If you are involved in any form of digital marketing, then you know that marketing automation is changing the rules of the game.
Figures show that, on average, 49% of businesses are already using marketing automation, and more than 55% of B2B companies have adopted automation technologies.
Based on a study by Regalix, businesses most commonly employ automation in:
- email marketing
- lead nurturing
- software integrations of systems such as CRM, mobile, and social media.
Such activities are driving up sales productivity by as much as 14.5% and reducing marketing overhead by 12.2%.
Imagine setting up customer journeys in your email marketing automation software. All actions are automatically triggered and executed, relieving you of any worries about manually nurturing prospects and leading them down the conversion path.
Automation has made marketing faster, easier and more efficient than ever before.
Sounds fantastic, but what exactly is marketing automation, what can it do for your business, and how hard is it to master?
Today we’re going to cover the use cases for marketing automation, and how your business can benefit.
Along the way, we’ll provide plenty of examples that you can draw inspiration from. Let’s get started!
What Are the Goals of Marketing Automation?
By definition, marketing automation refers to the use of software to automate manual marketing processes. This includes repetitive tasks such as sending emails, qualifying website leads, social media posting, and more.
Just like any other marketing technique, marketing automation came to be and has gained acceptance because it helps companies and organizations attain certain business goals, the most important of which are:
- To generate qualified sales leads
- To convert qualified sales leads into profitable customers
- To increase the lifetime value of your customers through customer retention
Converting qualified sales leads into profitable customers is often a central focus for many businesses, because it is easy to track and ties directly to revenue.
It’s important to note that the term “conversion” can mean many things depending on your business model and objectives, such as an inquiry, a purchase or a client setting up an appointment.
Marketing Automation is Part of the Bigger Picture
You might be thinking that the goals of marketing automation seem to be one and the same as the goals of your other marketing efforts. Of course, you are right, even more so because marketing automation does not exist in a vacuum.
Automation is tightly connected to other aspects of your digital marketing program, e.g. your website, landing pages and email campaigns.
Consequently, honing these other digital marketing venues is an integral part of implementing automation successfully.
So, let’s take a step back and look first at things you can do to optimize your website for conversions in general, and, specifically in anticipation of adding automation to your marketing funnel.
How to Optimize Your Website for Conversions
Marketing automation can significantly up the number of visitors to your website. However, while elevated traffic is great, it isn’t very useful if visitors do not convert. It’s your responsibility to make sure that your website has what it takes to convince visitors to take action.
Here are a number of strategies you can implement to help optimize your website for higher conversion rates:
Ensure fast page loads
Your website visitors are busy people, and a page that is slow to load can be a major turn off and even drive visitors away. So regularly check your page load times to make sure they’re quick.
Use less elements
Overfilling a web-page with images and text not only slows loading time, but too many elements can also confuse and distract visitors from the conversion path you designed for them. Keep your customers engaged with limited, yet powerful images and copy to avoid overwhelming visitors.
Strategically place conversion elements
Your call to action, sign up forms and other conversion elements should be placed above the fold so that visitors can find them right away. Remember, not all visitors scroll down your page.
Communicate what’s in it for them
Be straightforward about the benefits of your product or service and how exactly it can help your customers address the challenges they face.
Use action words
Encourage your visitors to act with stimulating verbs in your calls to action. Experiment with your CTAs to know which phrase or words work best. Depending on your goal, you can use “Inquire here,” “Reserve now,” or “Buy now.”
Ask for limited information
Not all visitors are comfortable with providing large amounts of personal information. They don’t believe it’s worth it. Limit your request to a few important data points such as name and occupation. You can always send a survey email to gather further details.
Add testimonials and reviews
Testimonials and positive reviews provide social proof, helping you to establish credibility. Use these eloquent words from your existing customers to build confidence and trust amongst visitors to your site.
Show off your social media follower and subscriber counts
If you have already built a relatively large community for your brand, use this as further social evidence of your reputation.
Every now and then, change your CTA to test whether it improves your conversion rate . A few CTA elements that you can try out are color, copy, placement, and size.
Marketing Automation Strategies that Increase Conversion Rates
Once your website is optimized, it’s time to set up funnels and customer journeys in your marketing automation software to attract people and convert them into paying customers.
Start with the following tips for guaranteed results.
Hyper-personalize your emails
Email personalization is so effective that it would be a fallacy not to use it. Here are a few examples of strategies that you can follow when personalizing your emails:
- Start with the first thing recipients read – the subject line. It is well documented, for instance, that addressing recipients by their first names can make a big difference.
- Leverage customer data such as demographics, past purchases and online behavior to offer the right products and services.
- Send offers based on recipient locations.
- Limit yourself to two or three instances of personalization per email, else it might seem creepy to your recipients.
- Use dynamic content so that recipients see only images that are relevant to their interests.
Here’s a sample of personalized, dynamic, gender based email content by Adidas:
Segment your mailing list
Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all emails. Today, using segmentation to target the right audience with the right email is not only recommended, but a must. Statistics show that segmented email campaigns have 14.32% higher open rates and 100.95% higher click-through rates.
Email list segmentation best practices:
- Create a “new subscriber” mailing list and and send a series of welcome emails.
- Segment your contacts by demographics, such as age, gender and location.
- Check the interests and preferences of your customers based on their email history, website activity, and online behavior, and use this information to send them relevant offers.
- Group contacts who are listed as being from the same location, so that you can send them location-based offers.
- Segment customers based on the level of their engagement. Send highly engaged customers more promotional emails, while adding lapsed customers to your re-engagement email campaigns.
- Segment contacts by purchase amounts, allowing you to offer them up-sell and cross-sell opportunities that make sense.
Set up active triggers
One of the marvels of marketing automation is that it lets you (instantly) respond to your customers’ behavior. This is made possible through triggers.
