Marketing Automation Guide: 3 steps to getting started

August 10, 2018

Marketing automation is a digital strategy that bridges the gap between how today’s consumer wants to buy your product or service, and how you have traditionally sold it. It allows you to automate otherwise tedious manual tasks, market to your prospects on their terms, build value throughout the buying process, and increase the chance for upsells and referrals after the sale.

Are there any obstacles to entry? Justice Kragiel, Director of Digital Marketing for Farah and Farah in Jacksonville, says “many smaller marketing departments would be more likely to implement a marketing automation platform if they weren’t so bogged down with the day-to-day marketing tasks that automation platforms seek to eliminate.” We think that’s a great observation and a common sentiment among marketers and business owners we talk to.

First, to get your marketing automation program off the ground, you’ll want to ensure your CRM is capable and properly configured. But you don’t need to go it alone. We can help your marketing or sales team evaluate the capabilities of your existing CRM and its automation features. We’re familiar with many platforms and can provide solutions to any roadblocks.

Once your program is in motion, you’ll find that marketing automation is a well-oiled machine that delivers targeted content to your prospects based on where they are in the buying funnel. Simply put, marketing automation is a strategy that relies on software to automate marketing tasks that were previously manual. These can include:

  • Sending personalized emails to prospects and customers;
  • Creating trigger events that notify salespeople of prospect activity; and
  • Scoring leads and developing target audience segments.

All of this allows you to increase the quantity as well as the quality of your leads while nurturing them through the sales process naturally. It also enables you to build long-term customers who refer new business to you.

Step 1: What are your goals?

As with any digital strategy, you need to know what your goals are before you get started with marketing automation. Increasing leads may be an easy answer to this question, but you have to dig a bit deeper and identify all the ways your business can benefit from your customer interactions. Here are some examples:

  • Referral programs that target happy customers with an incentive to refer colleagues.
  • Upsell to current customers based on products that can get them better results.
  • Cross-sell campaigns that offer discounts on different products or services.
  • Lead magnets that subscribe prospects to email marketing.
  • Guest blogging opportunities that can extend the reach of your content.
  • Talent acquisition campaigns to attract top candidates.
  • Increase online reviews and improve reputation management.

Once you have a clear picture of your goals, you’re ready to build the team that will achieve them.

Step 2: Who’s on your team?

The size and capabilities of your team play a major factor in the success of your marketing automation campaigns. A solo entrepreneur is going to take a much different planning and execution path than an enterprise organization with dozens of employees. It’s important to know how much you can do, and how well you can do it, before you take the next step. Here are your main options:

  • Go with the team you currently have on staff;
  • Hire additional staff to fill any skill gaps; or
  • Partner with an agency or consultant.

The key skills required for successful marketing automation campaigns are copywriting, graphic design, basic website development and experience with marketing strategy. You’re also going to need to understand how to use the software required to run your campaigns.

If you’d like more information on the different options you have when it comes to marketing automation tools, click the button below and we’ll be in touch.

  • The features you need
  • Pricing for each tool
  • Tips on how to get started

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In addition, enhancing your campaigns to maximize their effectiveness is likely to require advanced capabilities such as video production, email configuration, user-experience testing and other skills. Now’s the time to take stock of what you have and to decide if your capabilities align with your goals.

Step 3: What will your campaigns look like?

Now that you know what your goals are and your team is in place, it’s time to design your workflows. Workflows are automated processes consisting of a series of communications. You should create at least one workflow for each goal you’ve identified. Here’s an example:

  1. Prospect visits your website and submits their email address to download a piece of content, which can be a how-to guide, explainer video, case studies or any item that provides the most value to your target audience.
  2. The same day, your marketing automation tool sends the prospect a “Thank You” email with the content piece.
  3. After five days, the prospect receives another email with a call to action.
  4. After seven days, your marketing automation tool sends you a notification to call the prospect.
  5. After 10 days, the prospect receives another follow-up email.

All of these workflow steps are conditional, meaning that if the prospect responds between any of the steps, then the automations are paused. Most marketing automation tools automatically update the prospect’s profile and assign follow-ups so opportunities never fall through the cracks.

When it comes to designing your workflows, these are the basic “must-haves” you need to consider:

  • How long is your sales cycle? The longer it is, the more steps in your workflow.
  • Do you have the ability to create content for steps in the workflow that need it? Every communication you have with your prospects has to offer them value, and that value comes from content.
  • How much communication is too much? If you overdo it with emails and calls, your prospects will see you as pushy and annoying. Consider what has worked in the past with your customers, and find the sweet spot of being respectfully persistent and not irritating.

Next steps

You know your goals, your team is in place, and you’ve designed your campaigns. Now, it’s time to create content that will attract your best-fit prospects, move them through the buying process at the pace they want, and convert them to customers that will refer you new business.

Stay tuned for our next installment in which we break down the process of creating compelling content for your campaigns and getting the most out of it.

Chris Ramaglia

Chris Ramaglia

EVP and Partner

Chris Ramaglia leads our digital strategies at the agency. He has more than 17 years' experience with online lead generation, holds nine digital marketing certifications, and has a borderline obsession with helping our clients smash their new business goals.