Have you heard of automation? Of course you have – almost everything is automated these days. Automation is the process of using technology to tasks and reduce human intervention as much as possible, we reduce human intervention because it means there is less opportunity for human error to occur.
When we are marketing there are a lot of things that humans can miss out because we are not machines and lot of factors can drive, deliver and hinder our output – we could miss out a name in the list of emails, we could make spelling errors, we may lose our cool with customers that are not so friendly, we may forget to post on time…all these factors may hugely alter the outcomes of our digital marketing strategies. So the best way to stop such things from happening is to automate the entire marketing process.
Essentially, this means that all the things we discussed above, from SEO, to all kinds of social media marketing, to CMS etc can all be done with the help of automated technology and minimal to zero human work.
Marketing automation is therefore the process of using software to market your product or service online. The software helps companies automate repetitive tasks and increases efficiency and therefore helps in getting higher revenue at a lower cost and faster rate of workflow.
With marketing automation, you can assign whichever tasks you want to the software, not have to do it yourself and then see how the software has done the job. As your business grows, you simply may not have time to reply to every email, comment or share. Or even post daily at the same time or interact and measure your business and consumers like you used to. You need someone to take care of it with no mistakes and hassles – so you automate parts of your marketing that you don’t have the time to do yourself or assign to someone else.
There are three main layers of marketing automation:
- Email marketing – remember we learnt about the various kinds of emails, from welcome to campaign to trigger emails? Will you or anyone else have the time to type out custom emails to about 2000 – 20,000 people every day? Or even more? Certain emails (trigger emails especially) can be done very easily with automation. You can even automate sign up forms. With email marketing, you can automate both the delivery and the distribution of content. The software can identify which user comes under which category – new, frequent, age-old? And after identifying that, it can then customize the email and send it over in seconds.
- Social media – This platform is so huge that it is now impossibly out of our control. We cannot imagine replying and interacting with each and every one who communicates with the brand across all social media apps. Who has the time or the patience? If you’ve seen someone’s reply section look like the picture below, then it means they have automated the process of individually thanking each and every person for following.
If a company posts at exactly the same time every day or every week, it is again that they have automated the process of posting so as to not waste time on the app and focus on much more important things.
With automation, you don’t have to worry about direct messages, replying to comments, posting, following etc.
- Landing pages – it used to take hours and hours of coding in HTML to make a landing page. But now you get to use custom templates or copy templates over and over again.
Getting started with automizing email marketing:
The first thing you need to do is to segment your customers. You cannot obviously send the same email to everyone. Categorize them according to your convenience – their gender, how old or new they are, their subscription status etc.
Once you segment them, you can then customize which email will be delivered to which customer. Maybe a special offer for new comers (like a discount on shipping) or a 10% off for an old consumer’s 50th purchase etc, or even a new gift for someone who paid for a higher subscription.
Therefore, the more you segment, the more specialised the emails become and also let users know that you are aware of their status and are willing to do more for them.
Forms and mobile optimization:
Automation comes with a form filling feature for consumers. Once the consumer fills information, it shows up on the software and you can then use this for marketing, promotion etc. Another great advantage of this software is they can optimize your content on the mobile screen. Reading the content or viewing products on the website may be appealing and easy but increasing people like to see their phones for everything. So it’s important to optimize content (readability and design) on the phone screen as well.
We have all sent an email and received an instant response – maybe the response told us to wait for a few days before the company can actually reply back to any query we have. Auto responders are used so that the consumer is given a certain time period to wait. It is better to tell the long que to wait for a while instead of not informing them at all and leave them hanging.
Starting with social media:
- Posting and scheduling – when scheduling posts, you must keep in mind that you need to keep the posts ready to post. The only thing that the software will do is post it (you should keep the photo/video, captions, hashtags, tags etc ready to post).
- Social listening – it is impossible to manually keep a track of who uses your brand or even talks about it. Automation softwares searches the internet for any conversations or mentions of your brand or products so that you stay in the loop of what’s happening with your business. It’s like a fly on the wall – it will listen to everything, make note of it and then come report it to you.
- Social interactions – same as receiving an instant email response, this is an instant messaging response on social media apps.
Few other features given by automations:
- Personalised customer targeting – consumers NEED to feel as if they are your first priority, which they really should be. When you feed in the information, softwares can then target ads based on the specific and personal information of the consumers given.
- Customised landing pages – the ad, the keywords and the landing page must go hand in hand. They must all come together to form a successful conversion. Most marketing automation tools provide you with customized landing page builders and lead capture forms that you can then customize on your own to fit your ad.
The difference between CRM and marketing automation:
CRM- Customer Relationship Management
The thing is, there is no clear distinction on which one is more useful. It depends on which stage your business is at. The picture below should give an outline.
Depending on where your business stands in the funnel represented above, you can use either CRM or marketing automation.
When do you use CRM?
- If you are reported to have bad customer service. CRM can help you reach out to all customers who have a complaint and help resolve them.
- Customers are lost. If they are confused while navigating through your website, then CRM can help them get through any queries.
- If you have too many leads to handle in a spreadsheet, it’s time to think of using CRM.
When do you use marketing automation?
- Your customer list is getting too big – obviously, you can’t manage millions of consumers manually. You’d take years to reply to them! This is when you need automation to come in and make it easier for you.
- Your customer list is too small – I know, this sounds a bit odd. But if your leads are too less and you need to reach out to a large, untouched audience, then automation is the way to go.
- Your content is great, but it’s not reaching your audience – this has happened a lot of times that the content of a business or website is amazing but it’s shocking to see so little engagement or traction. This software will get audiences to see your content faster!
The best softwares for marketing automation:
Remember that marketing automation is not something you should apply for every task. Most tasks still need human intervention otherwise your consumers will get angry that they are only interacting with bots and not real people. You can appear busy, not neglectful.