Marketing Automation is the future of marketing

Marketing automation is the future of marketing and the future is now. It allows organizations to efficiently and effectively automate repetitive tasks, freeing up time that can be used to reach additional clients and customers.

In just five years, there are now 11 times more B2B organizations using marketing automation1. Yet, when it comes to marketing automation, 85% of them are not reaching their full potential2. Part of the difficulty is keeping up with the hyper pace of change. In fact, 22% of marketers state they are not confident they can stay up to date with the best marketing automation practices3.

This means that to stay ahead of the competition, you must know and implement the latest and greatest practices that make sense for your business. As such, this e-book is designed to take you beyond the basics of marketing automation. In my first e-book, “The 3 Musts of Marketing Automation”, we provided baseline tips to help you and your business grasp the main concepts of marketing automation. In this second e-book we are breaking down the layers and providing three advanced tips that will help your business go to the next level of marketing automation. These advanced tips include: 1) keeping the customer top of mind, 2) creating a plan, and 3) tracking your customers for success.

How does this benefit my customer?

1. Don’t forget the customer

Experts agree that the number one asset to think about when creating a marketing automation campaign is the customer. Don’t simply automate for automation’s sake or create campaigns that scream self-promotion. Instead, create personal messages that will impact your click-through rates and open rates, and help develop relationships.

Matt Quinn, Head of Marketing at Sauce, a SaaS product for e-commerce, believes the best practice for successful marketing campaigns is to start with your customer in mind and work backwards. This type of outward, rather than inward, thinking has allowed his company to generate personal messages that help improve their open and click-through rates4.

Travis Bennett, Founder and Managing Director of website design agency Studio Digita, kept his focus solely on the customer to avoid campaigns that seemed “self-promotional.” By asking, “how does this benefit my customer?” the company achieved their goal of avoiding self-promotion and building customer relationships in the process5.

In the previous e-book, I encouraged you to “Be Human” and “Provide Killer Content” (Tips #2 and #3); you must provide valuable content to the customer while avoiding sounding like a robot. Advancing beyond this involves properly nurturing your leads and following up in a timely manner.

Lead nurturing is the process of developing your relationship with customers by making an effort in communication, listening to their needs, and giving them the answers they require. While this demands time and effort, it is vital for best-practice marketing automation and for developing and deepening relationships with customers and prospects. Here’s why:

  1. Businesses experience a 451% increase in qualified leads when they use marketing automation to nurture prospects.6
  2. Nurtured email leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales versus non-nurtured leads.7
  3. Nurtured leads spend approximately 47% more on their purchases.8
  4. 45% of companies (i.e. your competition) are taking advantage of lead nurturing capabilities.9

A common question is how should you lead nurture your emails to generate sales/interest and stay ahead of your competition, knowing they are also utilizing marketing automation.

One of the biggest keys to success is a follow-up email10. As a result of the quick response nature of tools like Twitter and outstanding online customer service being offered by companies like Zappos and Amazon, customers expect an unreasonably quick turnaround time for their pressing questions. Hence, when a customer or client reaches out to your organization, make certain you don’t hesitate to respond. This elementary idea is often overlooked when setting up marketing automation processes and models.

This holds true as well when a customer signs up for a subscription service or buys your product. Make certain you immediately thank them and gently remind them of the benefits your product or service offers. This reinforces their buying decision and helps avoid buyer’s remorse.

The communication shouldn’t end there. When the timing is appropriate a follow-up email should ask the customer why they subscribed or bought your product/service in the first place11. This relates back to focusing on “what does the customer want?” Based on the input and answers you receive from each individual customer, you can systematically segment your audience and build stronger, more personalized relationships based on their specific needs and desires. In the past, this type of personalized follow-up was manually prohibitive – now through advancements in marketing automation, it’s a reality – but only if you put in the time, effort, and systems to properly capitalize on it.

Bonus Tip:

Don’t stop your segmenting and customization with the first and second emails. Allow customers to set their own preferences12. For example, how many emails do they wish to receive? This conveys that you value your customer’s time and input – that you don’t want to send needless messages. It also allows you to further segment your audience. Specifically, divide your customers into those who want to know what’s going on at all times and those who only wish for one promotional email regarding your annual sale.

40% of IT projects fail because of poor planning

2. Create a plan

Success will not happen overnight, but by implementing small and clear goals, you can stay on track and manage expectations for your project or campaign13.

  • #1 cause of project failure – lack of direction and goals14.
  • 40% of IT projects fail because of poor planning15.

Start small. Starting with a small campaign gives you more time to plan and test what works. Is your body copy, timing, platform, etc. working? If not, how can you fix it? Small campaigns allow the opportunity to tweak, adjust, and improve before you begin to operate on a larger scale. Don’t hesitate to label it as a beta test both inside and out of your organization. Google regularly practices a beta test approach with the main benefit being that internal and external stakeholders are often more forgiving and willing to provide necessary feedback to improve the process. Many common day products including Gmail and Google Maps had the label of “beta” for years.

