The beginner’s guide to Marketing Automation
Digital Marketing is, definitely, the main ally of companies that seek to increase their results on the Internet.
Through the strategy, it’s possible to attract people who fit the brand’s target audience and start a long-lasting and profitable relationship.
However, it’s wrong to think it’s enough to idealize the approach and expect the results to come naturally.
Success in online marketing efforts depends on the qualification of employees and the strategic decisions made by managers.
The adoption of practices focused on the consumer experience, for example, can be the difference between success and failure of a strategy.
In all cases, it’s essential to use technology to your advantage, and thus automate all the processes.
To help you optimize your brand results, we have created this Marketing Automation guide. We’ll cover:
- What is Marketing Automation?
- How can your company benefit from automation?
- What are the differences between Marketing Automation, email marketing, and CRM tools?
- How to build a successful Marketing Automation strategy?
- What are the best 3 tips to improve your automation strategy?
- What to consider while choosing a tool?
What is Marketing Automation?
As you can see, the term Marketing Automation is already quite suggestive.
However, it’s important to be careful not to take it literally and make common mistakes.
Many people think, for example, that the concept refers to any action carried out automatically. It’s not the case.
Marketing Automation refers to the use of specific software for three purposes: streamline, automate, and measure marketing efforts and workflows.
In this way, it’s possible to generate more agility to the staff and provide more qualified experiences to your consumer.
It’s, therefore, the practice of using technology to improve the execution of your marketing strategy.
That said, it’s important to remember that automation only works if supported by a well-structured marketing plan.
After all, to convey the intended message to the public you want to reach, it’s essential to know, first of all, who is your buyer persona. From this, you can define the channels and the actions that will be enhanced by Marketing Automation.
Because of its flexible character, the technology has no restrictions regarding the sectors in which it’s implemented.
Although its use has been initiated in B2B companies, the practice is already prevalent in B2C firms of all sizes.
How can your company benefit from automation?
Currently, Marketing Automation is a fundamental part of several companies around the world. And it’s growing even more.
According to a study by Forrester Data, spending on specialized software, which was $11.4 billion in 2018, is expected to reach $25.1 billion by 2023.
Such relevance is justified. According to Salesforce, 67% of marketing leaders state that they use a Marketing Automation platform. Besides, 90% of agencies that already apply the strategy say it’s successful.
But what are the advantages that make this approach so popular?
To answer this question, we show you some activities that your company can improve by implementing automation.
With the use of Marketing Automation software, tasks such as sending messages, collecting information, and updating social networks are carried out automatically, with no human interference.
This means that you and your team will have more time to focus on essential tasks, making it easier to concentrate on the core strategy. With more time, you can organize your workflows to enhance employee efficiency and productivity.
It’s not new that lead generation is one of the top priorities of any marketer, right?
To gain potential consumers, however, it’s important to establish a frequency of activity in your social networks and blog.
With automation, this task becomes much more manageable. It’s possible to schedule posts well ahead of time and thus avoid delays that may damage the brand’s relevance.
In addition, with an automated customer service channel, your company can work 24 hours a day to generate leads.
Imagine, for example, that your SEO strategy attracted and converted an internet user at your landing page. The moment they click to submit their contact details, an automation tool can send a welcome message or a specific content.
This agility in interacting is crucial for maintaining the customer’s interest in your content.
More important than acquiring leads is understanding how to execute an efficient nurturing strategy.
To do so, you must follow the buyer’s journey and comprehend its three different phases: attraction, consideration, and decision.
For each of these stages, there is a more appropriate type of content. In the attraction phase, for example, it’s recommended to offer blog posts that deal with more general topics, educating the consumer about the problem itself.
The point is, to convert the lead into a customer, it’s necessary to create a positive relationship and offer valuable content. Whether through a newsletter or social media posts, automation software facilitates the whole process.
Thus, the company can qualify leads that are not yet ready to make a buying decision.
This includes identifying the funnel phase that locates the lead, enabling the provision of the most effective materials to take them to the next stage.
By working with qualified leads (people educated about the solution offered by the company), salespeople have their performance enhanced.
Meaning that they will be more effective in approaching customers and convincing them to make a purchase.
In this way, you will notice a significant growth in the conversion rate.
Automating your marketing processes doesn’t mean standardizing them.
