Marketing automation presents an opportunity for companies across many niches to expand their reach to new or existing audiences with less effort. Every step of the classic sales funnel process has accompanying tools that can make it faster, more effective, and, ultimately, more profitable. Sounds great, right?
Automating marketing efforts also carries a degree of risk if implemented badly. Feeding everything from lead generation to newsletter delivery through a high-tech tool or app can backfire and destroy the power of your marketing efforts.
Segmentation Suffers: One Size Does NOT Fit All
You should never send the same message to a person who only heard about your company yesterday and a repeat customer. Automated email marketing tools save time but can waste the effort if not used properly. The key is segmentation.
Ideally, each contact should be unique for the individual lead, customer, or client. Tools suffer from lack of segmentation capabilities that mimic, as closely as possible, this type of uniqueness. Worthwhile tools allow for segmentation so each type of person on your in-house list gets the message they are ready to hear and act on.
Explore and Learn All Tool Features
To avoid problems like the one above, take the time to learn everything any marketing tool you choose can do. Many are multi-purpose and, if the one you use is not, you might want to find a better one. Efficiency and productivity suffer when you skip this step.
Tools exist to handle email blasts, social media post scheduling, list scrubbing and management, lead scoring, search engine research and optimization, and so much more. How much time and energy do you or your employees spend on these tasks every day?
Choosing the best tool for your marketing efforts and learning how to use it takes time, but that investment in future freedom wins out. Set aside 20-30 minutes every day to study one aspect of the tool in depth. Try it out, experiment, text two tools side-by-side, and realize the benefits.
Do Not Abandon or Compromise Marketing Goals
Some marketing tools seem like no-brainers to use. You already know many of the vital tasks to grow your business. Adopt their use, but do not jump on every new tool you discover that sounds beneficial from the start. With the new automation comes more time to brainstorm new ideas, evaluate old ones, and solidify your company’s marketing goals completely.
The tools do not determine the path forward. Your goals do. Use tools that serve the over-reaching plan and, no matter how impressive one is, do not use it just because it has power or good reviews. Developing an effective strategy leads you toward goals, not toward more automation.
Above all else, make sure every tool you use integrates with the others enough that the marketing plan is never compromised. Analyzing collected data and the results of these automatic processes only work if the tools complement each other. If they do not, this adds another time-consuming task to your workday.
Keep the Sales Team In the Loop
Every marketing campaign may exceed expectations, automated tools are humming along perfectly, and leads could be flowing like Niagara Falls into your sales funnel. Without collaboration between marketing and the sales team, they will overflow and pour back out again instead of going down the spout to become customers or clients.
At its most basic, automation between the marketing and sales teams must share all data about the individuals attracted to the company. Since many potential customers or clients do not take one swift trip from first learning about the company to pulling out their wallets, this data sharing must occur in both directions. At any time, any employee should be able to tell how far down the funnel an individual is and why.
Automated tools tackle this with ease, as long as you find the right one for the job. Imagine knowing when a lead is looking at a new page on the website or clicking a particular link in an email campaign. Full integration with your customer relationship management (CRM) program makes it easier to grow a business relationship. In a nutshell, the best tool collects demographic and personal data, identifies activity such as clicks and visits, sends the best message or initiates contact at the right time about the right topic, and segments the leads into the right groups.
Avoid “Ooh, Something Shiny!” Syndrome in Tool Choice
Finding one perfect tool to automate your entire marketing department might seem as daunting a task as skipping automation altogether. As long as the above-mentioned integration is in place, multiple programs can help with any strategy and help you reach any goal. Most campaigns begin on paper or a whiteboard, then move to a computer or online system, and finally, get inputted into a tool that takes over the day-to-day grind of implementation.
The problem with this is that you now have three different points of interest. If the plan necessitates more than one tool, it gets even more complicated. Keep it simple. This not only saves time, which is the point of automating tasks, to begin with, but it also saves headaches down the road.
Choose ones that work and then stick with them until they no longer fulfill your company needs. Software developers come out with new apps and programs all the time. That does not mean you have to switch to something that only seems like it might be helpful. When in doubt, take some time to test something new while enjoying the saved time from existing automation tasks.
While tools can augment your marketing efforts considerably and take much of the mundane, day-to-day chores out of it, improper or insufficient use can have negative consequences. You could automate every aspect of business, from reputation management to upselling products. The only way to find success without wasting time or resources is to choose the tools that align with your purpose, learn how to use them fully, and resist automating things that need the human touch.