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Marketing automation is a must – but you need a strategy

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 26 Sep, 2019
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5 ways to develop a better marketing automation strategy

In the age of automation, it’s easy for businesses to rest on machine efficiency while eschewing strategy. After all, if you can use a few software programs to send your emails, schedule your social media, and initiate Push notifications, why not use all of them? The underlying theory is maximum outreach, maximum results, but that simply isn’t true.

Instead, businesses would do better to narrow the scope of their automation practices and develop a well-focused strategy that focuses on meaningful contact rather than just maximum contact. Employ the programs at your disposal, but don’t overwhelm your customers.

For a digital marketing strategy that drives sales home, consider these five tips. With the right suite of programs and a clear long-term plan, your business can shift from automation as a strategy to automation as architecture, the structure that supports the strategy.

Choose Smarter Software

Many companies think that to keep up with modern marketing automation, they’ll need all of the latest software, but the reality is that you need the right software, not just the newest products. In many cases, that can mean sticking with older programs that do their job well and without excess complication.

If we take a closer look at trending marketing software, we find that older programs like MailChimp, an automated email marketing program that came to market in 2001, is still one of the top programs around. Hootsuite, another older program used for social media marketing, is also highly ranked. While there are plenty of popular, new programs that offer excellent marketing tools and powerful integration, you don’t need to ditch your old software just because it seems out of date. Choosing marketing automation software doesn’t mean conducting a department-wide overhaul.

Put Data In The Driver’s Seat

One of the most significant marketing flaws made worse by automation is data neglect. Sure, there are plenty of software programs that can collect information, such as conversion rates and ROI, but automation can make launching a campaign seem so easy that it isn’t worth checking the supporting research. Unfortunately, this wastes time and money.

In 2017, marketers need to learn to strategize based on date science. That means checking the numbers from past campaigns, looking for gaps in your customer base, and beta testing marketing ideas before sending them out to your audience. Though it’s comparatively labor intensive, especially for those marketing professionals who struggle with data interpretation, it’s worth the effort to offer better marketing, rather than just a large amount of marketing.

Beat The Baseline

Following up on the idea that your marketing strategy should be driven by data, your company should consider one of its marketing goals to improve on the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule suggests that in marketing, 80 percent of your sales derive from 20 percent of your content.

What does statistical improvement look like in this regard? In general, your marketing goal should be to increase the total profits represented in that 80 percent while also increasing or maintaining that 20 percent value – lower value marketing content isn’t worthless and it may be a place to grow from, but more high-value content is always a good thing. In essence, you can’t eliminate the lower value content, but you can improve at least a portion of it.

You’ll only know if you’re improving on the 80/20 rule if you carefully track both the before and after marketing number for your campaigns. Every year, you should be improving your sales numbers, and that starts with data-driven marketing.

Create Marketing Landmarks

One great automated marketing tool is triggered email – emails that arrive based on certain on-site activities. They’re an ideal way to engage with customers because they’re based on related actions, offering welcome messages, onboarding, responding to shopping cart abandonment, and other similar scenarios. To make the most of triggered emails, though, it’s time to look beyond those baseline scenarios and seek other ways to connect with your customers.

Create customer landmarks – including referrals, length of time they’ve been a member of the site, certain purchases, or interacting with a customer service representative – that can initiate a triggered email and follow-up on how these worked. Certain action/message pairings will stand out from the pack as especially meaningful because they yield greater interactions and profits. These are the landmarks you want to maintain within your broader strategy, and key moments you can build on in customer relationships.

Lead With Speed

No matter how much data you have and how much you trust your marketing software, one of the most important things that automation allows is for you to test and fail fast. Failure is an inevitable aspect of marketing and if something isn’t working, data analysis allows you to pull it almost immediately.

Don’t waste time on marketing strategies that aren’t profitable. Instead, make sure you’re always running the tests on the next possibility. Even if you don’t need another strategy right now, it will surely be useful down the road.

Marketing success is really just about recuperating quickly when you fail and trying something new. You test, you launch, and you repeat – and the faster you can execute this process, the more of an advantage you’ll have over the competition.

Are you ready to revamp your company’s relationship with marketing automation? Through assessment, smart program selection, and a willingness to fail and try again in the service of your customers, your business can make its name as a marketing powerhouse, reaching customers on a new level. But remember – it all starts with a clear, data-driven strategy.

Your foundation needs to be strong before you build it up with automation software.

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