With the right tools, you can segment your leads according to varied characteristics, such as the funnel phase they are in and their main motivations.
In this way, you can customize the consumer experience, which is a critical factor in conducting a long and profitable relationship.
Customer Acquisition Cost reduction
Besides the advantages already mentioned, investing in Marketing Automation is also a way to optimize your finances.
To begin with, it’s easy to notice that customers who go through the entire nurturing process make more robust purchases since they know their problems and the solution well.
Another financial element of your company that benefits from automation is the CAC — Customer Acquisition Cost.
With the agility and precision provided by technology, your campaigns to gain consumers will present a much more favorable ROI.
What are the differences between Marketing Automation, email marketing, and CRM tools?
Different tools and strategies shape the Digital Marketing environment.
As a result, you may have doubts about which investment to make, especially when the alternatives have very similar characteristics.
This is the case of the Marketing Automation relationship to the email marketing and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools.
Understand how this software differs from Marketing Automation!
The difference between Marketing Automation and CRM tools
The most remarkable difference between CRM and Marketing Automation tools is the focus.
While the former aims to optimize the sales process, the other addresses all marketing activities.
In other words, CRM deals with already converted consumers, seeking sales opportunities, and managing contact information. Marketing Automation tools can develop relationships from scratch and measure the efficiency of actions, facilitating the calculation of ROI.
Another difference is the communication model adopted by each tool.
With CRM software, it is common for the sales rep to contact each customer individually.
A Marketing Automation tool, however, facilitates the interaction with segmented groups.
The difference between Marketing Automation and email marketing tools
The difference here is a little more apparent. To begin with, think about the data collected by each of the tools.
The email marketing tools will provide information regarding the behavior of the recipients of the email campaign.
Did the prospects open the message? Did they click on your calls to action? How many clicks did each link receive? What message structure generates the most engagement?
Email marketing software quickly answers all these questions.
However, investing in Marketing Automation means going beyond the scope of email messages.
It’s possible to track all customer interactions with the brand in each one of its channels, which enables you better to understand the details of your persona’s digital experience.
Another variation is the automation capability. Many of the email marketing tools include features such as message scheduling and audience segmentation.
Marketing Automation tools, however, take automation to another level, generating intelligent actions based on a behavioral analysis of leads.
We can, therefore, say that a Marketing Automation tool brings together all the qualities of email marketing and also offers several other advantages.
How to build a successful Marketing Automation strategy?
As we have already mentioned, more and more companies are adopting Marketing Automation strategies.
Thus, building an efficient approach for your business is fundamental to maintain the brand’s relevance in the market.
Neglecting this issue means that other organizations will offer more qualified experiences to consumers, threatening your market share. In any case, there is no point in investing in automation without a well-structured plan.
Next, check out the main steps you need to take to implement the strategy successfully!
Understand the marketing funnel
Before starting your strategy, it’s important to master one of the main marketing concepts, which is fundamental for efficient automation.
It’s the marketing funnel, which separates the leads according to where they are in their buying journeys. We can break down the funnel into three steps.
- awareness: it deals with the leads that have just made contact and know little about the problems themselves;
- consideration: deals with leads that already consume content of your brand and are currently analyzing alternatives in search of a solution;
- conversion: communicates with leads that have already decided they need to buy a product and are picking the best options.
Set your goals
It’s essential to establish a sense of direction for the strategy right from the start. Therefore, set clear and realistic objectives. They will guide your efforts and measure the results achieved.
At this point, it’s also important to establish your KPIs.
These metrics make it easier for the company to evaluate the development of the strategy, highlighting aspects that can be optimized.
Find the best tools
It’s impossible to execute a Marketing Automation strategy without the use of one or more tools.
You must decide strategically and guarantee the use of the best platform.
We will talk more about this on the next topics.
Define your buyer persona
If you haven’t defined your buyer persona, waste no more time. Establishing this component is critical to ensuring that you focus your strategy on the right target.
This makes it easier to decide what are the best ways to impact your audience.
If you don’t know what a buyer persona is, don’t worry, it’s pretty simple. It’s a semi-functional character that simulates the profile of your ideal client, serving as the basis of your communication efforts.
It’s very similar to the target audience, but with some critical differences. Besides the demographic data, you need to add to the persona more information, such as pains, needs, and motivations. Most companies even create fictional names to humanize their personas.
