Marketing automation is a new buzzword in marketing developed by software companies that now make up a new multi-million dollar industry called MarTech. MarTech is about combining marketing practices and technology together to help collect, store and analyze customer insights and data in order to make better-informed decisions about where leads come from, how long it takes for a lead to be converted and how to boost more revenue by selling more products and services by following buyer behaviours.
The primary role of marketing automation platforms is to merge marketing and sales together in order to create better transparency in large organisations – but also for smaller businesses that want to save time doing mundane tasks. For example, if you’re still sending emails, chat messages, SMS and messaging on other marketing channels manually, then you’re a prime candidate for marketing automation platforms.
If you’re a larger business, then you’re probably finding that your marketing teams and sales teams all operate in silos. They might even spend more time arguing about the quality of leads they handle each day than actually delivering work.
You’ve probably heard the old saying “work smarter, not harder”? This is so true when it comes to technology and most marketing automation platforms are designed to make our life simpler!
But many business owners struggle to navigate the complex world of digital marketing and then, when we throw in the word “automation”, I bet it causes many to turn into a pretzel or curl up on the floor in a foetal position!
In this post, we will discuss what the best marketing automation practices are that every business owner needs to follow to ensure they are getting their return on the investment in terms of their time and money.
What is marketing automation?
Our definition is simple – it’s about using technology to help us execute a marketing strategy. This technology can be a CRM, it can be your website or other 3rd party software that collects and stores customer information. The easiest way is to think about this is when a customer or a lead does something specific, or if they don’t take a specific action that you want them to, then the software can be set up so that it triggers either an email, or an SMS or an internal notification sent to your sales teams. As you can see, marketing automation is very dynamic in nature.
Best practice marketing automation doesn’t revolve around just sending emails. This is the old school of email marketing – which is about sending external emails to your leads and customers such as newsletters. At Bumper Leads, we don’t think this is marketing automation.
So how do you structure your marketing automation platform for growth and success? We’ve listed all the things you need to be mindful of when it comes to best practice marketing automation practices.
Every lead isn’t created equal. It’s important that you qualify your leads before they enter your database. For example, if you work in a larger organisation, you’ll have a marketing department that is responsible for generating leads for the whole company. This department is measured by the amount of quality leads they generate. There is a technical term for this, which is called Marketing Qualified Lead or MQL. Now, there are certain criteria that label what a good lead is and what a bad lead is. This criteria is business specific, but it can include a score that is determined based on the answers given by a prospect or based on the behaviour exhibited by that prospect. Once they enter your marketing automation database, the Sales teams job is now to qualify these leads. This is often referred to as a Sales Qualified Lead or SQL.
Marketing automation platforms are meant to make the job of qualifying leads a lot easier and potentially save time in meetings between sales and marketing departments.
If you’re a small business, you will save a lot of time in communicating with your prospects if they are qualified correctly from the start. One easy way to qualify leads is to ask extra information on your website, so they can submit a form with their answers which are then stored in your marketing automation database or CRM. They can also download a lead magnet such as a white paper, which asks them some qualifying questions before they submit their details.
Cleanse your database on a regular basis
We often meet clients who hold onto their leads and never remove them. Unfortunately, this isn’t best practice when it comes to marketing automation.
If you send regular newsletters to your database, you will notice that your marketing automation platform is displaying certain statistics, such as Email Open Rates and Click Through Rates.
These are essentially metrics that tell you how your emails are perfroming. On average, a good email open rate is 25% and a good click through rate is about 2-5%. You can apply these percentages to your total database and find out what that number is.
The Email Open Rates stats that your email marketing platform offers, depend on the information that is provided by ESP’s – email service providers such as hotmails, gmails of this world.
If you’ve never cleansed your database, you will find that your email rates are deteriorating or reducing. And if you rely on generating revenue from these emails (which is true for most businesses that do email marketing), then your job here is all about increasing the Email Open Rates. There are many variables for how to control email open rates, however the easiest and the best way to improve your email open rate is to delete or remove any leads or contacts in your database that have never opened or clicked on your emails.
Our advice for email marketing best practices is to regularly review your contact size, ideally every 90 days or so.
At Bumper Leads, we set up hygiene automation for clients that only handles this aspect, so you don’t have to worry about it. Sometimes, we see email open rate doubling just by deleting ‘dead’ leads. Don’t be afraid to remove contacts from your database – less is more when it comes to marketing automation best practices.
Create a Marketing Automation Plan
If you want to automate what happens before, during and after a customer makes a purchase, you’ll need a good marketing automation plan. The best practice for rolling out marketing automation technology in your business is to create a plan before you choose a marketing automation platform.
This is easy to say, but hard to do. You’ll need to be a systems thinker – someone who likes to view problems in a holistic manner considering technology, psychology and the behaviour of the users of your chosen platform. Once you’ve done this, then you’ll need to communicate this plan with your peers so they are on board. This takes time and patience. If you’re looking for some help here in terms of best practice, we have created our own unique system that we call – The Bumper Blueprint – which is designed to take into account your overall business and technology elements in order to help you find the best marketing automation platform for your needs.
However, once you’ve got your customer journey all figured out, the next step is to find out which marketing automation platform will fit your business needs. We often see business owners paying for expensive software for their Sales divisions, and then paying expensive software fees to cater to their Marketing divisions. You can also find 1 software that can handle all of this for you.
On the other hand, if you’re using one software to merge both sales and marketing activities together, then you’ll need to know how to best utilize this software for your business. And this is where we find our clients, who use “all in one solutions” such as Ontraport, Infusionsoft or HubSpot CRMs, to only utilize 20% of the actual software capabilities.
So in order to win at marketing automation, the best practice is to plan your setup from the very start, and then measure and improve as you use the system.
What we do and how you can reach us
We help business owners, of all shapes and sizes, create their desired customer journey process, so they can save time and money while building wildly profitable businesses. If you’d like to chat to us about this, feel free to contact us and one of our experts will contact you.