Sahil Hundal

Marketing Automation: A Crash Course

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Over the past 20 years, automation has changed the professional landscape. With the introduction of artificial intelligence into both major and minor decision-making processes, workplace automation has served to improve the lives of many billions of people around the world.

Marketing automation is no different and what used to take a team of sales people and a complex customer database can now be done with a few simple drag-and-drop tools, allowing marketers to focus on the things that really matter to their business. But, if it doesn’t include an army of Terminators and R2D2s, then what exactly is marketing automation and how can you use it to further the success of your business?

What

Marketing automation is a promotional method that uses computer software to take specific action when another action occurs. By using what are called logic-based “workflows,” marketers can have software programs automatically complete pre-determined goals or tasks whenever certain events are triggered (i.e. if an email remains unopened for 2 days, then send a follow-up email). Although marketing automation has quickly become a buzzword, it certainly isn’t a catch-all strategy, leaving many marketers to wonder how to fit an automation platform into their overall approach.

Why

Many marketing departments automate highly repetitive tasks (such as email campaigns, social media postings, and prospect list sorting). This is where automation truly shines, and knowing whether or not you have the bandwidth to handle these tasks on a day-to-day basis is critical to determining whether you need a marketing automation platform.

Additionally, marketing automations require a steady flow of qualified leads. Many marketers often make the mistake of thinking they need an automation platform when they don’t have enough leads to flow through them. As a result, they often resort to buying lead lists online and funneling them through workflows until a very small subset of the list converts into a sale or unsubscribes.

However, this is counter-productive, as the time spent crafting messaging for a ramshackle audience is often less effective than clear communication to your target segment. Additionally, the less relevant your messaging is to your audience, the more likely they are to mark it as spam or unsubscribe which is detrimental to the reputation of your IP address, negatively impacting future communication efforts from your business.

How

Although the idea of logic-gated workflows and comprehensive drip campaigns can make people apprehensive about using a marketing automation platform, many of them require little training and rely on drag-and-drop interfaces for ease of use. Becoming a marketing automation master is just a matter of becoming familiar with your chosen platform(s).

Once completely set up, marketing automations require little maintenance, often occurring and re-occurring on a daily basis without supervision. There are many automation platforms on the market today, so choosing one is as simple as using comparative sites such as G2 Crowd or Software Advice to see which service best fits your business’ needs.

Finally, if you want to become a true marketing automation elite, we’ve included some quick tips below:

  • Upkeep a steady flow of qualified leads into the platform – always try to add more people than are unsubscribing on a monthly basis as a marketing automation platform is only as impactful as the lists it’s fed
  • Set up automated alerts – build custom email alerts in your workflows to let you know when an important action has occurred (such as a prospect filling out a lead form or a weekly list of prospects who completed an email drip campaign)
  • Craft email drip campaigns to tell a story – readers stay invested when there is a logical and compelling flow to your messaging, making them less likely to unsubscribe
  • Segment your lists – use distinct qualifiers based on a contact’s actions or volunteered information to automatically segregate your prospect lists and reach them more effectively with targeted messaging
  • Integrate your apps – use sites like Zapier, PieSync, or Tray.io to integrate your marketing automation platform with all of your marketing applications (such as Salesforce, Marketo, etc.)