By definition, ‘marketing automation’ is the automation of routine marketing tasks with technology. By application, ‘marketing automation’ is the process of moving people from being unknown business prospects to being known/engaged business customers using technology. The underlying keyword in both definitions being ‘technology’.
Marketing automation is often times misunderstood to mean email marketing. It isn’t. But, email is embedded as a channel of marketing automation. Traditional email marketing died a long time ago and many haven’t noticed, marketing automation is now commonplace but easily misunderstood. If you have ever received an email from Netflix or Amazon, then you have experienced Marketing automation at work.
Customer delight, education, and engagement through the marketing funnel will be much more effective and detailed if guided by insights from data rather than gut feel, and this is applicable to both startups and enterprises.
First, the industry terms
Below are a few marketing automation terms and their definitions to get you started.
- Anonymous lead = unknown website visitor
- Prospects/lead = identified record in database (often times email address is the identifier)
- Segment = A list of prospects that meet a predefined rule
- Trigger/Automation Rule = An event that initiates a task automatically, for example a user has performed a single transaction worth a certain amount, send this user a bonus.
- Drip/workflow = a sequence of messages (usually email)
- Interaction log = Activity history of each lead
- Score = The rating or categorization of each lead based on records in interaction log and automation rules.
- Lead Scoring = Assigning a numerical value to lead indicating their level of engagement within your marketing funnel
- Assets = files related to workflow or automation rule, for example pdf documents.
- Campaign = a scheduled communication or planned activity for each lead
- BANT = An acronym standing for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline.
- CRM = customer relationship management
The Ideal Framework — S.T.O.C
It’s easy to think a marketing automation tool will do all the work. This is a misunderstanding of how the technology works. Below is the ideal framework of elements required to leverage all the benefits of marketing automation.
This diagram begins with a strategy, which should serve as your foundation. At this stage, you want to identify your marketing objective. Clarify who your ideal customer is. Outline what metrics are important to measure — ROI calculation and points assignment, average monthly website visits, monthly average qualified lead, customer lifetime value, etc — and how you intend to source your lead/marketing list (organic, post-promotion, purchased, or 3rd party partnership).
Technology speaks to the tool or suite of tool you intend deploying for the objective already identified. Today the marketing tech landscape is saturated with platforms solving marketing at various stages of the customer journey, choosing the right platform/tool is determined by a number of factors. A critical factor to your product growth is real-time visibility on the customer and his/her interaction with your product, the right tech stack will deliver this through analytics, lead scoring and management, triggers, and personalization.
Optimized workflow has to do with how you align what you know about your ideal customer (data) with your business objective — what pain points have you identified in your ideal user journey, where do you see opportunities to educate the user, what gaps are being created by competing products — also critical to segment your user journey into trackable segments, for example below you have the unknown user also categorized as admirers, then engaged users and lastly transacting users. In the case of a consulting or service-driven business, these will be categorized as prospects, lead, and customer.
Rethinking how you communicate and engage users along this journey will enable you to maximize your technology stack, data and minimize marketing cost.
Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue — Andrew Davis.
How you write, what you write about and how it’s delivered are key elements to leveraging content for user engagement. Content could also be in form of gifs, infographics, and videos. The right content to the right customer is critical to the success of your automation, and this is an area often overlooked.
Now that you have a beautiful product ready for the market, take a few extra days preparing articles, photos, and videos designed to endear your ideal customer to your product, process, or industry. If this isn’t your forte, get external help, don’t deploy our marketing automation stack without well-crafted content. Content is the closest interface to your customer.