Five golden rules of marketing automation

When thinking of the term ‘marketing automation’, mass emails, mailshots and spam folders can spring to mind.

However, far from being a hindrance to the modern consumer or business, automation can be an invaluable tool for creating highly effective marketing strategies that far eclipse industry standards today. Used in the right way, it can help provide personalised consumer journeys for each prospective, individual customer.

For example, consider how businesses use cookies. By capitalising on the ‘digital breadcrumbs’ left behind from users’ browsing, businesses can use marketing automation software to process the substantial quantities of data generated from this online activity in a much more efficient way, deciphering patterns in customer behaviour.

With the continuing developments in AI technology and predictive intelligence, there is huge potential for marketing automation to revolutionise a brand’s marketing and sales strategies, regardless of what sector they operate in. However, to perform at its best, marketing automation requires planning and careful consideration of several key factors. We lay out the five golden rules to help marketers make the most of it.

Know exactly what you want to get out of marketing automation

To ensure a good ROI when incorporating marketing automation software into your business processes, it’s important to have a clear strategy for what you want to achieve.

Establishing measurable goals and objectives is crucial in ensuring that businesses select the appropriate software to do the job required.

Align your marketing and sales teams

To operate most effectively, marketing automation platforms need to be integrated across the major areas of the business. This means that marketing and sales need to be on the same page and work together. For the latter, the implementation of marketing automation software can initially be an intimidating prospect, especially if employees are not too confident with using the technology. However, this needn’t be the case.

The key to aligning marketing and sales teams is emphasising how marketing automation can benefit both sides. For example, being able to track where prospects are in the sales cycle provides a powerful incentive for sales teams to get onboard with using marketing automation technology.

To assist with this process, it is crucial that marketing automation tools are as user-friendly as possible. By providing simple explanations for how marketing automation platforms are applicable to an employee’s specific job, you can not only give individuals greater confidence in using these tools but also encourage them to apply their knowledge to experiment with features and fine-tune algorithms, helping to improve results in the long-term.

Take full advantage for both inbound and outbound marketing

Marketing automation is not just a glorified email tool. A good marketing automation platform is able to elevate your outbound marketing efforts by integrating with your CRM, segmenting your audience, and producing significant insights into customer behaviours as their digital breadcrumbs are tracked.

Meanwhile, inbound marketing attracts your audience and engages your customers with valuable content that is relevant and specific to them. Marketing automation’s inbound techniques allow you to optimise your content and distribute it across various channels, prompting potential buyers to come to you. Blog posts, webinars, eBooks and such are designed to pull consumers into your customer lifecycle, which can then be more personalised and tailored to their individual needs utilising outbound marketing tactics.

Track KPIs and adapt your strategy based on results

With traditional, non-automated marketing models, there is a lot of guesswork involved to determine whether campaigns are performing well or not. With marketing automation platforms, this problem is eradicated thanks to their extensive analytics capabilities.

Over the last five years, the job of a marketer has transformed into a more strategic, decision-making role, a process which has been accelerated due to the emergence of marketing automation platforms. This software can display detailed breakdowns of key metrics such as email open rates, providing crucial, real-time data which businesses can respond to and use to refine their marketing strategies.

As a result, marketers now have the capability to make more informed and higher level decision-making. In short, marketing automation allows you to see exactly what is and isn’t working and make reactive decisions where needed to improve performance.

However, when it comes to adapting a strategy based on results to achieve your KPIs, it is important not to become too narrow-minded when optimising your system. If your marketing automation software is calibrated to focus on one particular KPI, it may increase one metric (i.e. products sold) but at the detriment of other important metrics such as traffic and brand loyalty.

Focus on valuable content

Finally, it is worth remembering that although sales are important, content is king when it comes to nurturing existing clients. How customers respond to your content can ultimately inform a business’ approach to engaging with clients or prospective customers.

Therefore, it is essential to include content valuable to your customers. This should take into account their interests, what type of channel they prefer to receive information from and in what format (whether that is ads or direct correspondence). Small personalisation considerations such as this can make a huge difference in terms of encouraging customers to engage with your content and ultimately help drive business activity.

Katie Jameson is the Head of EMEA Marketing at Act-On Software, a leading provider of marketing automation and one of the fastest growing tech companies in North America. Working on a global scale, Act-On Software specialises in adaptive marketing solutions that enable marketers to create Adaptive Journeys using customer behaviours, preferences and data to intelligently guide the engagement strategy. The company operates in a number of industries including automotive, construction, manufacturing, technology and the fastener industry.


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