How can marketing automation benefit your customer acquisition strategy?
There’s so much talk about Marketing Automation on the web, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all that’s on offer, or lose sight of what the real benefits are for your marketing efforts.
To understand this exciting opportunity, let’s have a look at what is out there and the potential benefits of it.
What is the overall benefit of marketing automation?
The majority of internet users consume content across channels and devices and a marketing automation strategy makes it possible to keep up with individuals wherever they interact with your product, brand or service, and heighten the chances of meaningful connection.
This relies on software that streamlines marketing processes through automated workflows based on specific sets of criteria and intelligent learning.
More than half of people want more “human” experiences from their virtual environments so we are likely to see AI based automation get even smarter. The more data that is out there, the more AI can learn from and the more tailored a message can be.
It can be quite overwhelming to know where to invest with all the options available. We are always happy to help you navigate this path, to evaluate what you already have and advise on ways that you might work smarter. Read more on our blog about the pros and cons of marketing automation.
(A) Using automation software to power your social media.
Social media automation tools can take care of admin tasks like scheduling posts, monitoring interactions and reporting so you’re able to spend more time on the creative things.
You’ll have more time to improve your social presence through clever campaigns and ensure your brand is authentic.
When it’s done correctly, social media automation can be almost invisible to the unbeknownst eye, making your brand seem more human, more relatable, and frankly, cooler.
However, not all social media tasks should be automated. Paid bots are the most obvious example of social automation gone awfully wrong, at least for the savvy social media user.
The emphasis should be on utilising social media automation tools to enhance your audience’s brand experience, not to take shortcuts thinking grimy tactics won’t go unnoticed.
Brand credibility can be made and lost on social media. So use social media automation software to your advantage by:
- Scheduling posts on your audience’s time preference.
- Tailor your message to each network, even if your automation tool allows for instant publishing across multiple networks.
- Offering customer support around the clock (read more on Facebook Messenger bots)
- Keep your ear to the ground with listening tools to track audience sentiment, gather user-generated content, and deal with negative content.
- Utilise automation for your paid social ads.
(B) Using automation software to power your email marketing.
Email marketing is still very important as part of the digital marketing mix but it’s evolving. One off campaigns and newsletters still have their place but smarter use of automation software allows you to trigger email content based on user actions.
If done properly, automated emails are timely, personalized and hyper-relevant to the receiver. This results in much higher open and click through rates and a more positive drive towards conversions and increased revenue for your business.
Here are some ways that automated email campaigns can be used:
(1) Welcome email
People visiting your website aren’t quite ready to buy but have clearly shown interest in what you have on offer and therefore are the perfect candidates to commence and continue communicating with to encourage a sale later on.
A good way of doing this is to encourage them to subscribe to your mailing list. As it is a smaller conversion than purchase, it is more likely to happen.
Once subscribed, you can use an automated email to welcome them to your list and offer special “subscriber-only” offers, encouraging them to buy, or showing prominent “next steps that might feature links to help documentation or other tools.
These are great for SaaS companies who want to start the onboarding process and show users what to do to get going with their tool.
(2) Action not carried out email
If an action is required to get going with a SaaS subscription onboarding process for example, it is possible to automate an email to encourage a user to move forward with that part of the process. Email tools are sophisticated enough to segment users by behaviour such as this and encourage them to the next stage in their journey.
(3) Product/service feedback email
Building or providing a product or service your customers want isn’t easy and it’s nearly impossible when you don’t have an understanding of what they actually want.
The best way to understand pain-points and needs is to ask the customers/prospects themselves.
You can send out a feedback request email automatically shortly after a new customer signs up for / uses your service. It’s a great chance to find out what they want from your product / service, why they chose your over competitors and much more.
Information can then be used to tailor feature releases or product offers to those users in the future. These are really easy emails or set up and you can start getting quality feedback straight away .
(4) Upcoming expirations email
According to Bain & Co, a 5% increase in customer retention can result in an increase in profitability by around 75%. Losing existing customers can conversely cost your business a lot of money.
If your business uses a subscription based model, one of the best ways to retain customers uis to send automated emails that lead up to renewal, encouraging them to act, and perhaps offering an incentive to do so like a discount offer and a simple call to action to renew straight away.
