Marketing automation – a combination of marketing concepts and technology – aims to provide businesses with tools that automate redundant tasks and improve the entire lead nurturing process. Marketing automation software can also keep the customer engaged and in close contact with the brand, and there is a plethora of other functions that these applications do better and faster than a person could.
As of 2018, 44% of marketers used automation platforms, and another 42% planned to use these tools by 2020, according to Salesforce's report, State of Marketing, Fifth Edition. However, even though marketing automation can be seen as a shift in how marketing teams conduct business, it is still often misunderstood. To avoid a potential lag, beware of the common mistakes listed below.
#1: You Expect the Software to Do Everything
Software automation has not reached the point where you can tell the software your final goal and then simply sit back and wait for results. Knowledgeable human input is still important if you want marketing automation to work.
Automation software is amazing at repetitive tasks. Unfortunately, the end result of creative processes executed by the software is robotic and not engaging. It simply maintains a process people create, so the process should be put together by human beings for human beings. Don’t just let the software make the segmentation and put together email templates – the result will be robotic communication.
Further, software-generated email templates will likely annoy your customers, and the automated segmentation will be uninspired; neither outcome is something you want. For inspiration (or as we should call it, anti-inspiration), check out these worst automated email examples and don’t repeat their mistakes.
Start by getting used to the software’s features. Also, make sure everyone in charge of marketing campaigns or involved in the sales process understands the software. The more knowledgeable your staff is, the more useful the software will become.
Continue by developing content for different buyer personas at each step of the sales funnel and making sure the entire communication feels personal and warm. When you make the segmentation, find the criteria that work best for each category of customers. As a starting point, check these tips about eCommerce email automation workflows.
#2: You Lack a Solid Content Plan
The idea behind marketing automation is to simplify the process of attracting quality leads, nurture existing customers, and create a reliable, easy-to-follow sales process. However, you can't achieve these goals without a strong content strategy.
In order to attract leads who have interest in your product, show them your capability to support their needs. You do so by providing them with high-quality content, such as authoritative articles, high-quality blog posts, and insightful newsletters that engage customers and prospects.
When thinking about implementing automation software, you should analyze your current content. Is your site optimized for search engines in order to attract new visitors? Do you have existing content that can be used to nurture leads at their stage of the buyer journey, or will you need to create new, engaging pieces? What kinds of content do you want to send to prospects, current customers, and churned customers?
By looking at these factors, you can establish a content strategy for the following months before you even purchase a software solution.
#3: You Don't Know How to Evaluate the Right Software
Given the amount of marketing automation software solutions out there, it's easy to default to cost. But it can be a mistake to select a solution based primarily on price. Since not all software solutions are built the same, sometimes price is the least revealing aspect to consider.
It's also risky to accept a software package without fully evaluating all the functions. By falling into this trap, not only will you end up with features you don’t need (or use), but you may also miss out on the ones you do need.
Before you even consider making a purchase, establish a budget that your department will spend on a new application. Then, do some research on the features supported by each piece of software you're considering. Make sure to understand your own automation needs by determining which features are important for your business besides lead nurturing. For example, do you also need a solution that supports CRM integration features? Or maybe you want one that comes with a landing-page builder. What are your needs in the near future compared with long term? Is the software scalable or will you need to switch as you grow? In short, analyze your specific needs and work within a budget to understand which solution will work best for you.
#4: You Only Use Automation to Send Emails
Some businesses that use automation software only take advantage of the email features. While email automation is useful and the software packages are amazing at it, they have a lot more to offer. By only using the email features, you underutilize a great tool that can help grow your business and integrate all the processes that lead to a sale.
Software automation tools also handle CRM integration, the creation of landing pages, campaign analytics, segmentation, campaign management, and even lead management. All these features help create a fully integrated process, from attracting the right leads to closing the deal to maintaining a long-term relationships with customers.
If you apply all these features (or the ones that are helpful in your line of work), the time spent on redundant tasks will be drastically reduced. But even more important, there won’t be as many gaps between departments and you won’t lose clients through the cracks that usually show up in human communication.
#5: You Don't Integrate Marketing Automation with Sales
Just like most business don’t use automation software to its full potential, many only use it for the marketing team, which creates delays in processing lead data for sales reps.
Often, automation software supports features that automatically notify the sales team whenever a lead is considered a solid possible customer. But, if the sales team is not in the loop, the communication happens using external tools (emails, internal messaging, meetings, and so on). While this process can be effective, you don’t have the guarantee that leads are seamlessly passed from the marketing team to the sales team.
Ensure that marketing, sales, and any others involved in the process use the automation software to its highest level. Also, in the spirit of collaboration, organize meetings with sales colleagues and have them work on creative ideas together. It will solidify the bonds between employees and will allow for a more fluid exchange of information in the future.
Conclusion: Understand the Breadth of Automation's Capabilities
Marketing automation software is an effective tool and worthwhile investment if it is used at the right time and by people who understand the features and functionalities. When used well, such applications are an important cog in effective customer engagement.
We hope that the mistakes listed above will help you select and use the right type of software for your business.
About the AuthorMore Content by Joshua Lauer