The Most Important Marketing Automation Highlights of 2016


This year brought many changes to marketing automation. More companies are using marketing automation, and those numbers are growing. According to Apteco’s Trend Report 2014/2015 Data Driven Marketing, only 33% of respondents are currently using marketing automation. Fully half want to aspire to use marketing automation in their businesses.

And many companies find that marketing automation costs are worthwhile. A full 79% of marketers say that they are satisfied with the expense of marketing automation.

To that 21% who think automation is too expensive, or aren’t sure, there’s a new kid on the block that might interest you. Have you met GetResponse?

via GIPHY (footage copyright CBS Television)


GetResponse entered the marketing automation marketplace earlier this year. It’s user-friendly, and has an intuitive drag & drop workflow builder based on if/then conditions. And it priced for small and medium-sized businesses. We’re admittedly biased… but this was the highlight of our year. In the process, we’ve learned a lot about marketing automation.

What have we learned about marketing automation this year?


1. It helps us save time, and makes us more efficient.

By implementing marketing automation, you will, eventually, save yourself time. Time that you would otherwise spend on all the more mundane parts of your business. There is a large time investment at the beginning of a marketing automation implementation. No two ways about that. You’ll have workflows to map (on paper first), emails to write. Then there’s software to choose, more content creation (landing pages and lead magnets). And, of course email addresses to collect. But, again, that’s at the beginning. Once that’s done, your time is more available to spend on building relationships with your subscribers. Reno van Boven says, “Because of utilizing marketing automation, I’ve been able to increase my results, generate more profit, and reduce my workload at the same time.”

Choosing the right software for your business (may we suggest GetResponse…?) is critical for marketing automation success. If you spend your money on something too powerful or too simplistic, and you’ve wasted your money because the software doesn’t fit your needs. And not only will you have wasted your money, but also your time. Not to mention a good amount of emotional energy because you get frustrated when the software doesn’t do what you want it to do.

But software won’t do the job for you. One of the techniques of marketing automation, lead scoring, can help you do your job better, by knowing when a lead is both interested and appropriate for contact with sales. Let’s face it, reaching out to a contact who’s not interested, or isn’t appropriate to make a sale is a waste of time – for you, your sales department, and for the contact.

Let me tell you a story. When I was in the final stages of my MBA program, I was downloading a lot of white papers, many of them from marketing automation companies. In the sign up form, I always said I was a student. Despite this, I somehow became a marketing qualified lead and got emails from the sales reps at some of these companies. And they’d keep contacting me, even when I politely said I was a student doing thesis research. What about student and research did you not understand? I stopped downloading information from those companies’ websites and hit “unsubscribe” to a lot of mailing lists. I was a bad fit, knew it, and couldn’t understand why they didn’t know it also – or respect it when I told them so. What a waste of everyone’s time!

Dave Chaffey calls this “lead grading based on profile fit.” He says,

A separate letter-based grading is also commonly applied…Level A would indicate a great fit. Level E would be a student who is using our free resources to support their studies, but doesn’t have the budget for a paid subscription. Combining the lead scores and grades together can help prioritize sales calls.”


2. It provides us with data.

Marketing automation will give you data. Loads and loads of data. Every bit of it is helpful, if you know what to do with it. But there’s so much data in the digital age. “It can be overwhelmingly difficult to manage and prioritize,” says Dave Sutton. But when you get the firehose of data under control so that you can act upon it, the sky’s the limit.

Data is the lifeblood of your marketing automation program. With data, you can learn so much about your customers. That data helps you to personalize your communications with leads.


3. It makes real personalization possible.

Why is personalization so important? Well, among other reasons, it keeps the human element in your marketing automation. No one ever wants to think a robot is talking to them (even when a bot really is talking to them in messaging apps), especially in email. Your subscribers don’t expect to communicate with a live human with email marketing, but they do expect that a human wrote the email they received. The personal touch, from copywriting to strategy, is vital to marketing automation success.

Kath Pay says,


Marketing automation highlights: Moving your email program from labor-intensive broadcast messaging to personalized, data-driven automated programs doesn’t mean sacrificing creativity and human appeal. They work together to create meaningful messages that let your customers know you recognize and value them, one human being to another.


4. It shows us our consumers’ behavior.

When creating your marketing automation campaign, remember how consumer behavior drives everything. There are “secrets” that you need to keep in mind, especially if you’re working in a B2B company. There are two that you especially need to remember:

Jamie Turner says,

“People around the globe often discuss how B2B marketing is different from B2C marketing. The truth is that B2B marketing is different from B2C marketing – but that doesn’t take into account that a consumer is a consumer whether they’re at the office or at home.”

Turner also reminds us that,


Marketing Automation Highlights of 2016: People buy for emotional reasons then rationalize their purchase with logic. No matter how much wee would like to believe that humans are rational beings, the truth is that we make most purchase decisions for emotional reasons rather than rational reasons.


