Marketing automation can seem kind of overwhelming at first.
At its core, it's basically the use of software to customize and personalize your marketing messages for each individual lead or customer.
You can specify parameters like how much someone has spent with your company or how they've engaged with your brand in the past.
This information determines which message they'll receive.
Consumers react positively to personalization in emails and other messages.
It's also a highly effective way to pinpoint where each person is in the buyer's journey process, helping you evaluate which leads are the most likely to be ready to make a purchase decision.
Plus, automation makes processes a lot more efficient for marketers, freeing up time and capital.
So how do you start implementing marketing automation?
In a recent blog post, Moz lays out a simple four-step guide.
Important steps in creating a marketing automation strategy
1. Define your goals
This might seem like an obvious point to make, but before you do anything else, you need to decide exactly what you want marketing automation to help you achieve so you can plan your strategy accordingly.
Are you trying to generate more leads? Working to build up business from return customers?
Trying to boost sales during an off season?
Each of those goals is going to require a different strategy, so it’s important to understand exactly what your main objectives are.
2. Identify who to target
Of course it’s important to understand the needs of your customers at all points of the conversion process.
But depending on what your main goals are, your time and energy may be best spent focusing on people who are at a specific point of the process.
For instance, if you’re not really having a problem with lead generation but you want more people to convert, your time and energy would be better spent focusing on the middle and lower parts of the conversion funnel.
3. Map user flows
By using marketing automation, you’re trying to get people to take some kind of action. Mapping user flow is a way to visualize the steps people need to go through to be able to take that action.
Depending on the way a person arrives at your site, some people might need more information than others before they’re willing to take that action.
You don’t want to make people go through more steps than are necessary to do something, but you don’t want to hit people with a hard sell too soon, either.
By using state diagrams to map user flows, as recommended by Peep Laja of ConversionXL, you’ll see exactly how people are arriving at a page and how many steps it takes for them to take the desired action.
4. Segment and rate your leads
It’s important to remember that not all leads are necessarily equal in terms of quality.
Your database of contacts is inevitably going to be a mix of people who are on the verge of buying, people who are still researching their options, and people who probably won’t convert, so it’s not possible to create broad messages that will somehow appeal to all of those types of people.
Rating your leads helps you figure out exactly who needs further nurturing and who is ready to be handed over to a sales team.
The interactions a person has had with your content and the actions they’ve taken on your site can be a reflection of how ready they are to convert.
A person who has viewed a pricing page is most likely going to be closer to buying than someone who has simply read a blog post on a site.
A person who has visited a site multiple times over the course of a few weeks is clearly more interested than someone who has only visited once or twice in the past year.
Marketing automation software lets you assign values to certain actions and interactions so that it can calculate a score for that lead.
Marketing automation also lets you segment your database of contacts to a very high degree so you can deliver messages to very specific types of people.
For example, when working with a B2B business, a marketer might want to target messages to people with certain job titles who work at businesses of a certain size.
With B2C sales, a retailer might want to segment their lists to give special offers to people who have spent a certain amount of money with the company or send product recommendations to people who live in certain locations.
You can learn more about marketing automation, including which software programs to use and how to design email sequences, over at Moz.