Attract your buyer persona
After defining your buyer persona, it’s time to choose the best channels of communication with the audience.
After doing this, you can assemble specific automation plans for each channel, considering their different characteristics.
More than that, it’s essential to understand the triggers that can drive your persona along the funnel until the point of conversion. After all, there is no value in using automation if you do not offer rich content and experiences to the customer.
Define the right approach for each funnel stage
The importance of understanding the different stages of the funnel is that, to reach your leads positively, you need to customize their experience.
This means that your approach should vary according to the prospect’s progress on the journey.
So, for your Marketing Automation strategy to be a success, you need to define how you will communicate at each stage.
Customers at the top of the funnel, for example, may welcome contacts more frequently. Those at the bottom of the funnel care less about frequency and more about quality.
It’s also crucial to define the content that will be produced. Blog posts are excellent for nurturing leads in the awareness phase.
Still, it’s necessary to diversify and create more incisive materials, such as ebooks and webinars, to meet all the stages of the funnel.
What are the best 3 tips to improve your automation strategy?
One of the main characteristics of modern consumers is the importance given to the experiences provided by the companies with which they relate.
If your business can establish positive connections, it will keep customers for a longer time.
We listed 3 tips that will help you improve your automation strategy and enhance customer acquisition and retention.
1. Provide after-sales
If you think the relationship with the client ends when they complete a purchase, think again.
Keeping after-sales links enables the return of shoppers and, most importantly, turns them into loyal customers.
Therefore, your Marketing Automation strategy should include after-sales efforts.
Birthday messages, special offers, and reminders about products already visited are some actions you can use in this sense.
2. Follow user flows
It’s essential to know how the leads are getting to your pages.
Are they clicking on ads? Did they find your website in Google searches? Were the social networks that directed them there?
By following user flows, you discover the pages that were accessed before they reached your website. This way, you can better understand their behavior and even figure out their needs.
If someone reached your product page after searching for a long-tail keyword on Google, for example, you could assume that the user already knows what they are looking for.
On the other hand, if the acquisition source was a landing page, the lead likely wants more information.
The idea is, therefore, to customize your automation tools and give each prospect the most appropriate treatment.
3. Segment and rate leads
The more segmented your leads are, the easier it is to create ways to impact them.
However, we know that not every contact you gain will eventually become a customer. That’s why it’s a good idea to rate your leads.
Make it clear which contacts are qualified for the sales teams, which still need some kind of education and which have little chance of being converted.
By doing this, you can focus your efforts on real opportunities, increasing company ROI, and employee productivity.
What to consider while choosing a tool?
There are several Marketing Automation tools options on the market, which can make the task of identifying the best a little complicated. To decide the most suitable tool for your company, consider some points.
First, check how easy it’s to operate the tool and ensure that all your employees will be able to work with it with no major problems.
Also, make sure that the software you will invest in has efficient technical assistance and customer service. This will avoid any problems related to platform errors.
Of course, it’s also essential to check what features they offer. They should not only cover your long-term goals but also enable your business to scale over time.
Some features can’t be lacking in an excellent tool, such as full segmentation criteria and the ability to integrate with other software.
Below, we listed 3 of the best options on the market.
Marketo is a cloud-based platform that facilitates not only building relationships with customers but also maintaining them. It’s a popular tool among both small and large companies.
The software facilitates, among other things, integration with CRM tools and email marketing campaigns.
It also offers campaign management, mobile marketing, and web activity tracking.
You’ve probably heard of HubSpot, right? It’s one of the most famous and used tools in the world. Such popularity is due to the platform’s many features and the fact that it’s extremely easy to use.
Like Marketo, we can easily integrate HubSpot with other tools, which makes it a complete solution for Content Marketing.
Among its many features, we highlight the possibility to track and measure results in real-time.
ActiveCampaign is a tool that excellently uses machine learning concepts. Thus, it provides the user with a pleasant and straightforward experience.
Its features include a powerful segmentation capability and a rich data collection, which generates significant insights for strategy optimization.
What makes ActiveCampaign stand out, however, is pricing. Unlike other Saas that have expensive advanced plans, the tool remains affordable even as the company grows and upgrades.
With the information gathered in this Marketing Automation guide, you can start building and improving your strategy.
Remember to choose carefully the tool to use and include metrics and goals in your planning. If everything is done right, your company will achieve great results quickly.
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