Marketing Automation – 4 steps to starting your first campaign

So you have acquired a marketing automation solution. Congratulations, you are on the road to more effective marketing. Now the key word to think about here is “automation”. Many companies new to marketing automation fail to realise the main benefits of automating workflows. But where do you start?

1. Identify what process you should automate

Automate already existing processes

Start small! Pick the “ripest fruit”. We know from experience that we get our best campaign performance when we act at the time a target is showing interest – e.g. filling in a form, visiting our website, interacting with telemarketing etc.

Conduct an audit of forms on your site

Conduct an audit of where you think you might get some automation quick wins. Assess your web assets. What sign-up forms exist there that you could leverage for an automated marketing campaign? Many businesses almost grudgingly put in place auto response mechanisms such as: “Thanks for your submission.” But this is a lost opportunity for marketing and engaging with your new customer or lead.

2. Keep it relevant

Only send information that will add value to your audience

Some of our clients’ express concern at the notion of automating sequences of email sends. “We don’t want to spam people.” This is a valid point and we don’t want you spamming either. So, it is vital that you deploy every means possible to automate content that is likely to be relevant.

Research your target and understand their interests

Make sure you research and know your target’s interests. Assess what information you might have on each prospect to guide your messaging. Avoid one generic approach for all because you will be disappointed. Use techniques that infer interest such as web visit patterns in the absence of stated preferences. Make sure the content you are providing is valuable to the audience it is intended for.

We have clients who send out millions of emails every month and their automated campaigns are always at the top of their performance tables. That is a place where every marketer should aim for because it is just like having extra marketing resources on your team, but in this case, they work around the clock being responsive to your prospects.

3. Plan, Plan, Plan

Don’t over complicate your marketing automation

It is easy for Marketing Automation planning to get out of hand. You can whiteboard automated processes with logical paths, but before you know it you need multiple emails, landing pages, derivative content, and it has turned into a huge project that may never get launched.

Keep the flow simple and logical

Start by thanking your customer or lead, but go on to suggest some content, according to what they consume. Now that you have them in a journey, follow up a few days or a week later with more similar content – fully automated. Then add a third email to be sent a week later. You won’t always get this right first time so be prepared for some disappointments and learning as you go. Experiment and learn from your audience and iterate to get your best performance.

4. Put yourself in their shoes

If you don’t know guess first, experiment then iterate

Think about your own situation when you receive completely off-target irrelevant material – it makes it very hard for a brand to restore your interest and climb back from that position. If you have absolutely nothing, then be honest with your approach and suggest some choices, observing what they respond to. Without telling you explicitly you may infer from their click through rates what they are interested in. As you plan your automated messages try to put yourself in the position of the target and think if it makes sense in the context of the end to end sequence.

Of course, not every automation sequence starts as a response to a moment of interest by a prospect. There are countless other scenarios such as a long “keep in contact” nurture for prospects not ready to buy. We will explore some of these nurture types in a future blog.

Remember, don’t be afraid to start small, have modest expectations and learn along the way. I wish you every success.