What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term Marketing Automation?  For many companies it usually conjures up thoughts of email marketing, but the benefits and applications of marketing automation go far beyond email.

  • Enabling relevant and timely communications based on the individual needs of the buyer
  • Prioritizing engaged leads for sales and passing those leads automatically to CRM
  • Cleansing and standardizing contact data
  • Capturing inbound leads from all channels for further targeting
  • Develop landing pages and forms for multichannel marketing
  • Deeper insights into customer preferences and engagement

 

B2B and B2C companies purchase marketing automation platforms with specific use cases in mind, but over time savvy marketers will find very creative uses for marketing automation which drives further efficiency and ROI for the organization.

 

You might be thinking, that’s great but how did they get there or what programs are they running? To help answer those questions I surveyed the Marketing Advisors in the Marketing Cloud Success Program.  The result is some real world advice on key programs to build, how to evolve your strategies, and some best practices on getting there.

 

As you begin to plan your programs, take some time to answer the following questions:

  • How does this align to the organizations objectives or strategic goals?
  • Which part of the customer journey does this support?
  • What is the next step/action/touch point?
  • Do we have the data we need to effectively target and personalize?
  • How do we define success?  What insights are we gathering?

Working through these questions will help ensure your programs are impactful and help focus efforts where needed.

 

Creating sophisticated marketing automation programs won’t happen overnight for most organizations. Start small, gain some quick wins, then scale over time - there is a reason why so many companies talk about the crawl, walk, run approach to marketing automation!

 

Crawl

If you are new to marketing automation, or looking to go beyond batch emails, start with the “quick wins.”  These programs are considered must haves by the Marketing Advisor team.

  • Welcome Programs – set your relationship off on the right foot with contacts who are signing up for your content, or are first time buyers.  These programs should introduce your brand and reinforce value points for the customer.
  • Re-engagement Programs – every organization has inactive contacts in their database, separating these from your active audience not only provides better insight into the performance of you campaigns, but it allows you to re-permission old contacts and clean your database.
  • Lead Scoring & Routing Programs – Define the profile and behavior attributes for an ideal lead and let the scoring program evaluate your contacts and prioritize those that are a best fit.  Automating the routing of these leads to sales is also important for efficiency as well as timely follow up, increasing your chance of converting those leads.
  • Data Cleansing Programs – marketing automation programs can help you cleanse, standardize and append the data that flows into your system through forms, list uploads, manual entry and your CRM or other technology integrations.  Clean data will help your support your segmentation, personalization and lead scoring efforts.

 

Walk

Once you have your initial programs in place it’s time to automate touch points along the customer buying cycle.  These programs support targeting and personalization of communications, increasing relevancy and engagement.  Understanding your buyer persona and mapping your content to each stage should be done before you design your programs as it will help determine where to get started and identify gaps.

  • Trigger or Nurture Programs – use behavioral data to create programs that respond to the interest or actions of your customers and prospects.  Form submissions, email clicks, social clicks, web visits and event attendance can indicate a need for the customer, or signal their potential stage in the buyer’s journey.  Use that intelligence to continue the conversation with relevant and timely content.
  • Re-marketing Programs – a specific form of a trigger program, most commonly associated with abandoned cart or browse behavior.  These are very specific reminders to encourage customers to complete the transaction, register for the event, or complete the form to download the content.
  • Event Marketing Programs – marketing automation can provide a great deal of efficiency for marketing teams when it comes to event promotion and follow up.  In addition to sending event invitations and capturing registrations, modern marketers will build reminder steps into programs, resend invites to non responders, and differentiate post event communications based on attendance or non attendance.

 

Run

Nurturing prospects and creating qualified leads for sales should only be the beginning of your marketing automation journey.  Cultivating and retaining loyal customers is a huge opportunity for any organization but many focus efforts on only acquiring new customers.  Modern marketers recognize the need to develop programs to support the entire customer lifecycle.  Below are a few ideas from the marketing advisor team, but the sky is the limit.

  • Stalled Lead Programs – what happens to a lead once it goes to sales?  A majority of leads cannot be reached or once qualified run into issues during the sales process.  By establishing feedback loops and working with sales, marketing can re-nurture those leads and plug some leaks in the funnel.
  • Replenishment/Renewal Programs – getting ahead of the next purchase and making it easy for customers to fulfill orders can not only generate revenue, increase CLV, but foster brand loyalty.
  • Surveys/Reviews – creating programs to follow up on recent purchases, events or to even gauge the sentiment of your audience can provide valuable insights and allow you to further the conversation with happy and unhappy customers alike.
  • Opt Down – building the intelligence to regulate the frequency of communications based on preference data can retain customers who might otherwise opt out or mark you as spam when they feel you are over communicating.
  • Cross-channel programs – aligning messages across all channels is important to create a consistent experience, but targeting customers on their preferred channels is ideal.

 

No matter what stage your organization is in there are always opportunities to better leverage marketing automation.  To keep their programs in top shape, modern marketers also follow these best practices:

  • Take the time to test campaigns, A/B test are critical for optimizing performance
  • Measure results and review the data to make informed decisions, no more hunches or “we’ve always done it this way”
  • Don’t “set it and forget it” marketing automation programs of all types should be reviewed regularly
  • Keep mobile users in mind, ensuring emails, landing pages and forms are easy to interact with on a mobile device

 

Special thanks to Melissa McConnell-Oracle, MiliPatel-Oracle, Rob Barnhart-Oracle and VictoriaOffenhartz-Oracle for their time and wisdom!