hands-free

Automation Doesn’t Mean "Hands-Free"

  |  April 28, 2014   |  Comments

Even though marketing automation software is becoming more and more sophisticated, it is still susceptible to human error, and therefore must be managed carefully.

Automated technology is revolutionizing the world we live in - there are now cars that park and brake for themselves, fridges that notify us when we run out of groceries, and TVs that record programs based on our viewing habits. Anyone would think the robot invasion has already stealthily started.

The impact for marketers is no different; the sector being reshaped as marketing automation - a means to develop improved email marketing and sales campaigns - is becoming increasingly accessible to businesses. Much like with consumer tech, where the latest and greatest began as the exclusive delight of the wealthy (or geeky), costs prohibited accessibility, meaning marketing automation was generally an option reserved for larger companies.

Today, the market has moved on. Automation software is now being used by more small and medium-sized companies, and while the potential is exciting for many marketers, caution is advised. As with driverless cars, which exist but are yet to populate our roads, there is a danger in completely taking your hands off the wheel from a marketing perspective.

Marketers need to think about how to implement automation software in a manner that ensures their strategy is effective. With this in mind, here are some top tips for marketers to get the best out of technology without the risk of being enslaved by it:

Don't Try to Go Too Fast Too Soon

When implementing marketing automation software for the first time, pilot the technology with campaigns that are manageable in size and where you can easily pinpoint successes. Rather than testing on large, complex campaigns, begin by mastering your automation software on more tactical activity, such as event follow-up, where you can measure the immediate impact.

Carry Out a Few Simple "Engine" Tests

The term "automation" could easily lead marketers to believe that they can work on auto-pilot and leave everything to the platform they are using. This is not so. Human error can occur, so it is essential marketers do not take their eye off the ball. Ensure all forms have the correct fields and all actions are working as expected. It's imperative to ensure all elements of the campaign are operating as they should and that there are no broken links in the chain. Failure to do so might result in an automated approach quickly turning off potential customers - clearly not the aim of the game.

Integration Is Key

The purpose of marketing for any organization is to help drive sales; it's therefore essential to ensure that the marketing function fully understands how your organization's sales cycle works - from lead generation through to signing the deal. Integrating all marketing automation platforms into the CRM, ensuring that both of these have the ability to talk to each other and share data, will help to benchmark and measure the effectiveness of all marketing activity.

Think Ahead to Drive Long-Lead Campaigns

Marketing automation enables you to engage with your customers over a longer period of time, with more regular and relevant content. It does this by gathering detailed information on your customers, helping you to understand exactly what they like and ensuring you deliver only useful and targeted content. This is also useful in B2B cycles, to keep you front-of-mind (and continue to demonstrate your value and expertise) when involved in long sales cycles and purchase processes that can take anywhere from weeks up to several years.

Furthermore, the response and success rates you receive back will enable you to create detailed customer profiles. In turn, this will allow you to continue audience segmentation and deliver specific and tailored content to your prospects, which will help to convert additional sales.

How Many of Us Are Really in Control?

It is vital a specific role takes responsibility for marketing automation and has time to understand the tools and platforms: how they work, how they integrate with the existing CRM strategy, and what delivers the best results for your marketing campaigns.

Marketers cannot fail to understand the importance of constantly testing and optimizing the performance of any automated solutions they implement. Opportunities for testing are endless: subject lines, links, content, time of day to send messages, days between messages. Not only does the testing process help to minimize human error, such as spelling mistakes or incorrect contact information, it ensures your marketing campaign is a success by increasing your return on investment (ROI) from marketing automation.

The problem right now is that too few marketers are currently doing this and, as a result, not getting the best out of their technology. If businesses want to see real returns, they must focus on perfecting how they use their software; coming to grips with auto-assist parking, texts from the fridge, and smart TVs can wait until later.

Image via Shutterstock.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Denner

Denner is the co-founder and director of Adestra, and is highly experienced in developing email solutions, having headed up teams responsible for bringing four separate email applications to market. A veteran of 13 years' experience in the industry, Denner has worked with many organizations on delivering technical solutions to real business challenges and goals.

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