Step Up Your Marketing Sophistication – Create a Marketing Automation Action Plan

January is the time to start fresh, so why not step up your marketing sophistication a bit? Most marketers are still only using marketing automation technology for basic emails and landing pages. If you count yourself in this category, now is the time to step up your game.

Here are three tips for creating a marketing automation action plan that will help you drive big results:

1. Rule-based Triggered Communications.

These are single emails that are sent out whenever website visitors, customers or prospects match a business rule that you have specified. Whether or not your business is ecommerce, you have plenty of options for triggered communications. If you do happen to have commerce capabilities on your website, there are a variety of examples you can use: cart abandon, password recovery, order confirmation, shipping confirmation, etc. If you are not an ecommerce-based company, you can still apply triggered communications to your marketing efforts.

One very effective triggered communication example that companies of all types can leverage is “browse abandon.” If someone visits a page but does not take the next desired action, marketing automation technology combined with Web tracking can trigger an immediate email encouraging the site visitor to return to your site to continue the process.

The tracking code, supplied by your marketing automation provider, is used in addition to others, such as Google Analytics. The automation provider’s Web tracking code will allow you to track individual level page visits, downloads, videos watched and more.

Once Web tracking is installed on your company website, you are ready to proceed. Identify four to six core pages on your site where you want people to take some sort action (i.e.: click to download a white paper or complete the “Contact Us” form). Create the email template and in the automation portion of your application, designate the rule and associate the email to the automate it. The beauty of automation is that once this is set up, you can forget about it and move on to other projects!

2. Series-based Communications.

In B2B marketing, events and webinars are core tactics used to generate interest and advance people through the buying cycle. These events typically involve a series of communications, such as:

  • a “save the date” six weeks prior to the event, 
  • a registration link three weeks prior, 
  • a friendly reminder two weeks prior to encourage those who have not yet registered, 
  • a reminder to registrants 24 hours prior 
  • and a “thanks for attending” 24 hours after the event. 

Different versions of the email go to those who attended versus those who didn’t. That’s a lot of emails! 

This entire process should be automated. If you aren’t using automation yet, you are working yourself entirely too hard. Once you set up your campaign flow the first time, going forward you will only need to adjust the dates, venue and topic to reference different templates. If your entire webinar or event series is set up in advance, then you don’t even need to adjust your templates, just use dynamic content leverage rules to adjust your emails automatically.

Having an integration to your webinar platform or event application will allow you to further automate your campaign steps. Other examples of series-based communications include:

  • welcome programs, 
  • new customer onboarding programs, 
  • mid-funnel nurture programs 
  • and reactivation programs. 

Design and implement these automation routines to save yourself significant time and allow customers to move efficiently through the buying cycle.

3. Program-based Communications.

Program-based automation is where you can really let your creativity shine! For example, you might ask your website visitors to answer a series of questions about their situation or needs. As soon as they click the button to submit their answers, you launch an automated program that communicates a series of emails to them based on how they answered the questions. This can also get you out of your ‘product-push’ mentality and re-focus you on understanding and addressing your customers’ needs.

The best way to proceed with program-based communication is a little old school. Gather in a meeting room with the appropriate team members and white-board out the communication flow. Map the buyer’s journey and determine how you can support this journey through automated steps and rule-based communication. Don’t forget that your communication elements can be truly multi-channel, including not only email but also direct mail, telemarketing calls and even SMS messages.

If you and your marketing department are stuck on the ‘hamster wheel’ of query-email, design-schedule-send processes, then make 2014 the year you break out of the rut and begin to fully leverage the automation capabilities of your digital marketing platform.

You’ll free up a bunch of time to work on even more advanced marketing strategies and your timely communications will be more effective than ever.

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