Marketing strategies have some very simple goals. Every marketing effort is made to either increase brand awareness, generate leads, or improve lead conversion. Any business looking to make more sales must learn how to develop and successfully implement a good marketing strategy.
More digital marketers are also trying their hand in marketing automation. They help marketers achieve the goals mentioned above. But, how do you use marketing automation, and how do you develop a successful marketing automation strategy?
Global Marketing Automation Technology
In 2017, the global total for marketing automation technology spending was $11.4 billion. The forecasted spending on marketing automation technology by 2023 is at $25.1 billion. This forecast by Forrester was supported by 2021 statistics too, and Statista forecasted that spending on marketing automation software alone would be over $18 billion by 2025.
These numbers mean just one thing: digital marketers must stay on top of digital marketing trends. The growing spending on marketing automation means that more and more companies and individual marketers are leveraging marketing automation. It should also prompt digital marketers to learn automation testing.
Automation testing tools aren’t just for testers and developers. Because of AI and machine language, anyone can learn automation testing without learning how to code. This includes marketers and salespeople with no programming and software development backgrounds. It can be a good skill to have to make sure automated tasks are working properly.
How to Leverage Marketing Automation to Achieve Your Marketing Goals
Marketing automation is quite the umbrella term, and most people use it to mean digital marketing tools. But, you can’t automate every marketing task.
For example, some marketing automation software applications use AI and machine language to craft marketing content. However, the created content usually turns out to be underwhelming.
Another example would be customer service, which marketers should consider a vital part of an effective marketing campaign. Wherever and whenever human touch is required, marketing automation wouldn’t make much sense.
On the other hand, marketing automation is quite valuable in delivering messages and crucial information to leads and customers. Automation can ensure a consistent and cohesive customer experience and help develop or nurture a customer’s trust.
How to Develop a Successful Marketing Automation Strategy
Are you looking to start using marketing automation in your marketing efforts? A successful marketing automation strategy involves more than just knowing how to automate marketing tasks. Whatever your marketing goal is, there are five steps to follow when developing a successful marketing automation strategy.
1. Know Which Marketing Tasks to Automate
We’ve already touched base with this step in the section above, but let’s reiterate. You can’t automate every marketing effort. While automation may not be possible for some marketing tasks, there are just some marketing tasks that won’t make sense to automate.
Save yourself some time by learning early on if you should automate a specific marketing task. If you have no idea, we’ll provide some more examples in the next few steps.
2. Align Your Sales and Marketing Team
The alignment of sales and marketing has so many benefits that it’d be foolish not to consider this step when developing a marketing automation strategy.
Interaction with potential customers must be done with utmost care. It wouldn’t make a good impression if a lead was passed on to a salesperson who knows nothing about the lead and their needs. This is where sales and marketing alignment comes in.
Sales and marketing alignment is when sales teams and marketing teams work towards the same goal. In most corporations, the shared goal is to increase sales and revenue.
Because of this shared goal, the two different teams must communicate and strategize together. The sales team can provide invaluable information for the marketing team and vice versa. This participation encourages better transparency and faster assistance between the two departments.
Aligning sales and marketing results in fewer opportunities missed. When sales and marketing have the same goals, every potential lead goes through an optimized customer journey with the highest chance to convert the lead to a customer.
3. Study Your Customers
Most websites do an excellent job of introducing brands and organizations to customers. This is fine, of course, but you may be missing the point. Effective websites don’t just increase brand awareness; they convert leads to sales.
The key is concentrating on your customers and learning their interests and pain points. It’s satisfying for any customer when brands seem to understand what they need during interactions, no matter how short or long that interaction may be.
Knowing who your customers are can also help in market segmentation. You can divide a big audience into smaller, more manageable categories. Leads and customers from one segment may share similarities. These similarities will help you choose a more effective and better-targeted marketing strategy.
4. Map the Customer Journey
Mapping the customer journey is an exciting part of marketing automation. This allows salespeople and marketers to stop and think about what it’s like to be in their buyers’ shoes. This stage in marketing automation helps you gain an outsider’s perspective on your marketing efforts.
