If you’ve been hesitant to invest in a marketing automation platform or are too frightened to use all the daunting features of your current platform, read on. It’s time to conquer your fears and make the most of marketing automation.
What are you afraid of? Maybe you scream at the sight of spindly spiders (arachnophobia) or cower when confronted by creepy clowns (coulrophobia). Or, perhaps you suffer from a more modern malady, nomophobia, which is the anxiety associated with having no cell service or your phone running out of battery. (Dogs don’t really get that one.)
Even a dog of my size, with an impressive set of chompers and an intimidating growl, is not immune to fear. For instance, I’m wary of garbage trucks because they’re loud and have those giant jaws that gobble things up. And, though it’s embarrassing to admit, I have arachibutyrophobia, which is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth. Hey, it’s a real thing!
A much more common fear is technophobia, which is the fear of technology, including marketing automation. My humans talk to a lot of companies that are either hesitant to invest in marketing automation or have adopted a platform only to keep it locked away like a three-headed monster, afraid to release its full potential.
We’re not here to judge, but to help. Because this fear is preventing you from taking advantage of all the amazing features of these powerful marketing tools.
Arm Yourself with a Plan
You wouldn’t rush into Dracula’s castle without a plan and a wooden stake, would you? The same is true of marketing automation. You can reduce your anxiety and ensure success by starting with a strategy and employing the right tools.
According to one survey, 58% of marketers said they were having trouble finding success with marketing automation due to a “lack of an effective strategy.”
Start by getting your marketing and sales teams together and decide what you want the system to do and who will be responsible for each element. Is your top priority generating and nurturing leads? How will leads be qualified? What elements of your marketing will be automated?
Like a dog with a new chew toy, it’s tempting to use your system to automate everything. But we urge you to step away from the software and create a plan first. Consider what marketing automation does well, including:
- Deliver messages to website visitors, leads or customers at critical points along the buyers’ journey, including post-purchase.
- Improve message targeting, making the experience more personal and generating more qualified leads.
- Automate check-ins, follow-ups or reminders that you might otherwise have to delegate to customer service or sales teams.
A survey by Liana Technologies showed that most marketing professionals recognize the top benefits of marketing automation as follows:
In short, marketing automation is best used to deliver the right messages to the right people before, during and after they’ve become a customer.
When developing a strategy for your business, you can break it into three bite-sized chunks:
- Pre-conversion – send automated messages to potential leads to make them aware of your products or services, convince them to follow you and eventually make a purchase.
- Decision-making process – send automated messages to leads and customers who are actively engaged in the decision-making process to convince them to buy from you.
- Post-conversion – send automated messages to offer guidance, check in on the experience, provide links to more information and/or encourage repeat purchases.
Don’t Make Potential Customers Run Screaming
Heed this warning: sending emails to everyone in your database or overloading on emails will scare customers away! Today’s customers are accustomed to receiving highly personalized messages.
According to a study by Experian, personalized emails deliver six times higher transactions rates, but 70% of brands fail to use them. What’s more, the study showed that personalized emails had 29% higher unique open rates and 41% unique click rates.
Marketing automation gives you the ability to efficiently personalize emails, so there’s no excuse for sending the same messages to all your customers. For instance, marketing automation allows you to use dynamic content to automatically personalize emails based on the preferences, interests, titles or geographic location of individuals. You can create a single email with customizable text blocks and images, and marketing automation fills in the blanks depending on the information you have in your database for each subscriber. Pretty cool, right? (To learn more about using dynamic content, read “Dynamic Content and Marketing Automation: It’s All About You.”)
But, don’t become a stalker! Potential customers don’t want to receive constant correspondence. Create a schedule and use it effectively.
Don’t Operate in the Dark
You know that scene in every scary movie, where the victims walk heedlessly into the dark house or stumble through the thick fog, and you think, “Don’t do it!” Well, operating “in the dark” with incorrect data or duplicate customer data can lead to similarly poor choices.
It’s important to keep your customer data up to date in your marketing automation system. This also means segmenting your database based on needs, actions and buying cycle. Without attention to your database, the good customers are lumped in with those who are simply not interested, which makes it hard to focus your efforts on the leads that matter. Build a reengagement campaign to go after those dormant leads, but if they still don’t respond, remove them.
Yes, it can be a chore to keep data clean, but it will give you a clearer view of your customers, which will lead to more insightful marketing decisions (and possibly prevent encounters with crazed ax murderers.)
Don’t Ignore the “Zombies”
Everyone wants to generate new leads, but studies show that, on average, 73% of leads are not ready to buy yet. For the sake of our scary theme, we’ll refer to these folks as “zombie leads,” and your job is to make them come back to life. Ignoring them could result in lost sales down the road. (Remember, zombies are people, too.)
To keep these leads alive, use an email drip or nurture campaign that educates and informs throughout the buyers’ journey. Marketing automation makes it easy to define a sequence of email communications for leads in different buying cycles and programmatically react to what the lead is doing (e.g., clicks, website visits) with the right content.
Don’t Ignore Analytics
Doesn’t it drive you crazy when the hapless movie victims keep repeating the same fatal mistakes? If everyone who goes into the cellar disappears, then don’t send anyone else in! Geez. Thankfully, marketing automation platforms can help you avoid this pitfall and sniff out potential problems.
With marketing automation, you have the means to see which aspects of a campaign are hitting the sweet spot and which are falling short. Analyze the data so you can make adjustments and improve the next campaign.
Don’t Be Afraid to Shout for Help
Let’s face it, the characters that survive in those horror movies are usually the ones that ask for help. Instead of venturing into the creepy house alone, they call for back up.
With over half of all B2B marketers using (or planning to use) marketing automation, these tools aren’t going anywhere. But, if you’re not making the most of your investment, you’re throwing money down the drain. (Now, that’s scary!)
Besides the tips we’ve listed here, there are lots of other marketing automation “best practices,” including making the CTA easy to find, making sure your emails are mobile friendly, setting up proper lead scoring and perhaps most importantly, having enough high-quality, relevant content.
If you find yourself haunted by your marketing automation practices, it’s time to call an implementation specialist. These folks don’t have proton packs or particle accelerators (à la Ghostbusters), but they do come armed with knowledge that will help you take full advantage of marketing automation.
They say the best way to conquer your fears is to face them head on. So, take a deep breath and grab your marketing automation platform by its horns! Meanwhile, I’ll be tackling my paranoia of peanut butter. Wish me luck.
At Spry Ideas, we feel obliged to encourage best practices when it comes to MA, because we want you to get the most out of your investment. If you need help, give our Marketing Director (and Certified Pardot Consultant and SharpSpring Specialist) Jeremy Sterling, a call at 734-546-5434 or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.