So, you’ve heard that marketing automation is a beneficial tool helping your company save a lot of time and money. And while that’s 100% true, you cannot just decide that henceforth, you start applying it in your everyday operations. You need a plan or a strategy to prioritize work and deal with all the possible challenges. And that’s what we want to tackle today.
Almost four-fifths (72%) of the most successful companies utilize marketing automation. That’s no surprise. Marketing automation paves the way for many valuable benefits. With marketing automation, your company:
- Saves a lot of time
- Can concentrate on the most strategic and important tasks and projects
- Can easily test new tools and techniques
- Nurtures and generates more (and better) leads
- Makes better, data-driven decisions (marketing automation is all about data, which helps in other business areas as well)
- Reaches its current and potential customers more effectively
It does sound interesting, doesn’t it? However, before you can benefit from all that, you have to start somewhere. Let’s dig a bit deeper.
Where to start with marketing automation
ANALYZE YOUR STARTING POINT AND NEEDS
It all starts with research. You have to know what are your marketing goals and what areas of your business should be automated in order to bring the most visible benefits. For example, many companies utilize emails to communicate with their customers and prospects. Email marketing automation is a huge business, and we’ve devoted a separate blog article just to this technique.
If you run an e-commerce company, you surely will be interested in automated product recommendations and marketing automation scenarios (you can use them to, for instance, rescue abandoned carts). If you run a SaaS platform, you may want to automate collecting customer surveys. There can be dozens of possible scenarios.
In general, you should concentrate on two aspects of that question:
- Which activities take the most of our time?
- Which activities will help us reach customers more effectively?
The areas that you list within these two points are the ones that you should automate.
OVERCOME POTENTIAL CHALLENGES (AKA INTEGRATIONS)
Marketing automation needs some time and effort to be implemented in your company. Every automated tool needs access to the other solutions you use in your company, e.g., to your e-commerce platform, a CRM program, or even the database of email addresses. To make this possible, you have to integrate your brand-new marketing automation platform with all the relevant data sources and tools. You can’t rescue abandoned carts if the MA platform doesn’t have access to your customers’ behaviors and data.
There can be other challenges, too. Many old companies haven’t yet gone through digital transformation, and the majority of their processes still happen offline. Obviously, offline processes cannot be integrated with an online solution that MA is. In such a situation, your first challenge would be to digitize all the necessary procedures.
And maybe one more example. If you use a complex tailor-made IT solution, you have to ensure it can be easily integrated with other tools. Almost all the typical platforms and tools use API to communicate with each other, but when it comes to platforms built from scratch, it isn’t that obvious. So again, you need to see what your options are.
What to include in a marketing automation strategy
Suppose you’ve dealt with all these questions we listed above. What’s the next step? You can start working on your strategy. When it comes to marketing automation, you have two options. You can opt for a comprehensive platform (like iPresso) that has many different features and functions within one platform, or you can opt for one or more standalone solutions. Here, MailChimp is a good example. It’s a platform that enables you to automate email marketing and nothing else. If at some point in the future, you decide you need to automate posting on social media as well, you’ll have to find a different tool that will enable you to do just that.
Which option is the best? As always, it depends. Take a look at the list of activities/areas you want to automate. Compare it with our list of features. How many common points did you find? Or maybe iPresso can help you will all your marketing needs? In that case, the choice is simple. Generally speaking, it’s better to keep everything under one roof. This way, you have one dashboard, one integration process, and one customer support team that can always help you when something goes wrong or when you need to try something new.
Standalone solutions are good for advanced companies with very specific needs. Sometimes, there is just one tool out there with this very specific feature you need to achieve your goals. In such a situation, opting for this particular solution is the only reasonable solution. However, if you are just starting with marketing automation, that’s probably not a problem for you. All-in-one platforms should be enough.
DESIGN PROCESSES AND WORKFLOWS
You already know what to automate and with what platform. The next step is to design specific processes and workflows that will be automated. Here are some of the common ideas of what can be automated:
- Welcome and thank-you messages
- Abandoned cart notifications
- Product recommendations that are displayed on your website
- Pop-up ads
- Communication with regular customers (who have signed up for your loyalty program)
- Text messaging and many more elements
However, each of these tools needs specific processes. For example, if someone opens a particular product tab (e.g., currently discounted), they can receive a notification about the discount encouraging them to place an order. If you’ve just had a new registration on your SaaS platform, you can send a list of pre-defined onboarding messages so that you maintain communication with this new user from day one. And the list goes on and on. In general, it’s not only about what you want to automate, but also HOW and to WHAT EFFECT.
If you have a marketing automation expert on your team, you can do that in-house. If you don’t, you can ask our team for help. Our experts will help you define your needs, create tailor-made processes that answer them, and get it all up and running on our platform.
MEASURE THE RESULTS
The bigger your company, the quicker you will see the first results. After a few weeks, you will see that your employees have more time to deal with the most important issues. You will see that there are fewer abandoned carts and that people are more eager to communicate with your company. But in order to know all that, you need to measure the results of your MA activities. Every decent marketing automation platform comes with extensive analytics features. Here at iPresso, we also offer that.
Be sure to measure results regularly. This way, you can spot trends and see what can be improved or even needs to be fixed. Only then can you see if your campaigns bring the expected outcome. That, of course, applies to everything you do marketing-wise.
For the sake of this article, we streamlined some of the elements of creating a marketing automation strategy. Especially the part where you create workflows, processes, and scenarios is complicated and can take weeks. But it definitely is worth the effort. You will see for yourself after a few weeks!
To sum up, if you want to create a marketing automation strategy:
- Analyze your current situation, and see what should be automated.
- Pick the best tools that provide you with everything you need.
- Integrate them with your IT/marketing ecosystem (e.g., an e-commerce platform)
- Create marketing automation scenarios
- Measure the results on a daily basis
This way, you will truly make the most of marketing automation. And if you want to know more, our team is at your service!