How to Get Started with Marketing Automation

How to Get Started with Marketing Automation

Marketing is an ongoing effort, and marketing automation can save time by using tools to automate repetitive tasks, freeing up your marketing team to focus on other aspects of their work. Here, we explore marketing automation, look at some tools you can use to automate various aspects of your marketing and dive into some potential benefits automation can bring.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation involves using technology to manage common marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns across your marketing channels. It uses tools to perform repetitive tasks automatically, so your sales team can focus on more creative or interactive tasks.

Why Use Marketing Automation?

Today, consumers expect to be able to engage with their favorite brands across a variety of channels and to enjoy a highly personalized experience wherever they go. Delivering relevant content to current and potential customers across multiple channels isn't an easy feat. 

One way to reduce the workload on your marketing team is to use marketing automation tools to streamline the process. These tools can send emails and text messages, post creatives on social media, send out app push notifications or even perform basic customer interactions through chatbots.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of marketing automation is that it saves time for the people on your sales team while helping reduce the risk of human error, giving your customers a more polished and professional experience.

When your sales teams aren't focused on the more menial aspects of lead generation or day-to-day marketing, they have more time to think about nurturing qualified leads and performing more complex analytics and scoring tasks. In the long term, this can help your business grow and scale and significantly increase your conversion rates.

But how can you start taking advantage of automation tools? The answer depends on your current workflow and which aspects you want to automate.

How to Integrate Automation Into Your Marketing

Before you can start using marketing automation, you need a clear idea of your target audience and what happens at each stage of the customer journey. You can't automate a process that isn't well-defined.

Sit down with your sales team, designers and others involved in the marketing process, and ask them to document their processes. Ideally, once this has been done you'll have a step-by-step breakdown of the sales funnel and how your team engages with qualified leads at each stage.

Your next goal is to create a library of content for each stage of the conversion process and each channel you want to use some automation with. For example, you might create:

  • A bank of emails for a subscriber list and re-engaging old leads
  • Thank-you emails and abandoned cart emails
  • Scheduled posts sized appropriately for the major social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • Video content in long form and for reels/stories
  • Banner ads for a variety of purposes (e.g. seasonal/remarketing)

Once you have the content in place, you can think about the technical challenges of implementing automation.

Depending on the CMS or store platform you're currently using, you may be able to use plug-ins for marketing automation. For example, a variety of marketing automation tools easily integrate with WordPress and Magento, helping marketers track conversions, send follow-up emails and provide their customers with personalized experiences at every stage of the journey.

If your CMS lacks an easy way to integrate analytics and marketing automation tools, it may be time to consider a CMS upgrade. Today, trying to operate without such tools puts you at huge disadvantage compared to your competitors, and a CMS lacking in analytics and automation extensions likely also lacks other features that could save you time and improve the user experience on your website.

When it comes to automating social media posting, many third-party providers offer tools for this purpose, helping you consolidate your social media accounts into one convenient dashboard. Depending on the number of accounts you need to manage, you may even be able to use the platform's own tools for scheduling posts.

At ApexChat, our specialty is live chat services. We offer live chat agents and AI tools to help you with lead capture and closing. You can easily integrate these tools with your website and with popular services, such as Facebook Messenger, giving your customers rapid and personalized responses to their queries.

Common Technical Challenges With Automated Marketing

Marketing automation relies heavily on data, and businesses should be aware of some key things related to automated email marketing.

Firstly, if you're gathering customer data, you should be aware of any privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation or Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule, that might apply to your business. Always follow best practices when requesting, processing and storing customer data. Make sure any marketing lists are double opt-in, and provide your leads and customers with clear information about how their data is used and how they can opt out of future communication.

In addition to following these best practices, use properly configured mailing list software, and ensure your email system is set up with the correct SPF and DKIM records. If you're using a major email provider, such as Microsoft 365 or Gmail for Business, this should already have been handled for you. However, if your IT team is managing your email servers in-house, it's worth having them double-check these items before you send out bulk marketing emails. If your domain isn't properly configured, your marketing messages could get directed to your customer's spam folders even though they've consented to receive them.

Making the Most of Your Marketing Automation

Once you've mapped out your plan, created your content and scheduled delivery to the platforms in question, the next step is to monitor the performance of your campaigns. Are your automated campaigns performing as well as (or better) than your manual efforts? How accurately are your automation systems classifying leads and triggering tasks?

When you're considering your marketing efforts, quality is as important as quantity. The cost of sending an automated email or text message may be next to nothing in isolation, but if that email is poorly targeted and unwelcome, it could alienate the recipient and damage your brand's reputation.

Regularly review your setup to ensure any triggers and automated actions are properly configured. Make sure your team is trained in the tools you're using, including the marketing automation tools and any CRM system you have for managing customer data. Your automation tools rely on the quality of the data in your CRM. If your sales team isn't entering data about the interactions they're having with prospects, your automation tools won't know enough to trigger the correct actions for leads as they move through the sales funnel.

Automation Is a Tool, Not a Single Solution

Marketing automation is an invaluable tool for businesses looking to grow and scale their marketing efforts. However, it's not a replacement for a good sales team. To be successful, you need automation and the human touch.

If you're considering implementing marketing automation in your organization, talk to your sales, marketing and creative teams, and get to know what they're doing on a daily basis. Find ways to make automation help them and reduce their workload. Get it right, and you'll find your sales team is more productive, your customers have a better experience and everyone wins.