While marketing automation is a hot topic across industries, many marketers are daunted by the complexities of combining customer journeys, content strategies, and dense technologies. Marketing automation technology allows marketers to generate and nurture leads with sequenced, segmented, and automated campaigns that deliver content at scale, with minimal intervention. Automation can be used to dynamically change content; test messaging; and sequence messages and notifications. As with any marketing initiative, the goal should always be focused on providing content that benefits your customers.
Here are some of the simplest ways to use automation to generate and nurture leads now.
Email is the granddaddy of marketing automation. It's the best documented and most mature automation channel, and is the gateway to automation for many marketers. There are several types of emails that can be automated:
- Lead nurturing - Lead nurturing is an integral part of a successful marketing strategy, and it builds relationships at scale. Craft content that guides a potential customer through the purchasing process, incorporating third-party reviews, purchase incentives, a sense of urgency, and strong calls to action.
- Existing customer programs - Encouraging repeat purchases increases the lifetime value of your customers. If your product has a typical expiration or consumption rate, you can automate emails reminding customers to make their next purchase. You can also automate product recommendations based on past purchase behavior, broadening the customer's awareness of your products and services.
- Cart abandonment - If a customer adds an item to their cart, and then abandons their cart before purchasing, you can automate a retargeting workflow that triggers an email to the customer with a discount code or other incentive to buy now.
- Feedback requests - Sending a well-timed message requesting customers leave an online review of a recent purchase is an efficient way to improve product ratings and reviews while gathering important feedback that strengthens your connection with existing customers.
While social media is expected to be Always-On, your social media manager doesn't need to be ever-present. The advantages of social media automation are as much about consistency and optimization as they are about time savings and reduced demand on resources.
- Scheduling - Content schedulers allow you to manage your content by day, week, or month and can be set up to auto publish for specific times and dates. Social media automation tools also use algorithms to optimize posts to increase the likelihood of engagement. These algorithms look beyond general best practices, and consider the engagement behavior of your followers. There are tools to manage auto-paid social advertising, which is key for improving reach and engagement.
- DMs - There are several tools that can automate direct messages to new followers. However, while many marketers want and use this feature, there's little evidence to suggest that it works.
- Multi-platform publishing - These tools allow marketers to manage their social media content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more from a single dashboard. However, marketers should still customize the content for each platform and its audience.
- Analytics - You can schedule standard reports for your social media platforms rather than manually running the reports each day, week, or month.
Website automation is the use of special programs and other tools to manage website information. As site visitors increasingly demand precise targeting tools, marketers turn to marketing automation to optimize customer experiences and improve conversion rates.
- Shopping cart - Marketing automation can be used to reengage consumers who have abandoned their purchase after they've filled their shopping cart. Using behavior data as an indication of purchase intent, automation software can personalize banner ads, emails, and landing pages to reflect the interest of an individual customer.
Customers have come to expect a complete experience from brands that spans time, space, and devices. Mobile marketing automation has the added complexity of context such as location and environment, but it also presents an opportunity to deliver value to your customers when they are most captive and interested in hearing from your brand.
- Location-based marketing: With GPS, geo-fencing, and iBeacon technology, marketers can present messages based on a customer's physical location.
- Event-based triggers: Marketers can send personalized push notifications based on specific in-app behaviors
- SMS: Use SMS or "short messaging service" to market loyalty programs and communicate with your most active and opted in customers. SMS can also be automated to deliver service alerts and to keep customers aware of product status throughout their customer experience.
Despite claims to the contrary, marketing automation doesn't exist to make marketing easier - the value of marketing automation is that it makes programs better. Use automation software to deliver a more consistent message, better track results, and to be there for your customers when they need you. Automated programs should be kept in balance with a personalized and approachable marketing content strategy that makes it clear people are behind the brand.