What is Marketing Automation?
At its core, Marketing Automation is really all about doing more and better marketing with less effort.
How is this possible, you might ask? To answer this, let’s go through an example to help illustrate how marketing automation works.
The Magic Explained: A Laundry Analogy
Let’s say you spend 10 hours a week doing 15 loads of laundry between sorting, washing, drying, and folding. You’d like to make this process more efficient, and maybe even increase your capacity to 20 loads of laundry per week. You could hire a second person who can also do 15 loads of laundry in 10 hours, but you haven’t changed the efficiency and you’ve also doubled your cost.
You decide instead to invest in a laundry robot to help with this process. The robot can do twice as much laundry in the same amount of time, because of a few key features:
- It can automatically sort clothes as they enter the hamper.
- If there are clothes that need special treatment (such as dry-clean only), it can notify you immediately that something needs a little “human intervention”.
- It can wash each load on the right settings as soon as the load is ready to go.
- Since it’s always watching, it moves the load to the dryer the instant it’s done washing.
- Once clothes are dried, it can fold it if it’s ready to be put away, or send you a notice letting you know that it needs to be ironed.
- If you don’t pick up your laundry right away, it can continue to give you reminders until they are picked up, or even give you an incentive to come get them (free gourmet coffee on your next pick up!)
Marketing Automation is a lot like the laundry robot in this example. It can help you sort or group customers and leads based on criteria you select. It can help nurture leads and move them through your sales funnel by following up at planned intervals and providing the right messages. It can also identify when a lead or prospect has reached a critical point in the sales process and notify your staff for direct follow-up. Best of all, this process can happen 24/7, helping to ensure that your business is responsive whenever your prospective customer is trying to engage.
What does Marketing Automation Look Like?
Have you ever visited a website and been presented with a message saying something like this:
Welcome! Join our email list and get a coupon for 20% off your first order!
So you sign up (who doesn’t like saving a few bucks), and a few moments later you probably received an email with a coupon code for 20% off. Or how about your favorite retailer who sent you an email on your birthday with a special offer to celebrate the occasion? Both are examples of marketing automation in its simplest form. Can you imagine if you had to sit by the computer, watch for sign ups, and manually send out coupon emails to customers? Or how about scouring your customer database every day to find those with birthdays and contacting each one directly? Marketing automation allows you to respond to these opportunities by watching for specific criteria (such as a new email address being added to your list) and automatically doing a predetermined action (such as sending out a welcome email).
The same principle applies to service companies. Have you ever downloaded a white paper or free guide from a website and been asked to provide your email address? They may start by sending you a follow-up email with a link to download the item again if needed. A week later, you may receive another email with a link to an e-book on a related topic that they think you might also find helpful. The landing page you’re directed to might include an offer for a free consultation, with a simple form to fill out. All of these actions have a purpose—they’re intended to help nurture the potential customer through the sales process.
Marketing Automation Explained: Sounds complicated. How does it work?
To set up Marketing Automation, you can begin by identifying triggers and actions. Triggers are events or places in the customer journey that can be used as an opportunity to set off an action or next-step event. Actions are the “what happens” when that trigger takes place. For example, joining the email list could be a trigger, and the action could be firing off an automated welcome email. A trigger could also be a set of criteria that a lead meets, such as indicating they like shoes and visiting more than 10 pages on your site. Think of it similar to the “if this, then that” logic: if this happens, then do that next.
How can I determine where to use marketing automation?
One way to identify opportunities could be to start with a list of pain points in your business. Are there actions or steps you do on a regular basis that could be automated? Do you consistently lose leads at a particular place in your sales cycle because the right nurturing or follow-up isn’t happening? Marketing automation could potentially help you bridge some of these gaps or take some things off your plate, and may be a great place to start if you’re looking for quick wins. A more comprehensive approach would be to create a map of your entire sales or business process and evaluate each step in the process for improvements or efficiencies that could be made with marketing automation.
Identifying these opportunities may not come easily at first. Most marketing automation platforms are very robust tools full of endless features, and learning them all and understanding how they work and where to apply them can feel a little daunting. For this reason, many platforms recommend working with a partner agency, such as Vivid Image. Partner agencies are trained on these platforms and stay up-to-date on available features. Additionally, they are experienced at not only using the available features, but identifying when and where to apply them to help your business or organization. For this reason, working with a partner agency can save you time and money when implementing marketing automation.
What do I need to get started with marketing automation?
To use marketing automation, you will need a solid platform, and probably a bit of help from an expert at least to start or until you get more accustomed to identifying where to use it and how to utilize your platform. Want to talk about the possibilities or find out more about how marketing automation could help your business or organization? Contact Vivid Image today.