Demand Generation

6 Elements That Will Make Marketing Automation Work for You

Marketing automation is a $3.6 billion industry with more than 75% of all companies using some form of automation in their marketing campaigns. It’s not a surprise: automation increases qualified leads by a factor of 451%, with 47% of those making larger purchases compared to standard leads.

The trick, of course, is to make sure you’re automating the right tasks, those manual processes that take up a lot of your time and manpower, distracting you from bigger projects that might have more meaningful impact on your bottom line.

While marketing automation tools can streamline many of the mundane, repetitive aspects of a marketer’s job, implementing them is no small feat. In fact, marketing automation requires strategic implementation across a number of different departments, as well as the application of a few different digital marketing disciplines. You need to start with a strategy that outlines how different types of communications, content and messaging will be delivered to specific buyer’s journeys.

To do that, there are  six core elements you must have to make your automation marketing solution work.

1. Alignment

The first thing that you need is alignment between your sales and marketing teams. Start by aligning your goals. What are the products or services sales need to push? What are the metrics they need to see? These and other questions will help your marketing team develop a strategy that complements and supports the sales team.

If you want to formalize the relationship between sales and marketing, you should consider a Service-Level Agreement (SLA) to quantify and qualify standards of accountability between both teams. For instance, an SLA can specify only SQLs that have actively engaged your business will be passed on for a specific campaign. All this will tie back into your marketing automation—determining which tasks are automated as well as how you automate things to begin with.

2. Road Map

Once your goals are clarified, the next thing you need is a clear and detailed road map, including your lead generation channels, key touchpoints/moments along your process flow, and finally the hand-off between marketing and sales. This road map should be able to answer all questions anyone might have regarding timing, what to do, and what metrics indicate success at each step.

You may want to turn your road map into a flowchart to make it easy to understand for everyone. If necessary, try to consider all scenarios. You’ll find it a lot easier to identify which particular tasks can and should be automated if you lay it all out clearly. Incidentally, a road map will also help you choose which marketing automation tools you implement—be it a chatbot for initial inquiries, to a mailer for follow-ups, and so much more.

3. Lead Scoring

One of the most popular ways to utilize marketing automation is in lead generation. While it’s certainly great to have leads come in without expending much effort, you still need a way of determining which leads are qualified enough to draw into your database—and which ones you should ignore. Lead scoring is all about assigning a value based on a lead’s intent to purchase what you offer. Arriving at this number requires you to identify what matters most to you and your teams.

Generally, however, points can be added or subtracted to a baseline score from such criteria as prior visits, engagement on social media, responsiveness to emails, and so on. You then set a score threshold which aids your marketing automation systems in determining what inbound leads are kept and which ones you’ll never even see. Studies have shown that only 21% of marketers have a lead scoring system in place to optimize their automation efforts.

4. Personalization

If you want to make your marketing automation effective, you have to make people feel that they’re talking to real people—and not some bot. Of course, there are exceptions: chatbots are very obviously automated and many people are comfortable enough with them as a first touchpoint. Where you can inject a more personal touch is in your automated emails. What most people would already know to do Is add a _firstname token in the email subject and as a greeting in the body.

You can enhance this further by segmenting your leads list along categorical lines like products/services interested in, new vs older contacts, their commonly used devices, and so on—the possibilities are endless. You then send out emails that cater in tone and specific content to these segments. Done right, you’re sure to hit the right beats with your audience and they’ll never be the wiser that a lot of what is sent to them is automated and not coming from an actual person hitting the “send” button.

5. Testing

How can you tell whether or not your automation is successful? You conduct a lot of testing. You test multiple elements or variables in your automation to see what’s been aiding conversion and what needs changing. These variables can include everything from the wording used or the tone of your content, to the timing, subject matter, or other specifics. You need to test as many variables as you possibly can to find the best combination of elements.

While many marketers are familiar with using split or A/B tests to figure out what sticks, doing so with one variable at a time can get tedious. Multivariate testing experiments with up to four elements at a time in multiple configurations to determine what works. This kind of testing lends itself to deeper and more actionable insight which is key if you want to refine your automated tasks to perfection. Just make sure you identify the right elements to test all at once.

6. Nurturing

Companies who prioritize lead nurturing bag 50% more sales-qualified leads at 33% less cost than those that don’t. That doesn’t mean you should automate your lead nurturing campaign, though. The initial verification and validation stage really benefit from a human touch—as does closing the sale. That said, there’s plenty of space in between to introduce automation. From follow-up emails to gentle reminders to additional content and more, automation can be a great way to drive leads further into the funnel.

Which points you automate and which you don’t ultimately depend on the available bandwidth of your teams—just make sure the flow is consistent in terms of tone and cadence. It can be very jarring to move from a clearly human tone to one that is too obviously automated. When in doubt—or where a sale seems imminent—don’t hesitate to take over. Additionally, you can and should handle leads with much higher scores personally.

At the heart of successful marketing automation are great data, excellent strategies, and strong platforms. If you’re looking for the best way to get and grade quality leads, we can help. Reach out to us today and we’ll figure out the best solutions for you.