A lot of content is needed, but there's no need to panic. Remember to refine, repurpose, retarget and reshare.
Marketing automation is no longer a distant thought or a vague image in the far future. Marketers are now finally embracing the potential of marketing automation. But before we get to work, let's shed a few of the most common misconceptions.
Marketing automation is wrongly associated with an uncontrollable flood of messages. A chock-full inbox and robotic messages about random things come to mind. However, that is quite the opposite of what marketing automation actually aims to do.
The goal of marketing automation is not to force-feed customers things they don't want. Instead, the goal is to get to the bottom of what the customer really needs, suggest things they might need and, above all, rush in when they show interest.
When talking about marketing automation, "customer service" might not be the first word that comes to mind even though, it essentially is just that. Marketer that utilizes marketing automation aspires to the exact same things as a store manager that wants to know their customers.
Instead of talking face to face and asking questions, customer data is gathered using marketing technology, automatically and combining different channels.
With each contact point, the marketer learns more about the customer and the image of an individual customer becomes clearer. This allows the communication towards a particular recipient to be more relevant, timely and targeted.
There has been a lot of hype around marketing automation and it might easily come across as the shortcut to success – ”everybody should do this”. Investing in marketing automation doesn't guarantee success on its own.
When it comes to good results, it is essential to understand the buying process and the challenges and stages of the customer's path that you really want to dig into. How are our sales and marketing working now and how would we want them to work? What is it that we actually want to automate?
Take small steps instead of complete renovations. Marketing automation is not a short-term project that is completed at one go, but a process that is fine-tuned and molded as things advance. This is a comforting thought for the marketer: everything doesn't have to be decided at the first stages.
If everything is fixed at once, the correlation between succeeding and failing is easily lost. Remember that data is not the enemy, but your best friend and guide on your journey.
Throughout history ”automation” has meant that humans use less time on tasks that machines would do faster. In other words, the role of humans has gone from routines to planning and designing.
The same applies for marketing automation. Automation is not replacing people: it is a tool. After automating routines, successful marketing still need humans to plan strategies and messages, coordinate entities, learn, analyze and modify criteria and functionalities.
Instead of making employees redundant, it is likely and also desirable that the job description of marketers changes. As the popularity of printed media continues to decrease and digitalization advances, the marketing teams evolve as well. By combining the possibilities of technology and marketing know-how, there are basically no limits to where automation can be utilized – or the imagination of the marketer sets those limits.
Marketing automation might evoke the misconception of automated messages running by themselves, without any efforts. The truth is, however, that content is always needed. Marketing automation doesn't decrease the amount of marketing material that is needed, it actually increases it. Instead of one mass delivery, you need more fragmented and targeted content – in other words, more content.
Yes, a lot of content is needed, but there's no need to panic. The same content can often be used with small alterations, by targeting content to a new audience and by refining to a new target group.
Refine, repurpose, retarget, reshare. You go far by just modifying ready-made content and utilizing RSS content search in an online store, blog or social media feed, for example. Many crucial automations don't actually demand a lot of content, such as shopping cart reminder, birthday discount code or a reminder about using a discount code.
The price tag for marketing automation might seem relatively expensive. Yes, marketing automation requires monetary contribution. Putting money in it should, however, be seen as an investment instead of a cost.
Therefore, the marketers who are making arguments for their bosses should concentrate on showing the value that automation brings. What is the stage of the bying process, the challenge or the void in customership that we are going to concentrate on? How many new customers, re-activated buyers or recommendations are needed for the cost to be returned?
Marketing automation is a technology that is not aimed at only enterprise level companies. It's good to remember that there are also different kinds of automation providers: starting from light providers that offer automation as an email marketing add-on, all the way to heavy-duty automation systems that require certifications and long determination projects.
Marketing automation is not aimed at only large organizations. Having routines automated and decreasing manual labor might have a huge impact especially in situations where employee resources are limited. Relatively small and simple trigger messages could have an enormous effect. What if half of your customers would renew their contracts from an automated message instead of you calling each and every one of them?
Marketing automation might seem scary since the projects are often seen as stiff and sturdy IT-lead processes. Starting with automation doesn't have to be a long and difficult project.
Agile automation projects are characterized by not setting things in stone in the determining stage. Instead, the automated messages and your criteria can be flexibly altered when the first results come in and your understanding increases.
The key thing is to pay special attention to usability of the tool when choosing the automation platform. How are the messages created? Can the users work independently with the tool, or does every change require the supplier's help?
Comparing the mere number of features is bad starting point for choosing an automation platform. The best tool is not necessarily the one with the most features – especially if these features are difficult to use.
It is more important to make sure that the tool is constantly developed. Can the provider you have chosen meet your needs now, and in the future? What kind of resources does the provider have to implement integrations to other systems? What if we encounter problems, who do we call?
Utilizing marketing automation doesn't mean that the sales team will stop making cold calls. Cold calling will, however, beome easier and more fruitful with marketing automation. Who would you rather call, the marketing decision-maker x from company y, or an identified contact that, you already know when making the call, has browsed certain websites, downloaded a guide about a chosen subject and listened to the webinar you held last week?
The inbound leads that marketing automation produces are an important part of marketing automation and many think its most important benefit. However, automation is not only a technoogy for the start of a buyer's journey but reaches to all stages of it.
Marketing automation is not only the marketing team's business. Cooperation with the teams that work in the customer interface, like sales, customer service and support, is always needed.
When producing leads, marketing and sales together determine the moment that moves the lead to the sales team. Is it a certain number of website visits, downloading a guide or visiting the contact us page? The criteria can also be extended further in the customership. Could we prevent customers from leaving if we sent an automated message to customers that haven't logged in in a while? How about if we offer a high-quality training package for those that need a lot of tech support?
The internal cooperation in an organization doesn't have to be limited to defining the automation points and criteria – in addition to marketing, the expertise in the company can be utilized in content creation as well. Everybody doesn't need be able to produce ready and stylized text. You are the expert on that, so have a cup of coffee and sit next to a sales or support team member: ask questions, listen and write on behalf of them.
Contact our team of marketing automation professionals to discuss more.
Johanna is a Marketing Manager and Team leader at Liana Technologies. She is an experienced content marketer with an age-old love for writing. Johanna believes that there's nothing quite like the flow of good writing, except the flow of contemporary dance. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.
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