Marketing Automation 101: A Beginners Guide
Marketing automation has existed in some form for around a decade, in its early days it was more commonly referred to as “Martech”. The simplest definition of it is that: marketing technology.
Martech is a pretty loose term though; marketing technology embodies pretty much all of digital marketing: email campaigns, SMS, display, PPC, social media etc. But what we really mean when we refer to marketing automation is this: a series of campaigns scheduled in advance, adding different flows of content based on checking how a contact engages.
Still, a bit to get your head round though, right? Yep, so given the old saying, that a picture paints 1,000 words. Hopefully, this will help:
What’s the difference between marketing automation and email marketing?
Consider it like this: email marketing makes up a component of marketing automation programs. Here at CommuniGator, we primarily use email marketing campaigns as the core channel to drive automation.
Marketing automation allows you to not just schedule your campaigns ahead of time, but set up a series of logic and a journey to take your contacts on. It can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.
It’s so much more than just email marketing campaigns, wait periods and conditions though. You’ll need to ensure you have a clever CRM that’s integrated into a two-way flow of data. Using an integrated marketing automation platform, such as CommuniGator, allows you to stitch together your lead generation software with your campaigns. For example, if you have GatorLeads as well as GatorWorkflow, you can create sophisticated lead nurture programs. This means that you can trigger campaign journeys based on actions you determine, warming your leads and feeding that information back into your CRM.
Am I ready to start doing it?
Provided that you have a CRM packed full of useful data, and a solid marketing strategy, chances are, yes. We recommend starting small and working up to more sophisticated programs once you’re more acquainted with your marketing automation platform.
The only real limitation of marketing automation is your data. If you are regularly tracking your leads and customers activities, whether that’s what they’re engaged with on your website or emails, or what they’re buying, you shouldn’t have an issue.
If you’re not so confident about your data quality, then you’re in luck. At CommuniGator, we have a team of account managers and specialists available to help. With us, you can improve what you have and super charge your strategy, meaning your lead and customer journeys convert to better opportunities for you. We are also available to assist you with ensuring your marketing content is in tip top condition. Our team will conduct a website content audit, identifying improvements you may wish to consider, and how the website journey could be translated into your marketing automation strategy.
Once you have content and data considerations dealt with, next comes your goals. What do you want to achieve? Perhaps you want to save time, or there is a particularly repetitive part of your sales process that you wish you could have someone else perform. Ask yourself the following:
- Are your sales and marketing teams working together on your lead generation process?
- Have you mapped your ideal lead journey?
- If you are dealing with customer contracts, have you set out the key touch points for past successful renewals?
To be fair, even if you can’t say “yes” with conviction to all of these, marketing automation could still be for you.
What do I need to get started?
As mentioned before, you’ll need an active CRM so you can identify segments and analyse the performance of your campaigns once live.
Next, you’ll need to have a content strategy for your campaigns. If you don’t have someone in your team who can write blogs and guides, you may wish to consider using our content writing service.
Once you’ve got that down, it’s time to start planning your marketing automation campaigns. We have five key considerations we recommend you work through before you get pen to paper:
1) What do you want to achieve?
You’ll want to ask yourself exactly what you are looking to gain from your marketing automation campaign. It seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised by a number of campaigns that launch without having a clear goal in mind.
Ask yourself/your team:
- Do you want to save time?
- Are you selling something?
- Is the aim to raise awareness for a product or service?
- Are you scheduling a series of campaigns, such as newsletters?
2) Who are you targeting?
Your audience will have a huge impact on how you write your campaigns and approach the logic of your workflow. For example, if you’re creating a lead nurture series, hotter leaders will move much faster than cold leads. Similarly, you’d be silly not to segment customers separately from leads and prospects.
3) What are the triggers to start the campaign?
Sometimes the most obvious questions get ignored, and in this case, this one often gets neglected. You’ll want to consider how your audience enters your workflow:
- Website downloads
- Website visits (although this method only works if your IP lookup software is linked to your marketing automation platform, e.g. GatorLeads and GatorWorkflow
- Form fills: this is more than just website downloads, it’s sales and demo requests, event bookings, newsletter sign-ups, etc.