Ben Landers, President and CEO of Blue Corona, says the key to success in a marketing automation campaign is to “budget more time than you think for segmentation and content analysis.” This allowed his company the time to view every single content asset from the eyes of his target market, thus creating better relationships and turnover for his company16.

Begin planning your campaign by testing your subject line. What subject line will be most effective in achieving the best click view, click-through, and open rates? Discover what works with A/B testing17. A/B testing is a split test, where you test one subject against another. These tests provide helpful insights around what wording and visuals will work best for each specific segment of your audience. Continual testing and optimizing is essential for nurturing and converting prospects into customers.

To begin A/B testing, send out two different subject lines to your subscriber list. For example, one may read “Rad New Deal” and another may say “Check Out Our New Deals”. After gathering results, implement the subject line that best accomplishes your goal for the program. Below are some additional A/B testing tips18:

  • Test your body copy. Half of all sales are lost because content is poor.19
  • Test various visuals - even the specific location of your visuals.
  • Test video versus 2D images.
  • A/B test with two or more different customer segments.

Walter Wise, Business and marketing strategist, lead generation specialist, and executive coach at BPI Strategy Group, believes that the most important campaign is: “Get the message right. If the message isn’t compelling and does not resonate with your target market, it will not be opened, read, or understood. Using the conversion equation of Interrupt, Engage, Educate, and Offer will ensure you get off to a great start.” Wise creates compelling messages that resonate with his customers in order to increase customer understanding and conversion rates20.

The next step is to test your timing21. What time is best for your market group to receive an email? Is it 9am, when people open work emails, lunchtime shoppers trying to find a good deal, or is it night time, when people check email one last time before going to bed? What day of the week is best? Test your timing by sending out emails at random times throughout different days of the week and track how often they are opened. If you notice a correlation, meaning a majority of your customers prefer being emailed at 11am versus 3pm, send your emails then. Global Internet media company, Travelzoo, which has over 28 million members, has found that the optimal send time to email their Top 20 Travel Deal List is 11am on Wednesdays. Keep in mind that every business will get different results from their testing and there is no definitive one size fits all answer.

According to marketing research firm Ascend2, marketing automation professionals found the below (in order of usefulness) helpful in measuring their success22:

  • Conversion rate: 62%
  • Revenue generated: 48%
  • Leads generated: 43%
  • Engagement: 42%
  • Pipeline value: 31%
  • Cost per lead: 29%

Case Study:

Bob Grant struggled with declining open rates and sub-optimal delivery times. Since more than 70% of his sales come from email marketing campaigns, he turned to GetResponse to create a reliable email marketing platform and optimize deliverability. As a result, his emails got through at an ideal time, improving open rates by 35%. These improvements resulted in revenues and profits increasing 20%. In summary, test until you are confident you are sending messages at the optimal time23.

Tracking your customers is another key

3. TRACK CUSTOMERS

As in the offline world, building online relationships take time. Understanding your customer base while providing valuable content with a personal touch will foster the right environment to continue growing your client base and converting leads to sales. Tracking your customers is another key to establishing the building blocks for a productive and lasting relationship.

Tracking all relevant data and input you receive from the customer allows you to better understand and segment your customers. Segmenting customers allows you to create the best marketing mix for each of your targets and develop better relationships that will drive an increase in conversion rates24. Research shows that segmented emails result in 50% more click-throughs than an all-in email blast25. Industry and interests will often be the main characteristics in segmentation categories. However, other characteristics exist and should be considered including:26

  • Contest participation
  • Source of lead
  • Sales funnel drop off
  • Location

Based on your segments, you can create custom campaigns that will help you connect with each target audience on a more personal level rather than sending out a generic message to all subscribers and only connecting with a select few.

When it comes to segmenting, collect this relevant user information from the onset and during the lead generation stage. Don’t be afraid to gather data and insights from Facebook; one way to do this is by marketing with third party contest apps. When selecting your email management tool, make sure it meets the needs of your robust segmentation and marketing automation requirements.

Be certain to embrace SoLoMo, short for social, local and mobile. This ensures you are broadening your reach beyond email and will enable you to reach your customer when and where they want to be reached27. 65 million Americans use social, location-based services on smartphones (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram28). So why not take advantage and use location-based data to create localized messages that are mobile friendly to ensure maximum reach?

Bonus Tip:

Quality over quantity. It’s great to have a large number of subscribers, but it’s the total number of active subscribers that count. Work on whittling down your list to a refined group of people by sending out a “break up” email; if they don’t reply you can safely remove them from your list29.

In conclusion

As the adoption rate of marketing automation increases among your competitors, take your program beyond the basics. The three advanced concepts covered here should help you stay ahead of your competition and most importantly, meet and exceed the ever-growing demands of your prospects and customers. Remember that no matter how successful your marketing automation efforts are to date, there is always a next level to achieve. Here’s to you achieving that next level.

