Written by   |   Jun 1 2021   |   Read 54 times

Marketing automation is a big deal in both B2B and B2C industries. In fact, one study found that, on average, over half (51%) of all companies implement some form of marketing automation.

Of course, marketing automation is not some magic trick for capturing leads and converting them into customers. For best results, it has to be used properly. Let's talk about some best practices for marketing automation, and how you can implement them in your own business.

1. Know Who Your Audience Is

While the word "automation" sounds impersonal, the opposite is true when it comes to marketing automation best practices. You can only get exceptional results if you're creating automated campaigns with your target audience in mind.

The most common, and probably most effective way to identify your target audience is through buyer personas. These are semi-fictionalised representations of your ideal customer. Buyer personas are key to creating high-value content that will really move the needle for your business.

For instance, if you know that your ideal buyer is a consumer with limited technical knowledge about your industry, then you'll probably create content that is easy to read, and avoids a lot of jargon. However, if you're targeting highly educated business executives, then you may include more detailed content as part of your strategy.

Of course, you also need to develop content that is interesting and helpful for your intended audience. You can find out what your targeted buyers' concerns and interests are through market research, observations from your sales team, and past customer data, to name just a few sources of insight.

2. Understand Where Your Customer is Going... and How They're Going to Get There

This is where the concept of the "customer journey" comes into the picture. You may have the right content for your audience, but you need to deliver it at the appropriate stage of your customer's journey.

As an example, you may have created some killer case studies that demonstrate your brand's value compared to that of your main competitors. It's good that you have that content available... but it probably won't be very effective on a prospect that only learned about your company's existence 20 minutes ago. Instead, those case studies will be better suited for leads that are in the "evaluation stage" of their journey — that is, the ones that are actively researching their options.

Once you've created a comprehensive customer journey map, you'll be able to develop your marketing automation workflows out of the insights gleaned from there. This will not only help you to deliver the right content at the right time, but also to deliver it through the right channels. More on that later.

3. Collect Data and Set Up a Lead Scoring System

As you set up your marketing automation system, make sure that it will collect relevant, actionable data about your leads and customers. For instance, has the prospect engaged with your content? If so, which pieces of content? Have they made a purchase? Were they about to make a purchase, but then abandoned their shopping cart? Compiling data around these questions will help you to not only identify "bottlenecks" in your sales process — it will also help you to score the leads coming into your system.

"Lead scoring" refers to the process of gauging how close a lead is to buying from your company. A lead scoring system can be invaluable when you need to identify how "hot" or "cold" a lead is, and whether the lead should be handed over to sales or left with marketing for the present. And with marketing automation in place, those leads can be automatically assigned a number on the scale, and receive the appropriate level of follow-up that's needed from your reps.

4. Use Multiple Channels in Your Workflows

To really unleash the power of marketing automation, consider using different channels to engage with your leads and customers.

For example, email is usually the "go-to" channel when companies begin automating their campaigns. But don't forget about other impactful options, such as SMS marketing. In fact, SMS marketing may be your preferred channel when you want to immediately engage with your target audience. Visit sms4act to find out how you can automate SMS from your CRM.

When it comes to content delivery, make sure that the platforms you're using match your intended demographic. You may want to use several mediums at once. For example, B2B content marketers shouldn't just think about posting to their company's website. LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube are also powerful platforms for reaching corporate decision-makers with marketing messages.

5. Continue to Measure Your System's Performance and Adjust Accordingly

Even though the main point of automation is to eliminate repetitive, time-consuming tasks for your sales and marketing teams, that doesn't mean you can just set up your system at the start and never give it another thought. It's always a good idea to monitor your marketing automation platform's performance and periodically examine the results. That way, you'll know what's working, and which areas need to be tweaked.

Your key performance indicators (KPIs) will prove invaluable in this regard. As an example, imagine that you wanted to determine how relevant your latest email newsletter was to your audience. If you pull up the results of that campaign and see high open and click-through rates, then your content was probably hitting the mark. However, if you see low open rates combined with an increase in "unsubscribe" requests, then the newsletter was likely irrelevant to most of your consumers. 

Once you identify those areas of opportunity, consider running an A/B test within your automation workflows. When you perform the A/B test, make sure to only incorporate one or two variables into the equation, and leave everything else the same. That way, you can get a fairly accurate idea of which feature has a greater positive impact on your consumers — or which approach works best.

If you want to explore a simple, effective way to implement marketing automation for your business, be sure to check out Act! Marketing Automation today. And feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. We'd be happy to help.

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Cate Dempsey

As Marketing Manager, Cate Dempsey plans & delivers marketing campaigns & content, including regular email newsletters, promotions, blog posts, and other customer communication.

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