A series of automated emails can be set up based on the expiration date to send out periodically before the renewal date.
(5) Birthday / event offer email
Birthday emails are used a lot by B2C companies, but can just as easily be used by their B2B cousins. The emails are a chance not only to wish the recipient a happy birthday but also provide them with highly relevant birthday offers that encourage a call to action (purchase, sign up, download etc).
These emails are very easy to set up if you have your customer’s date of birth. You can simply set a recurring email based on a date, and the email will be automatically sent whenever that date comes around.
(6) Appointment reminder email
With repeat business being a critical driver of growth for many organizations, one of the best ways to attain it is to send your customers regular reminder emails. This works really well for a business that offers a service to people on a regular basis, like car mechanics or dentists.
As long as you are keeping track of your customer’s most recent appointment with you, this kind of reminder is quite easy to set up. You can use a custom date field to record when their last appointment was with you and then set up an email to be sent e.g 3 months later to remind them when their next appointment is.
(7) Lead nurturing
Research suggests that around 50% of leads generated by business are qualified but not yet ready to purchase.
The challenge therefore is to move those leads along the sales funnel without spending too much time on them. You also need to ensure that your business is top of mind when they are finally ready to purchase.
If you’re using CRM software like HubSpot or Salesforce, you can tag specific leads that need attention (more about this later).
Once segmented, you can send automated email messages over time that educates these audiences on the benefits of your product / service and why they should use it.
An email series suggested by popular marketing blogger Patrick McKenzie recommends a series of six emails that go out over 30 days that become increasingly salesly as time goes on. The flow he recommends looks as follows:
(a) Problem email
Outlining the possibility of replacing existing solution(s) with your product/service. This email focuses on educating the reader on the problems associated with existing solutions and should not really mention your offer.
(b) Benefit email
A brief look at the benefits of using a product / service like yours to achieve their goals. This email will focus mainly on the benefits of using your category of offer (e.g using email marketing tools over mass-mailing from Outlook or Gmail) and outline how doing so could improve their lives.
(c) Transition email
The barrier you need to overcome with the user is the transition from what they are currently doing and what your service can do for them. This email would focus on the simple and easy process of making the transition from their existing solution to using your product/service.
(d) Tools email
This is an overview of tools available to achieve what your offer achieves, like a buyer’s guide. This is the first time you introduce your product and why it’s superior to the other options out there. This email should include a call to action to complete a purchase / arrange a demo / use your product for the first time.
(e) Case study email
This should include a case study of how one of your customers uses your service / product. It should demonstrate how you solve a problem for them (tied to the problems outlined in the first email) and what benefits it brings them (tied to the benefits outlined in the second email). Include another call to action in this email to sign up for e.g. a free-trial/free plan.
(f) Resources email
This is the final email. This could suggest some other eBooks, templates, blogs, case studies etc for learning more about what you do. You could include a discount or special offer code ij the jis email if they haven;t converted yet.
You can see that focus here is on educating the prospect rather than a hard sale. It takes them on a journey from identifying their own pain, seeing the drawbacks of their current approach, the benefits of making the transition, the evidence of others having done it and more information to delve into if they want to.
(8) Promote new blog posts
If you create blog posts as part of your digital marketing mix (and we recommend you do), then email is one of the most powerful tools for growing your audience.
According to Neil Patel, email subscribers are 3x more likely to share your content over social media than visitors from other sources.
So when you create new blog content be sure to set up a series of automate emails to alert your subscribers that there’s new content for them to read. We also send out a monthly newsletter that acts as a digest around specific topics helping to breath new life into our older content.
You can actually automate this whole process. You can set up an automated email that monitors your blog’s RSS feed for new posts and automatically pu;;s the content in and sends the email to your list of subscribers.
(9) Email course
Offering an email course (a series of blogs linked to a particular topic and delivered via a series of emails), can be a really effective way to capture subscribers and educate them on a chosen topic area. We’ve done this a lot, most recently with a series aimed at edu-marketers on how to increase prospective student engagement using digital marketing.
This helps to build a subscription list as well as your authority over a given subject area, encouraging people to view you as a trusted expert.
