Learn how automation can help simplify and optimize many everyday marketing tasks.
As the name implies, marketing automation is a type of technology that allows you to create systems to automate everyday marketing tasks, reducing the amount of time and effort required to communicate with your audience in a timely and relevant manner.
Marketing automation can be installed with less effort than you think. And it’s suitable for all types of businesses because it allows you to easily and consistently serve each unique segment of your audience with the right messages at the right time.
“Many people have the misconception that marketing automation is only for e-commerce businesses, but it can be used for more than just abandoned cart messages,” says Sean Fletcher, product marketing manager for Mailchimp. “They can help drive growth for any type of organization, including manufacturers, financial firms, nonprofits, restaurants, retailers, consulting firms, etc.”
Learn how to use audience data-driven automation to deepen relationships and grow your business.
“Automation will help you get closer to your customers by sending messages when they really want to hear from you, rather than clogging up their inboxes with mass, non-personalized emails.”
What is marketing automation?
It can often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Marketing automation takes the responsibility off your hands, reducing the amount of time and effort required to communicate with your audience. Once you set goals, define a strategy and create automation, your platform will do all the work for you.
“Automation will help you get closer to your customers by sending messages when they really want to hear from you, rather than clogging up their inboxes with mass, non-personalized emails,” Sean says.
For example, you can automate things like sending event reminders, website retargeting or an annual “happy birthday” message. It can also generate appropriate email responses based on the strategy you set. Instead of creating a one-time campaign to respond to a specific person, the marketing platform will generate emails based on your strategy.
Once you create the automation, it will function without your input every time, leaving you free to focus on other areas of your business. The result is increased marketing potential and a deeper relationship with your audience.
It’s important to note that these automated campaigns are not intrusive or spammy. Rather, they are based on your audience’s behavior, preferences and purchase history. The more you learn about a person, the smarter the automation becomes. Automation is data-driven, and every interaction with your audience gives you valuable insights that show you when, where and how often they want to interact with you.
Find a starting point for marketing automation
Automation helps you develop a path for your audience and guide them according to what you want them to do. They also help you understand your audience’s interests and do much of the work that shapes the customer journey.
Before you start, you need to make a few decisions to choose the right marketing automation path for your organization. “Every type of automation is not right for every organization,” Sean says. “Which types of automation are right for you depends on your audience and your business cycle.”
As you begin creating automations, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
- What are your business goals? Which automations make the most sense for your organization depends on how you want to engage your audience and how often they need to receive information from you. A customer may like periodic product updates, but not weekly sale reminders. Automation can be designed based on subscribers’ interests and the frequency with which they would like to receive emails.
- Are you ready to connect? To make sure you have the data to create messages tailored to your audience’s needs and behavior, connect the automation platform to your e-commerce store, landing page or website.
- When do you want to send emails? Consider the time frame and days of the week on which you want to send automated emails. It could be immediately after a trigger or at another specific time. You should also pay attention to the pace of your content and the frequency of your emails.
- Do your messages sound human? Automated emails should not sound like they are automated. Be mindful of your brand’s voice and tone and make sure your automated messages sound authentic and don’t sound like they were written by a copywriter or, worse, a robot.
Understand how automated messages work
Quickly determining which automated systems work and which don’t will help you make informed decisions about where to put your time and marketing budget. There are several metrics you can look at to determine who is interacting with your marketing and what actions they are taking.
“Automation can help you understand what’s going on in the customer journey and provide a personalized experience so it doesn’t feel like it’s just a mass mailing,” Sean says. “A lot of the metrics are similar to standard email metrics – you need to see if people are opening your messages, and if they are, whether they’re going further down the right path.”
There are a number of metrics to consider when it comes to automation.
- Openings. Do people open the messages they receive? And are they opening them at the right time to take advantage of the content or offer?
Link clicks. Do they open the messages, follow the links and follow the right path on your site?
- Activity. Do your automated actions lead to subscriptions, purchases, downloads, social activity, time spent on your site, or any other activity indicative of your organization’s success?
- Bounce rates. If your automated programs bring people to your site, how long do they stay there? Do they visit more than one page or do they immediately “leave” your site without looking around?
- Unsubscribes. Is a high percentage of your automated posts causing people to unsubscribe from future posts?
It’s important to see this information in real time, so you know immediately where you’re having success and where you need to improve. A dashboard, accessible from both desktop and mobile, will help you see all the important metrics in a single view.
“In your database, note how people are responding to your messages so you can see how they’re responding and whether they’re engaged,” Sean says. “If not, you can find different ways to communicate with them.”
How marketing automation builds relationships
There are many different types of marketing automation that help you engage your audience in different ways. As you think about which automation tools to use for your business, think about what you hope to accomplish with marketing.
- Introduce people to your brand. Welcome automated emails introduce new subscribers or audience members to your brand and give you a chance to tell them more about yourself and build relationships. These emails can be one-time emails or they can be a series that tells your story. For a nonprofit, for example, a welcome series is a great way to tell new members about your mission and ways to get involved or donate.
- Turn first-time buyers into brand advocates. Ask a new customer to fill out a survey or thank them for their partnership with a promo code for their next order to show that you value their business and want to deepen the relationship.
- Make personal connections. Date-based automation sends personalized emails to people on important days to mark personal or business-related milestones, such as birthdays or the anniversary of an initial purchase. They can also be used for upcoming events – for example, if someone signed up for an in-person or virtual painting class, an email reminder the day before with details such as start time, any supplies needed, parking location or login link would be very helpful.
- Engage your audience based on their behavior. This shows that you understand how they want to interact with your brand. If someone downloads a fitness app, an automated email can suggest ways to track steps or activity. If someone is visiting a related wellness website for the first time in months, a “Welcome Back” email can re-engage the user by suggesting pages to help them start an exercise program.
- Keep the conversation going. Automated messages throughout the buying cycle inform your audience about the purchase. An order notification answers typical customer questions based on previous customer activity, and automated follow-up messages ask people what they thought of their purchase and offer recommendations for other products they might like.
- Send reminders. If someone visits your site but isn’t ready to make a purchase, cart abandonment or retargeting automation can remind them of what they were thinking about buying. Recommending a product can suggest something else they might like if the original product no longer meets their needs.
Do more with less effort
Any type of business – from local businesses and nonprofits to e-commerce stores and restaurants – can benefit from how marketing automation makes it easier to communicate with your audience. Connecting with people at the right time, when they need information, can help you increase revenue and build relationships.