- A lapse in activity: consider your contacts who have stopped engaging with your campaigns.
- Subscription or purchase history: consider frequency, downloads and try to identify potential patterns
4) Exit strategy
Entering the workflow is as important as leaving it. You’ll want to consider what triggers a contact to exit your marketing automation campaign.
Have they completed a task?
Have they booked a meeting with your sales team?
Have they renewed their contract?
5) Visualise the journey
Now you know what you want to achieve, who your audience are, how they enter and exit the workflow. It is time to plan how the structure of the marketing automation campaign will look.
We have a series of methods to recommend, as we know not everyone digests and learns in the same way. Some of our team prefers to draw the wireframe on paper, whereas others prefer to use Excel or online tools to create the journey digitally. If you can forward-plan this, it’ll be a lot quicker to build. It’s like completing a puzzle with a reference picture, rather than blindly piecing it together.
How do I make my marketing automation campaigns a success?
We always recommend you thoroughly plan your campaigns to ensure that you have thought it through as best you can. That way there is minimal ‘what ifs’ that can affect the performance of your campaigns.
Constant improvement is a good strategy for marketing automation. We recommend you regularly report on the performance of your campaigns, that way you can monitor what works and what doesn’t. In order to define the success levels of your campaigns, you need to determine what your campaign goals were.
For example, in one marketing automation campaign, the total goal could be to warm leads but the campaigns within may have different measures. Early campaigns may be simply based on clicks, whereas others could track interactions with the sales team, such as booking a meeting or demo.
How do I choose a marketing automation provider that’s best for me?
First and foremost, you’ll need to check whether the marketing automation provider can support integration to your CRM, as the flow of data is paramount. Ideally, find out if they have any customers who are willing to talk about their experience of the integration as well. It’s all well and good knowing they support it, but is it capable of anything useful?
Next up, find out if they have a service team who can meet your needs. One of the top reasons our leads convert and our customers stay, is our support team, product specialists and account managers. You can’t put a price on being able to speak to an expert when you’re stuck or lacking inspiration.
CommuniGator is based in the South of England, with a team of account managers and product specialists who travel to meet their customers. We hold on-site training sessions, as well as web sessions, plus regular seminars and workshops. This is because we believe the service we offer is of equal importance to the power of our platform.
What is IP lookup and how does it work?
IP Lookup is a tool that enables you to identify the IP addresses of companies browsing your website. It’s key that we point out it will only show you:
- You cannot identify individuals or home-workers as IP addresses are linked to businesses
- Companies viewing your website, but not the employee. For example, if we were looking at your website it would not tell you Amy Johnson, Marketing Executive, CommuniGator is online, just Someone at CommuniGator
If an IP address is registered with a company, the lookup software will then delve into our huge database to tell you who it is. So rather than seeing a list of gobbledegook numbers (that is, IP address), you’ll see a list of companies with information that company house holds about them, like country, revenue, staff size etc.
From there, you could purchase email addresses of contacts based on job title. For example, sales director, marketing manager, or CEO.
On the CommuniGator suite, GatorLeads is the tool to use. Simply add the tracking code to your website and go! We have an open API, meaning we integrate with almost every CRM, allowing you to create custom dashboards for your teams to assign and track their leads.
What else can it do?
You can also use lead generation software, like GatorLeads, to track the performance of your PPC campaigns. GatorLeads allows you to easily set up different UTMs to assign to your links automatically, making it really straightforward to track your multichannel campaigns.
You can also track links sent to individuals using personalised URLs, or what we like to call: PURLs. This means we can cookie drop specific links sent, so you know for sure if a certain contact at a company is engaging with your sales team.
But it doesn’t stop there. You can track any external channel, from PPC to blog shares and social media. Another key point to consider: can your provider house all of your digital marketing needs in one place? At CommuniGator, we pride ourselves on being able to not only provide you with a limitless marketing automation tool, but a suite that enables you to create email campaigns, identify the leads on your website with our IP lookup tool, track and report on your PPC, plus automate your social media marketing.
It may seem obvious, but the benefits are vast. You won’t just save time when you’re creating your campaigns but also reporting on them too. When everything is in one place, you won’t have to spend time trawling through or getting to grips with more than one platform.