How to Get Started with Marketing Automation

Getting started with a marketing automation can seem daunting, especially if sophisticated software and strategies are used. As with most things in business and life, it is important to develop a well-thought-out plan to guide you through the process.

How does marketing automation work?

Marketing automation works to identify routine actions in the sales & marketing process and
mechanize the process using technology. These actions can remove repetitive tasks such as sending email, SMS text messages, push notifications, and even direct mail.

Messages or notifications are usually sent using triggers that are based upon the actions of the visitor or prospect. The triggers might include visits to a website or landing page, views for a specific piece
of media such as a PDF datasheet or webinar replay.

As the prospect or customer moves through the sales funnel, engaging with various
messages and media, marketing automation works to gather additional information,
segment, analyze, and re-engage.

What problems does marketing automation solve?

Marketing automation helps solve problems with personalization, prioritization, and scale;
using intelligent software to segment and score prospects while delivering customized
messages at just the right time. Imagine hundreds of AI-driven sales development
reps working for you.

Why use marketing automation software?

If your company is struggling to keep up with inbound leads and effectively manage the pipeline, then marketing automation software may be the answer.
Companies that are experiencing or preparing for growth can usually benefit.

What is B2B marketing automation?

Traditionally, marketing automation was used by companies with long sales cycles and complex customer journeys’, such as in business to business (B2B) sales. These sales campaigns often span many months, and involve multiple departments and decision makers; B2B marketing automation helps to effectively deal with these use cases.

How marketing automation helps small businesses.

Small businesses face a unique set of challenges where they are often limited by the number of staff and other resources available. Many times business owners and salespeople are spread thin, as they work to handle multiple roles and balance the needs of their team. Marketing automation can help to remove some of the redundant tasks that sales & marketing are handling on a routine basis.

How marketing automation can help SMBs

Measuring and reporting on the effectiveness of marketing spend is also a major benefit. Once a clear understanding of ROAS is established, companies can scale these efforts, providing a clear path for growth.

How marketing automation can help a local business.

Local business can also benefit from marketing automation, leveraging many of the same uses as SMB’s. Some technologies will even allow marketing automation actions based upon local events like proximity to a physical location, frequency of visit, and more. Marketing automation software can be a great way for local businesses to stay in content with their customer-base with minimal effort.

Marketing automation for ecommerce.

Using marketing automation for ecommerce websites is often times a “no-brainer”. Marketing
automation software can help ecommerce store owners keep in touch with their existing customers through intelligent email promotions that are highly personalized based upon segmentation by
persona or purchase behavior. Marketing automation can also help boost sales by capturing lost
visitors with timely abandon cart sequences for re-engagement.

What is SMS marketing automation?

SMS marketing automation is a subset of marketing automation functionality that leverages text messages, or simple messaging services (SMS), to communicate with visitors throughout the sales process. For example, marketing automation software may send out a SMS reminder to visitors that have signed up for a webinar or made an appointment.

What should you look for in a marketing automation system?

The features that you should look for in a marketing automation largely depend on your business and the particular goals and challenges within it. There are also considerations around the maturity of a product or the company behind it. Check for product reviews both on the software functionality & support. Consider the ease of implementation, use, and total cost of ownership (TCO) for the solution. Define a marketing automation strategy to identify must-haves versus wants.

How to create a marketing automation strategy.

Developing a marketing automation strategy will lay the foundation for the selection of the right software, as well as for the implementation and ongoing use of the system. To map out a marketing automation strategy, it’s important to first understand the customer journey for the various company offerings. Consider the path to acquiring the customer as well as what happens post-sale. Marketing automation software can serve to educate, entertain, and engage with your prospect and customers.

How do you run a campaign with marketing automation?

Once a strategy has been established for the marketing automation solution and implementation complete it is time to run a test campaign with marketing automation, ensuring deliverability of the various email sequences and notifications as well as any back end segmentation and lead scoring. Once the campaign is validated you are ready to run a campaign with marketing automation.

How to fill the sales funnel with marketing automation.

Filling the sales funnel becomes easier with the help of marketing automation, effectively bridging the gap between marketing & sales. Marketers can focus on campaigns to drive demand & acquire leads at scale, while relying on marketing automation software to prioritize the lead flow and nurture prospects to create a higher quality lead. Gone are the days where marketing is known for driving uninterested marketing qualified leads (MQL’s). Marketing automation now helps keep sales teams happy and pipelines full with prospects that are practically sales qualified.

How to do sales nurturing with a marketing automation system

Nurturing sales prospects is a cornerstone of marketing automation and is usually done through a series of emails and content, all of which are delivered to the prospect in a timely manner. Marketers generally aim to set up lead magnets to capture a prospects attention and contact information before commencing the indoctrination or nurture series. The goal is to introduce new prospects to the business and offerings with a measured approach. Generally this will be done through storytelling & the delivery of content that is helpful, educational, and entertaining. Ultimately this edutainment should help build relationships with your readers or prospects and then gently guide them down the path to purchase.

Which marketing automation software is best?

With seemingly endless options for marketing technology is is hard to decide which marketing automation software is best. The marketing automation space is very mature at this stage with some companies like Marketo having been in the market since 2006. The key is not to buy the marketing automation software that is considered to be “the best” but to determine which software best meets your individual goals & needs. Some options to consider are Marketo, HubSpot, SharpSpring, Ontraport, Infusionsoft, Pardot, and Mautic.

How to know which marketing automation tool to use.

A good starting point once you have set a strategy for your marketing automation plan is to outline the features which are essential to success as compared to the “nice to haves”. It is also important to consider factors like price, software maturity, ease of implementation, level of support, and ongoing maintenance requirements. Make a spreadsheet to outline the features and other decision making criteria and then score each vendor. This will provide you with a decision making matrix that is easy to analyze and digest, which should bring clarity as to which marketing automation tool to use.

Questions to ask when purchasing marketing automation software

There are a lot of questions to ask when purchasing marketing automation software and many of them will depend on your specific use-case. However, there are some common themes that all people undergoing such an evaluation should consider.
Some common questions are:

  • What is the total cost of ownership for the solution?
  • How long will it take to implement the new software?
  • What type of training is recommended for using the system?
  • What systems can be integrated with the marketing automation software?
  • Does the system include an API and is it well documented?
  • Does the system include CRM functionality?
  • Does the system allow management of full customer lifecycles, or only leads and prospects?
  • What level of analytics and reporting is available in the software?
  • What is the path to migration; both to and from the marketing automation system?
  • How many users are supported and how can they collaborate?
  • What types of content does the system handle; email, media, social?
  • How well does the software work across devices including on mobile?
  • Are there limits to the system usage based on number of contacts, accounts, etc.?
  • Can both marketing and sales use the system?
  • What is the path to get support for both administrators and end-users?

Marketing automation implementation methodology

Developing a marketing automation implementation methodology to map out a plan is essential to success. Typically a team is established to execute on the plan, led in conjunction between the project manager and the marketing automation software vendor’s implementation specialist(s). Having already established the marketing automation strategy and high-level functionality to be used, it is time to break up the project into functional components; data integrity, web integration, forms integration, email integration, CRM integration, social integration, analytics integration, lead scoring, reporting setup, and training. A point person should be assigned to each and a timeline established. Regular meetings to discuss progress and challenges should also be established to keep the project on track.

Need help with your marketing automation project?