Triggers are conditions that kick off automations. These conditions embody your own pre-determined criteria and follow if-then logic, e.g. “If a visitor clicks on a product, send them special offers for related products.”
Marketing automation triggers increase the relevancy and immediacy of your marketing emails and messages because they are directly associated with actions customers take when viewing one of your digital assets.
With triggers you can take a variety of responsive actions, such as:
- Sending a welcome note each time a visitor subscribes to receive your emails.
- Displaying a confirmation message or deploying an email each time a customer makes a purchase.
- Emailing a thank you note every time a visitor downloads a promotional offer.
- Reminding customers who abandoned their shopping cart to complete their transactions.
- Emailing visitors who visit a certain page often, as frequent visits could indicate interest or greater intent to buy.
Integrate multiple platforms
You are likely familiar with omnichannel marketing, which states (the obvious) that marketers now need to provide a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device.
Here are a few suggestions for integrating different digital venues and tools into a single, unified marketing approach:
- Integrate email campaigns and newsletters into your marketing automations to send recipients more relevant and timely communications. Automating emails is so fundamental that progressive email marketing platforms double up as marketing automation software.
- Integrate your CRM system with your marketing automation software to help organize and centralize your customer data and to get more out of it.
- Integrate social media to nurture and convert leads gained from the various social platforms you have a presence on. Doing so will also allow you to target customers and subscribers on Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms, with social media ads.
- Integrate your website and landing pages to leverage your customers’ website behavior and activities in your marketing automation strategies. This is also quite common, such that automation software will often include a landing page builder component.
Automation workflows let you weave everything together and precisely plan automated customer journeys. Through workflows, you can automate a series of actions that are triggered when:
- Certain pre-determined conditions are met
- A user’s contact information fits a particular profile
- Customers behave in a specific fashion.
Such workflows make it easier to execute lead nurturing tasks, strengthen customer relationships, and encourage repeat purchases.
Here are a few ideas for workflows that you can set up in your marketing automation software:
- Welcome workflow: Set up a welcome email workflow for new subscribers, encouraging them to make their first purchase.
- Post-purchase workflow: Ask for reviews, testimonials, and feedback via email surveys.
- Re-engagement workflow: Bring back lapsed customers with a workflow that sends a series of re-engagement emails.
- Loyalty program: Strengthen your loyalty program with a workflow that offers rewards, privileges and exclusive discounts, which can encourage additional purchases.
- Content workflow. Send email subscribers relevant content to encourage them to send an inquiry or make a purchase.
Take a peek at the following image to see how easy it is can be to create a workflow with the right marketing automation software:
Use a lead scoring system
Lead scoring is often considered the best way to gauge whether leads are sales-ready or not. In fact, 68% of highly effective and efficient marketers said that lead scoring is their top revenue contributor.
In lead scoring, you are basically grading your leads’ email and website activities by assigning a score to every action they take, such as visiting a product page or clicking on a CTA. Once a lead reaches a score threshold (for instance, 20), they will be turned over to the sales team to try and close a transaction.
Score your leads like a pro with the following tips:
- Establish a scoring threshold that will automatically alert the sales team to leads that are ready for sales.
- Never assign the same score to all actions. High-value actions such as visiting your pricing page or contact-us page must have higher scores than lower-value actions (like opening an email).
- Score leads based on:
- Pages visited
- Number of visits
- Email opens
- Email engagement
- Links clicked
- Blog posts read
- Website session duration
- Social media activity
Measuring the Success of Your Marketing Automation Strategy
Measuring performance is essential; it helps you identify effective strategies and weak spots to improve on.
Of course, for your measurements to be effective, the way you measure your marketing automation performance must be aligned with your automation goals. At the outset of this post, we identified the three primary goals of marketing automation – lead generation, sales, and customer retention.
Here are the top metrics you should always monitor to check if you are on the right track, in relationship to these three goals:
Lead Generation Metrics
- Lead Conversion Rate: Since the goal of lead generation is to convert visitors into leads, conversion rate, in this case, refers to the percentage of leads acquired in relationship to total website visitors. Lead generation could occur through subscription forms or contact-us forms.
- Cost Per Lead: This metric tells you how cost-effective your marketing automation campaigns are in acquiring new leads. To calculate this, divide your total marketing spend by your total new leads.
Sales Conversion Rate: This is the percentage of leads your sales team is able to convert into paying customers, from your pool of qualified leads. To calculate this, divide the number of leads converted into sales by the number of sales qualified leads, and then multiply by 100.
Revenue growth: Tells you how much your marketing automation campaigns have contributed to growing your total revenue. This allows you to get a big picture perspective of your automation efforts.
Average Order Value: This refers to the average dollar amount spent every time a customer places an order or makes a purchase. To calculate this, divide total revenue by the number of orders.
Cost per Acquisition: This metric shows you how much you are spending to acquire a single paying customer.
Metrics to Gauge Customer Retention
Customer Retention Rate: This metric tells you the percentage of customers who come back to your store or site, to buy again, after their initial purchase. Of course, the way you measure this must be aligned with your business model and the nature of your products.
Lifetime Value per Customer: When customers keep coming back, this metric gives you an idea of how valuable each customer is to your business in the long run. You can use lifetime value per customer to determine a budget for customer retention strategies such as coupons or exclusive discounts.
Marketing automation may sound complex, but it’s well worth the effort to learn and implement.
With the right goals and strategies, you can easily increase your website conversions and grow your business, while doing away with cumbersome manual processes.
Kimberly Maceda is a Content Writer for ActiveTrail. She writes for top online marketing sites and provides blogging advice on email marketing and marketing automation. ActiveTrail is a leading provider of professional-grade email marketing and automation software for growing businesses.