Marketing requires a great deal of repetitive tasks – from mass emails to management of website traffic to social media marketing. The regular upkeep of these processes do not require critical thinking or strategizing to maintain and can be tedious. Unfortunately, there’s also a large margin for human error when manually executing these tasks.
Due to the overwhelming amount of responsibilities and tasks that marketing juggle, marketing automation has soared in popularity. According to Forrester researchers, marketers are projected to increase spending for marketing automation by 14% over the next five years.
Recap of 2018
Over the course of 2018, trends in marketing automation prioritized the integration of humanity and technology. Strategies emphasized the need to create a positive, authentic customer experience while also utilizing technological innovations to handle the day to day operations of doing so.
When utilizing marketing automation, it may seem contradictory to also focus on the “human element”. However, as tools for automation grow in popularity among marketers, impersonal emails and other communications can become more like white noise to consumers. Or, worse yet, consumers might choose to unsubscribe from your email list or block you altogether.
This pushback against cold, sales-drive automation tactics has made marketers more conscious in 2018 of which processes to automate and how they forge connections with customers. Auto-generated messaging has shifted from trying to persuade or influence consumers’ decision-making to more genuine engagement.
Despite concerns of losing the human touch, common practices for marketing automation in 2018 also included extending automation to streamline all processes in an organization that are customer-facing. This trend gained traction as it makes internal teams all be on the same page and follows potential customers through the sales cycle – helping businesses understand the lead type and determine how to communicate.
Finally, consolidation played a huge role in what tools and software marketers chose when seeking automation strategies. An all-in-one system was a major priority to make daily tasks simple and satisfy overall goals for automated marketing.
Tools for Marketing Automation in 2019
When looking for technology to help streamline your marketing efforts, not all tools are created equal. While you may already have an established CRM system or use other software such as Adobe to simplify specific tasks, these top marketing tools are easy-to-use and simplify various complicated processes.
Canva is a free tool for designing engaging graphics for your website, social media and more. With Canva, you don’t need a team of graphic designers to create high-quality, on-brand imagery. Anyone in your business can customize images without needing to know the ins and outs of the program.
Another must-have free tool is Google Keyword Planner. This user-friendly tool can enhance your Google ads by allowing you to search for keywords and view how they might perform so you can choose competitive bids and set your budget.
Google Analytics simplifies how you track and measure everything regarding your website, Google advertisements and audience statistics. This powerful tool gives you valuable information for calculating ROI and benchmarking your growth.
For more analytics about visitor behavior on your website, Hotjar is a useful tool. Heatmaps, website recordings, and conversion funnels help you understand the way visitors interact with your website, shows any display or functionality issues and identifies potential bounce rate causes.
BuzzSumo helps you stay ahead with alerts for relevant content. This tool alerts you of brand mentions and allows you to track competitors or when external content mentions keywords of interest.
Hootsuite is one of the leading tools for automating social media marketing. With Hootsuite, you can schedule posts across different social media, track hashtags, engage with audiences and manage ads.
Marketing Automation Strategies
Implement Auto-Lead Generating Content
Generating leads is a primary function for marketing that you can automate through your website and online forms. As highlighted in Marketing & Growth Hacking, pre-recorded webinars are excellent lead magnets that drive conversations among audiences, present your brand to high-quality leads and are relatively self-maintaining.
Make It Personal
As in 2018, marketers will be aiming for more authentic content that tells a story versus making a sale. Implement more storytelling in your content on your website, social media and even in your email campaigns. Rather than using automation software to paste audiences’ names at the top of emails, focus on crafting a relevant message that resonates with your target audience.
Segment Your Audiences
Bringing in a lead is only half the battle. Next, it’s your job as a marketer to engage with them and convert them to a client. Use a lead’s stage in the sales cycle to appropriately group them and provide relevant content that guides them through the process. For example, automated nurture emails can help introduce your brand, highlight the benefits of your offering and offer free trials depending on the prospect’s status or lead score.
Once the lead is converted, use lead scoring to establish a brand loyalty program and engage with them accordingly.
Continue Engagement beyond the Initial Sale
In 2019, marketers are pushing to continue the sales cycle through relevant upsells based off the customer’s purchase history and other data. Additionally, frequent, targeted communication builds a stronger relationship with customers and can increase brand loyalty. Methods for doing so can include reminding a customer of a product they abandoned in their shopping cart on your website, asking them for feedback via surveys and more.
Software to Streamline Marketing Processes
The key difference between automation tools and software is in how comprehensive the solutions are. While tools are highly specialized in the tasks they offer, marketing automation software tends to be more of a comprehensive solution. Here are a few different types of software for automating marketing in 2019.
HubSpot is a highly rated software that enables a business to manage lead generation, email marketing, manage tickets and receive customer feedback.
ActiveCampaign bundles together all aspects of email marketing, sales automation with CRM and messaging to engage website visitors and drive them to take action.
Marketo offers a comprehensive solution for multiple aspects of digital marketing such as lead management, email marketing, consumer marketing, customer base marketing and mobile marketing.
Act-On is also a highly rated system for email marketing, website visitor tracking, lead management, social media and integrations for webinar hosting.
Drip is an Ecommerce CRM that enables you to build a personal relationship with customers via comprehensive tracking, segmentation, and email marketing automation.
For more recommendations for marketing automation software, check out this list by G2Crowd.
With the seemingly endless options for marketing automation, it can be challenging to decide which processes to automate and how to best approach these strategies. These 5 best practices outline the key areas of your marketing plan that you can streamline through automation to not only save time and money, but to optimize the customer experience.
Automate Your Lead Management
Different leads in different stages of the sales process need their own content to successfully nurture, convert and continually engage leads. Be sure to clearly map the buyer’s process, and establish a plan to automate how you get their information and how you engage with them based on where they are in the sales cycle.
Set up a way to determine their lead score and select the appropriate content to send them depending on their score thresholds. Are they a hot lead? Create a sense of urgency with a deal just for them. Cold lead? Email them a client testimonial.
Once you make a lead qualification game plan, it’s simple to guide them through the buying process with a self-contained nurture campaign.
Establish Loyalty Programs
As previously mentioned, it’s crucial to engage and reward customers even after they are converted. Use your lead scoring to identify the most engaged prospects and loyal customers and set up automated campaigns to entice them into joining a loyalty program or upsell them. Maintaining a positive relationship with customers is the key to long-term success as a brand.
Email Marketing Automation
If you’re debating which marketing processes to automate first, email marketing should be number 1. Emails are a crucial way to reach customers on a one-on-one basis without taking the time or resources to do so. Using lead scoring and targeting, create an engaging email with an effective call to action for each stage of the nurture process.
The best way to test your effectiveness and ensure automated processes are running as they should be is by collecting as much data as possible. Set aside a time to routinely analyze your programs, strategies, and content and adjust anything that is not providing an acceptable ROI.
For example, if your welcome email in your nurture campaign is showing low click-through rates, you should revisit your email and assess what may need fixing. Maybe your CTA button was too small or the email went to the wrong target group. The willingness to frequently assess your effectiveness is instrumental as a marketer in 2019.