A marketing automation system enables a marketing team to amplify their efforts and easily reach targeted audiences with relevant messages. Automation will allow you to create messages and send them out on a timely basis for pre-sale and post-sale communications. Any repetitive activity can be automated. A little strategic creativity will help you engage with customers and prospects.
Life was easy for marketers back in the day when you could email anyone anything anytime you wanted, but those days are gone with the passage of anti-spam and privacy laws. Your marketing automation system and your company policies should comply with permission-marketing rules on a global basis.
Be careful about using purchased or unverified mailing lists, as penalties for spam are severe for businesses not in compliance. Even if you aren’t prosecuted, you are likely to get your company’s domain blocked by email service providers.
The best practice is to limit outbound marketing only to individuals who have opted in to receive your email marketing communications. This is especially true in Europe and Canada where the regulations are very strict. Your best sources for a new marketing automation campaign are:
- Existing customers who are currently ordering products from you.
- Prospects or past customers in your CRM system who have opted in for marketing emails.
- New prospects in your CRM as a result of an advertising campaign running in parallel to your email efforts.
In order to run a successful marketing automation campaign, there are several aspects to consider:
- Messaging. The one-way nature of an outbound email increases the need for careful attention to your messaging for each part of your email. The subject line has to be designed to capture interest AND bypass spam filters. Most marketing automation platforms offer A/B testing of subject lines, so use this feature to see which verbiage generates the most opens. Carefully select the message that goes above the fold since this area grabs immediate attention. (Your messaging should include a call to action that specifically invites the engagement you want with this particular email.)
- Graphic Design. Most marketing automation platforms include preformatted forms for content layout. Creative and proper use of graphics and artful layouts will engage readers.
- Proofreading. Verify and spell-check everything, including titles.
- Timing. Carefully select the best date and time for all geographies and time zones, and consider the seasonality of your message.
Marketing Automation Strategy
In order to effectively use a marketing automation system, a strategy and schedule should be planned and coordinated with the buyer’s journey, according to the following stages:
|Buyer's Journey Stage
A new problem that your company can solve; new offer, new product, solution or application, new terms, enhancements to site, service or products…
|Consideration or information gathering
|Information in any form.
|Reinforcement of messaging, such as product details, comparisons to current status, or competitors.
|Post-purchase, or periodic engagement with new content.
Sequencing a Marketing Automation Campaign
Following is an example of an 8-week automation campaign designed to introduce a new product. An arbitrary point target should be set at the start of the campaign so that when a prospect accumulates 10 points (for example), they are directly contacted. Note that while direct customer contact is ideal, it may not lead to a sale, which is why a point value is still assigned so the journey continues. Activities and engagements can be varied to include the sales force, as in a “mail/call/mail” campaign, where personal-contact phone calls are interspersed with marketing automation activities.
Most marketing automation platforms include an analytics package to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign as it progresses. If you see poor results, consider three variables:
- Did you select the appropriate audience?
- Is the messaging engaging and appropriate?
- These are all variables that can be easily modified as the campaign progresses.
These are all variables that can be easily modified as the campaign progresses.
As a stand-alone campaign, or as an adjunct to a larger marketing campaign, email marketing automation can be very effective when it is well-planned and executed. Planning is the key, and it should be looked at from a stimulus-response perspective:
- What am I doing?
- What do I want to happen?
- What happens if I don’t get the response I expect?
Plan for all contingencies and your campaign will be a winner!
If you want help with digital marketing, marketing automation or marketing campaigns, please contact us for a 30-minute consultation.