The Three Easiest Ways To Get Started With Marketing Automation

6 min

You already know you should be automating your marketing. In fact, you probably feel guilty just thinking about it. Why?

Because you’ve heard the numbers. According to aggregate data, “80% of marketing automation users” see their number of leads increase (Venturebeat Insights), “high performers have an average of 60% higher lead-to-sale conversion rating” (PR 20/20), and overall, automation leads to a “3.1% higher annualized revenue growth rate” (Aberdeen Group).

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So if marketing automation is so powerful, why aren’t you using it? Three reasons:

First, successful marketing automation requires a cultural shift within large organizations – each and every department must buy into this concept and work as an integrated unit.

Second, smaller businesses with minimum resources and manpower cannot always afford expensive marketing automation programs (MAPs).

Third, because getting started with marketing automation is overwhelming.

To overcome all three struggles, here are the three easiest ways to get started with marketing automation:

1) new subscribers

2) lead nurturing

3) cart abandonment

1) New subscribers

The most basic of all automated campaigns, new subscriber emails are a must for every business. This is your “Hello” sequence and — like all first impressions — it better be remarkable.

We’ve all received boring, formulaic “Welcome” emails where it’s obvious that nothing’s been changed but the recipient’s name.

For a truly memorable first impression, you should make your subscribers feel all warm and gooey inside with unexpected subject lines, a conversational copy, and plenty of heart.

Take The Hustle’s welcome email as an uber engaging example complete with (1) an attention-grabbing, tongue-in-cheek subject line and (2) references within the email to “our office manager” golf clapping, “our operations guy” doing a pushup, and “Kera, our director of content,” taking a shot of tequila:


Beyond that very first email, however, how do you automate an entire new subscriber sequence? The following visual depicts a template you can easily adapt:


Notice three things:

First, the full sequence your new subscriber receives hinges on whether or not your initial Welcome Email was (1) opened and (2) clicked.

Second, if your Welcome Email wasn’t opened, then your new subscriber should get a custom Reminder email playfully and briefly calling them back. If that email is also ignored, then don’t be afraid to tag them as inactive. Inactive subscribers should not be bombarded with additional emails. Instead, they should be assigned to a reactivation sequence.

Third, by tracking not only open rates but clicks — “specific link clicked” — you can further segment your subscribers and assign them to campaigns like “7_day_updates” or “14_day_updates.” Why? Because not all subscribers are created equal and you should strike a balance between needlessly flooding users and striking while the iron is hot.

2) Lead nurturing

One of the most damaging things you can do to your business is not follow-up with new leads humanely. “Don’t just treat people as hot and cold leads, email addresses that need to be scored and tagged,” writes Karolina Kurcwald.

According to the Lead Nurturing Benchmarking Study by Demand Gen Report, improved customer responsiveness is the primary benefit of lead nurturing campaigns. 32% of respondents indicated that their nurtured campaigns performed better than their non-nurtured counterparts, while 27% of them see a 20% increase in sales opportunities.

That means separate leads from mere subscribers and serving them up custom sequences once they’ve shown interest.

So what does an effective email lead nurturing campaign look like?

Here’s a quick overview:


Lead nurturing starts with your subscriber clicking a specific link in what the flowchart calls “SaaS_general_mailing.” But don’t let the title fool you. Whether or not you’re in ecommerce, a traditional service business, or really do sell a SaaS, all that means is someone clicked a link in one of your general email newsletters.

That click is vital because your future communication must be based on whether these leads interact with your email. After all, that’s the point of responsive automation. If yes, then the subscriber is automatically tagged as a genuine “lead” and the engagement (i.e., nurturing) campaign begins.

But don’t jump the gun just yet. That doesn’t mean you should immediately send your new lead a hard sell email. Instead, craft a halfway-house email between becoming a lead and your enticing offer, like a discount.

This halfway-house email — “SaaS_engagement_mailing” above — can be a host of content types: a webinar invitation, a white-paper on how to solve one of your market’s most pressing pains, a checklist that does the same thing, or even an interactive survey to gather more information. Whatever it is, the goal is simply to keep them engaged and continue building trust. After that, comes the offer: “SaaS_exclusive discount.”

At each stage in the sequence, the next step is triggered by an action your lead themselves take. This way you again walk the line between turning off leads who aren’t ready to commit and bringing in the ones that are.

Above all, stand out in a crowded inbox with personalized and progressive campaigns.

3) Cart abandonment

So what do you do if one of your leads makes it all the way to a shopping cart or check out process… and then stops?

According to Business Insider, “approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise will be abandoned in online shopping carts this year, and about 63% of that is potentially recoverable by savvy online retailers.” Much can be done on-page to reduce shopping cart abandonment including eliminating fear, hidden shipping costs, complex checkout processes, mandatory sign-ins, and slow website speeds.

However, cart abandonment happens… which is why “abandoned cart emails” present a golden opportunity for businesses to reconnect with and reignite their prospects.

Use an automated workflow like this one to rescue lost sales:


The first step — “Abandoned cart via JS code” — can sound intimidating, but with GetResponse you can either use the API integration, which works with all major ecommerce platforms, or simply copy and paste the JavaScript code into your website itself.

Once a prospective customer “adds to cart,” you can set a predetermined time period after which your sequence begins. Two things to keep in mind for a sale-rescuing automation sequence.

First, be specific. Your abandoned cart emails should have one goal and one goal alone: to remind the user exactly what they left behind and entice them back. This is no time to be up-selling, cross-selling, or offering some free resource in the hopes that they’ll find it valuable and return. No. All your abandoned cart emails should contain is the exact product or products they left behind.

Second, be seductive. Often, the only reason someone leaves items unpurchased is because they ran out of time or got distracted. In that case, a reminder is all they need. Other times, there was something missing from the initial offer or they decided to “shop around” before signing on the dotted line. That’s where seduction comes in. Free shipping, exclusive discounts, and bonus upgrades all provide further incentive to come back.

These two goals are reflected in the two emails from the flowchart:

1) be specific with your “You forgot something!” email and — if that doesn’t work

2) be seductive in “Just for you!”

Getting started with automation

Unless you plan on having less than ten customers forever, automated marketing is the only prudent, practical, and profitable way to customize and connect with your prospects. Testing and retesting is key to reaping all the benefits listed above.

Marketing automation can sound intimidating but it’s not… as long as you get started with one or more of the three easier automation sequences:

1) new subscribers

2) lead nurturing

3) cart abandonment

And remember the words of Dave Sutton, the President and CEO of TopRight: “Successful transformational marketing begins with a deep understanding — backed by some real scientific rigor and creative magic — of your market and your customers.”

Back to you

What do you think? Please share your thoughts and opinion in the comment section below.

Aaron Orendorff
Aaron Orendorff
Aaron Orendorff is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Business Insider, Content Marketing Institute, Copyblogger & more. Grab his Ultimate Content Creation Checklist at Follow him on Twitter @iconiContent.