Automation has become a major tool in the marketing world. It allows for a streamlined and, you guessed it, automated approach to your marketing tasks.
The “automated” part seems to be counter-intuitive to today’s approach of personalisation. You may picture robots on the computer just cranking out the same content, over and over and over…
But the reality is that the technology actually makes it easier to create personalised content. With careful planning and creative thinking, you can have a human impression at every level of the customer journey. The beautiful part: you don’t even have to be there.
You are able to better manage your valuable time and feel at ease that your customer journey is taken care of. And good automated marketing systems are designed to scale alongside your business.
But how exactly does it do this and where do you even start?
What does marketing automation do?
Marketing automation basically allows you to implement your digital strategy without having to wear out the send button with every piece of content you create. It streamlines your marketing approach to give you the freedom to focus on other tasks.
You can then analyse the results and tweak your campaign accordingly. Through carefully selecting your target audience, a strong automated marketing system helps with lead generation, nurturing, scoring and provides a nice ROI.
You are able to create automations ranging from your lead qualification process to making a hub for your digital campaign creation. This crafts an ongoing, seamless customer journey through every touchpoint.
How does marketing automation work?
Automations work according to a set of instructions called workflows. They work like a manual that shows what actions to take next depending on where your customer is at in their journey. You can create a custom flow or pick from a template and you can make adjustments mid-campaign.
The flow is started by a trigger, which is just a designated action, and that trigger will have an automation assigned to it. Your flow will have branches that account for different customer behaviour at each level.
Your automation content works based on data you collected through previous customer interactions. This helps the automation system create a full view of your target audience. The result is a personalised experience at each level of the customer journey.
The content gets tailored to each customer journey because every journey is different. Their journeys are not in a straight line and work more like chaos theory. They jump in and of the funnel and your automation allows for you to present them with a relevant interaction at their specific level.
How can you use automation?
The most common use of automation is for email marketing. These are called drip campaigns and were really the grandfather of automation.
A drip campaign had a trigger and the customers subsequent actions dripped down the flow. So let’s say someone subscribes to your newsletter and that triggers the beginning of your flow. That sends them a welcome email that includes a link to a form that if completed, offers them some kind of incentive.
Now this email may have a couple of branches attached that account for different behaviours. Your branches could be:
- They open the email, click on the form link and complete it
- They open the email but do not click on the form link
- They open the email, click on the form link, but do not complete it
- They do not open the email
These branches will then break out with subsequent actions. So a customer that opens the email and completes the form will have a different interaction than someone who doesn’t open the email at all.
Email marketing and social media may be the most common automation, but there are many different automation applications with chatbots quickly growing in popularity.
Chatbots are also known as conversational agents and they mimic written or spoken speech to simulate human interaction. They can be implemented across multiple different platforms and avenues. So anywhere from Facebook Messenger to your website can feature a chatbot.
Artificial intelligence has made these bots even more human-like, adapting to customer data and behaviours in real time. They are quickly becoming a favourite application for customers because of their convenience and customization.
Creating your marketing automation process
A strong automated marketing system requires an equally strong and creative plan.
While creating your plan, be sure to:
- Create clear and realistic goals
- Create workflow visualizations
- Get creative!
You are essentially trying to predict human behaviours which, even in a controlled environment, can be difficult. Be creative and draw out possible scenarios to help you create your step-by-step flow.
But your flow is useless without content. You need to have quality content that helps drive your marketing and move your customer through their own journey. Your flow will help you see what content you need at each level and begin creating your content strategy.
There is a ton of different automation software outlets to pick from. Be sure to consult with your team to run down the pros and cons list of each platform.
Some popular automated platforms worth looking at are:
- Mobile Monkey
Automated marketing is coming in hot and it carries a lot of potential with it. Companies that are able to capitalise on this trend will have a leg up on their competition and will see their productivity skyrocket.