The foundations of marketing automation

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What’s that?

Marketing automation uses a tool or tools to deliver consistent, tailored content to customers during each stage of the sales journey. Data informs the tool(s) of the exact stage that a customer is at in the sales journey, and this triggers the tool to send content that has been mapped to that specific stage of the journey.

While it may be called marketing automation, it should be considered sales and marketing automation. We’ve said it many times already – sales and marketing need to go hand-in-hand to work effectively. Marketing automation is no exception. Make sure marketing engages the sales team when creating content and workflow.

To get the most out of marketing automation, you should adopt an omni-channel approach that ensures you meet your customers where they are, with the right messaging at the right time. The same messaging should be delivered across emails and digital advertising (e.g. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc). In fact, a recent study showed when companies delivered messaging through display advertising two weeks before sending their first email, their EDM open rate increased by up to 30%.

Cool. So why do I want it?

The obvious benefits of marketing automation are time and cost savings and the ability to deliver a consistent experience across the customer journey.

The less obvious benefit is that marketing automation allows companies to respond to the way customers now want to buy. A decade or two ago, customers relied heavily on salespeople to help them make purchasing decisions. Now, customers undertake initial research independently, searching online for social proof and third-party advocacy. Fortunately, marketing automation gives companies the opportunity to share this type of independent content at the exact stage that customers are looking for it.

Alright then. How do I get started?

There are four steps to set up marketing automation:

  1. Clearly define your sales journey
  2. Develop a basic understanding of the end-to-end customer journey, mapped across the entire sales process (make sure you include post-sales steps)
  3. Create content
  4. Build out the workflow in your marketing automation platform that determines which content is shared at each stage of the journey

Any pointers on creating content?

Often creating content is postponed until the technology component has been finalised. It’s an easy approach because creating content is hard work! But that’s exactly why you want to get on top of your content strategy as early as possible. If you procrastinate, you’ll be waiting longer to start using your new marketing automation technology.

The first place to start with content development is considering the questions your customers ask at each stage of the customer journey. For example, prospective customers browse online during the early stages. So, at this stage you might want to share testimonials to show advocacy from other customers that encourage your prospects to undertake more research on your product. In the later stages of the journey, customers narrow down their options, so it is the perfect time to share more granular information.

Another piece of advice is to get creative with how you deliver content. You can use emails, brochures, digital ads, case studies etc. Sample a variety of channels and select the medium(s) that works best for the message you want to communicate at each stage.

One last thing: what platform should I get?

The available tools have little variance between them. They have the same features but each is slightly better at one function than the others. The choice really comes down to what’s already in your tech stack, especially your CRM, and the complexity of your sales processes because smaller businesses can rely on much simpler systems than enterprise businesses.

Marketing automation tools use customer data to trigger the content that is shared based on where customers are at in the sales journey. The customer data comes from the CRM, therefore it’s imperative that your CRM and marketing automation tools are integrated, and that the customer data fields are linked. In order of importance, your CRM ranks higher than your marketing automation tool, so it’s best to start with the tools that work with your CRM and then select the best option between these tools.

Ready to begin your marketing automation journey? Contact us to get started!

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