MARKETING AUTOMATION IS REALLY IMPORTANT

Businesses are becoming obsessed with  marketing automation for good reason. It streamlines marketing campaigns and increases efficiency, and in turn ROI. 

Operations within a marketing automation software platform have many names – in Marketo they’re called Programs, Hubspot calls them Workflows, Autopilot calls them Journeys. As I have a penchant for the poetic, let’s call them Journeys. 

Here, we’ll explain what marketing automation is, why it’s so important, and then we’ll outline the four key journeys you need to perfect within your marketing automation system.

Marketing automation is software that automates marketing actions to make repetitive or complex marketing actions easier. Marketing automation helps organize segmentation, lead generation, customer retention and more. It allows businesses to take data and turn it into activity.

There is a mistaken perception that CRMs and Marketing Automation are similar, but they’re not the same thing at all. While both CRM and marketing automation store contact data, the CRM is more like a data depot, while marketing automation helps turn that data and make it useful.

CRMs vs. MARKETING AUTOMATION

CRMs, or Client Relationship Managers tend to be more sales-focused, while marketing automation is more marketing-focused. 

While a CRM is usually holding data that drives your marketing activity, the Marketing Automation is typically associated with email campaigns but is capable of far more. I see companies all the time using expensive, compex marketing automation platforms as though they were Mailchimp! While CRMs focus on sales goals, marketing automation is a software “with the goal of automating marketing actions.” It plays a role at the top of the funnel by identifying raw leads, viable leads, nurtured leads, and active leads. These leads, already guided through the top of the funnel go to the sales team, which can then turn those leads in conversions.

To nurture those leads into more promising prospects for sales, marketing automation is used to schedule and circulate content via emails, text messages, even postcards(!!), and it does it automatically based on where the lead is at in the sales funnel (or any other segmentation you can think of). Whatever segmentation you think is most powerful can determine the type of journey, or component, that is used.

Today, we’ll start with these four journeys:

  • Operational Journey
  • Event Journey
  • Nurture Journey
  • Re-engagement Journey

What do these Journeys do? They help generate more quality leads using a process that’s more organized and streamlined.

The following journeys are more like a road map. It’s not often your first set of marketing, messaging, or nurturing is successful, which is why you have Plan B, and even Plan C.

OPERATIONAL JOURNEYS:Making A Plan

Operational campaigns are the glue that holds your operation together. Think of them as the rules by which your automation operates. These rules are a series of plans and instructions, and they usually include data management (which titles correlate to which personas? which zip codes correlate to which geographic regions?), lead scoring (what actions lead to which scores?), lead routing (who is responsible for which leads?) and so on.

Once you turn your operational journeys on, they rarely need editing, and you can focus on the key content delivery journeys that will yield direct ROI.

EVENT JOURNEYS:

Plan A: Event journeys are sometimes synonymous with batch campaigns, which center around an upcoming event (a catch-all term for content launch) and revolve around product launches, promotions, upcoming events and content releases. They are at the most basic level comprised of outbound marketing emails (the batch), and then reminder and follow-up emails.

The first aspect of event campaigns is establishing goals. You need to have specific goals to make all processes smoother and synchronized between teams. These goals need to be measurable for performance assessment and better planning.

Once your goals are established and measurable, you can move on to pre-event planning. This can include creating awareness of the event through social media, blogs, and partner outreach. The goal is to generate as much awareness as possible to increase the likelihood of engagement with the event’s content.

If you’re successful, you’ll have generated a lot of interest by the time your planned event comes around. At this point, emails, blogs, and social media announcing the release or start of your event are invaluable. What’s the point of generating awareness if you don’t announce the arrival of the actual event itself?

Finally, the event has happened. Now is when event journeys become a bit tough. You need to keep the momentum going. Evenbrite sums up the best way to do this:

“The best way to achieve this through a cycle of content creation, social promotion and engagement, and email support.”

Follow-up is crucial. Of course, even if the pre-event, event, and follow-up are well executed, there are chances that although some prospects engaged with your event they simply fell through the funnel.

Maybe they just need more time before converting to high value prospects?

This brings us to Plan B: nurture campaigns.

NURTURE JOURNEYS:

Plan B: Nurture campaigns come into play when you have the attention of your lead, but they don’t progress through the sales funnel and convert.

At this point, all they might need more. More time, more content.

A key feature of nurture campaigns is steady drip content with customized messaging for each of your main segments (of course, you shouldn’t forget to define those segments in advance – you have to know who your audience is to plan a successful nurture campaign featuring quality steady drip content).

But what is steady drip content? Steady drip content means what it sounds like. Regularly and steadily releasing content, usually according to schedule. That does usually mean that your content already has to exist, or be written in advance. You can use existing blogs, webinars, and other previously written material.

You can personalize of course, by sending certain content in certain amounts and times based on leads’ current engagement and past interactions with your business. 

If, even in spite of a well-planned nurture campaign your prospects do not make it through the funnel, then it’s time for Plan C. Plan C involves new techniques to re-engage interest.

RE-ENGAGEMENT JOURNEYS:

Plan C: Enter the re-engagement campaign, the final push.

This step happens when engaged lead has seen all of the nurture content—but still hasn’t converted. What do you do next? You try something different.

Re-engagement involves trying new techniques in order to reignite and keep interest enough to create a conversion. Any one of these techniques could be feedback requests, emails, polls, video content, and other brain children you and your business come up with. But all in all, it’s still content in some shape or form.

So what’s the difference between a nurture campaign and re-engagement campaign? This:

“Nurture and Re-Engagement campaigns look similar in structure but feature really different types of content – Nurture is your classic messaging, Re-Engagement is where you try new things.”

UNIVERSAL Ebook

It makes sense. Once something isn’t working, doing the same thing over and over again isn’t going to give you different results. This means you need to take a look at what you did previously, assess what was most effect and most ineffective and weed out the bad seeds.

This could include having overloaded leads with information and emails, confusing content and design, deceptive phrasing, repetitive materials etc.

One of these, too many emails, is obviously something to learn from. But it doesn’t mean you should drop emails completely, as they can be a highly beneficial factor in re-engagement campaigns. In fact, one source states that as many as 45% of those on the receiving end of re-engagement emails also read the emails that followed. However, that’s only if they read the first, which is why you need to change your previous email approach.

This doesn’t mean email is all you should do. The point is to be creative. Try surveys, or video content, for example. Surveys can help you identify what you need to change, and also invite inactive prospects to re-engage. Humans are very visual creatures, and in this day and age, most people would rather watch something than read. If the written word isn’t working so well for you, perhaps it’s time to try videos, gifs, pictures of cats – throw everything against a wall and see what sticks.

After you’ve poured all your energy into brain-storming and implementing new techniques, there are two ways it can go. Best case scenario, they re-engage. They progress all the way through the funnel and you meet your goals.

However, there’s also a chance that in spite of all your work, a lead will not convert, and therefore be considered officially “cold.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t a plan D for that. It means that it’s time to reassess the sum-total of your efforts. What worked? What didn’t? After analyzing the results, it’s time to apply the correlating changes to your next campaign.

 

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER

It’s important not to look at these campaigns as lone individuals, but more as a road map. Marketing automation certainly makes that easier. Your course of action depends on the response it receives and branches out according to positive or neutral reception.

These signals allow you to choose your next direction and adjust your marketing automation campaign accordingly.

Breaking it down into if-then-what scenarios is the most effective technique you can use in any marketing automation campaign.

Above all, don’t hold on to tactics and content that are stale. Think of it as journey. Sometimes you need to change direction.

For more ABM and marketing tips, download our newest Ebook, UNIVERSAL today.

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