So look to your data to discern what problem a given lead is trying to solve. What content is she consuming, what pages on your website does she visit? How can you use this data to get her the best communications that will solve her problem (so she will buy from you)? And ultimately, what will solving her problem make her feel?


5. It helps increase our profits.

Many of our experts have said that a failure to implement marketing automation is like leaving money on the table. Which is ridiculous! When a shopper abandons his cart on your website, that’s a lost opportunity. Marketing automation can help you get that opportunity back.

As our own Michał Leszczynski tells us, no one likes the unpleasant surprise of unexpected costs. It’s the number one reason people abandon their cards, especially in the eCommerce space. So, how can automation help you keep that customer from abandoning her cart, or coming back to it later? Offer an incentive!

Leszczynski says,

“How about offering free shipping only to users that sign up to your mailing list and spend more than $50 in your online store? Or provide an additional $10 credit if they add one more item to the cart or make another order in the future? In other words — offer a benefit that will increase the average order value and customer lifetime value.”

Another trick to get customers to come back is by creating an autoresponder series reminding them about items they’ve left in their shopping carts. These customers must already be on your master email list for this technique to work. But if they are, this is a relevant and timely method to get that customer back to buy from you.


6. It helps us retain customers.

Another key piece to keep in mind is that you can make more profit from your existing customer base than you can from new customers. Why? Because it costs 25x more to acquire a new customer than to keep a new one. Focus your efforts on customer retention through marketing automation as well. Increasing customer retention, even by a small amount, can have a remarkable impact on overall profit.

Michael Brenner says,


marketing automation highlights of 2016: Each new customer decision provides your marketing team with the opportunity to re-sell, cross-sell and up-sell to them. Loyal customers can provide multiple times the revenue over the life of their relationship as their first purchase provided to your business.


Marketing automation can deliver real customer loyalty that comes from an end-to-end customer experience. It uses customer data (past purchase or download histories, for example, or pages visited on your website), content information, and customer nurturing to create this valuable loyalty.


7. It shows us that content is still king.

You’ve got this shiny new automation platform, so now what do you do with it? Send emails, build your email list. For that you need content.

And not just any content. You’ll need at least one specific piece of content, called a lead magnet (among other things). Why are lead magnets important?

Barry Feldman explains,

“Offering lead magnets is a vital part of the formula that builds your email list and, in turn, gives you a chance to subsequently make effective use of marketing automation.”

Your lead magnet must be great content tailored to your audience. Erik Qualman says, “Understanding who your audience is and the content they want to receive is key to providing them with valuable content.” But anyone who works in content marketing knows that it’s no easy job to create lots and lots of valuable content. So, repurposing your valuable content is fine… so long as it’s relevant for your audience.

Qualman continues,


marketing automation highlights: “Along with providing great content comes understanding how the content should be designed and shared. When it comes to marketing automation it is necessary to take the approach of designing content strategies versus simply writing or creating content.”


Designing a content strategy is part knowing who your audience is. Equally important is knowing who your audience is not. If you’re able to identify a lead who doesn’t fit your business model, you’ll save yourself valuable time and resources.

Ann Handley explains,


marketing automation highlights: “You don’t want to attract all of the people. Instead, you want to attract the right people. Why? Because it’s a waste of time and resources to nurture relationships with people who are a bad fit for your business.”


A good content strategy, which includes all aspects of copywriting (from tone of voice to the actual copy on a website), will help your customers understand if they fit with your business. There will be clues – like profanity in blog posts, which can be a subtle turn-off; or prices too high for your liking, a not-so-subtle turn-off – that will let a potential customer know if they’re a good fit for your business.


8. Measurement and optimization are a constant necessity.

Good marketing automation is never a one-and-done thing. As marketing processes go, it’s close to living and breathing. If you’re going to make it the best it can be, you’re going to want to be testing and optimizing, constantly. Build an ongoing testing program so it can run in the background of your everyday work.

Kath Pay describes this.

If you set up an ongoing testing program, it runs in the background of your work, and you build the habit of testing. Doing so is a worthwhile investment, because in addition to learning which version works best, you’ll also learn what makes your customers tick. This becomes a set of building blocks to help you implement new changes with incremental increases in ROI.

The biggest benefit of this constant testing is that you learn what your customers need, want, and respond to. This lets you adjust your copy, images, offers – or anything – accordingly. Remember to test and measure based on your specific goal. You’ll learn plenty!


End-of-year thoughts

It has been an intense year, full of learning, experimentation, measurement, and implementation. And that’s just here, behind the scenes at GetResponse! For those people who’ve embraced marketing automation for the first time, it must be even more so. You’re likely in the uphill climb of the learning curve. But, rest assured, it will all be worth it in the end.

We’d love to hear what your biggest marketing automation learnings have been this year. What would you like to learn more about in 2017?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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