(10) Event promotion
If you run events, meetups or webinars then getting people to attend is crticcal to a positive ROI .
Even if you get a large number of registrations, on average only 50% of the registrants will actually attend.
A way to maximise this is to send reminder emails in the run up to the event and then a series of follow up emails after it. All of these can be automated. Followup emails can include the recording of the event itself, slides, PDFs etc.
Automated emails like the types described above can help grow your business without having to put hours of your time into creating and sending individual email campaigns.
(C) Using CRM software to automatically lead score
Marketing automation really comes into its own when you use it to help you score leads automatically. Lead scoring is the process of assigning numerical values in CRM tools like HubSpot to rank each lead in your system.
It can be based on multiple attributes including personal information submitted, how a lead engages with your website and what type of content they have consumed.
Typically, companies use historical data to understand the behaviours that led to a successful conversion, and then assign each behaviour a value.
As new customers follow these behaviours, their lead score is totalled and automatically prioritised for sales and marketing teams to engage with them.
For example, if someone has clicked a link in your latest email, you can assign them +2 lead score. If someone books a demo on your website you can assign a greater value, like +10.
From doing this you’re able to sort and segment your leads based on an accumulative score that describes their engagement level with your business.
To ground this, here are some lead scoring components that you could use:
Demographic information – if you’re targeting a certain demographic (for example only marketing professionals that work in London), you can put a form on your landing page that asks for that information. If a prospective customer fulfills the demographic criteria of your target audience, they can be given a positive lead score (+5). Conversely, if a lead is outside of London or they fail to fill in optional fields (like phone number) they could be given a negative score (-5).
Company information – if you’re a B2B organisation, you might be more interested in selling to businesses of a certain industry or size. These can again be added to your landing page forms and scored appropriately.
Online behaviour – this is where it gets clever. You can assign values to online signals of intent. These could be the download of an offer, an eBook download (like this one), how many downloads a prospect makes, or how many site pages a prospect visited before becoming a customer. You can award points to people who download content that’s historically converted them into leads, and a higher number of points to content that turns leads into customers.
You can define high value pages (like pricing pages) or high value form form fills and add positive scores to these. Or if a lead stopped visiting your website, or downloading content over time, you might take points away from them.
Email engagement – open and click throughs are important signals of buyer intent. Sales teams can follow up leads who opened a high number of emails in your lead nurturing series, or those who always clicked promotional emails. You can also attribute negative scores to email addresses that aren’t helpful (e.g. using a personal email address rather than a company one in a form fill for a B2B organisation).
Social engagement – like email engagement, positive scores can be given when a lead clicks on a company Tweet on LinkedIn post. You can look at how many times they retweeted or shared those posts.
Talk to your sales team when creating a lead scoring structure. They have a good idea of which pieces of marketing material encourage conversion. Ask your customers what convinced them to buy your product or service. A customer interview or survey can give highly valuable insights that might challenge your thinking.
Analytics software will help you create a more meaningful scoring system. Attribution reports can show which areas of marketing efforts most likely led to sales.
Lead scoring can be simple or more complex. If you’re new to it, then follow this four step plan:
1. Calculate the lead-customer conversion rate of all of your leads. Divide the total number of new customers acquired by the number of leads you generate.
2. Choose different attributes you believe are higher quality leads. The outline above will give you some indication on what you could measure.
3. Calculate the individual close rates of each of those attributes. Figuring out how many people became qualified leads (and customers) based on actions they take will dictate the actions you’ll be taking.
4. Compare close rates of each attribute with your overall close rate and assign point values accordingly.
Once you’ve done this manual task, automated lead scoring has a structure to work from. Tools like HubSpot will allow you to manage this process in an elegant way.
So as you can see, marketing automation can be used really effectively in social media marketing, email marketing, lead generation and nurturing and managing your customer’s information organised by their wants and needs. Marketing automation takes a reasonable amount of investment upfront in terms of funds and time but once that investment has been made, the savings in the long run are exponential.
The last side, but very important note – it can be costly and time consuming to use different software for all areas of marketing automation needs. A solution like HubSpot includes email marketing, social media posting and automated lead scoring. If you want to know any more don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.