The only thing trickier than starting a business is scaling one. Once you've discovered the product-market fit, how difficult can it be for you to scale? From the outset, it seems like if you put more marketing dollars behind it, your business will automatically scale. In reality, growth and scaling are seldom that linear.
Scaling works out when you've optimized the level at which you're operating. Then, you find how you can produce incrementally across the operations and for each additional customer. Marketing expenses are the final fuel in the fire.
Marketing automation has been a buzzword for a while now. Everyone is talking about its benefits. It's not difficult to conceptualize that marketing automation creates efficiencies at scale, standardizes the customer journey, and ensures you make data-backed decisions. Before we unpack how you can deploy marketing automation, it would help to define precisely what I mean when I use the term "marketing automation."
What is marketing automation?
Like any other process, marketing automation lets you automate the workflows in your marketing systems using rule-based decision-making. This way, you can focus on the more value-generating and strategic tasks at hand, while your automated marketing system does its job.
If you've outsourced your entire marketing process to an agency or a set of agencies, is it automation? Technically you're not involved in the day-to-day decision-making. But, that does not make it a marketing automation process.
Marketing automation has well-defined characteristics:
- It's a rule-based approach for a consistent workflow.
- It uses technology that can be scaled as soon as it is optimized.
- It's scale-independent but has excellent economies of scale.
- Workflows are executed in a matter of seconds.
An agency can be a great partner. Just because you're not involved in the daily decision-making doesn't mean your marketing processes are automated. To truly automate your marketing processes, here's what you will need:
- An excellent understanding of your customer's entire journey with your brand.
- Data on customer profiles, buying behaviors, and responses to past campaigns.
- A technology team or a platform thats designed to help you automate the workflow.
- Benchmarked results for fine-tuning and assessing your marketing automation initiatives prowess.
Now that we have the ingredients ready, we can start cooking!
4 use cases for marketing automation
Have you ever bought an online ad-space? If so, you've already used marketing automation. The problem is that the automation's effectiveness is transferred to Google Ads since that's where the ad-space aggregation, qualification, categorization, and matching is automated. But, it's efficient enough to help you run digital ads without any hiccups.
Here are four use cases for marketing automation to help you get started:
1. Chatbots on the website
If your brand has a Facebook page, you can have a practically free chatbot. But that one is limited to Facebook Messenger. Chatbots have broad applicability, and they produce value when you can have them on your website.
In the simplest terms, a chatbot is a programmed responder with pre-fed responses, links, and questions to have an interactive tool that can automatically help your customers when they visit your website for the first time. Even in the B2B space, chatbots can add a remarkable amount of value. Here's how:
Control the initial touchpoint and bring down your bounce rates. When a customer visits your website and is unable to find what they're looking for, they'll probably close your website's tab and go back to Google. In a matter of seconds, you've lost business. A chatbot with an automated response can help you avoid this. Even if you're not planning to spend on Natural Language Processing, you can get a chatbot that responds to keywords. If it fails, you can transfer the query to your sales team.
- Get customer data. You can always add a pop-up notification asking for your customer's email. But, a customer is more likely to enter his/her email ID in the chatbot if he/she can respond to his/her query immediately.
- Free up your resources. In the absence of a chatbot, your sales team can focus on following the leads that have already shown high intent. Hence, you can use your chatbot as a filtration mechanism. After all, 40% of customers don't care about human or robot agents, as their query is solved.
2. Automated email campaigns
Emails have a tricky execution cycle. You have to automate your emails, but they should not look robotic. The trick is to ensure that each email is personalized and that you're not personalizing each email manually.
Emails can help you throughout your marketing process:
Run drip campaigns: Drip campaigns became popular when marketers started understanding that you can't immediately convert a visitor into a customer. You have to nurture the lead before it gets converted. And drip campaigns help you achieve that.
There are tools like Keap that help you create template emails for every interaction stage with your customer. You can send welcome emails, blog update emails, special offer emails, order confirmation emails, system logout emails, extraordinary update emails, etc. With each type of email, your goal is to push your lead to the next conversion stage.
To automate your emails, you will have to understand the customer journey your target audience takes with your brand. You should have a readily available list of queries and solutions that you send out for each phase. This is where all the data aggregation helps.
Abandoned cart emails: These types of emails have astronomical ROI since they help you convert a lead you had almost lost. This type of email targets customers who added something to their cart but did not buy. You just have to set the rules on the abandoned cart duration, and an automatic mail prompting the customer to reconsider will be sent. It can save your sales team a ton of follow-up time.
3. Social media automation
Being in the B2B space doesn't mean you don't have to focus on social media. LinkedIn and Facebook groups are still used by millions of small- and medium-sized businesses to find leads, build opinion leadership, and even retain customers.
Building opinion leadership sounds impressive until you actually try to do it. You would ideally want your CEO, COO, or someone from the C-suite to present their thoughts so the audience can picture a face behind the brand. Asim Qureshi, the CEO of Jibble.io, created a vastly popular social media brand, and that helped his business generate leads. While the results are amazing, it's not likely your CEO will have the time to put out regular posts.
That's where social media automation comes in. With tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, you can automate the posting of all your posts. You'll have to work on the caption, copy, image, links, and hashtags. But instead of doing it every day for your CEO, you can sit down with him/her and make a monthly calendar. Automatic posting saves time, helps your brand maintain consistency, and also helps you take a more analytical and deliberate approach instead of the spur of the moment inspirations.
Pro Tip: Have your marketing and sales team respond to comments and engagement on the post, on behalf of your C-suite leader. That would serve as an extra channel of lead generation for your business.
4. Automate reports
If you're a B2B Marketing Manager, making and sending out reports is a large component of your job. While these reports can serve as a great source of learning, research, and insights for you, not all the changes they reflect are necessary. Sometimes you have to push out reports just because it's a part of the process in your company. Even if it isn't, automating your reports can save countless hours that you're spending in preparing data visualizations and basic analysis.
The tools you'll need are quite accessible – Google Analytics, Tableau, and Power BI. You can easily automate report generation with custom visualizations, and practically no coding. You should have a data source that will be connected to these platforms for report generation. Google Analytics has both data collection and reporting functionalities, which can be accessed without any coding.
About the author
Kunjal Panchal is a content manager at Simform, a software development company. She's passionate about content marketing and strongly believes in the power of storytelling for marketing. She has shared her insights on high-end publications like Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur and many more. Connect with her @KunjalPanchal.
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