Are You Trapped in a Marketing Hamster Wheel?

  |  May 21, 2014   |  Comments

Marketing automation can help you get off that hamster wheel and work smarter, not harder.

I meet a lot of marketers in my role, and usually find that they are completely overwhelmed. They are working long hours, cranking out project after project and email after email, with what feels like no end in sight. This relentless schedule can leave even the most seasoned marketer a bit scatterbrained.

In fact, I once had a marketer say to me, "Help! I'm trapped in a hamster wheel, running so hard, but never getting everything done." You might not have said this out loud, but you've probably experienced a very similar feeling, and you're certainly not alone. The only way to stop this madness is to take a step back and start working smarter, not harder.

Working smarter means slightly changing how you're currently doing things in order to increase your efficiency. For many years, the heart of digital marketing has been to query a list or a database, design an email template and your best subject line, and schedule a send (or send immediately). And then rinse and repeat - a lot. These types of messages become increasingly exhausting for both the sender and the recipient.

Custom communications like this might be fine for a small number of customer or prospect messages, but without taking a different approach, you're going to end up both overwhelmed and overworked.

Enter marketing automation. Marketing automation allows marketing departments of all sizes to re-engineer their workloads while simultaneously increasing effectiveness. I have compiled a few steps to help you get off the marketing hamster wheel using marketing automation technology:

Identify Candidates to Automate

There are two primary types of messages and processes you can automate:

  • Triggered messages allow marketers to define a rule and once that rule is met, a single message is automatically sent. A classic example of a triggered message is the forgotten password. You click on a button indicating that you forgot your password and the system automatically emails you the procedure to reset it.

    A newer type of triggered message, however, is a browse abandonment email. This automated message is delivered when an identified browser (you already have their email address in your master database) visits a page on your website, but does not take the desired action. This message does require Web tracking using your marketing automation provider's code on your website.

  • Life-cycle programs are multi-part campaigns that send a series of messages over time. Common examples include nurture programs, event or webinar campaigns, upsell campaigns, and abandoned cart programs.

Develop Your Rules

Rules dictate what messages are sent and when they are sent. And, messages are not just limited to email! Your rules could also include multi-channel messages such as direct mail and SMS messages. Example rules include:

  • Send if the previous email been opened. 
  • Send on the exact date of June 14, 2014.
  • Text if payment is not received by the first of the month.
  • Remove the contact from the campaign if their score exceeds 1,000 points and send an alert to sales.
  • Show video CA9401 if prospect is in California.

Design Data-Driven Messages

Once you have defined your program rules like those described above, don't think that the messages have to be static. Within each email, you can use rules to customize the message, including both the text and the images. The rules used are based on the values in the database record at send time. For example:

  • If buyer persona field equals engineer, then use the engineering-focused images and offer. 
  • If the skill level is beginner, only show the intermediate equipment images and text.

Sit Back and Enjoy

Or work on other projects. You'll be amazed how great your marketing life is when you let automation do the work for you!

Image via Shutterstock.

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Ellen Valentine

Ellen Valentine has more than 20 years of experience as vice president of marketing/CMO for a number of technology companies. She has deep expertise in launching new products, evaluating product and market positions, designing go-to-market strategy, and managing all digital marketing initiatives. She believes that great people and effective technology are foundations for success, but great execution is the ultimate differentiator.

In her role at Silverpop, an IBM company, she's focused on coaching and mentoring Silverpop clients to adapt and thrive in marketing's changing role. She's also a sought-out speaker at industry conferences and events.

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