There are five main stages on a customer’s journey:
Stage 1: Awareness
Awareness is also known as the education or the discovery stage. During this stage, it might be safe to assume that the customer knows nothing about your company.
Typically, there are two types of people in this stage. One has a problem but doesn’t have a solution, and the other might not even know there is a problem in the first place. For the first type of customer, you need to show that you understand what the problem is and how you can help them solve it. For the latter, you need to focus on helping the customer realize that there is a problem.
But, no matter which type of customer they could be, the last thing you need to do is sell to them at this point. A hard sell at this stage may be off-putting to customers. The best you can do here is to provide your website visitors with valuable information and establish trust.
Remember that content creation is a marketing effort that you shouldn’t leave to automation. But, you can use AI and automation to help with the website UI/UX.
Stage 2: Consideration
At this point, a potential customer should have made the association between their problem and your solution. The awareness stage has successfully ushered them into the consideration phase, also known as the pre-sales phase.
During this stage, you may already have a potential customer’s email address. They may already have done some research or compared your solution with another brand. They may have even done price checks and set a budget.
Because of all this comparison, you need to make sure that the service, item, or solution you’re offering is a cut above the rest. Highlight every advantage, provide customers with evidence, and make sure you’re as friendly and helpful as can be.
Marketing automation and AI can help determine the best time to send email newsletters. Still, it helps if you have a segmented marketing list for time zone differences.
Stage 3: Decision
The decision stage is where you’ll see if a potential customer goes on to be an actual customer. They already know your brand and what it can offer. To buy or not to buy? They already have everything they need to make a decision.
You may not know it, but your customers may have a list of reasons why they’re not pushing through with the sale. That’s why your main job during the decision stage is to reassure your potential customers.
Customer reviews, recommendations, and testimonials are quite important during the decision stage. If you’re offering software applications, this would be the best time to offer a free trial. Live demonstrations are perfect for more complex applications. Not only can this strengthen customer relations, but it’s also a great way to establish authority.
Stage 4: Retention
Congratulations, you’ve closed a sale! But, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the customer journey is over.
They’re already your customers, and you want to keep it that way. Because, as a marketer, you know that keeping a paying customer is much cheaper than acquiring a new one. While customer acquisition is important, it’s wise to focus your efforts more on customer nurturing.
A customer’s interaction with your brand shouldn’t end when you get your money and they get their products. And the best way to keep them is to help them get the most out of their purchase. You can maintain the trust you’ve established with relevant content, updates, and add-ons. Discounts, deals, and loyalty schemes may help in customer retention.
But, you can’t please everybody. Customers can sometimes leave bad reviews and drag your reputation down. Automated marketing emails and comment replies to negative reviewers can help them recover from the lousy experience. It may just be a simple misunderstanding that can be solved by better communication.
If a customer goes through each of the phases above and has a great experience with every one of them, that customer will turn into a fan. Without exerting any extra effort on your part, you can get additional sales from a fan’s word of mouth. Viral posts are such great publicity, proving that fans are just amazing when it comes to marketing!
5. Set Benchmarks and Define Success
Setting benchmarks allows you to know if your strategy is working. One way to do this is by setting points based on the customer journey. A detailed map of your buyer’s journey can help you understand their pain points better.
Having a clear customer journey map and setting benchmarks can help you see if your efforts are working. It also enables you to find strengths and weaknesses in your marketing plans. It allows you to enhance your strategies, and it helps improve accountability within sales and marketing teams.
How will you know if your marketing automation strategy was a success? Would you base it on ROI, engagement, or new business? It depends on your business goal, but most companies use a combination of all three standards.
You also need to make sure that the quality or the results of the marketing automation tests are accurate and reliable. How else would you measure the success of your marketing automation strategy?
Developing a successful marketing automation strategy is a process. To ensure the success of any marketing automation effort, marketers and companies need to:
- Know which marketing tasks to automate;
- Align sales and marketing;
- Study their customers;
- Map their customers’ journey;
- And define the standards of a successful marketing automation strategy.
Marketing automation, when used right, can be beneficial to salespeople, digital marketers, marketing firms, and whole companies.