1 SiriusDecisions. "B-to-B Marketing Automation Study." SiriusDecisions. 2014. https://www.siriusdecisions.com/Blog/2014/Aug/Marketing-Automation-Study

2 SiriusDecisions. "Increasing Adoption of Marketing Automation Platforms." SiriusDecisions. 2014. https://www.siriusdecisions.com/Blog/2014/Aug/Marketing-Automation-Study

3 B2Bmarketing.net and Circle Research “Benchmarking Report Marketing automation” (2015)

4 Stringfellow, Angela. "35 SALES AND MARKETING PROFESSIONALS REVEAL THEIR TOP MARKETING AUTOMATION TIPS." Docurated. April 14, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://www.docurated.com/all-things-productivity/implementing-successful-marketing-automation-campaign

5 Stringfellow, Angela. "35 SALES AND MARKETING PROFESSIONALS REVEAL THEIR TOP MARKETING AUTOMATION TIPS." Docurated. April 14, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://www.docurated.com/all-things-productivity/implementing-successful-marketing-automation-campaign

6 ANNUITAS GROUP. ANNUITAS Inc. Accessed November 28, 2016. http://annuitas.com/

7 Bunskoek, Krista. “10 Steps to Email Automation Success.” Wishpond. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://blog.wishpond.com/post/72451721652/10-steps-to-email-automation-success

8 Frank Paterno, “8 Benefits of Integrating Your CRM with Marketing Automation, “ The kapost Blog, December 12, 2014, Accessed October 22, 2016 http://marketeer.kapost.com/integrating-crm-with-marketing-automation

9 Aberdeen Group “State of Marketing Automation 2014: Processes that Produce” (2014)

10 Bunskoek, Krista. “10 Steps to Email Automation Success.” Wishpond. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://blog.wishpond.com/post/72451721652/10-steps-to-email-automation-success

11 [ix] Olenski, Steve. "7 Email Marketing Automation Tips For Brand Marketers." Forbes. July 25, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2016/07/25/7-email-marketing-automation-tips-for-brand-marketers

12 Olenski, Steve. "7 Email Marketing Automation Tips For Brand Marketers." Forbes. July 25, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2016/07/25/7-email-marketing-automation-tips-for-brand-marketers

13 LBDGA. “Top 10 Tips for successful Marketing Automation.” LBDGA. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://www.lbdga.com/media/8066/19501-top-10-tips-infographic-a3-cmyk-aw-v2-04-10-13.pdf

14 Pink Elephant Conference 2012

15 Watts S Humphrey, IBM 2005

16 Stringfellow, Angela. "35 SALES AND MARKETING PROFESSIONALS REVEAL THEIR TOP MARKETING AUTOMATION TIPS." Docurated. April 14, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://www.docurated.com/all-things-productivity/implementing-successful-marketing-automation-campaign

17 Bunskoek, Krista. “10 Steps to Email Automation Success.” Wishpond. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://blog.wishpond.com/post/72451721652/10-steps-to-email-automation-success

18 Bunskoek, Krista. “10 Steps to Email Automation Success.” Wishpond. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://blog.wishpond.com/post/72451721652/10-steps-to-email-automation-success

19 KissMetrics 2011

20 Stringfellow, Angela. "35 SALES AND MARKETING PROFESSIONALS REVEAL THEIR TOP MARKETING AUTOMATION TIPS." Docurated. April 14, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://www.docurated.com/all-things-productivity/implementing-successful-marketing-automation-campaign

21 Olenski, Steve. "7 Email Marketing Automation Tips For Brand Marketers." Forbes. July 25, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2016/07/25/7-email-marketing-automation-tips-for-brand-marketers

22 Krista Wiltbank, “35 Killer Marketing Automation Statistics You Need to Know Now,” GetResponse Blog, June 24, 2016, accessed October 22, 2017 https://blog.getresponse.com/35-killer-marketing-automation-statistics.html

23 GetResponse. “Relationship Headquarters Improves Open Rates by 35% by switching to GetResponse.” GetResponse. Accessed October 21, 2016. https://www.getresponse.com/customers/case-study/bobgrant.html

24 Bunskoek, Krista. “10 Steps to Email Automation Success.” Wishpond. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://blog.wishpond.com/post/72451721652/10-steps-to-email-automation-success

25 Bunskoek, Krista. “10 Steps to Email Automation Success.” Wishpond. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://blog.wishpond.com/post/72451721652/10-steps-to-email-automation-success

26 Bunskoek, Krista. “10 Steps to Email Automation Success.” Wishpond. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://blog.wishpond.com/post/72451721652/10-steps-to-email-automation-success

27 LBDGA. “Top 10 Tips for successful Marketing Automation.” LBDGA. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://www.lbdga.com/media/8066/19501-top-10-tips-infographic-a3-cmyk-aw-v2-04-10-13.pdf

28 LBDGA. “Top 10 Tips for successful Marketing Automation.” LBDGA. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://www.lbdga.com/media/8066/19501-top-10-tips-infographic-a3-cmyk-aw-v2-04-10-13.pdf

29 Olenski, Steve. "7 Email Marketing Automation Tips For Brand Marketers." Forbes. July 25, 2016. Accessed October 16, 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2016/07/25/7-email-marketing-automation-tips-for-brand-marketers