It’s time to implement these marketing automation best practices and automate your marketing process like a pro. Good luck!

Zilahy Máté
Zilahy Máté
Máté is a Content Partnerships Manager at GetResponse, where he manages relationships with content partners and develops new content initiatives that drive engagement and lead generation. In his role, he works closely with the marketing team to identify opportunities for collaboration and ensure that the company's content offerings align with its marketing strategy.